MOnday MEanders

About Education.  This morning, on my way to the office, I listened to PRX (Public Radio Exchange) on XM Radio and heard a TED Talk given by Sir Ken Robinson ( author, speaker, and international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education, and arts bodies) in 2006 about Education.

And it made me think.  (Isn't that what they're SUPPOSED to do?)

About Education - and my #3 Son.

I wonder if we have done him a disservice.  I wonder if the whole approach to Education is wrong - if the process isn't skewed to the point that we ignore a child's natural talents and abilities in order to fit them in the box of "Education".

Standardized tests.  Rote learning.  "Teach to the test."  Let's prepare them to go to college.

Why do we not explore a child to find what they're GOOD at?  Why do we not ask a child what they like and WANT to do?  Pablo Picasso once said that, " ... all children are artists ...".  Why do we relegate Art and Music and Dance to the bottom of the heap in Public Education?  Why are THEY the first things cut in budget crunches?

As Sir Robinson alluded to in his talk, there was NO formal education system until the 19th century - and it was developed in response to the needs of the Industrial Revolution.  Its form and structure relate directly to the needs of an Industrialized Society - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic - top of the heap.  Most important.  Taught first before all others.

The thing is, we aren't an Industrialized Society any longer.  We are a society of Specialists.  We've outsourced and off-shored all the heavy work.

Be that as it may ...

It has long been a notion, in my mind, that in school we learn what is already known.  We read the thoughts and understandings of others, and call that knowledge.  We work the theorems and postulations of others in order to judge their worth - but we already know the answers.  Where is original thought in all of this?  Why are we not asking our children WHAT they THINK, instead of telling them what TO THINK?

#3 Son, on his own, became a member of the school Chorus this year.  He is, actually, a marvelous singer.  A bass.  There is, apparently, music in him.  His voice is not trained.  But he sings well enough to have been accepted immediately into the Chorus.  He LIKES this well enough to have put in the time and effort to learn songs in Spanish, Latin, Hebrew and English for the Spring Concert.

I am so proud of him.  His mother and I are SO proud of him.

But it makes me wonder what we have done to him.



Big Mark 243 said...

This is quite profound and I can sense how this question is something that you have invested a lot of thought into. Creativity is very important but how do you see where a child's talents lie?

Sir Ken spoke very glibly but I just wonder if we are over-worrying about finding what is best for our children en masse and not letting their natural inclinations grow and develop. I think I am fortunate to have had a Mother who encouraged my flights of fancy and instructed me against those who would dim my dreams.

I am listening to Sir Ken as I write, and he is very entertaining! And he makes his point very well!!

Tara R. said...

This is exactly why we encouraged our son to explore different education options other than college. He likes what he does, is good at it, and in the end, that's really what we want for our kids... for them to be happy.

Nan Sheppard said...

I agree Lou, there are so many amazing people out there who feel un-special just because they can't fit into that cubbyhole. I was lucky enough that I could move COUNTRIES to get my boys into a school that suited them, but my heart aches for all of the other boys (usually boys, yes?) who don't have the opportunities.

PattiKen said...

American educator Neil Postman once said, "Children enter school as question marks and leave as periods."

I've often wondered about our efforts to "standardize." Have you heard the Harry Chapin song, Flowers Are Red? Have a listen.

And if you want an earful, ask Lisa about "Teaching to the test."

Keaven said...

For me, I'm not leaving my childrens education up to the Public school system, though that's where they attend. It is not a government employees job to teach my children, it's mine. And I take that job very seriously. I think if we have this attitude about it, our children can excel at what they're good at. Maybe that a simplistic way of looking at it... but it's my view.

LceeL said...

@Keaven. Not everyone has the time or the expertise to properly educate their children - thus the basic reason for sending them to school. The point is the schools educate to the lowest common denominator - rather than individualize the process for each child.