22 January 2007

Quick Thoughts on Education

I had a long conversation today about the extreme lack of substantive debate about a radical recasting of our educational system. I'm not specifically talking about more funding, or curriculum reform, or any of the myriad issues that are the topics of discussion around the various ministries of education, policy makers, teachers' unions, and PTA meetings. What I'm referring to goes to first principles: What is the role of education - and particularly publicly funded education - in the contemporary UCaPP world? Two minor observations to stir the thoughtful soul:
  1. Students go through the education system, but very few are actually touched by it, because very few have been actually engaged by it.
  2. The content of any course or subject is merely an excuse for the real learning that occurs (or doesn't, which is far too often the case).

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Anonymous said...

Truly, I find this area lacking in innovation. Or perhaps even if there were innovation, then adoption is a finicky business. How are the Education departments at your universities? Any interesting theses coming up?

jonhusband said...

Are you aware of the work of Wim Veen of the Technical University of Delft on what he calls "Homo Zappiens" ?

His decade-or-more of research into the cognition and learning behaviour of the digital generation has resulted in a book and some very concrete suggestions / proposals for a radical (and IMO practical recasting of the structure and process of education in public schools.

Here's an example .. the implications for the structure and process of learning / education are towrds the end ...


comment by Jon Husband

Anonymous said...

Check out John Taylor Gatto (Wikipedia is a good starting place) and particularly his essay, "The 6-Lesson Schoolteacher".
One of the first of first principles is our notion of compulsory education. It is so "right" it is unquestioned and unquestionable and yet the implications of coercive education are imense. They include, "
Who 'owns' our children - their parents or the State. If we can in csome countries be sent to jail for our children's truancy, then we are merely the caretakers on behalf of the State. But it is more than that. The coercive principle permeates all of our society and culture. A starting point for thinking, anyway.