March 28, 2016

“Sir Ken Robinson says that our education system works like a factory.  It is based on models of mass production and conformity that actually prevent kids from finding their passions and succeeding.  . . . Instead of trying to mass-produce children who are good at taking tests and memorizing things, schools should emphasize personal development.  Not all kids are good at the same things, and the education system shouldn’t pretend they should all turn out the same.”  (John D. Sutter, author of “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything”)

These remarks bring echoes of the great American mythologist, Joseph Campbell, who challenged us all to, “Follow your bliss!” and, America’s foremost 20th Century educator, Robert Maynard Hutchins, who advocated an education inspired by the reading of “the world’s Great Books.”

My own background includes a year of high school teaching and eighteen years on the faculties of several universities where I found, in example after example, young people who prospered when their passions were engaged and were disinterested when they were not personally committed to their learning.

Higher Education used to be about either of two things:  liberal arts emersion or trade school preparation.  Each served a useful and important purpose.

Today, sadly, only the latter has emerged as still-important.  Even our finest universities are, too often, forgetting their liberal arts history in order to push students into job-specific memorization and preparation.

Consequently, far too many graduates of these universities have a limited range of thought and a much too narrow approach to living.

And in our public schools, with the memorization/testing requirements associated with both “No Child Left Behind” and “Common Core/Race to the Top” fewer of our children are challenged by the diversity of thought.  Their excitement for learning and their natural curiosities have been dulled.

We need to, once again, re-address the potential within our children — their passions for living and their inherent desire to learn!  A complete reliance on memorization and testing is neither the answer, nor a true measure of a child’s capabilities.

And our universities should re-emphasize exposure to the liberal arts.  Our current political discourse should underscore that point for all of us.

More on Wednesday –  –  –

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

 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)