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by on February 26, 2010

Last night, standing around at Northlight, in a light rain, waiting for things that never happened, I was able to make an argument about the merits and follies of education in a way I have never before so well elucidated.

If you think of education, generally the thought is K-12, and perhaps public university as well.  … So then, we were standing around bemoaning I-remember-which-not-fact, but assuredly agreeing (as would nearly everyone) that public education leaves something to be desired, through very little fault of the teachers.  Rather, the problem is that the point, the ability, of education, is never correctly explained in a classroom.  For, if you figured out the conclusion I reached, what need of there is a classroom, and why would a  classroom or teacher ever expound its insignificance?

As I say, I remember not the course subject.  It doesn’t matter, for the point is valid for all subjects.  Here is what education does not teach you.  Learning/education/putting information in the mind, is not primarily a classroom activity.  The classroom, with all the under-paid teachers, only exists so that we (all of us) can learn to educate ourselves (and, as in previous thoughts, I cannot vouch for the excellence of education, merely that it seems to be what we ‘require’.  That may make my entire thought moot, and if it does, well…every argument has two sides).  The point of fourth grade isn’t to read The Hobbit aloud to students; the point is to teach them, and only if they so desire to learn (how often we forget that), how to read The Hobbit well, and to visualize, if we want, the world of Tolkien.

…As with all other education.  However, I have heard from perhaps only one teacher in nigh-on twenty years of education that the point is to put things into our own heads, not to have facts expounded to us.  Of course, only a very bad (I make that judgment) teacher tries to tell us, the members of the classroom to  be automatons.  Most teachers, professors, educators, never explain what to take away from the classroom.

So the point, and I explained it much better last night, is that education/knowledge (again, for better or for worse, we stick lots of information into our heads) in a classroom setting forgets to explain that the receiver of that knowledge is an independent person who can – should – be able to expand their own knowledge, in whatever way is most fitting to them.

From → Education

  1. michael zukrow permalink

    Did you ever read any of Claire Cherry’s philosophy on education?
    Her two points seemed to be hands on learning and self -pacing

    One of the biggest faults I in the US education is the idea that if someone is excelling in one subject it must map on to others. Also, the idea that with enough money and time you could turn any child into Einstein., this is false some people really are Palin-Americans. We need to get over the idea of universal ability and allow for some kids to fail and other to flourish by some degree of self determination

    • I haven’t ever read that. I was discussing her pretty recently with a relative who used to work there, though. She was good at what she did.
      And I don’t care how equal we were all created, there are some things my friends can do I’ll never be able to do, and vice versa.

  2. Jill permalink

    Excellent points about education, Billy. Now I remember why I hung up that public school hat. I’ve been thinking though about putting my M.S. to good use and opening a much needed private center of learning for 6-12 graders.
    Want to help?!

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