Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Academic Excellence

Actually, I have been doing a huge amount of writing recently . . . but it doesn't get posted. I have a computer littered with drafts of postings on a wide variety of topics, from the new ATLAS SHRUGGED film to civil disobedience.

But I can't seem to get them to the point where I want to post them.

Well, I suppose, one of the ways around this is to go ahead and post things even if I am not perfectly happy with the result.

A case in point: In today's news I caught an article on a documentary called THE RACE TO NOWHERE, which claims that our current devotion to testing is sacrificing other values and even threatening the healthy development of children by putting them under too much pressure.

See, MSNBC: 'Race to Nowhere' targets academic pressures.

Yet, I look at the amount of overall stupidity there is in the United States and wonder where this "academic pressure" is going to. Global warming denial, the denial of evolution, absolutely no sense of the scientific method or of the principles of logic, we are surrounded by misinformation and fallacious arguments.

So . . . somebody says we are pushing too hard for academic excellence and we need to ease up?

It is to laugh.

How about . . . we're teaching the wrong things.

Many parents actually do not want their children to be educated. They want their children to share the same foolish, unfounded idiocies they accept. Teaching children . . . actually TEACHING them . . . means that they are going to come home and say, "You say that homeopathy works because the water "remembers" the chemicals that have been placed in it. But have you ever stopped to think where that water has been?"

The educated child will come home and say things like, "Homosexuality is the result of brain and body structures that come from an interaction of genes and environment - mostly the chemical environment of the womb - are certainly not chosen and certainly not a threat to the welfare of society as a whole.

She will claim, "No, mom, dinosaurs and man did not walk the earth at the same time, and the Bible is a primative book of superstitious fairy tales no different from the ancient Greek works of Homer - a human invention that reflects human thinking in a primitive age."

There are a lot of parents do not want to hear this kind of stuff coming from their children, so they seek to make sure that our education system fails to teach. And now we have a testing system so that we can measure and make sure that the education system produces the right amount of failure.

Of course, in picking these examples above, am I not dictating that what I believe is what counts as education, and that the school system is not educating children if the school does not indoctrinate the child into my beliefs?

Actually, no, because an education does not consist in teaching any of the claims I made above as fact. It involves teaching the children how people came to these conclusions - what counts as evidence and what does not - and what the child will have to do if the child wants to challenge any of these claims. It teaches the child why current challenges fail, but also teaches the child what to look for in future challenges that have a chance of success.

THIS is the education that many parents demand that their schools fail to provide - teaching the children what to look for if the child wants to question what is currently believed (by their parents). While people adopt the slogan that the school should teach a child, not what to think, but how to think, in fact the national goal is to teach neither. Any attempt to teach the child what to think will inevitably clash with the beliefs of some parents. Any attempt to teach a child how to think will teach the child how to question what their parents say is gospel. So, the schools teach neither.

Some children get an education anyway. Yet, it seems that the education they get has to do with their own curiosity that drives them to learn outside of the public school system.

So, I find the claim that our schools are pushing too hard for academic excellence to be laughable. We are talking about a system designed by parents for the specific job of preventing children from acquiring "academic excellence" - the ability to know what to look for when they want to verify or falsify the claims of their parents and other authority features.

Gasp! Teach academic excellence? Not on your life!

1 comment:

Doug S. said...

Indeed. It seems that most people would say that the purpose of education is to prepare people to enter the work force, and rational thinking isn't something that human resource departments are particularly interested in.