In honor of state testing, For Twitter Book Club I am starting Alfie Kohn's (2004) What Does It Mean To Be Well Educated?
Well, it appears I have fallen dreadfully behind once again in my archiving of Twitter Book Club tweets. I started reading this book nearly a month ago and am already nearly half-way through my next book. Anyway, I am going to try to get these posted by the end of the day while I round off my month of mandatory service of state-mandated child exploitation, otherwise known as proctoring Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment Tests.
1. What Does It Mean to Be Well Educated?
"Thanks to the Internet, which allows writers and researchers to circulate rough drafts of their manuscripts, I've ... http://tl.gd/9lsuqd
"Rather than attempting to define what it means to be well educated, should we instead be asking about the purpose of education?" Kohn
"perhaps the question 'How do we know if education has been successful?' shouldn't be posed until we have asked wha... http://tl.gd/9lt0nd
I can hear the opposition to a statement like this. "Do you really think we have not thought about what education should be successful at? This is what we design assessments around." Problem is, I think most people with this kind of "accountability" mindset have failed to conceive that there may be a diversity of responses to this question. Additionally, even Kohn's statement here might be based in a false assumption shared by his detractors. That assumption is that education is something that can be designed. Before you can even ask the questions "how doe we know if education has been successful?," or "what is education supposed to be successful at?" we need to ask the question, "What is Education?"
Education is a result and not a procedure. Education is what we take away from our learning. Education is the result of learning. Learning is an internal process of the learner. It is up to the learner to obtain an education. Programs can be designed and created that help learners to learn, these are often schools but can also be a pantheon of other things: books, television programs, trips to places, the Internet, discussions with people, self-reflection and meditation, a job, a computer program, a radio broadcast, a song, a painting, an environment, nature, life.
So, when someone asks "How will we know if education has been successful?" they are really asking is, "How will we know if the programs we set in place to lead learners to learning result in the kind of education we want them to have?" This is more accurate and leads us to Kohn's question which asks us to define what it is we want learners to have. Once we know the answer to that question we can talk about the quality of one's education as a measurement of whether one's learning has been successful or not. But, you can't answer the question, "Has education been successful?" when this question is akin to asking a question like, "How do I know if my health was successful?" when I really mean to ask, "How do I know if my surgery was successful?" We don't talk about "successful" health as health is the result of successful living and we shouldn't talk about "successful" education as education is the result of successful learning. We need to be careful about how we use language, especially with words like learning and education. Repeated misuse of a term changes the term's meaning and words like Education are too important to loose their meaning.
"Does the phrase 'well educated' refer to a quality of schooling you received, or to something about you?" Kohn
I really love this question. In the past few weeks I've asked it a few times, usually to school people. Every time it makes them squirm.
"It is misleading and even dangerous to justify our own pedagogical values by pretending they are grounded in some ... http://tl.gd/9lt34p
"Merely sitting in classrooms for x hours doesn't make one well educated." Kohn
"Indeed, researchers have found a statistically significant correlation between high scores on a range of standardi... http://tl.gd/9lt4tj
"It is probably not a coincidence that a Core Knowledge model wins rave reviews from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum... http://tl.gd/9lt7dr
"teaching becomes distorted when passing those tests becomes the paramount goal." Kohn
"Students arguably receive an inferior education when pressure is applied to raise their test scores, which means t... http://tl.gd/9lta8a
"As I see it, the best sort of schooling is organized around problems, projects, and questions—as opposed to facts,... http://tl.gd/9ltbeq