Sean Fitzpatrick has written a good essay at Crisis on how education is not a science, but an art. I can’t blame him for not tackling what I see as the underlying issue – that modern education was never intended to educate anyone – as he is doing the good work of pointing out the fundamental flaws of the classroom model – Gladgrindian, he calls it – ha!
Bluntly put, the little butts in seats model is not a conversation, and so cannot be education. At best, it can be training. After the admonitions of Gladgrind, the teacher is only to ladle out facts in accordance with texts and the questions and answers given at the back of the book and in the teacher’s copy. These facts roll up into the correct answers to standardized tests. Success is measured in how well the little darlings can regurgitate the desired answers on cue. Since no sane person, child or adult, can retain much of anything doled out in this manner, many hours are spent trying to teach it, hours well beyond anything the actual value of the subject matter could reasonably command.
This, with a few nonessential refinements, is how one would train pigeons to sort mail.
Fitzpatrick points out that education must be built on friendship and conversation. Correct. I only add that friendship cannot be coerced. Therefore, when you see coercion, the only ‘friendship’ that can result is that of the Stockholm Syndrome, an outcome that is depressingly dependable.
I’ll try to write more on this later if I have a chance.