What Is School For?

Many people have spent the last 6 or 8 weeks dealing with their children and since they are not in school trying to educate them. Many have become frustrated and upset about their skill. A cousin who was a teacher offered this thought:

“Home schooling is going badly. Both students have been suspended for fighting and the teacher has been fired for drinking on the job.”

Not so far from reality.

It comes down to two things:

1)What is school for? and

2) What is a successful childhood?

I think school is not as valuable as people would like you to beleive. It has value, but it is incomplete. It teaches or at least emphasizes wrong things.

What is school for?

Seth Godin makes coherent points and you will see his idea and why it would work;

Stop Stealing Dreams

He asks an important question. What is school for? He says the answer is seldom presented and, in fact, the question is seldom asked. The reuslt is the education system does not teach what it should and it does not do it in the way that works. Similar thoughts exist in the Kahn Academy’s approach to what teaching and education should be.

The facts as we know them to be:

School is about obedience, order, discipline, rudimentary skills, timeliness, and team work. Seth Points out the schools as we know them were designed to produce inudstrial workers. Those skills no longer make for a complete life. The parents who have spent time with their children thes epast weeks have found the things that motivate their children are not things they memorize but rather things they understand. Understanding is not standardized. Some need other methods and some need to explore variations.

Little at school is about critical thinking. It is about receiving “knowledge” Received knowledge is only slightly different from propaganda. Children want to challenge things. Yo may have noticed that. They are not given the tools even if you could give them the tools. School should be about learning not about being taught.

What is a successful childhood

Consider the idea of childhood as possible to be lived well. Well-lived childhood leads to well-living adults. It is useul to address the things that work and notice the ones you should avoid.

For a child, being carefree is intrinsic to a well-lived life

Carefree is a condition that adds value to life. But, not necessarily for every adult. For children though formation as an adult flows from their childhood. Carefree means stress free. Stress free leads to joy.

“Work by psychologists such as Ed Diener, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, suggests that positive and negative emotions are not independent from each other at any given point in time. This means that these emotions tend to suppress each other, and that the more stress and anxiety a child feels, the less mental space she will have for the development of positive emotions towards valuable projects and relationships. Therefore, a child who isn’t carefree lacks the mental space required for the enjoyment of all the good things in her life.”

How do you suppose standardized testing fits into that thought?

Learning things that fit with their place  and seeing how they build makes more sense as an education paradigm. Current education is top-down. Children are bottom-up. Learning what you want to learn just now is motivating and enthusiasm inducing.

School is not like that. School is organized to be measurable.

Just becasue somehting is measurable says nothing about its value but it does make the teacher’s job easier.

A David Perell thought:

“The easiest mistake to make: Focusing on what you can measure instead of what’s important.”

As a parent

School will be part of your child’s life. Be sure you contribute some of the other important aspects and guide them toward a successful adulthood.

It will be good for the child and it will give you insight into your own life too. Worthy way to spend some time.


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