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Author Topic: What is the real purpose of education?  (Read 1557 times)

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Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

What is the real purpose of education?
« on: December 18, 2008, 02:49:14 PM »
http://www.omnipresence.mahost.org/antischool.htm

I found this essay from an Unschooling Advocate and after reading it and some relevant books I can see his points as being strongly valid. Now I'm in college and enjoy it but is it the best way to educate people if one takes into account the debt and often taking courses students feel may be irrelevant to getting employment. And if its for personal interest I could go to the public library and read a great deal over the same number of hours for four years and enlighten my mind far cheaper.

So I was wondering is the public school system (and private schools) really doing the job we wish it or is it really to prepare drones for the labor pool that will do what they are told and not think - at least at most levels.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2008, 03:50:23 PM »
This is somehow shocking for a society to further its own agenda and convince its citizens that it is correct?

The author needs to realize that all societies, capitalist or not, operate under a similiar philosophy in regards to education.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2008, 03:53:51 PM by Asku »

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2008, 05:56:31 PM »
Yes but what is wrong with unstructured and variable means of education? I'm very capable doing college level work and always intended to go. But many peers in high school were steered into pre-college who would likely have been better off learning a trade those four years. In addition assuming one remembers and uses 20% of what one learns that makes the other 80% of what one studies useless doesn't it?

I can see value to the Unschooling movement simply either letting children and teens learn what interests them or have a basic guidance in mathematics, english and leave the rest to what they care to learn.

I will simple state an old addage parents have used for ages: If your friends wanted to jump off a cliff would you follow? In other words why does the US have to follow the same model as other nations and put every child in a box and make them into robots.

Offline Kurzyk

Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2008, 06:17:23 PM »
There is a growing movement of private colleges challenging the standardized testing and conventional 'core curriculum' of the educational system. They argue against many of the points in that article. I attended one of those colleges and they had a different approach that was more geared to creative thinking and individualism.

Also on the grade-high school level the Montisori program is an educational system that 'thinks outside of the box.'

Unfortunately it is true that many of the state systems, and conventional educational programs are very much geared towards conformism and molding people into a status quo. Hopefully the ideologies of the newer, progressive education will have an affect.

The University i'm attending now is the old system and is completely a bore and has the affect of stamping a number on my forehead to join the assembly line of the system.

Offline Moondazed

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Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2008, 07:08:32 PM »
Read John Taylor Gatto's Dumbing Us Down or The Underground History of American Education: A Schoolteacher's Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling.  Dumbing Us Down is a quick read and he makes some very good points.  I homeschooled my son for 5th-8th grade and it was a very interesting experience to say the least :)  The thing that stuck out the most was that compulsory schooling doesn't teach critical thinking at all.  We used materials from The Critical Thinking Co. and I think he learned things he never would have been taught in public school.

Offline Moondazed

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Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2008, 07:14:27 PM »
Also on the grade-high school level the Montisori program is an educational system that 'thinks outside of the box.'

There's also the Waldorf method, as well as a few others that are smaller in size.  There are also a fair number of Quaker Friends' schools, which espouse more flexible educational methods.

Unfortunately it is true that many of the state systems, and conventional educational programs are very much geared towards conformism and molding people into a status quo. Hopefully the ideologies of the newer, progressive education will have an affect.

The 'No Child Left Behind' mentality is absolutely detrimental to the creativity of teachers, and while I understand the knee-jerk reaction to China's kids being smarter, standardizing everything tightly isn't the answer, imo.  All it does is homogenize education, which is something that should be dynamic and flexible.

The University i'm attending now is the old system and is completely a bore and has the affect of stamping a number on my forehead to join the assembly line of the system.

In John Taylor Gatto's book on the history of the education system he talks about some of the fundamental reasons public schooling began, besides the positive impact of kids who wouldn't get educated otherwise.  Such as day care so both parents could work, and desensitizing kids to repetition to prepare them for factory work.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2008, 08:49:57 PM »
Unstructured means that there is little foundation for the teacher to work upon.  A person shows up to an introductory chemistry course with little knowledge of math, there is a problem.  The teacher will now fail the person because they did not have this teaching prior or must slow the class down to catch the student up.  A reason for the tiers of education is to build upon previous foundations so that the individual has a choice later in life as to what they want to study.  They will also have some introduction to topics that might come up at work and be able to shine. 

The current educational model that colleges use is based off an academic approach.  Those that attend college are supposed to be there for the benefit of learning and for knowledge, not to make money.  Typically those that were interested in making money went to college specifically to make contacts, gain internships and really had little interest in performing in those classes.  I do agree that vocational schools should not be looked down upon and should be presented as a viable alternative to a standard college education.  With so many technical jobs out there, there is a great deal of money to be made and flooding the market with bachelors serves only to devalue it.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2008, 12:14:10 AM »
http://mises.org/story/2226

I just wanted to add this another and more scholarly perspective on the matter.

Now I want to point out was there really a problem that forced parents to send all the children to public schools when they started this. Its clear from my research that the literacy rate before 1900 and when the attendence to schools were elective was rather high. Parents in the majority in most states saw to their childrens educations. In the South after the Civil War private education for black children was very popular and well utilized by parents. So I would argue that the forcing of all students into a state system just because the minority of parents didn't act properly violates the rights of parents and wastes a great deal of money funding a bloated public education system. Lets assume instead schools were all private and parents could elect to educate their children freely without state oversight is there any proof parents would fail in the majority to educate their children in a meaningful way. I suspect most parents would.

Now one might argue without a diploma one could not have proof of education that is unfounded really. If a Unschooled child were normal there would be options - comprehensive testing of admissions such as a Super-SAT approach that could verify they have a certain amount of knowledge could be one. It would not be mandated unless one was seeking admission into a college or university, and could cover all areas that was deemed important. So it would not be standardized or used by the states to control children. And if parents and the child decided to focus on say learning a trade then this wouldn't matter.

As I see it all one must know is mathematics to a modest level, literacy and speaking skills in ones native language and a working knowledge of civics (current events and basic government) everything else is pretty much optional. Unless one is going to higher education naturally seeking a career demanding that level of learning. How many students need that level of education perhaps using the numbers 10-15% of students would need college, if one looks at all the professions that actually used a four year degree for a credential or for the meeting of graduate level education.

Offline Oniya

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Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2008, 11:06:19 AM »
One thing that education can provide is exposure to things you might not ordinarily choose to study.  As an example:  In elementary school, math actually bored me.  I ended up in remedial in fourth grade because I lost interest in the placement test.  Needless to say, remedial bored me even more.  I was decent at math, once I put my head in the right direction, but I didn't like it.  Didn't help that girls weren't being really encouraged in math and science, either. 

End of sixth grade, we were filling out elective forms - in those days the possibility of having electives started in seventh - and due to classes filling up, and possibly having a name at the end of the alphabet, I ended up in a class called 'World of Math', expecting the worst.

I couldn't have been more wrong.  The teacher was amazing, the coursework was fascinating, and I ended up not only majoring in mathematics, but I kept all of my college math texts and purchased several textbooks after graduating just for 'light reading'.  (if you can call a 10-pound book 'light' reading.)

In college, I also discovered a love of history for much the same reason.  U.S. history at the high-school level had gone over the same stuff in the same way for eleven years (with obvious adjustments for reading abilities.)  In college, I had to take classes in certain disciplines for core requirements, and ended up in history classes that ended up being surprisingly interesting.  Now, the local satellite provider must hate this, because things like the History channel, Military channel, and History International are all on the basic package, and I'll pick something there instead of Showtime, but I've surprised some of my Canadian friends by actually knowing about the War of 1812. ;D

No, the school system isn't perfect, but I'm actually grateful that I wasn't simply 'given my head' and allowed to only study what I wanted.

Offline Moondazed

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Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2008, 11:34:13 AM »
I wasn't that free-form when we homeschooled :)  What really helped my son was that he didn't have to spend 50 minutes and then change subjects at the ring of a bell.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2008, 12:07:28 PM »
I was home schooled K-8 and at some point I went from childrens level material to young adult as a tween, and as a young adult read non-fiction books from the adult collection at the library. In high school I always felt held back and they complained I was using books that were too advanced for my grade level, of course I did. The rehashing of materials I learned already made the whole experience a turn-off save for my language classes and some of the electives in subjects such as photography.

I just would like to see the state lay off and let parents and children get the education they choose is best, as I see it the state is a monopoly that will crush options that are valid. For example what would be so evil about a standard K-8 education then two years of pre-vocational studies then three years learning a trade? Or unschooling using thelibrary and internet to education a child perhaps guided in some areas of fundamental knowledge needed to function in society. Or home schooling, parents group educating their children in little private schools and the like?

But no its all teaching to No Child Left Behind, tests and regimental education with is not a benefit to every student although is a option for students that can benefit from such options. Students with learning disabilities often gain much from such a program of study.

Offline Oniya

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Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2008, 12:49:54 PM »
I wasn't that free-form when we homeschooled :)  What really helped my son was that he didn't have to spend 50 minutes and then change subjects at the ring of a bell.

I probably wouldn't be that free-form either. ;)  I don't have the organization capabilities to be an effective teacher, though.

Actually, I think that one thing that has hurt America's school systems is the attitude that it lacks towards intellectual pursuits.  While returning my books to my basement, I uncovered a puzzle book called "The Chicken from Minsk".  In the introduction, it has the following passage:

Quote
Keep in mind also that in Russia scientists and mathematicians were national heroes, having streets, parks, and even cities named after them.  This attitude was not restricted to Soviet scientists.  A biography of Robert Wood, a noted American physicist, was a best-seller in Russia, available in every bookstore and reprinted at least 20 times.  The best of the educational system in Russia was very much in the European tradition.  The goal was not professional training, but intellectual, moral, and ethical development.  Euclidean geometry was taught from Grades 6 through 9, followed by one year of trigonometry, but never with any emphasis on practical applications.  The purpose was to teach systematic thought and the perception of beauty in mathematics and other intellectual constructions.  Also required for everybody was five years of physics, with the intention of conveying a general elementary understanding of the workings of the world.

I have to admit, I had to look up who Robert Wood was.  He created the liquid mirror telescope by spinning mercury to form a lens, and was the 'father of infrared and ultraviolet photography' among other things.  I also have noted for years that Russian chess players are held up and admired, while if you ask the average person in the US to name an American chess player, they might remember Bobby Fischer - and probably not fondly.

I do think that the US school systems need re-vamping, but please - not in the direction of de-emphasizing subjects.

Offline Valerian

Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2008, 12:57:35 PM »
I was home schooled K-8 and at some point I went from childrens level material to young adult as a tween, and as a young adult read non-fiction books from the adult collection at the library. In high school I always felt held back and they complained I was using books that were too advanced for my grade level, of course I did. The rehashing of materials I learned already made the whole experience a turn-off save for my language classes and some of the electives in subjects such as photography.
I... think you just had the misfortune to go to a bad school, or maybe just one with class sizes that were too large.  I attended what was considered one of the better public schools in my area, and far from ever holding me back, my teachers encouraged my to work above my grade level.  Admittedly, the NCLB thing wasn't going then, but we still had the standardized tests, and no student ever got railroaded into college prep over trade schools or anything like that, as far as I heard.

My mother's not an unintelligent woman, but if she'd home schooled me, I wouldn't know anything that I didn't learn on my own.  :P

Offline Moondazed

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Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2008, 01:09:50 PM »
I probably wouldn't be that free-form either. ;)  I don't have the organization capabilities to be an effective teacher, though.

I think that was the most surprising discovery I made about homeschooling; it's not about organization or being a 'teacher', it's about teaching research skills and having new and interesting things around the house for the child to pick up when they weren't pursuing anything else.  We're so programmed that organization is the key, but that wasn't the case at all in my experience.

We also did lots of interesting small group classes, such as me doing Great Books with them and my husband doing programming sessions for those who wanted to learn it.

Quote
I do think that the US school systems need re-vamping, but please - not in the direction of de-emphasizing subjects.

I know what you mean, if anything Americans stigmatize intelligence, imo.  I think it's a symptom of having become so individualistic.  We aren't able to value those who contribute to society without feeling envious and insecure, which leads to less than generous behavior.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2008, 01:13:21 PM by Moondazed »

Offline Mathim

Re: What is the real purpose of education?
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2008, 05:57:07 PM »
If kids weren't required to go to school I know for a fact that 80% of my hometown wouldn't know left from right by the time they turned 18. And I'd be one of them since my mom didn't give a crap, but that's a different can of worms altogether. Yes, I know public schools could do a hell of a better job and ought to be teaching quite a freaking bit more and different things like nutrition and other important subjects, and in a more structured way; I think it should be according to capability and not age, since I got to junior high and from that point, I didn't feel challenged at all and constantly found myself just reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz books all through classes since there was nothing for me to do.

But all this is too much. When you have nothing but idiots in charge of everything, you can't expect to see them do a good job organizing anything. Not to mention it'd probably cost a lot more anyway.