Monday, February 11, 2008

The Publick Screwels

An interesting essay here.

Some excerpts:

The [original educationalist] theory was that “reading leads to unrest and confusion” and that low-grade students are incapable of handling complex ideas without upsetting their internal equilibrium.

Something had to be done, and it was.]

Slowly, the responsibility for education was shifted from the family and community to the state; schooling became compulsory at an earlier age, ended at a later age, and took up more of the year; the curriculum was slowly devolved to de-emphasize literacy, eliminate classics, and replace history and geography with “social science.”

Children were explicitly divided into intellectual classes — a practice which was justified by the emergence of social Darwinism and the assumption that intellectual achievement had a primarily hereditary basis.

It is a practice that continues today.

...What is problematic here is not that students are being taught a series of values, but that parents, students, teachers and often even local school boards are shut out of the process. The decisions are made by specialists: men and women who lie far out of the influence of parents’ concerns, teachers’ wisdom, students’ needs and basic common sense.

Parents send their children to school hoping that they will learn to be good citizens, complete human beings, imbued with a sense of purpose and ready to enter whatever field of human endeavor best accords with their needs and talents.

Instead, students emerge confused and uncertain, morally disoriented, unable to manage money or handle debt but perfectly formed to operate as servile corporate employees and irresponsible consumers.

It all started in Prussia, and was based on a Platonic idea.

Maybe it was a good idea at the time....

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