It occurred to me that my last post was aimed directly at prep schools, and that somehow they had got it wrong. While that’s true, the more complete truth is that ALL of traditional education has got it wrong. So going forward I won’t talk so much about prep schools or public schools, but traditional schools.
The tradition needs to become a relic of the past. If it ever had a place, it surely no longer does.
Think about it. What are the hallmarks of schooling as it has traditionally been known? I see it like this: you place students in a room segregated by age, you sit them in desks facing the same direction, put a teacher in front of them, then go about the business of “delivering content”. The hope is that the students will remember this content that is thrown at them. Of course, they don’t. Not really. Why? Because remembering quickly leads to forgetting. Students recall some of the pieces, as much as they can, then when you move on most of it falls out of their ears, or something.
“Go on!” you say. No, it’s true, and if you think about your years in those desks you know it’s true. There’s little done from an assessment point of view that checks whether MEANING is being developed. If actual learning doesn’t require meaning-making – understanding – then what DOES it mean? Repeat after me: remembering is NOT learning.
Traditional schools have been preoccupied with TEACHING and have given short shrift to LEARNING.
This is no conspiracy. And let’s make one thing clear: the wonderful traditional teachers out there are not the problem. There are plenty of passionate, well-meaning people putting in a serious effort day after day, some are up against tremendous odds, and they do it anyway. Bravo I say. Marva Collins is but one especially famous one.
The problem is that the SYSTEM is rotten at its core. There’s nothing anyone can do about it, other than rebuild from the ground up. Those dedicated, excellent teachers out there are working hard to plug dikes that can’t be plugged.
Next I’ll look at how you build meaning in education.
[pass this on and let’s all contribute to changing the education discussion”]