Dec
07
2009
0

Addicted to Money – An indictment on education?

A  very good series screened on ABC (Australia) recently called Addicted to Money. If you want to be prepared for the future, I highly recommend that you get a copy and watch it. It is a commentary on the Global Financial Crisis that looks into history – both financial and social – and shows how predictable it actually was.

Segue into my education soapbox and you will see – particularly in the last episode of the series – a great indictment of the education system (and for that matter every other part of modern western civilisation).

The episode points out that the “finest minds,” the most “educated” (should it say schooled?) people on the planet were not able to predict the financial crisis.

In the big crunch, the pinnacle institutions, the biggest brand names of modern schooling all lost their shirts in the GFC. For example, according to the series the credit crunch cost:

  • Harvard 11 billion dollars
  • Stanford 30% of its value
  • Oxford more than 100 million pounds.

Quoted on this fact, Professor Robert Reich, Former US secretary of labour said of the “brightest minds” who were in charge at the time, “They were not wise, they were not talented. In fact, they were quite stupid!”

According to the series, the so called “smartest guys in the world” hadn’t a clue that the credit crunch was imminent.

In fact Professor Ian Goldin quoted in the documentary pointed out, “the overwhelming majority, I’d say 99% of the profession, didn’t see the economic crisis coming… one has to wonder about the profession.”

If these guys couldn’t get it right, then what hope is there for the rest of the schooled masses? Of course, even successful street smart investors like Warren Buffet got caught out too. However, there were people predicting the GFC, like the schooled and educated (experienced) Marc Faber.

Back before 2007 Marc Faber, looking at conditions, financial and history cycles predicted the end of the credit bubble.

In 2006 Marc Faber said on ABC Inside Business about the boom market at the time:

It doesn’t change the fact that it is an imbalanced boom and it’s driven largely by credit creation in the US, leading to overconsumption, leading to a growing trade deficit, current account deficit, the accumulation of reserves in Asia and a global boom. But it is nevertheless an imbalanced boom and one day there will be a problem, certainly with the US dollar. The US dollar is a doomed currency.

There were others too, but they are in the minority of public investment commentators.

I guess my gripes with the education system are only a tiny part of the problem. The existence of an mass education system like ours is just one of the symptoms of an empire in decline.

Perhaps it is just one of the great excesses of an empire at its greatest heights to believe that its great wealth was due to scientific management of people, rather than the hard work, effort and cooperation of.

Schooled western countries such as America and Australia are being brought to bear by the so-called uneducated peasants of China and India. In reality, what they are is un-schooled, not un-educated. And as their rapidly growing economic power shows being un-schooled is certainly not a bad thing to aspire to.

Written by brettg in: Economics,Education | Tags: ,
Oct
31
2009
0

Connecting the dots – You didn’t learn it in school

Sydney Opera HouseIs this going to be on the test? I remember hearing that many times when I was at school. Everyone just wanted to cut through to the answers so they could pass the test of course. Why else would we be sitting here taking this class?

So what happens when what’s on the test requires more than a regurgitated answer?

The NSW Board of Studies recently produced a sensational example of what happens when you put a question on the test that isn’t given as an answer in class (or tabled from a previous test). According to the newspapers, when students at the “Studies of Religion I” HSC exam got such a question there was a state-wide revolt.

Before I suggest a simple reason for this revolt – and I do believe  that the Exam preparers were taken by an educational seizure – here is what those on the end of the exam had to say:

"I think the exam was very unfair because it didn’t test what was specified in the syllabus, it was more based on general knowledge.

"People were very disturbed throughout the exam and as soon as they saw that final section there was uproar. Students were crying.

"It caused a lot of stress to all of us and impacted our ability to study for other exams." – Holy Spirit student Adam Reich from the Illawarra Mercury

We were like, there’s a question in there that has got nothing to do with what we learnt, and everyone flicks to see the extended response, because that’s a big question and that’s the one that was written wrong," – McAuley Catholic College student Lauren Priest from ABC Online.

”Like a number of other Catholic schools, we are extremely disappointed with the studies of religion papers. The questions were worded in such a way that students were not able to express their full knowledge on topics. If the examiners are going to change their emphasis, teachers should be made aware.” – St Ignatius’ College headmaster Shane Hogan from The Brisbane Times:

"I can tell you there has been a near-mutiny in schools across NSW… We had to coax students to continue with the exam. They were in a state of shock and so were the teachers.” – Holy Spirit College principal Mark Baker from the Illawarra Mercury

You have to think that the general panic amongst students is understandable when this test accounted for 50% of their final subject score.

It reminded me of something that I read in a book by John Taylor Gatto called Weapons of Mass Instruction. Gatto says that school teaches you to memorize the dots, not to connect the dots. If you are classified as an advanced student, you might get to memorize how a so-called expert connected the dots too. But connecting the dots yourself is frowned upon.

So why did this Board of Studies suddenly forget what it was there to do? In the spirit of Michael Gerber’s book the E-Myth (Gerber refers to the Entrepreneurial Seizure), you could say that the Board of Studies had an Educational Seizure. That is, they suddenly thought that they were involved in education, but in reality they work exclusively in schooling (If you don’t know the difference between education and schooling, it’s time to find out!).

There is a well established pattern that ensures that students study diligently for their tests. They even get copies of and study past exams! How did the board of studies confuse studying to score well on a test with diligent study and meditation on a subject matter? Again, it confused schooling with education.

You could easily see from the quotes above that the students, teachers and principles were all clear on the mission: Getting the best possible score on the test. Until now it is clear that the Board of Studies were playing along. Suddenly they decided to change rules without telling anyone and mayhem ensued.

In reflection, I could never really see the point in taking the tests memorizing the dots at school, so I don’t remember asking, “is it on the test”… I did pass the tests recall the dots  of course, and I did reasonably well through school with minimal effort and got into university twice without any dramas.

I didn’t really study hard and I left most things to the last minute. I was always told that I had lots of potential, and I guess I believed it in a way… Probably in the same way that the kids who were told they were dumb (not directly of course, but subtly) believed that too. Lets just say that in school I lived up to expectations.

The reality is that none of this dot memorizing prepared me for life, especially in this day of industrial obsolescence (I mean where are the factories now?). But nobody that I talk to seems to think that school really prepared them for life either. In fact I find – and I’m in good company here – that the majority of university graduates that I speak to are not prepared for life too and I find that odd.

So I guess the question is, why do I think that school should have prepared me for life? I’m well past starting to wonder why I was sent there at all. Everything that I do today that is meaningful in my life wasn’t taught there.

The reasons for schooling that you think of from the top of your mind tend to be things like these:

  • Reading? My kids learnt that at home (and still love learning it)
  • Writing? Never learnt that at school, in fact it took me years to overcome my hatred of it. Once I started writing for a living I had to learn the basics… still learning too.
  • Arithmetic? Can’t remember it, but I knew my way around an excel spreadsheet and accounting system before it ever came up at school.
  • Critical thinking? Nope, not taught there
  • How to learn? Quite the opposite
  • Public speaking? Started at age 10, but not taught at school
  • Passing tests? You bet
  • Passing time? Bingo!

According to Gatto, “nobody can give you an education, an education must be taken.” Unfortunately most kids are too busy and damaged from test taking to have time or energy for that.

The final word for now:

"So we are aware that this is an issue, and we will just approach it as we usually do with the best interests of the students at the centre of whatever we do." – NSW Education Board’s chief executive Carol Taylor

Ms Taylor, does that mean that you are going to abolish tests? Or should students continue memorising the dots?

If you really want to know where your kids are at with their education level (not schooling level), test them with performance. Give them a job to do. Let them have a go at something. Set up a safe stage for them to perform on. See how well they do.

Stop treating displays of memory (tests) as anything more than what they are,
displays of memory and not skill.

Written by brettg in: Education | Tags: , , ,
May
16
2009
0

Four Corners NRL Sex Scandal – My Humble Opinion

21-05-08 NRL State of Origin I think it’s great that the four corners program this week created a plethora of discussion about morality and sex. Unless you’ve been under a rock you would be aware that this sordid scandal has resulted in the sacking of Matthew Johns from his three NRL related jobs.

However, in my opinion, the scandal is not about what may or may not have happened, the legality of it and who got hurt by it.

The real issue is to do with our morality.

The practice of engaging in group sex with someone that you barely know (probably don’t even know by name) shows very little respect, love or human dignity. You would not ever associate it with giving qualities.

Rather, it represents the exercise of power, domination, self-pleasure and self-gratification.

Public reports of this type of behaviour and it’s shocking consequences are not rare in Rugby League or for that matter other high profile sports. It does make you wonder how many instances are covered up and don’t see the light of day.

So why is this going on?

I believe that this represents a much wider problem in society. You have to ask yourself if other men, placed in this position – with money, celebrity, constant travel, extraordinary female attention and time to burn – would do things differently?

Probably not. Most would not have a moral basis for doing so, nor a desire to.

Schools (synthetic parents) don’t teach morality. Parents for the most part divulged the responsibilities to the schools in the last century and busily went to work. Churches wrote themselves out of the morality equation by living in hypocrisy (Amongst other things, teaching abstinence while priests were interfering with children).

The consequence of this lack of taught morals is not freedom as some would suggest. If your freedom impinges on mine, then we are no longer free. The balance that is freedom would be lost.

Freedom only exists with love and discipline. It belongs with generosity and restraint.

So in our society now, we are stranded in a situation where morality is badly eroded and we will suffer as a consequence.

There is the moral of all human tales;
‘Tis but the same rehearsal of the past;
First Freedom, and the Glory – when that fails
Wealth, Vice, Corruption – Barbarism at last
And History, with all her volumes vast,
Hath but one page.
Lord Byron – Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto IV CVIII

I think that the response of the NRL and the NRL Footy Show this week to the scandal was admirable. They framed the issue in terms of respect for women and they have sent out a huge message to players and the wider public that it’s not ok to denigrate women.

However, the effectiveness of that message will be limited because there is no foundation for sustaining it in the minds of the people involved.

Throw into the mix the porn culture that has developed on the back of this decline. Look at the acceptance amongst young generations of sending each other explicit mobile phone pictures and “hooking up”. You have a powder keg of biblical proportions.

You can be certain that in the last days there will be some very hard times.

People will love only themselves and money.

They will be proud, stuck-up, rude, and disobedient to their parents.

They will also be ungrateful, godless, heartless, and hateful.

Their words will be cruel, and they will have no self-control or pity. These people will hate everything that is good.

They will be sneaky, reckless, and puffed up with pride. Instead of loving God, they will love pleasure.
Bible 2 Tim 3:1-4 Contemporary English Version

I still love watching rugby league though…

Written by brettg in: Education |
Mar
03
2009
0

What school could be for

Picture 042 So I had my rant about the current system of schooling in response to Seth Godin’s question, “What is school for?”

In review, it’s pretty negative. But, that is how I feel about the current system of schooling. I believe it could be so much better.

I do believe in the need for schools. However, the world has changed radically in 150 years, but schools have not. Whilst the school rhetoric changes and styles changes lightly each year, the basic assumptions and structures of school remain the same.

Schools run in the same basic format today as when they were formed (or forced on us) at the dawn of industrial age. Back then capitalism needed workers and managers for factories.

Whether you think the industrial age brought us progress or not, you need to acknowledge that it has passed for us. We are now firmly planted in the information age. But in order to be relevant to the information age, school as a concept must radically change.

Of course, there are still subjects that simply must be held to a practical tested standard. For example, you would never trust a surgeon unless he was qualified to a standard. You wouldn’t hire an engineer unless you were absolutely sure he could do the calculations. However, the path to achieve those competencies must be adapted.

When I think about the question, “What is school for?” I think about the:

  1. Foundations: What do people really need to know at a minimum?
  2. Delivery: How can we learn most effectively?
  3. Confirmation and Qualification: How can we determine how competent we are in order to cross over into real practice?

Allow me to explain these 3 thoughts…

Foundations:

As I see it, the basic foundations of education that people need include:

  1. Learning how to read, write and manipulate numbers
  2. Becoming confident to handle an unknown, unfamiliar situations by gathering information and making decisions
  3. Developing compassion and empathy for others

That’s not 12 or 16 years worth of learning. Those three aims can really be accomplished in just a few years. I believe that they are the entire basis of competence required for real learning.

You see, once you’ve learned to read, write and manipulate numbers you can learn anything that you truly desire to learn. Once you have confidence you are not afraid to learn. Once you learn compassion and empathy, you can work in a team and cooperate.

Having achieved the foundations, there is no need for a fixed curriculum. Instead, your personal curriculum would set by the topics of your interest. Your interests would naturally lead you to a career.

For example, if you were fascinated by animals – as many kids are – you might want to become a vet. Through the study of animals you would learn things like biology, chemistry, maths, finance, business, physiology, psychology and all sorts of other subjects as they relate to your field of study.

Studying a subject like chemistry in a context like this makes it far more interesting and meaningful. This in turn results in true retention, not just test regurgitation.

This kind of general education through interest would lead people directly to their logical place in the world. It would end the illogical situation that we have today where most kids simply have no idea what they want to do with their life by 15, 16, 17 and so often even 18 years old.

Such and education would allow students to master a far broader field of knowledge in their chosen area of study by the age of 25.

Delivery:

If you were asked to do something important that you didn’t know how to do, who would you turn to?

  1. A low paid teacher who has no experience in the real work, but has lots of theories to teach in a structured format
  2. Seek out someone who has hands on experience in the task, and who can communicate with proficiency about it.

Unfortunately, under the current system, we choose option (a). For example, your economics teacher at school is well versed in the theory of economics. However, you’d probably learn a lot more about the real situation of our economy from someone like Marc Faber.

So good schooling would be delivered in context within community by the community. It would require business, professional and community involvement.

In my ideal school, people with real experience would offer mentorship to the young, and this would start from a much younger age than it ever does today. In fact, in my ideal school kids from 10-14 should be involved in real, hands on and productive learning.

“School” would never be very far from real life at all. Actually, school as I see it cannot be separated from real life. Real life always presents a smorgasbord of opportunities to learn, and so would my school.

In order for this to work however, we would have to get rid of some terrible assumptions of the current system. Bogus assumptions such as:

  • Boys and girls, or for that matter anyone learns the same way and at the same pace
  • Competency in a topic should be reached by a certain age
  • Things worth learning can be broken into 45 minute segments and thrown randomly together for the purposes of scheduling
  • Mistakes are bad, only right answers matter
  • Learning must be guided by a teacher
  • Students can be led to understanding (not just answers) by pedagogy
  • Learning can take place inside shut inside a classroom
  • Anyone can learn effectively in a class of 20-30 students or more
  • Surveillance is required to keep students under control
  • Written testing can determine competency or mastery
  • A certain (high) percentage of students must be weeded out or failed.

So many of these assumptions set students up for failure. Even those who pass with flying colours are set up for long term failure because they are not equipped for the real world.

In building a school context without assumptions like those above, you would create an environment for students that would support true learning without fear.

Ultimately, students with confidence, context and freedom become self directed and self motivated. Answers that are sought out have so much more sticking power than those that are rammed down throats.

Students would be less likely to pursue a subject that they have no aptitude for, as hands on application would show them that they would not find fulfilment in it.

Qualification and Confirmation:

Who is in the best position to determine who is ready to practice in the real world?

Undoubtedly different professions require different standards for qualification. Becoming a house painter does not require the same level of scrutiny as a becoming bridge engineer. Surely though, a house painter would be best to determine who is a good house painter.

Under the current system of official testing there are incredible gaps. Many companies today decry the knowledge standard of university graduates. It seems that graduates often fail to retain important knowledge.

I can vouch for this. One graduate accou
ntant that I offered some work experience to had to keep a sticky note on his monitor explaining the difference between a debit and a credit. Another fresh accounting graduate that I recently spoke to did not understand what insolvency was.

I’ve heard so many more stories like this. It demonstrates to me that the current system of institutional testing is not adequate. These guys had both passed the tests, but they failed to retain some of the most basic and important accounting concepts.

So how do you know if someone is competent in a subject? Well, I believe that it can only be done by a person who is competent in that subject. Working closely with a student over time and under close supervision would clearly reveal the true extent of their competency.

Qualification in this way could not be achieved by a series of written exams or tests. The medical profession often adopts a practical method of mentorship and qualification like this one. It is time consuming, but then again, getting it right is so important.

The same could be applied to practically anything important. The level of risk would determine the intensiveness of the qualification period required.

So is a radical change like this ever going to happen?

Sadly, I think that the answer is no. The current system is far too entrenched. Parents lack a thorough understanding of the changes required, and instead demand more of the same from schools.

The teachers and politicians who run the system have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. The only way to bring about radical change like this is to bring it about yourself for your own family.

Written by brettg in: Education |
Feb
27
2009
0

What is School for?

IMG_1105 I’m passionate about education and schooling. I believe that the day you stop learning is the day you start dying. So I just had to respond when Seth Godin posed the question on his blog, “What is School for?” I began asking this question myself seven years ago when we had our first child.

In our western society it is expected almost without exception that everyone goes to school. After all, that is what our modern, civilised society is built on, right?

However, there is one simple question that my father taught me to ask that resonates through my life. It relates significantly to schooling, and that is “Why?”

Nobody seems to want to ask, “Why do we send our kids to school? How will it benefit them, us and society?”

I’m thankful that such a high profile person as Seth decided to raise the topic. He says,

Seems like a simple question, but given how much time and money we spend on it, it has a wide range of answers, many unexplored, some contradictory. I have a few thoughts about education, how we use it to market ourselves and compete, and I realized that without a common place to start, it’s hard to figure out what to do.

So, Seth’s starting list of ideas for the purpose of school follows. I have responded here with my thoughts on each proposed benefit.  My responses relate to what school is, not what it could be.

1. Become an informed citizen

What is an informed citizen? What are they informed about? Politics, business, economics, finance, celebrity, the weather? I can’t say, but I’m not sure how isolating groups of 20-30 kids in a classroom with one adult produces informed citizens.

I find the current economic situation fascinating and I like to be able to talk about it at a deep level. I took economics in high school, but not at university. I have a friend studying in his third year of university at Monash here in Melbourne. He was recently telling me how boring his economics class is. I could not believe it!

I said, “How on earth could economics be boring right now? We are in one of the most amazing economic upheavals in history! This is your future, it’s happening all around you and it’s playing out in terms of economics.” He stared at me blankly.

Does school really create informed citizens? I profer that it creates disconnected citizens.

2. Be able to read for pleasure

I believe that this is actually the key to becoming an informed citizen: The desire to read – not only stories or fiction – for pleasure.

This is coupled with the desire for true self directed learning which is completely stifled by about the first year of schooling.

3. Be trained in the rudimentary skills necessary for employment

We need people to work the machines for the factory, right? We need people to manage the people who work the machines, right?

This is industrial age thinking, hang on… We don’t have any industry any more. It all comes from China. Well, at least they could make use of it.

The skills I think are necesary for meaningful employment are:

  • Reading, writing, arithmetic
  • Creativity
  • Problem solving skills
  • Passion

I don’t believe that school is really the best environment for learning any of these things.

4. Do well on standardized tests

This is one of the key functions of schooling today, although it’s not quite expressed correctly. Few will do well on standardized tests, many will be average, and others must fail.

It must be this way so that society can be graded (I think of grading wool for quality here) into the smart, the average and the dumb. We need people raw material of all grades to support our society. How else would we have people to work those assembly lines?

When were you last judged on your test scores? When were you even asked about them?

To quote best selling author and school teacher John Holt, “Are we trying to turn out intelligent people or test takers?”

Real intelligence can’t be tested in a half hour on paper. To really know someone’s intelligence you must know them.

If parents need a test result to know how smart their kids are, then they don’t know their kids.

5. Homogenize society, at least a bit

Adopting each others best elements seems like a good idea. But do we really want such an alike society?

Schools in many countries (including Australia) have moved to stop Muslim girls from wearing their traditional headscarves. The drive to homogenise is incredibly strong in schools. It is so strong that it has well and truly become intolerance. In some cases, this intolerance actually violates human rights such as freedom of religion.

Homogenisation is a dangerous pursuit that leads to intolerance… I say celebrate the differences.

6. Pasteurize out the dangerous ideas

Like these ones? American debt based consumerism is about to die. Western lifestyles are unsustainable. The planet may be warming due to dangerous consumption. Oil will run out. Testing school children is evil!

7. Give kids something to do while parents work

With the industrial age, fathers needed to leave their families to work in the factory. Today, mothers often also need to go to work in the big corporate factory.

With the way our society generally runs, there is a need for large scale child care. School provides that.

The phenomenon of latchkey kids is undoubtedly interlinked with so many youth social issues. Do we still need mass babysitting in the information age? I know I don’t! My wife and I both work from home.

8. Teach future citizens how to conform

Here we come to another key lesson of the schooling. Stand in line. Wait your turn.

Everyone needs to know how do get along with others and when to rock the boat. Leaders know when to do this, but they didn’t learn it in school.

9. Teach future consumers how to desire

Pacified yet wanting and dissatisfied.

10. Build a social fabric

School champions individualism. Cooperation and teamwork are called cheating. What kind of social fabric does this create? It’s certainly not a cohesive one.

In fact, I attribute the opposite to school: Social breakdown.

One of the key lessons of standardised testing and schooling is that in order to achieve, you must step over, beat and destroy others.

In my third grade class, I was told by my teacher to choose other friends since my good friend David was not as smart as me. She suggested that he would hold me back. What kind of fabric is that? It aint silk!

11. Create leaders who help us compete on a world stage

I wonder how many potential leaders are destroyed in the school system? How many smart people tell themselves that they are dumb because they were graded that way on standardised tests?

The drive for leaders is in the now. Leadership is about passion, drive and urgency. For a true leader, it must be done and done now.

School on the other ha
nd
is disconnected from time and reality. Bells ring every forty minutes to ensure that you can never really follow anything long enough to be passionate about it.

12. Generate future scientists who will advance medicine and technology

Undoubtedly vocational training is a key component of advancing medicine, science and technology. We just need to cut out the padding and get people there faster so that they can achieve more.

13. Learn for the sake of learning

Why?

14. Help people become interesting and productive

A pacified, busy society turns a blind eye to the small and the large atrocities that are a daily part of our western lives. The consumer machine doesn’t work without a pacified society feeding it.

15. Defang the proletariat

Governments created forced schooling with the intention of breaking family bonds to ensure that uneducated parents did not pass on their lower class ways.

Here in Australia, schooling was instituted from colonisation to ensure that the children of convicts did not become convicts themselves. Of course, parents today are educated and mostly non-convict.

So is this still relevant? Is this classist society of workers and capitalist bourgeoisies really what we want? I thought democracy was supposed to close the gap. Perhaps I need to brush up on political theory.

Keeping the proletariat addicted to their weekly pay check, spending everything each week on consumer items that they don’t *really* use, want or need seems a bit like a sinister intent. Is that the intent of schooling?

16. Establish a floor below which a typical person is unlikely to fall

Again, the real purpose of schooling is to ensure a steady supply of “human capital” above and below the floor. The people in the trailer park went to school too.

Is it their failing or is it a failing of the school that keeps them there? Perhaps it’s just meant to be that way.

17. Find and celebrate prodigies, geniuses and the gifted

Are they so few and far between? I started playing guitar at 30. People sometimes say that I have the gift of music, and of course that they do not. I don’t think I have a gift, but I think that if it is, it was stifled by school music classes. I can’t express how much I detested them!

I wonder how many gifts are buried by school. I’ve always loved music, so perhaps my gift was buried at school.

Take for example Roy Best, the talented Australian tenor who was discovered as a motor mechanic at 40. He is now a recognised professional, but why wasn’t he discovered earlier? The Age newspaper explains:

At high school, Best’s passion for singing waned after relentless teasing about his singing voice. Many years passed before he grew into a new tenor voice. "At the age of 15 or 16 you are growing and going through puberty and you have issues about your own standing in the world. I rejected the singing thing and pretended my voice had broken. It killed my singing for a long time," he says with a hint of sadness.

Could this have been avoided? How many geniuses are killed off by schooling?

18. Make sure kids learn to exercise, eat right and avoid common health problems

Should this be the responsibility of the great synthetic parent known as school? When I read this, I can’t help but think of another farming analogy: The milking machine.

19. Teach future citizens to obey authority

Obedience is important, no doubt. Well placed, it can be a key to success, or at least trouble avoidance. Choose who to obey poorly and you end up average, boring and maybe dangerous.

20. Teach future employees to do the same

You have to know when to obey. Misplaced obedience can be horrific. Think: Enron, Worldcom, HIH (Australia), Investment Banking, WWII Holocaust, War etc.

Obedience is good, but authority must be questioned and it must stack up against criticism and dissent. School teaches unquestioning obedience. How else can you control a class of 30 kids?

21. Increase appreciation for art and culture

Could an institution really do this?

22. Teach creativity and problem solving

What school actually teaches through the drive for testing is right answer getting. Think about this, how much time was spent in the following activities in school":

  • Reviewing the right answers from the test?
  • Reviewing the wrong answers for the test?
  • Finding out where you went wrong?
  • Allowing you to truly understand what you didn’t know?

The typical maths class for instance goes like this:

  • Teacher explains the theory
  • You work through the exercises
  • Teacher tells you what’s on the test
  • You take the test
  • You get your grade
  • You review the right answers.

Where is the creative problem solving? Parrots could do this. It’s not creative, it’s boring.

Creativity is about exploration. Problem solving takes time. There simply isn’t time in school for it because the “curriculum” gets in the way.

23. Minimize public spelling mistakes

I was the only male student in our senior high school English class that passed. There were at least ten other guys who did not pass… How well do you think they can spell? I can’t, but fortunately I have this computer to do it for me!

24. Increase emotional intelligence

Some say that school gives kids the opportunity to socialise and create life long connections. Learning about relationships is obviously a big part of developing your emotional intelligence.

But how many of your school friends are you still close with? How many do you keep in touch with? How many do you really care about?

Shouldn’t you be given the opportunity to make connections with people apart from those your own age? Do you only associate with people your own age now?

How many older people do you have a relationship with? Do you volunteer and look after the elderly? Do you mentor the young?

School, being a synthesised social environment teaches a timeless present. The young and the old are not your concern. You are not part of the community in any way when you’re locked away in school. Hardly a lesson in tolerance or emotional intelligence.

Oh, and how exactly does being humiliated, belittled, bullied, graded and scared increase your emotional intelligence?

25. Decrease crime by teaching civics and ethics

Many uneducated people were dispatched to Australia on convict ships in the 1700’s for stealing bread. They stole for their lives.

Today, people steal to get ahead, to feed an addiction or just because they’re bored. Addicted, bored people who don’t care about others are a recipe for crime. Interestingly there’s more of it around than ever. There’s also more schooling than ever, and the masses are demanding more! Coincidence?

26. Increase understanding of a life well lived

What is a life well lived? How many billionaires or celebrities could say that they have lived life well? How many of the proletariat could too?

27. Make sure the sports teams have enough players

I’m all for this one, I love playing and watching sport. But i wonder, does it relate to point 15? How different are we from the ancient Romans

with their arenas and games?

So what is school for?

I think one thing is for sure, the current purpose of forced schooling is not what people think it is.

So much of it is irrelevant that when you start to ask the question “why?”, significant cracks start to appear.

School is in trouble. The education that we need for the information age doesn’t live there.

The learning that you need now starts within you. It doesn’t live in an institution.

Written by brettg in: Education | Tags: , ,
Feb
16
2009
0

No right, no wrong, no evolution, no creation

Picture 001 It has been hard to bite my tongue about the Darwin debate that is popular news fodder at the moment due to Darwin’s 200th birthday.

In Darwinian and biological terms, Evolution means the natural selection and genetic drift towards traits that are beneficial for survival of the fittest.

Some might consider that the refinement of something like the theory of evolution over time, in itself is a process of evolution, but it is not evolution in Darwinian terms.

Whilst this popular usage of the term evolution might be understood to mean creative refinement, too many people equate that with the biological theory of evolution.

Take for Alex Zaharov-Reutt of IT wire. Yesterday he wrote that advancement in IT was evidence of Darwinian evolution*.

This of course spawns the usual stupid debate. There are only two sides to the debate in most media forums:

Was human and animal created in 7 literal days only 10,000 years ago?

or

Did life evolve over millions of years?

This brings me to my point. It is a stupid debate.

It is based on I’m right and you’re wrong thinking. Our sausage factory school system pumps out millions of adults every year who were tested and graded to the point that they think that there is only one answer, even when there cannot possibly be one.

The frustration for me is that the drones who think this way do not acknowledge that there possibly could be another way. For convenience and sensationalism, the media always lumps everyone in with one of the above arguments.

For example, the scientists who are advocates of intelligent design are lumped in with religion by the media (and many in the right / wrong minded science community).

Clearly, there are many more positions (read beliefs) that you can take up in this question. I for one believe that there is an intelligent creator. I don’t suppose to know exactly what process he used to bring about life. Maybe evolution was it’s creative process, maybe not.

So,

Do I believe that God created the earth and the people in 7 x 24 hours days?

Not on your life**.

Do I believe that live evolved directed only by natural selection?

Nope. I think it’s unlikely.

I also know plenty of others who feel the same way.

What I do know for sure is that you cannot physically prove any theory of how we came to be here using today’s materialistic science methods, because you weren’t there***.

So here I am, stuck in this position where there is no wrong, no right. There is no evolution in Darwinian terms, no creation in the traditionally accepted religious sense.

So I bit my tongue and thought of this saying:

Q. What do you get when you argue with an idiot?

A. Two idiots!


*It’s strange to me that, the very existence of the theory of evolution is actually the product of a

creative process. It did not evolve in Darwinian terms. It did not direct itself, it was created and directed by intelligence.

** I also believe that this is not a valid biblical interpretation of creation.

*** So called evidence is always directed by assumptions. If you set out to find evidence for any side of the argument, you will find it. So basically, don’t tell me that “overwhelming evidence” exists for what ever you believe in, because overwhelming evidence does not represent fact.

Written by brettg in: Education | Tags: , ,
Dec
29
2008
0

Incompetent but fit to teach?

I’ve always believed that it really is best to lead by example. I hope that I can pass that on to my kids in the hope that they could become good leaders themselves.

Of course not everyone sees it that way, such as the former Victorian teacher reported in the Australian today who told his class, “Don’t f..king swear at me.”

This is what his previous principal had to say about him:

“She (the principal) said of his performance, ‘it was a nightmare’ and that it was only good fortune that a child in the teacher’s care did not suffer any serious injury,” the panel’s report states. “The principal said it did not seem to matter to the teacher what was said about his behaviour or what help was offered. He simply ‘charted his own course’.”

This same teacher is now actively teaching in NSW, but his name is protected so that you can’t know if he’s teaching your kids.

With a serious and straight face, the Victorian Institute of Teaching came to the following conclusion:

“The panel determined that the teacher was guilty of incompetence, but remained fit to teach.”

So there you have it. I wonder how the good teachers feel about the new standard for teaching in Victoria? You don’t need to be competent to hold down a teaching job here, alive and breathing will do.

Does it make you wonder about the people who you are entrusting with your kids education? 

Written by brettg in: Education | Tags: , ,

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