Education And Its Purpose Essay

Education And Its Purpose Essay-64
What if they are the way they are, so expensively flying in the face of common sense and long experience in how children learn things, not because they are doing something wrong but because they are doing something right? Bush accidentally spoke the truth when he said we would "leave no child behind"? Don't hide behind reading, writing, and arithmetic as a rationale, because 2 million happy homeschoolers have surely put that banal justification to rest. His article, however, goes on to trace the template for our own educational system back to the now vanished, though never to be forgotten, military state of Prussia.Could it be that our schools are designed to make sure not one of them ever really grows up? I don't mean education, just forced schooling: six classes a day, five days a week, nine months a year, for twelve years. Even if they hadn't, a considerable number of well-known Americans never went through the twelve-year wringer our kids currently go through, and they turned out all right. And although he was certainly aware of the irony that we had recently been at war with Germany, the heir to Prussian thought and culture, Mencken was being perfectly serious here.School is meant to determine each student's proper social role.

What if they are the way they are, so expensively flying in the face of common sense and long experience in how children learn things, not because they are doing something wrong but because they are doing something right? Bush accidentally spoke the truth when he said we would "leave no child behind"? Don't hide behind reading, writing, and arithmetic as a rationale, because 2 million happy homeschoolers have surely put that banal justification to rest. His article, however, goes on to trace the template for our own educational system back to the now vanished, though never to be forgotten, military state of Prussia.Could it be that our schools are designed to make sure not one of them ever really grows up? I don't mean education, just forced schooling: six classes a day, five days a week, nine months a year, for twelve years. Even if they hadn't, a considerable number of well-known Americans never went through the twelve-year wringer our kids currently go through, and they turned out all right. And although he was certainly aware of the irony that we had recently been at war with Germany, the heir to Prussian thought and culture, Mencken was being perfectly serious here.School is meant to determine each student's proper social role.

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Modern, industrialized, compulsory schooling was to make a sort of surgical incision into the prospective unity of these underclasses.

Divide children by subject, by age-grading, by constant rankings on tests, and by many other more subtle means, and it was unlikely that the ignorant mass of mankind, separated in childhood, would ever reintegrate into a dangerous whole.

For the most part, however, I found it futile to challenge the official notion that boredom and childishness were the natural state of affairs in the classroom.

Often I had to defy custom, and even bend the law, to help kids break out of this trap.

They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around.

They said teachers didn't seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren't interested in learning more.When asked why they feel bored, the teachers tend to blame the kids, as you might expect. He told me that I was never to use that term in his presence again, that if I was bored it was my fault and no one else's.Who wouldn't get bored teaching students who are rude and interested only in grades? Of course, teachers are themselves products of the same twelve-year compulsory school programs that so thoroughly bore their students, and as school personnel they are trapped inside structures even more rigid than those imposed upon the children. The obligation to amuse and instruct myself was entirely my own, and people who didn't know that were childish people, to be avoided if possible. That episode cured me of boredom forever, and here and there over the years I was able to pass on the lesson to some remarkable student.My own experience had revealed to me what many other teachers must learn along the way, too, yet keep to themselves for fear of reprisal: if we wanted to we could easily and inexpensively jettison the old, stupid structures and help kids take an education rather than merely receive a schooling.We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness - curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight - simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids to truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. And the more I asked why not, and persisted in thinking about the "problem" of schooling as an engineer might, the more I missed the point: What if there is no "problem" with our schools? Because of Mencken's reputation as a satirist, we might be tempted to dismiss this passage as a bit of hyperbolic sarcasm.And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were.Boredom is the common condition of schoolteachers, and anyone who has spent time in a teachers' lounge can vouch for the low energy, the whining, the dispirited attitudes, to be found there. One afternoon when I was seven I complained to him of boredom, and he batted me hard on the head.Why, then, do Americans confuse education with just such a system? Mass schooling of a compulsory nature really got its teeth into the United States between 19, though it was conceived of much earlier and pushed for throughout most of the nineteenth century. These goals are still trotted out today on a regular basis, and most of us accept them in one form or another as a decent definition of public education's mission, however short schools actually fall in achieving them. Compounding our error is the fact that the national literature holds numerous and surprisingly consistent statements of compulsory schooling's true purpose. A Prussian served as Washington's aide during the Revolutionary War, and so many German- speaking people had settled here by 1795 that Congress considered publishing a German-language edition of the federal laws.The reason given for this enormous upheaval of family life and cultural traditions was, roughly speaking, threefold: 1) To make good people. But what shocks is that we should so eagerly have adopted one of the very worst aspects of Prussian culture: an educational system deliberately designed to produce mediocre intellects, to hamstring the inner life, to deny students appreciable leadership skills, and to ensure docile and incomplete citizens - all in order to render the populace "manageable."t was from James Bryant Conant - president of Harvard for twenty years, WWI poison-gas specialist, WWII executive on the atomic-bomb project, high commissioner of the American zone in Germany after WWII, and truly one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century - that I first got wind of the real purposes of American schooling.This, of course, precludes critical judgment completely.It also pretty much destroys the idea that useful or interesting material should be taught, because you can't test for reflexive obedience until you know whether you can make kids learn, and do, foolish and boring things.2) The integrating function.

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