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On Education 27 March 2010

Posted by The Inimitable M in Culture, Society, Religion, Diplomacy.
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I am not a mathematician, but I am a math geek.
I am not a scientist, but I am a science geek.
I am not an archaeologist, but I am an archaeology geek.
I am not an anthropologist, but I am an anthropology geek.
I am not an historian, but I am a history geek.

Why?

Because the minute you go to school for any one of these, you are required to specialise and you cannot spend time on the others. You also lose sight of why you loved any one of them in the first place. And you are trained, then, by others to learn their way and their philosophy.

My son is a perfect example of how that happens.

He loved computers and all things computer-related. He went to college, starting with a computer science major and a math minor. By the time he reached his junior year, he was ready to throw computers out the window of his 3rd floor dorm room. It was not the subject matter, but the things he was “required to learn” a certain way that he already inherently knew and practiced in a different manner with the same results, and he was receiving failing grades because he wasn’t doing it their way. It was at that time he realised that he would lose his love for any of it if he continued.

So at the end of his junior year, he changed his major and opted to go into something that was easy for him and didn’t require such love and passion.

He now has his BSIE – Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering.

He loves all things computer. He loves all things math. He still tutors both at the same university where he changed majors, and he also tutors some of the classes for industrial engineering. I hear he’s one of the best tutors they’ve ever had – because of his independent mind that garnered the bad grades when he was a student.

This doesn’t apply just to university.  This applies to all levels of education.  My first problems, in fact, occurred when I was in grade school, but we won’t go into that.  Just remember I have an IQ of 167, and the American educational system is not now nor was it ever built for that level of intelligence.

I believe in education, but I don’t believe in the infallibility of the educational system on any level. For some of us, it is a prison where you’re fed what they choose to feed you and require exercise that they plan and activities they develop. Sometimes it fetters the mind.

I am who I am because of education, but despite the educational system.

I bring this up because of the Texas textbook debates. These are someone else’s textbooks chosen by a select group of educators who tell you the education you or your children should be getting. In case you didn’t know, it varies from administration to administration and by the restrictive philosophies of whatever passion dominates civilisation and culture at the time. Just read the textbooks from the past 50-75 years.  It should be evident to you.

 The day you rely on this education for you and your children – no matter who is making the determination – is the day you and your children are in bigger trouble than you’ll ever know.

Expand your mind. Neither you nor your children are getting a “well-rounded” education when you rely solely on the philosophies of others. The well-rounded education comes from using these philosophies and then proving or disproving them on your own.

Don’t be a follower, and don’t be ignorant. There’s more to education than the latest textbooks. Get your own education, your way.

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Comments»

1. Nandy Ekle - 27 March 2010

Amen.

My daughter is a first year 4th grade teacher. She was a g/t student in school and was so excited to have her own classroom and had so many creative plans for her lessons. By Christmas she was totally disillusioned. The principal of her school constantly criticized her and finally told her to just stick to the script of their adopted program.

This week during a staff meeting he asked the question, “Why have our kids lost interest in learning?” He has now given her license to try some of her creative ideas to get the fire back in the kids.

I agree with you 100%.

2. Maniacal Mommy - 27 March 2010

Excellent, Maggie!

3. nrhatch - 28 March 2010
4. Ann L Newman - 28 March 2010

When I first started in education the emphasis was on holistic learning and it was taught to us aspiring teachers that to “teach to the books” was very very bad. We worked on creating learning centers and materials to make the concepts being focused on relevant to young minds, enabling them to make connections that also make them memorable.

By the time I was ready to retire, not only were we supposed to “teach to the books”, we were pushed to “teach to the test” – since the goal of the district became solely to improve standardized test scores.

This has stolen from teachers, especially at the elementary level, the time and freedom to engage students in activities that keep their interest and make learning fun.

You are so right about the need now, more than ever, for parents to find ways to supplement what is lacking in the classroom.


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