too clever by half

For better public schools, why not tap the disciplines? | Remapping Debate    From the article:
To overcome this “prestige gap,” perhaps we should take a closer look at the categorical separation of K-12 and postsecondary education. Public school teachers are required to take many courses in pedagogy, while the Ph.D. programs that produce college faculty usually offer no coursework at all on teaching methods. Few public school teachers hold advanced degrees in a discipline, while few graduate students in the disciplines plan to teach “below” the college level. State licensing is required for K-12 teachers but not for college faculty. The gap between the preparation and regulation of K-12 and postsecondary instructors is indeed striking.
The training of future college professors is not, however, all sweetness and light. A recent longitudinal study of Ph.D. completion rates by the Council of Graduate Schools found that less than 57 percent of all doctoral candidates had successfully completed their studies after ten years. Attrition rates approach 50 percent in the humanities and social sciences; they are lower but still high in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
The reasons for not finishing a doctorate vary, but studies confirm that few of those who leave are “washouts.” Studies confirm that grad students leave programs because they lack funding, feel isolated, face family pressure, or simply decide that the world of “publish or perish” is not for them.

In short, our public and private universities spend millions of dollars annually to provide students with deep disciplinary knowledge that, in many cases, is lost to the education system. Why not structure programs that capture this lost talent for our public schools?
Ya gotta love it: one of those very clever re-engineering schemes, like using industrial by-products that are wasted in other areas -- corn syrup, fluoride, gluten, animal by-products .... the list is pretty long and for some reason, no matter how good it all sounds, and they can sound pretty ingenious, it rarely works out because it is better not to waste in the first place.   In foods, the whole food principle often applies and the over-processing that corporations perform removes much value and causes many obscure diseases that can take many years to appear. And it is expensive and has killed local food.

Generalizing to schools, the education-industrial complex also over-refines and processes people with excessive years of endless and meaningless work, ranking and grading procedures that preserve class status and a social structure that dulls everyone's intelligence. The system wastes talent ostensibly to ensure a lot for the few.  In the cited article, the teachers who graduate in the lower ranks are being pushed out for higher-grade failures up the food chain.  What is supposed to happen to the poor saps at the bottom of the class? They are cast off?  Where do these cast offs go if the PhD castoffs go to teaching? Funny how they all have paid big money for this privilege unlike, again, Finland, where the advanced schooling is free.

This really is decidedly not what Finland is doing when they invest in everyone with health care, unions, equal everything, etc.  This grad student scheme is the kind of manipulation that is popular in the US where shell games like these substitute for real policies and real values within those policies. Even the article acknowledges this:
And attempting to achieve excellence in public education while ignoring gross inequality in such areas as housing, health care and employment puts an impossible burden on our public schools. 
Real Family Values Are Still in the Future
We need to stop wasting human beings. Instead of pundits out-thinking the factory production methods of schools, we need to value people. We need to grasp the limitations of factory-style production. Ranking and grading actually inhibit learning and growth and there is no need to ration learning at all.

We are not a compact and homogeneous nation like Finland and that's ok: we can approach things differently. But we must use similar values and that is what is lacking in the so-called ed reform debates today. Do we value all our citizens and want them to learn and share what they can? Do we value learning itself of all types and kinds? Do we value positive social environments and the peace and tolerance human beings enjoy when in such places? Do we value democracy and families?

It's hard.  The schools themselves have taught us differently if only by acculturation to ranking and grading. Acceptance of the underlying authoritarian structure of the educational system is ingrained and that means many accept social environments that are harmful as necessary and we assume they are less harmful than they really are.

And that is why the homeschooling movement was born and why it continues to flourish among such a wide diversity of people. The human values of learning and relationships and the social context of the child within the family are fundamental and valuing these things will mean real change. Real education reform will have to learn from homeschooling.  Not because the home is the only place to learn but because homeschooling is based on human values that are more enduring.  It is like growing food without chemicals: you start by valuing the soil and taking care of it.  We start fixing schools not by manipulating the long arc of the assembly line within institutional education: we start by valuing children and families and caring about what they want and need.

Background Posts
blaming parents, blaming the family
voluntary attendance
the compulsory attendance mindset

NOTE: Remapping Debate has a very good article up about vocational ed here

Post a Comment