We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
... here's another term that I think deserves to be said out loud: Forced education. Like the term prison, this term sounds harsh. But, again, if we have compulsory education, then we have forced education. The term compulsory, if it has any meaning at all, means that the person has no choice about it.
The question worth debating is this: Is forced education--and the consequential imprisonment of children--a good thing or a bad thing? Most people seem to believe that it is, all in all, a good thing; but I think that it is, all in all, a bad thing. I outline here some of the reasons why I think this, in a list of what I refer to as "seven sins" of our system of forced education...
AVI in Education Changes is sympathetic to Gray's case, and does not wish his kids to have the (seemingly very good) college experience that he had. He says
...what hit me hardest about Grey's essay was what it described about me. I really was one of those who thought my role was to be amazingly brilliant and wait for someone to discover me. I really did think I was better than most of the rest of you. To see in print that this is what our current system encourages in the personalities of some bright students - and to be ready to hear that - was unpleasant. I use my education to entertain myself and others. The only direct application to my job or any useful activities is my ability to string sentences together - which may come more from reading rather than going to school.
In 1987 the newly arrived liberals to Montana made an organized effort to close down the rural two room school houses. At that time and during the 100 years before, Montana's students graduated consistently in the highest ratings. However, this group of "grass roots organizers" then took control of all schools and teachers, and most importantly curriculum. This ambitious and successful effort was orchestrated by the folks in Seattle.
To my dismay it was only 5 years later when researchers for Washington State University, a short distance in western terms from Montana, were awarded large amounts of Federal money to study why it was that those two room school houses had produced a superior learning environment. Ironic isn't it?, But, not to worry--those Seattle liberals are still demanding their right to control your schools!
My comments to Peter Gray:
This article is nonsensical claptrap. If you have children or grandchildren they are likely just like the obnoxious ones in restaurants and other public places with no manners and no regards for anything except their own feelings and their own self-absorbed selves. Children are not short adults. That's why they can't vote, drive, or buy liquor. Your thinking is typical of the perpetually dis-proven discounted, yet admired "theories" that have driven education in this country to marginal at best, and less than dismal, at worst. Apparently you forgot about "Lord of the Flies" which admirably tells what happens when proper English prep boys are left with no "adult" guidance. One purpose of mandatory schooling, in addition to education, is teaching little wanna-be tyrants (3-8 years olds) that they are not the center of the universe (because even the mathematically challenged should understand there can't be 7 or 10 billion centers of the universe), and that they have to get along with others. The other purpose of education is to teach a new generation what others have learned. How can a new generation learn what others have learned without some guidance and direction on where best to focus? What you describe sounds like it would end up with a bunch of blubbery kids sitting in their basements playing video games, eating parent provided potato chips until carpel tunnel syndrome and obesity killed them all off. Discipline, working hard today for a bigger payoff tomorrow are all beneficial things that can be learned in a disciplined, structured environment. In short, while some (who never want to be told what to do) will excel in a "free spirited--do your own thing" environment, others will excel in a more disciplined, structured environment that helps them focus and achieve difficult goals. However, classes and buses run on time when the latter environment is used. You're a psychologist; I'm a trained chemical engineer. I spent more time working single homework problems in physics and reactor design than I did studying for my midterm and final in psychology (which I aced). School is not a prison. Thinking you're the center of the universe is.
He makes a good argument that it is prison. But more it is just a not discretionary institution and the kids, started so young and forced to go so long with their entire day consumed by the institution become institutionalized. The goal isn't to learn but to satisfy the taskmaster (teacher) to avoid unpleasantness. And it imposes scarring. I personally, some 30 years on, cannot force myself to read anything they tortured us with in high school literature. An avid reader, I just feel revulsion when I consider reading one of those "classics". I assume it is some form of PTSD. Oh, the irony. Or maybe not, I block that out.
And nothing has changed in 100 years. I've just completed a book, 'How to Study and Teaching How to Study' (1909) by F.M. McMurry. A very good discussion of teaching critical thinking to elementary students. Or rather developing their inherent tendency toward critical thinking so that it is of use in schoolwork. Sadly, the author acknowledges that most schools do the opposite although he was, we now know in vain, hoping to spur a change toward proper assimilation of knowledge rather than mechanical memorization with regurgitation after which the student is ready for another feeding having dumped the earlier contents.
In spite of the fact that schools exist for the sake of education, there is many a school whose pupils show a peculiar "school helplessness"; that is, they are capable of less initiative in connection with their school tasks than they commonly exhibit in the accomplishment of other tasks.
Correct. Throw children into a "free school" environment where they have a choice of topics to "study" or do nothing at all, and 90% will play videogames while of the remaining 10% half will bully the other half for actually taking an interest in the topics offered.
In the end, all but 1-2% end up learning nothing at all, except that personal responsibility doesn't exist and you only have to hold up your hand to get anything you desire.