Friday, July 29, 2011


priest's wife said...

yup yup and yup

Homeschooling isn't perfect (hey- having kids is HARD)- but it helps eliminate some of these problems.

Stella Orientis said...

This sounds like a TED talk. Is it?

Joseph M said...

Glad to see the issues he raises made a more prominent part of the discussion. Two areas where it needs to be a bit stronger:

- the people who put together *compulsory* public education were not nice guys. As our political leaders today typically do with their own kids, the founders of modern schooling did not intend it for their own kids - factory schooling was for the kids of the 94% of us who were to be managed by our betters - that's one reason why public schooling was fought against so hard when the idea was first pushed here in the US - people who understood it knew it was for keeping us peons in line, not to teach us anything we want to know. In fact, keeping us stupid was an integral part of the program - it's not an accident that public schools are terrible at teaching anything real, it's what they're designed to do (as Woodrow Wilson, a racist, sexist, classist pig after whom any number of middle schools across America have been named, put it:

"We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."

- The Enlightenment has gotten WAY better press than is deserves - we still labor under a world view that was painted to a large extent by its advocates, who were virulently anti-Catholic, among other things, and brought us such delights as the Reign of Terror.

Jane said...

Recently I went to a museum that includes a simulated 19th-century village. There was a one-room schoolhouse. The posters talking about the school's education system said that although the textbooks were written as "graded", that is progressing from easy to difficult, the students didn't have to finish a book a year. Each child went through the books at his or her own rate, depending on aptitude, dedication, and how often he was permitted to come to school vs. how often he had to stay home and work. When he finished a book, the teacher administered a test to see if he could go on to the next one.

It seems to me that this model of education, even though it consists of about 20 students per classroom, is much closer to homeschooling in terms of how children progress. And this was the public education found in rural parts of America (and Canada, and probably other places, too) even as recently as the 1930s. It is how my grandfather (b. 1920) was educated.

I am not sure that the "school as factory" mentality emerged as early as the speaker in the video thinks.

Anonymous said...

He is also repeating the past -- designing a school system to fit an economy. His premise seems to be : In the new economies we need divergent thinkers so we must all emphasize divergent thinking. We must all stay at kindergarten level. Of course Kinders are divergent thinkers: they like to pick their noses with paper clips and pour paint on the floor. Certain conformities are necessary and as rhe kids become more adept at living with others divergency goes down. Creativity arises out of profound knowledge and love of something be it food, paint, color or physics. Not studying decreases creativity.

Anonymous said...

There was much to agree with in this video but also, much to disagree with such as the group-think mentality. If I heard/saw correctly the narrator claims that children should be working in groups and not be tested individually. Did Einstein work in a group? How about Newton? Faraday? other brilliant people of history? They may have had contact with each other but I don't think there were a ton of group projects. We still need a way to evaluate individual progress.
And, yes, we homeschool. The public school and even private school system IS indeed broken with the medication problems only part of it. I felt the narrator was putting down classical education--learning philosophy, basic rules of grammar, latin, math, memorization and a great deal of reading.
You are better off than you think, Crescat.

NBW said...

The public school system is very broken. They don't care about teaching children; it's all about money, unions and job security for the teachers.

Joseph M said...

Jane - yes, one-room schools were how most Americans were educated, at least west of the East Coast, until at least the end of the 1800s. Even in 1900, there were hundreds of thousands of one-room schools in America - and the farm families that ran them fought like crazy to keep the 'scientific' schools out. It was only the Great Depression and depopulation of the countryside afterwards that ended up killing the one-room schools.

Farm families fought for their schools because, in addition to educating their children better with far fewer hours and fuss, one room schools reinforce the social bonds among the families - which is exactly what current schools are meant to destroy.

Anonymous - you are correct to point out the error in designing schools in order to achieve an economic result, as if children are like lumber, which is likewise graded, cut to standard sizes and sold in batches for industry to consume. The economy is for people, not the other way around.

However, I think it's not correct to imagine that lone geniuses are the goal of education. Robinson is correct in thinking that, *mostly* we people get things done in groups, and that fostering the skill of working in productive, fulfilling groups is much more related to how we humans really operate, when we're happy. More freedom will allow for both the occasional lone genius as well as allowing kids to work and play in groups.

But school is not a substitute for good, solid, pious, loving families, which is where our attention and effort should mostly be focused. With good families, bad schools can be endured; without them, it's unlikely any schooling can succeed in producing competent, loving adults.

Anonymous said...

I think there are strong points in the presentation. Joseph M made a great comment. A great deal of time is spent in public school for people to be life long learners..... not thinkers. We are a democracy but the catch is you can't have everyone actually be able to think well enough to bring about change. It doesn't help that consumerism is shoved down our throat, but that's what feeds our economy at this point. Economy seems to always take president over building a true intellect for people. Besides if you had to farm for survival, every "Jayden" would be at home working instead of going to school to be life long learners. At least if we farmed, there would be less mess because of the convienient GMO/GMI/MSG addicting pharmfood we eat. Poor little ADHD wouldn't be so overloaded with neurotoxins. I think I'd like a happy meal now. LOL

Anonymous said...

I do think that to learn or create, each mind -at some point or at several points in the process - has to face alone the issue at hand.
In the classroom, group work is stimulating for some, a distraction to be endured for others, playtime for others. Being able to work with others is of course a plus -again, especially, in the workplace.

The movie Social Network displays the possibles and impossibles in group work in the history of Facebook and Zukerburg.

The good classroom makes room for all approaches
unless it is trying to enforce one.

Ultimately education is to transmit the view of reality as God's creation. Each theory of education has to be measured against this first principle and not against its ability to further a political or economic goal. I believe that the greatest success in every area for every child will be achieved in such an atmosphere. On this topic, I suggest reading GK Chesterton What's Wrong with the World --Part IV.