Monday, February 22, 2016

Not A Bad Start For Age 20, But...

When you're a teacher and you see an article titled This Author Thinks He Knows How To Stop Kids From Hating School, you have to stop and read it.  When you learn that the referenced author is only 20 you feel a little let down, because you know where the article is going to go--straight to Angst-town.

The author is 20 and didn't like school.  He stereotypes (but perhaps not unnecessarily so) and extrapolates--and then comes up with the ideal school:
Goyal documents his research in a new book, Schools on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice. He looks to progressive, democratic schools -- both public and private -- in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, as models of what's possible. These schools encourage students to take control of their educational experiences, design their own curriculum and play as much as possible. They create happy environments, where bullying is virtually non-existent, Goyal writes....
Hm.  Amazing that that's never been suggested before (except it has been, in every generation since Rousseau).  And my counter to his proposal is the same I've had to Rousseau, to Pestalozzi, to Freire:
According to one Kieran Egan, “Bertrand Russell, after his first disastrous experiment in organizing a school, observed that the first task of education is to destroy the tyranny of the local and immediate over the child’s imagination."
That's not to say that students shouldn't have a wide choice of classes from which to choose.  I think schools should have more electives, not fewer, and students should be allowed more freedom to choose.  I wouldn't go as far as Goyal suggests, though.  Neither am I willing to be completely swayed that we should change our entire educational system because he didn't like school.

As for the next quote, I'm willing to believe that perhaps Huffington Post incorrectly used "destruct" rather than "deconstruct".  If he actually said and meant "destruct", well, then he's just in idiot; why should schools, paid for by contributing members of society, encouraging "destructing" that very society?
I think they're creating docile, passive adults who largely are not capable of complex, critical thinking.

I think they generally create people who fit into the social order and don’t look to destruct it as much. It's very rare for kids to come out of school with a lot of their imagination and curiosity intact.
I'm on record as saying that a prerequisite to critical thinking is having a large base of knowledge about which to think critically.  And Goyal here paints with an extremely broad brush, one I'm not sure that he's intellectually capable of handling.  Really, it's "very rare" for kids to graduate with imagination and curiousity?  Really?

I'm sure Goyal is well-meaning and may very well have some good ideas.  The ideas expressed in the linked article certainly aren't bad for a man of 20--but I'm not ready to "destruct" our educational system and replace it with his, not just yet.

No comments: