On Education

“No vital connection between learning and life has been forged in our schools, much less any affection for voluntarily using one’s mind in the rigorous, sustained and frequently counterintuitive way that leads to innovation and the advancement of knowledge.”
Leon Botstein

The problem is not our schools and it cannot be solved by schooling. The problem is our culture. We not only tolerate a lack of rigor and standards but encourage sloppy thinking by confusing it with creativity and glorify a lack of discipline as independence. We do this at every level—as parents, neighbors, politicians, TV pundits and celebrities. It is hopeless to expect that the few hours a day that a child spends in a formal academic institution can counteract all the training he constantly recieves from parents, peers, media, civic leaders and role models.


~ by severalfourmany on January 25, 2011.

3 Responses to “On Education”

  1. For example. Folks who major in “finance” and “business administration” often don’t have much interesting to say about the financial crisis.

    While folks who were forced to study Marx, read Samuelson’s texts, familiarze themselves with Hamilton’s work on forming a central bank — they often have very interesting things to say.

    Kate, Philadelphia, PA

  2. All of these posts are just showing up in my newsreader now. Hmm. Anyway excellent point. I have been reading Cremin on a similar point recently – the idea that understanding education as synonomous with school is where we go wrong. Slightly different point but in same ballpark is recent “antibully” efforts as if some curriculum or institutional response will address bullying (read: unkindness and cruely to vulnerable or different children) when of couse we live in a culture saturated in such ways of being – adults to adults, adults to children. Of couse it then happens children to children.

    • The reason all those posts suddenly show up in your newsreader is that I am a complete failure as a blog writer and only fare slightly better as a blog editor. Not having completely embraced the new digital world as much as I pretendWhere others type directly into their blog, I am still keep writing in notebooks, scraps of paper, the backs of envelops, etc. The result, as you would expect, is a backlog of potential “posts” at least as large as the completed ones.
      When I get time I try to find, type, edit, fact-check and post them to the blog. Some of them are complete and only need to be typed. Others need some small details: find the source of the quote, verify the numbers, check the spelling, etc. Some are mere outlines that may or may not ever get filled in. And then there are the brief notes or unreadable scraps that are probably impossible to recover or reconstruct.
      I have thought of giving up, but there seems to be some value to it, even if the record is fragmentary and delinquent.

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