Monday, May 05, 2008

Why Schools Don't Educate--"Disaster of Ignorance"

I sometimes wonder why I put so much of my time and energy into maintaining a network of learning that so floods me with information. This morning, sorting through my email, I noted one from the "Independent Schools Collaboration Group at" and its content drew me to investigate the bit of information it was sharing. This, I think, is why I network with other educators, the lagniappe learning that a sharing online teaching and learning community provides.

- Tag: education independent teaching - Shared By: Sarah Hanawald 2008-05-03 03:19:45

is how it displayed in my email. I clicked to read, and though I don't always completely "read," more likely "scan" full documents, this one is so thoroughly thought-provoking I had to read it word for word. It was only when I reached one passage that mentioned "today in 1990" that I realized the comments from New York's "Teacher of the Year" were made by the 1990 recipient, that I was reading an 18 year-old document.

In part, he said,

I don't think we'll get rid of schools anytime soon, certainly not in my lifetime, but if we're going to change what is rapidly becoming a disaster of ignorance, we need to realize that the school institution "schools" very well, but it does not "educate" - that's inherent in the design of the thing. It's not the fault of bad teachers or too little money spent, it's just impossible for education and schooling ever to be the same thing.

Schools were designed by Horace Mann and Barnard Sears and Harper of the University of Chicago and Thorndyke of Columbia Teachers College and some other men to be instruments of the scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce through the application of formulae, formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.

I'm not sure I agree with everything Gatto had to say, but I'm less sure when I consider it in the light of my personal very powerful push-back to the "homework" my son has been so thoroughly saddled with in his sixth grade year of "schooling." If you can read this in its entirety without having something to say about it, you're perhaps a very well-developed product of what John Gatto describes as an "anti-human" process of education. If you'd like to share what you have to say, please comment here.

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