Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thinking On Education

Here is a link to an animated talk by Sir Ken Robinson. I have been aware of the economic, industrial template, of education for a while now.  This is the first time I've seen it connected with the Enlightenment model. As a product of parochial and public schools in the seventies and eighties, this was an ingrained mentality. Those who could do well in the school system and raise their social standard and those who couldn't.  I had always seen the two intertwined, most children of factory workers were educated to replace their factory worker parents, children from a higher economic standard were educated for college.
Reflecting on this, I think about how I define what it means to be educated and how that has changed over the years. There are reams of papers and vats of books that almost parallel my thought evolution from the Core Curriculum to Howard Gardner's Intelligences, to even Sir Ken Robinson's writings. There still remains a constant struggle over development, growth and talents of children against necessary skills and knowledge.
As a product of a blue collar education, there was a sense that there were pieces of information that students from better schools were getting and that if I could locate and master this information I could cross the divide. What was missing from this scavenger hunt was the platform for the learning process. It wasn't necessarily the content, although there were large missing chunks.  I never read any of the classics until college and read maybe four Shakespeare plays in all of high school. It was in fact, the vehicle of the content. The way the content is used to help children learn to analyze information, understand events and new information relevant to what they know.  Understanding how to find faults of logic, however small, and unpack them, even if it meant the whole structure fell. This template was the large treasure, that was missing in the educational system.
If I'm not alone in this sort of misunderstanding of what it means to be educated throughout a lifetime, and I don't think I am, I take a large leap here and think it is possible that many parents also feel this way.  Even if the education they received did give them more than the higher content.
I can't let this post go without addressing the ADHD. I do think many children are over medicated but I don't think denying a possible growing problem of ADHD is the answer. This is the first time I've seen this ADHD map of the United States. It is too deep a problem, and too serious for many children to disregard such a statistic so whimsically, funny as it was. IF this is true, then maybe we should start finding reasons, instead of the assumption that we medicate students to keep them quiet. Perhaps there is a fine line of what is the optimal dose, or perhaps there is an environmental factor that isn't being considered here, such as pesticides in foods.(Links for ADHD & Pesticides, a place to start.) There is too little information to dismiss this, and it is too large of an innuendo in the animation to be ignored.
So, as always, I am interested to hear what your reflections are on your education and your children's.  How do you evaluate a good system? What do you think your own educational experience did for you, and what are you looking for in your child's?

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