July 29, 2015

“ . . . Education is not only about knowledge. It is about inspiration. It is about passion. It is about the belief that what we do in life matters. It is about moral choice. It is about taking nothing for granted. It is about challenging assumptions and suppositions. It is about truth and justice. It is about learning how to think. It is about, as James Baldwin wrote, the ability to drive “to the heart of every matter and expose the question the answer hides.” And, as Baldwin further noted, it is about making the world “a more human dwelling place.” . . . “ ( truthdig: “My Teacher” by Chris Hedges )

I use Hedges excerpt as the first piece in today’s posting as, for me, it successfully captures the central core of learning’s purpose. I hope you will find the time to read the entire article.

The second excerpt comes with a different, but perfectly valid, consideration.

“EACH summer, when school ends, education mostly stops short, too. But it hasn’t always been that way. For the striving youths of 19th-century America, learning was often a self-driven, year-round process. Devouring books by candlelight and debating issues by bonfire, the young men and women of the so-called “go-ahead generation” worked to educate themselves into a better life.

Is this old-fashioned culture of self-improvement making a comeback? The mainstream school system — with its barrage of tests, Common Core and “excellent sheep” — encourages learning as a passive, standardized process. But here and there, with the help of YouTube and thousands of podcasts, a growing group of students and adults are beginning to supplement their education.

School isn’t going away. But more and more people are realizing what their 19th-century predecessors knew: that the best learning is often self-taught. . . .” ( NEW YORK TIMES: “D.I.Y. Education Before YouTube” by Jon Grinspan )

My final excerpt is equally persuasive and, like the two previous excerpts, was published in the past month. All three deserve a full reading.

“ . . . Once babies become children, curiosity grows much more sensitive to the environment. A frowning adult, questions asked but unanswered, or a classroom devoid of complexity, all have the power to discourage a child’s exploration. Which helps explain why curiosity seems to dwindle as we age, changing from a weed to a fragile plant. Every toddler is curious. Only some adults are.

The research in my lab shows that far from nurturing curiosity, schools seem to repress it. The pressures to deliver information, hone skills, stick to the plan, and avoid the unknown work against a child’s natural curiosity. However, it needn’t be so. Classrooms could be greenhouses for curiosity. Questions could be encouraged and guided, exploration could be at the center of the curriculum, and rather than being pushed to the side, children’s specific interests could be fostered. Given how central curiosity is to learning and to human progress, why not cultivate it? After all, it is our other mother.” ( “Necessity may be the mother of invention, but discovery has another mother” by Susan Engel )

The important takeaway for me is that education is much more than Core Curriculum, excessive testing, and local censorship issues. The heart of a better education goes far beyond these temporal arguments of our time.

More on Monday – – –

— Bill Walton: co-Founder, ITC Learning (Mondays & Wednesdays)