24 November 2005

Death by School

I am referring to the "cognitive death", the murder of the mind, a ghastly crime committed against millions of north american students every year, by government schools. Here is a quotation from a conversation between cognitive scientist Seymour Papert and Brazilian radical Philosopher Paulo Freire:

Paulo Freire: Yes. Absolutely. To me this is not a statement yet. I state that school is bad, but I don't state that school is disappearing and will disappear. That's why I am appealing to all of us who have escaped cognitive death by school -- who are the survivors here -- to work on modifying it. For me, the challenge is not to end school, but to change it completely and radically and to help it to give birth from a body that doesn't correspond anymore to the technological truth of the world. . . . .
. . . . .
Seymour Papert: Will there be school? I'm not saying that school is going to go away. It depends what we mean by school, but I think that what we need to note and very clearly … and this is something else I learned from you, actually - is that we must be conscious and critical of what it's about fundamentally.

And now what's wrong with schools is not details. What's wrong with school is absolutely fundamental. It is so fundamental that to say you're going to correct that is not very far from saying we don't have school.

Freire wants to radically modify school so it will stop killing the minds of its students. Papert is suggesting something more radical.

As the slow evolution of school lags further and further behind the rapid evolution of society, increasing numbers of students all over the world see school as irrelevant to life. Many drop out. Many more drop out mentally, emerging from school with poor skills and negative visions of themselves and the society they are entering.

Throughout Papert's work on education, the theme recurs of replacing the total obsolescence of modern schools with something more effective, more stimulating, and more relevant to the future the students will be forced to face.

Here's Bill Gates: America’s high schools are obsolete.

By obsolete, I don’t just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed, and under-funded – though a case could be made for every one of those points.

By obsolete, I mean that our high schools – even when they’re working exactly as designed – cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.

Training the workforce of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today’s computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. It’s the wrong tool for the times.

Our high schools were designed fifty years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting – even ruining – the lives of millions of Americans every year.

It is much worse than Papert and Gates might lead you to believe. Not only are today's schools poorly designed for the challenges of tomorrow (even today), they are being run so incompetently, corruptly, and even maliciously, that even if well designed they would be destroying children.

But it gets worse. Schools are not only inept, poorly designed, corrupt money sinks, and welfare programs for bad teachers, they are also actively at war against boys.

Boys have brains that on the average fit the demands of engineering, theoretical computer science, physics, and mathematics, at the higher levels of difficulty. If boys are being "warred against" by schools, no wonder there is a dificit of qualified engineers, high level computer scientists, and physical scientists. Schools are driving away the very sort of mind that can work with mathematical and spatial concepts the best. Death by school. Societal suicide.

This is a huge problem, because north america is running a severe engineering deficit. "America is experiencing an engineering deficit. Compared to twenty years ago, 20,000 fewer U.S. students now graduate college with engineering degrees. Europe and Asia now graduate 3 to 5 times as many engineers as the U.S." Excerpted fromengineeringand.com . What is true for the US is true for Canada. Canada is importing more and more of our engineers, like the US.

Government schools are incubators for all manner of delinquency. Government schools are best seen as preparation for being dropouts. Any type of social problem you can identify in north america is made worse by an order of magnitude by government schools. Crime, unemployment, bad race relations, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, lack of civility, obesity, sloppy thinking, ignorance.

Why do taxpayers continue to support the people who are ruining their children? The people running the north american school systems are causing far more damage to our societies than any muslim terrorist or saboteur. We are being gutted and roasted on the fire by our own cooks and utensils.

5% of people do 95% of the work. That may be the magic goal for proportion of next levels in a post-singularity world. We are creating entire generations who will not be able to adapt to the rapidly changing future. We will have to take care of them. Feed them, clothe them, shelter them from the elements, entertain them, heal their wounds, injuries, and illnesses, diagnose and treat their depression, help them live long, healthy, satisfied lives. This will be our obligation, our burden, our privilege.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts