inside Japanese schools

By Aka Hige from Denton, TX, USA (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons


NY1 Online: "Looking For Answers: Inside Tokyo Schools" [Full Program]: Education Reporter Lindsey Christ traveled to the Far East to produce the hour-long special report, Looking For Answers: Inside Tokyo Schools, a look at what New York City schools can learn from schools in Japan. [48 minutes]

An interesting (48 mins) documentary on Japanese schools from a NYC reporter. It is more about Japan but there's a bit about NYC, too. My notes:
Japanese schools have older kids interact with younger kids. Compulsory education actually ends with 9th grade even though 95% go on to senior high, which clearly shows how compulsory attendance is not the only driver of education policy. The Japanese also wants to shift their schools away from producing industrial workers and are questioning the factory model.

The impact of changed test results in Japan have harmed many reforms and many want a return to the 6-day week to get test scores back up again. A look at class sizes is also interesting: NYC cares a lot about this while Japan does not. The jukus, or test prep classes are shown and the closer interaction with students in these is examined. In fact, the cram schools allow more questions and interaction with teachers. Japan students face fewer standardized tests and school promotion is automatic. But there are three important exams that are gatekeepers to good schools though there is a reform aiming to lessen this until the end of "high school."

A fascinating part is a look at how Japan handles food. They give the kids very extensive information on the food across the board, every schgool has its own nutritionist and every meal is prepared from scratch at the school, and then the food is brought into classrooms and kids serve and learn portion sizes and try new flavors, and kids wash hands, brush their teeth and cleanup the classroom after food is served. Japan saves extensive money in healthcare with this it is noted. And the Japanese get kids moving, too with daily stretching and running. Ever school has a pool and every student learns to swim. And Japan has added traditional martial arts, archery, drumming, and dance to school requirements. Schools also do complete health checks.

An interesting look at Japanese school refusers. It is not considered truancy but an opt-out and there were over a 100,000 recently. Japanese parents want these kids to go (on the whole) and there is a new school that allows these _school refusers_ to attend something different, a bit of the "free school" movement, Japanese style. Homeschooling isn't on the radar according to this report. But the problem of hikikomori, those who will not leave their apartments, is also a factor in this very group-focused society. Bullying is a growing issue and the documentary examines what's happening with this as well.

A look at teachers concludes the documentary. And the overall emphasis on the group and complete equity among schools are base points for Japan schools.



sal khan at carnegie mellon: reimagining education

Salman Khan talked at Carnegie Mellon recently (he received the Heinz Award in Pittsburgh), about Khan Academy and how it begins to move the mindset created by the factory model. In the Q & A afterward touches on work on accessibility, identifying and sharing best practices, classroom formats and changing STEM formats & focusing on creativity, the Bank of America partnership & financial literacy, MOOCs & college & creating multiple paths.

From the video:
…a school using it in Oakland where a class used it to good effect … [teacher Peter Macintosh] views it as a mindset changing tool … a lot of these students historically came into classroom already thinking they were no good at math and also being very passive , alright teacher what do I do next? …. they would only engage in a problem for 5 seconds … before giving up … as soon as they turned things around where the students were in control, it was meeting them where they were, they were allowed to build their foundations even if it was an algebra class, if you had trouble with decimals you were allowed to work on decimals so that you could build that foundation and not get frustrated. .. you could peer tutor each other… you realize that you’re trying to reach your goals for yourself, the teacher's there to help you, the tools are there, your peers are there … that improved their scores across all their subjects … out of the 120 million people using the site every month, about 10% are in formal settings … the bulk are just random people who are trying to tap into their potential [video of a high school dropout] .. I actually dropped out of high school twice, both in my freshman year, … and I was able to skip two years of math just by using the site … [went on to get high scores in math, graduate and go to Princeton] … more about the partnership with College Board and free test prep “not just video but … interactive …examples of global use of Khan Academy … launch of Spanish and other languages … video montage of Khan videos in other languages … even today one of our most popular videos is on credit-default swaps ... If I were to re-architect K-12, I would ... argue that the law ... accounting ... computer science ... statistics should be included...




alfie kohn on standardized testing

Alfie Kohn's keynote at Regina Teachers Convention 2014 in Saskatchewan, Canada. Lots of laughs and humor amidst discussion of standardized testing (and some about project-based learning). From the video:
..."To reach an important goal (like meaningful teaching and learning) it is sometimes necessary to actively oppose practices that get in the way (like standardized tests and a one-size-fits-all provincial curriculum) ... the US offers a cautionary tale, not an exemplary model, for school reform ... legal cheating ...[is] teaching to the test ... let's talk about when higher test scores are not merely meaningless but unfortunate ... *standardized assessments simultaneously overestimates and underestimates students* ... there was a statistically significant negative relatioship between test scores and depth of thinking ... it may be troubling to hear about high scores ... the wuestion becomes, at what cost have we raised those scores ... please learn from the US ... scores on various tests are jacked up by turning whole schools into test prep factories ... do our children get enough recess and time for play? ... don't be misled by language just because they call it formative ... educate and organize the parents ... but what we have learned is to make parents your ally ... one interestig study came out of Colorado ... very traditional parents ... thought well, great, let's have some accountability ... and then the parents were shown not only standardized tests abut authentic forms of assessment that are not standardized ... [they changed their views] ... what should be called the 'every child left nehind act' ... the more we're focused on testing. the less we're focused on learning ... what happened in Japan years ago ... the teachers ... [refused] because they're bad for children ... now I want to suggest a possibility you may find more unsettling ... some teachers ... may have accepted the same sensibility .... I want to suggest five things that should give us pause ... even teacher-designed tests are not a good way to [test] ... the most talented teachers almost never give tests ... because they don't need them ... classrooms are not corporations that produce widgets ... the more focused we are on measureable outcomes, the more trivial the teaching will become ... measureable outcomes may be the least significant results of learning ...


can teacher's unions change in the US?

On the Real News Network, Professor Lois Weiner discusses teacher strikes worldwide against privatization and defunding. She talks about the situation in the US and signs of change. Weiner calls for a coordinated, national one-day strike by both US teacher unions to build a movement. Full transcript here.
And it's important to understand that the reason there's this assault on teachers and teachers unions is that teachers unions are impeding the privatization and the defunding of public education--really, the destruction of the system of public education--and turning it into a source of profit for multinational corporations. That's what we're seeing globally. 
Well, the unions here are calcified. That's the best way for me to put it. They're calcified at the national level. They're mainly calcified at the state levels. There are two major unions, the National Education Association and the AFT, and they're bureaucratic and conservative in different ways. They're not--the problems are not identical, but the results are the same. And the result is that the unions are--number one, they are not democratic. To me that's a key issue. Another issue is that they're not militant, they don't mobilize the members. And the third issue is that if they often--their bargaining demands or the way they're looking at themselves is they're fighting for members' interests as defined very, very narrowly by what's allowed in union contracts. 
And I will say that we're seeing changes that are not being picked up by the corporate media. For instance, the Portland--Portland is the largest city in Oregon. It has the largest teachers union in Oregon. They waged a campaign for a new contract that put class size first and was not about salary.



an open society

Changing schools to allow families to make choices and structure their social, intelectual and creative lives in ways that help their children, would make schools more open.

Note: Dorothy Height liked to knit while she listened in meetings. From the video:
.. in our whole struggle, what we have worked for is to achieve an open society ... and in an open society, there ought to be the freedom of people to move in and out, to be a part of... if we do not strengthen ourselves ... and we're always just trying to fit in, that we weaken ourselves ... in an open society there will be the freedom of groups to be with your own group or to mix with other groups ... let us continue to work not just for an integrated society but for an open society ... 



links 3-19-14

A compilation of some of the links I have shared recently on G+:

The Opt Out Update with a Parent “Get Tough Guide” | Seattle Education: Lots of opt-out news here: the CTU position paper on standardized testing, a MD lawsuit, the CA standoff, Worcester MA allows opt-out of PARCC, opt-out in PA, NC and NY (links and audio, too), and a Get Tough Guide for parents. In Seattle? A meetup on testing with teacher Jesse Hagopian is next week.

China Exclusive: Shanghai takes UK invitation to send math teachers - People's Daily Online: "SHANGHAI, March 18 -- Shanghai's education authority has begun drafting a program to recruit math teachers from the city's schools to teach in the UK at the invitation of the UK Department of Education, according to sources with the city's education committee on Tuesday. The invitation came earlier this month after British parliamentary under-secretary of state for education and childcare, Elizabeth Truss, made a visit to Shanghai for a first-hand look at math classes and teaching methods in February."

Families Can Customize Services in Innovative Alaskan District
Mat-Su's public-education approach: 'Basically you can go to any school you choose' | Education | ADN.com: The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District in Alaska allows families to choose any school or create a custom blend of classes, and they coordinate transportation as well. The experiment is being watched by others.
And the biggest school in the Valley, with 1,600 students, isn't a traditional one but a central hub for home-schooling support and distance-learning classes. Enrollment at the Mat-Su Central School has jumped by hundreds in the past few years, said Principal John Brown.
Who Fails When Students Give Up? - Beacon Broadside: "While parents and school boards fight these battles at the local, state and Federal levels, I’m afraid that we are losing kids by the day. Kids are giving up, are being made to feel like failures because they can’t jump through the shape-shifting hoops of the latest educational reform. If we don’t do something soon we are allowing the love of learning with which children are born, and which will flourish with proper nurturing, to be trampled as America races to the top—of what? "

Google Under Fire for Data-Mining Student Email Messages - Education Week:
A growing consensus views student data privacy as being greater than the general consumer's. Lawsuits are underway in CA.

Principles for Effecting Change in Complex Social Systems: Eugene Kim documents how to create change in complex social systems. A lot fo this has been done in homeschooling activism and the new movement of school change can learn from it, too.
  • Address immediate needs while linking them to larger, systemic issues. 
  • Surface discontents, build capacity, and elevate expectations.
  • Raise awareness of how social systems support and resist change.
  • Engage diverse people in partnering for positive action. 
  • Become the change, innovate with opportunitites, and persist.

transfer process reduces graduation rates
The Community College Route to the Bachelor’s Degree:  A new study, The Community College Route to the Bachelor's Degree by David B. Monaghan and Paul Attewell finds that the transfer process is highly problematic, in spite of transfer agreements, and that many transferees lose substantial amounts of credits in the process. Transferees are less likely to graduate after transfer if they lose credits. (Only 58% could transfer 90% or more of credits, 28% lost between 10% and 89% of their credits, and 14% essentially started over. None of this counts the remedial courses that are non-credit and yet required.) Clearly, the financial incentives of colleges do not align with the goal of completion, churn is huge, and this also applies to community colleges who financially benefit from required non-credit remediation based on testing. On remediation, the report notes that "... at this point, we cannot be sure that remediation is on the whole beneficial or harmful, or if it has an impact at all." 
Abstract:
It is well established that students who begin post-secondary education at a community college are less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than otherwise similar undergraduates who begin at a 4-year school, but there is less consensus over the mechanisms generating this disparity. We explore these using national longitudinal transcript data and propensity-score methods. Inferior academic preparation does not seem to be the main culprit: We find few differences between students’ academic progress at each type of institution during the first 2 years of college and (contrary to some earlier scholarship) students who do transfer have BA graduation rates equal to similar students who begin at 4-year colleges. However, after 2 years, credit accumulation diverges in the two kinds of institutions, due in part to community college students’ greater involvement in employment, and a higher likelihood of stopping out of college, after controlling for their academic performance. Contrary to some earlier claims, we find that a vocational emphasis in community college is not a major factor behind the disparity. One important mechanism is the widespread loss of credits that occurs after undergraduates transfer from a community college to a 4-year institution; the greater the loss, the lower the chances of completing a BA. However, earlier claims that community college students receive lower aid levels after transfer and that transfers disproportionately fail to survive through the senior year are not supported by our analyses.

math requirements at community colleges: unaligned and overdone
mass higher ed and the dropout problem (notes on a talk by study author Paul Attewell)
remediating remediation

fraternities: failed socialization

first blogged on G+
The Dark Power of Fraternities - The Atlantic: American students sought to wrest themselves entirely from the disciplinary control of their colleges and universities, institutions that had historically operated in loco parentis, carefully monitoring the private behavior of undergraduates. The students of the new era wanted nothing to do with that infantilizing way of existence, and fought to rid themselves of the various curfews, dorm mothers, demerit systems, and other modes of institutional oppression. If they were old enough to die in Vietnam, powerful enough to overthrow a president, groovy enough to expand their minds with LSD and free love, then they certainly didn’t need their own colleges—the very places where they were forming their radical, nation-changing ideas—to treat them like teenyboppers in need of a sock hop and a chaperone. It was a turning point: American colleges began to regard their students not as dependents whose private lives they must shape and monitor, but as adult consumers whose contract was solely for an education, not an upbringing. "The doctrine of in loco parentis was abolished at school after school. Through it all, fraternities—for so long the repositories of the most outrageous behavior—moldered, all but forgotten. Membership fell sharply, fraternity houses slid into increasing states of disrepair, and hundreds of chapters closed."
Deaths are only a small part of the total injuries and problems associated with Greek life on campus and this article takes a long look at fraternities, their history and impact. There is some insight into why fraternities never seem to suffer much from their poor track record and steeply mounting costs:
Today, one in eight American students at four-year colleges lives in a Greek house, and a conservative estimate of the collective value of these houses across the country is $3 billion. Greek housing constitutes a troubling fact for college administrators (the majority of fraternity-related deaths occur in and around fraternity houses, over which the schools have limited and widely varying levels of operational oversight) and also a great boon to them (saving them untold millions of dollars in the construction and maintenance of campus-owned and -controlled dormitories).
And there are schools that do not allow fraternities:
Fraternities and sororities in North America - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Some colleges and universities have banned Greek letter organizations with the justification that they are, by their very structure, set up to be elitist and exclusionary. The most famous, and oldest ban was at Princeton (Leitch 1978), though Princeton has now had fraternities since the 1980s.[25] Oberlin College banned "secret societies" (fraternities and sororities) in 1847,[26] and the prohibition continues to the present.[27] Quaker universities such as Guilford College and Earlham College often ban fraternities and sororities because they are seen as a violation of the Quaker principle of equality.[28][29]"

By Seattle Municipal Archives from Seattle, WA
Fair housing protest, 1964  Uploaded by Jmabel
 CC-BY-2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
The author also notes the change in the way universities regarded their students. (Hello to those pesky helicopter parents as in loco parentis expired.) The article tends to blame dissolute youth. This explanation underestimates the economic, political and personal stresses of that time on young and old alike. The view that hard-to-handle young people drove these policies also diminishes the very real struggle of the poor, the young, and minorities to get greater access to the post-war economic expansion centered in the growth of the national security state.

corporate money and the public schools

There are lots of voices in the school policy space, some of them have different motives and louder voices than families and kids. 

Shirley Temple awarded first juvenile Oscar

Drawing of Shirley is by Bob in Canada. 
Bob died October 2007. Public domain.
Shirley Temple won the Oscarette in 1935. After 1961, child actors would be included in the adult category or not honored at all.
Academy Juvenile Award - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:"The 7th Annual Academy Awards recognized Shirley Temple with the Academy's first Juvenile Award to honor "her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934." [2] Beginning her film career at the age of three, in 1934 Temple had attained child stardom in such films as Stand Up and Cheer!, Little Miss Marker, Baby Take a Bow and Bright Eyes. Just six years old on the night she accepted her Honorary statuette, Temple became the youngest recipient ever to be honored by the Academy, a distinction she still holds to this day."
The Toy Trumpet audio mp3 
public domain, thanks Internet Archive, Music, Arts & Culture

Utah: communication will be directly with parents

(first blogged on G+)
Utah school officials have changed their policies, from the link:
Thanks to Public Outrage, Utah School That Trashed Kids’ Lunches Changes Policy! | Crooks and Liars: [...] Accounts will be flagged once they are $10 or more overdue, and principals will help notify parents. Officials say that all communications will now be made directly to parents rather than by sending notes home with students. 
I want to note how the majority of school communication is done through students instead of directly with parents. Parents are routinely sent important policy statements, notices, and other information through the students in the vast majority of schools. Parents are expected to do what they are told and no one has the time to even contact them directly. Parents often cannot sign a slip excusingtheir child for illness: only a doctor is allowed and thought adequate. Schools, a taxpayer service for families, assume that all families are suspect and this in spite ofte fact that every state in the US has child protective services.

Some schools do more through their website but that also makes assumptions about families' ability to connect. School websites are often complex and hard to navigate. I am still shocked to see big city school systems cut back or cut out bus service and not even put up, on their immense websites, a simple rideshare board to help families.

I blog about how our system design has created this problem (compulsory attendance laws and the factory model diminshed the motivation to work closely with families). I also suggest that real school choice means parents choosing what their kids take at each school rather than creating a marketplace of schools (charters) and attempting to allow choice within that instead of letting families opt out of a math class they dislike and having their child do that at home in some other way (not necessarily, the school's own online math class).

children's chalk drawing

Prison Photography | The Image / Incarceration / Representation / Media / Social Justice / Responsible Photography: "Directly, the image’s visual elements spell-out the school-to-prison-pipeline? It’d be too obvious if it weren’t for the fact, there’s no political statement being made here. This is play. This is play?  [...]   The game the kids have pathed out has depressingly few number of options; in fact it seems to be that you survive outside of prison only until you don’t — it is a case of when, not if."

state socialization expands

The Persevering Boy, Project Gutenburg
Sheltered by compulsory attendance laws that completely restrict families from input or control, the massive education-industrial complex has expanded into areas not usually defined as education. Hence, the recent discussions about failure and grit:
What if the Secret to Success Is Failure? - NYTimes.comFor Levin, the next step was clear. Wouldn’t it be cool, he mused, if each student graduated from school with not only a G.P.A. but also a C.P.A., for character-point average? If you were a college-admissions director or a corporate human-resources manager selecting entry-level employees, wouldn’t you like to know which ones scored highest in grit or optimism or zest? And if you were a parent of a KIPP student, wouldn’t you want to know how your son or daughter stacked up next to the rest of the class in character as well as in reading ability? As soon as he got the final list of indicators from Duckworth and Peterson, Levin started working to turn it into a specific, concise assessment that he could hand out to students and parents at KIPP’s New York City schools twice a year: the first-ever character report card. [...]
Educational Leadership:Reading: The Core Skill:Got Grit?: "How and when to help students develop grit has been an exciting topic among my faculty. We begin by ensuring that every student confronts his or her limitations, often through rethinking how hard and where we challenge our students. For example, in addition to using multiple intelligences theory as a tool to help children learn through their strengths, we recognize that we can also require students to work in areas that are unfamiliar and less comfortable for them.
Parent education also plays an important role. We want parents to understand our rationale, and we need them to support us in our efforts to take their children out of their comfort zones.
In the industrial-educational complex, all families are assumed to be possible truants and compulsory attendance laws ensure schools have police power over families. All families. This structural bias has limited how schools have grown and what services they provide.

This design flaw in mass schooling also means schools are unable to adjust as families change. Blame-the-family has been the predominant approach for over a decade now even as the working-class family and its community is decimated. Schools have instead expanded their police power as working families have grown poorer and the system struggled to adjust without the tools it needs to work collaboratively with families. The main policy levers used with schools remain: truancy and raising compulsory attendance age.

The family is so restricted within our mass educational system, that schools want to teach families how to be families. Families are prodded to support extensive homework, fined and jailed for kids who miss too much due to illness, often required to get a doctor's note just to confirm a child is ill, contribute long hours to fund-raising and volunteer work, and blamed when children fail to achieve. The family is blamed even when the family has no role in the system by design.

Social Control
Steve Hargadon: A Student Bill of Rights: "The relationship of the student to a learning organization can reflect fundamental tenants that we believe are healthy ways of implement student agency; however to believe that any educational system trumps the rights of parents, no matter how much we may disagree with particular parental decisions, puts education on the slippery slope of social control. I believe that parentsand families have primary responsibility for their children, and appropriate influence cannot be through mandates but must be through example. If we wish to help families, we must model the good we hope they will see."
Now the educational-industrial complex wants to help kids in poverty by building grit, through the experience of failure. Why the massive experience of failure by the large number of kids who don't pass meaningless exit exams or who drop out or get low scores and low grades, why all this failure isn't enough failure, is hard to understand.

Vaught's Practical Character
Reader
, pg 42, public domain,
Internet Archive
Teaching grit is flat-out social control and it is far away from the skills training thought to be the role of schooling when it was begun. The problem with the way the factory model has configured the educational-industrial complex is that we have a huge and motivated private sector coalition with few limits. And now they want to fix the family. Schools want to train children in ways that have traditionally been done by families and this is a sign of the troubled relationship of schools to families.

The educational-industrial complex has deep roots and powerful resources: individual families have none. Grit research can be used to preserve the current configuration of the educational-industrial complex even when that system itself needs changing. Trying to get kids to fail within the current system is crazy. Letting kids explore and fail means removing some of the penalties that accrue to every little action; ending grading and allowing kids to take and explore courses on the basis of interest without punitive measures. It means allowing for child development.

After all, if we changed the system, few would need so much grit, now critical for poor kids to sustain the long K-16 hike of grading and ranking required. The grit students already have would be better appreciated, and other social skills would be allowed to flourish within a different structure, a structure that better supported children's health and well being and their family relationships. How many kids need a grit score more than they need nutritious food (not what most cafeterias offer it) and exercise.

It isn't that we shouldn't do research, far from it, families, educators and society benefit from this knowledge. And it isn't that within medical situations, specific techniques should not be used. What I am saying is that research supporting specific implementations of social control of children to conform to our mass education system, like a character score, should raise alarms in any citizen who values democracy and has even a rudimentary knowledge of history.

Support Families Directly 

It is also not in the interest of the nation-state to maintain institutions of social control instead of investing in a democratic and civil society. Already, the prison-industrial complex has grown to astounding proportions. The educational-industrial complex is on a similar path. We have problems that cannot and should not be solved by the educational-industrial complex and its many employees. Poverty should not be used to create educational programs to replace families and we should be exceedingly careful how we help kids apart from families.

Healthy cities, states and nations need families and stable social relationships at the grassroots level to ensure economic strength and human happiness. It doesn't require any specific ideology of the family to see that low-level social stability is important to a society as a whole and large institutional socialization programs are a danger. The challenge for the US is rather to strengthen family support, from sick leave to healthcare to wage support. Perhaps a basic income or funding for carework. Recognition of the value of investing in families is an essential first step.

Within schools, we need to begin deep changes in the school to family relationship. The factory model wants to make sure every child studies the same thing and the degree means this task was accomplished. A learning services model would allow schools to move away from a production-line mentality and toward better support of the actual children in their communities. Families that could pick and choose classes and services could strengthen themselves and their communities. Homeschooling already works this way. Families would be able, if informed and supported, to make better choices among possible paths, paths that are changing and various. Unlike, a hundred years ago, jobs are now deeply tied to schooling and few families are unaware of this fact. (The state replicates child protection services by using schools to ostensibly monitor families but to move to a learning services model, CPS will need deep change, since it too does not work with families but maintains a policing attitude with no transparency.)

Grit-building things kids could do include these five well-documented things. And why can't schools provide parents and communities more access? If I want to setup a music lesson coop for families with slim resources, I can't ask for space from my local school. Schools don't offer extracurricular program space and coordination: why aren't schools bringing in martial arts and sewing and other afterschool classes?

We should not be investing time and energy in having schools take over character training and make it a three-digit score: we need policies that enable families to thrive, schools that are more responsive to the needs of the people they serve, not by becoming the family or fixing families but by including families.

As the saying goes, if state socialization by the national security state, grading and generating a character score for your child doesn't scare you, you aren't paying attention.

peter seeger 1914 - 2014


What Did You Learn in School Today  (Full song info)

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?

I learned that Washington never told a lie.
I learned that soldiers seldom die.
I learned that everybody's free,
And that's what the teacher said to me.
Chorus
That's what I learned in school today,
That's what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that policemen are my friends.
I learned that justice never ends.
I learned that murderers die for their crimes
Even if we make a mistake sometimes.
Chorus

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned our Government must be strong;
It's always right and never wrong;
Our leaders are the finest men
And we elect them again and again.
Chorus

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that war is not so bad;
I learned about the great ones we have had;
We fought in Germany and in France
And someday I might get my chance.
Chorus






the factory model

I found this cartoon in the National Child Labor Committee Collection at the Library of Congress. It shows the State, depicted as a woman, directing children toward a school while the adults stream toward a factory.

Title: Woman, labeled "The state" leading children away from a factory and toward school/ Carl Meyer.  Public domain. Date given is 1914? so there is some uncertainty. More at the About page.




Dr. Roland Meighan


Dr. Roland Meighan (rt)

Pioneering educator Dr. Roland Meighan has passed away. This tribute is up at Natural Born Learners:
We have to point out to people that we are not talking dreamland here. We do have public libraries; they have been going for over 100 years operating on exactly this principle. We just have to adopt those principles to the other places of learning. I do think this means that we have to, eventually, recycle all our schools into better learning places. Places that are learner-friendly, places that invite people to come and learn rather than command them to come and learn. 
Now that takes a big shift in thinking, but the idea that we cannot do it is nonsense when you think the public library does it without even blinking. We can do this, but it does mean that we have to abandon some of the ideas that currently operate within the system.   [...]
I regard schools as day prisons, a really unimaginative and dull and anti-democratic kind of idea. As John Holt put it, school is not a good idea gone wrong, but a bad idea from the start. The best we have achieved so far is a national chain of day prisons in the name of education. Why are we fooled into thinking this is a good idea? Well, as Everett Reimer observed, some true educational experiences are bound to occur in schools, but they occur despite school rather than because of it.