The Process of Education?

Via Autism Vox, I found this post: “The Process of Education.” In part, it reads,

shouldn’t the people who fail school be kicked out? I mean, if someone fails a class and makes no effort to regain good grades, that person is assuredly not going to contribute to society. It really would save a lot of money and time if those people were just simply expelled; they obviously do not care about their well-being and education. it’s a waste of money for us all, and morons like that tend to annoy me, anyways. And the same goes for mentally challenged children. Just let them die. We, in this world, cannot waste any more money educating these worthless brats. And I’m not talking about ADD or ADHD. Those things can be channeled by a person and used for their advantage. What I’m talking about are the more serious illness. Autism, for one. People with autism shouldn’t even be educated, and if I was a parent of an autistic child, I would really be ashamed. We don’t need to waste any more precious money educating people who won’t learn (Process of Education)

Dr. Chew deals with the uneducated absurdity of this comment here, but I wanted to touch on something a commenter said in reply:

It’s high school, it’s more a social experience than anything. High school builds character and knowledge where you manage to grasp it.

A lot of fluff was in my high school days and I’d like to think (I say like because someone has to pay for that shit to keep going) that whatever class you’re going into has a small impact on your overall character and in some way you’ll expand yourself. I was in all sorts of fine arts classes from art itself to woodworking, computers, ceramics, to auto body, and from my standpoint right now I’m glad I went through those classes so I at least have some knowledge in a different area of life. I understand that I may never again have the need to wedge an aerated piece of clay air tight again but at least I know what it is. (Source)

High school is a social experience? Sadly, I agree. And this individual (one “shaharazhad”) even touches on part of the problem: a completely fracture curriculum. In the name of diversity, we’ve spread our education so broadly that it’s almost paper thin.

Now, thanks to No Child Left Behind (NCLB in all in-school communications), we’re reaching over to the opposite extreme, at least in primary school. We’re focusing so much on math and reading that we’re neglecting a lot of other subjects that might be called “fundamental.” NCLB tries to solve the problem of low achievement through testing and conditional funding. What about lengthening the school day and increasing the number of days children spend in school?

2 thoughts on “The Process of Education?

  1. I think a longer school day and more school days is a great idea, but not if we’re just going to pack more rote memorization into it. I’m afraid given more hours, NCLB and state-level requirements (the Virginia SOLs) would just grab that for more recitation.

    I wish I could remember who wrote this, but I recently read an argument that said the vital things we learn in High School and College are how to learn — how to find information, how to judge its quality, how to related it to the real world, and how to use it. All of which are skills that are fairly organic and hard to teach directly.

    Unfortunately, he argued, the culture of high-pressure standardized testing leading to the loss of humanities, arts, and “play” — like recess! — overemphasizes rote memorization and hobbles critical thinking skills, making it more difficult for people to train themselves and weakening people’s analytical skills.

    So: “yes” to longer school days if we’re willing to provide more well-rounded education. But “no” if the same people hostile to humanities and non-industrial education get to decide how to fill that extra time.

  2. the vital things we learn in High School and College are how to learn

    That might be a critical part of high school learning, but I just can’t help comparing what kids in America learn to the level kids in other countries are attaining. Some of the kids I taught in Polska were doing differential equations in their senior year! They’d taken two foreign languages for three years, and in chemistry, they’d already done work in organic chemistry. In high school…

    I agree that NCLB and other standards forces teachers to put too much emphasis on rote memorization, but there are many things that at some point simply require rote memorization: foreign language vocabulary, mathematical formulae, dates and locations of events critical in our history, etc. Sure, we can learn by doing in those examples, but it’s often faster and equally effective just to have students memorize a things here and there.

    That being said, NCLB does encourage mindless learning.

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