Monday, October 11, 2010

Twitter Book Club: Neil Postman (1996) The End of Education - Chapter 5

The Spaceship Earth

"They will find their education in the process of saving their city. And as for their lessons in school, we (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

A few years ago a tornado hit the community where I was teaching. It damaged many homes and left a huge mess of downed trees. We mobilized to help the neighbors clean up. Students gave willingly of their day to help elderly and disabled people in the neighborhood clean up their yards. We organized this in such a way that the students did so by choice and very few chose not to lend a hand. This kicked off a culture of service in our school that lasted for at least as long as I taught there. I think we get caught up too much when we talk about wanting students to become global citizens and forget about the need for students to first be good neighbors. I think we forget that ourselves as adults too.

"people in distress will sometimes prefer a problem that is familiar to a solution that is not." Postmanless than a minute ago via Twittelator

I certainly have encountered this every time I have proposed a change in a school. All change, I have found, is always met with resistance so long as it has an effect on people.

"the teachers complained that their contract contained no provision for such unusual procedures. To this, (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"As you can imagine, it was also exceedingly difficult to grade students on their activities, and after a (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"we must begin the story of Earth as our spaceship by inventing ways to engage students in the care of (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The strict application of nurturing and protective attitudes toward children has created a paradoxical (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

This is one of my gripes with schools in the United States. When I first started teaching art I would have students in my ceramics class learn about ceramic glazes by making them. We would get out the balance and the measuring cups and the mixing cups and would start with raw materials and then through the scientific method they would formulate their own glazes and in the process derive some estimated guesses about what properties in the glazes were produced by what elements in the mixtures. It was a wonderfully educative class project and engaging for most students too. But, since we have to protect students against dust about three years into my career I was told I couldn't do this with high school students anymore. I still have boxes and boxes of expensive glaze-making chemicals in my garage that the school made me throw away. What a waste.

I know of at least half a dozen other similar stories about things that ought to have been allowed for their obvious educational value but have been banned for purposes of protection, some of them my stories, others from other teachers (especially other art and science teachers). At least they never made me stop making plaster casts of student heads.

"I propose we realign the structure of what are called 'major subjects' so that archaeology, anthropology, (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

I love this proposition. What a source of curiosity and wonder this would produce!

"subjects are, as much as anything else, bureaucratic and institutional entities." Postmanless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"When I attended high school both music and art were considered 'minor' subjects - for what reason I have (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The Sophists taught grammar, logic, and rhetoric, the last two of which have little importance in American schools. I wonder why." Postmanless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"[our students] will be the Sumerians three thousand years from now, and their accomplishments and (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

I wonder what subjects students will learn about in 3000 years?

"I have no objection to schools' confining their instruction to what is basic. The question, of course, is (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Is there anything that our spaceship needs more than it's crew be courageous and hopeful?" Postmanless than a minute ago via Twittelator

I can't help but be reminded of that clip from the Waiting for Superman trailer where it is stated that U.S. students ranked #1 in confidence.

1 comment:

Mrs. Tenkely said...

It is a shame that so many classrooms are restricted from incredible learning opportunities because of "safety" issues. Safe guards should be put into place but don't restrict an activity from happening all together!