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is the school system educating or training?

This posting put me in mind of this posting. I haven’t been able to get my mind around the idea of ‘the learner is the product of education.’ It seems to me, the product of each grade (from k-11) is students. Each slightly more advanced than the last. The product of grade 12 is either a potential employee or another student, for university or college this time. After university, the product is another potential employee. Ideally, a wiser more capable employee, but an employee none-the-less. There are some students who are exceptions to this model, they’re exceptions. But that’s the point isn’t it? The fact that they are exceptions shows that they are not what the system is intended to produce.

What if the product of education were not a potential employee? How would that work? Our economic system wouldn’t function. Ok, but the result shouldn’t be just employees. They should be what? Trained for work, but educated too? Which gets to the heart of the matter: What does it mean to be educated? I think we understand what it means to be trained: You’re employable. Are potential employees sufficiently trained after grade 12? are they sufficiently educated? How do we know? A sufficient number of students become employed shows that they are sufficiently trained. A sufficient number of students become, or are …? What? What shows that they are sufficiently educated? Or conversely, what shows that they are insufficiently educated?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 7th, 2009 at 10:04 pm and is filed under Uncategorized . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There is 2 comments to this post.
  1. Banning Symington Says:

    I’m a young teacher. I do my best not to train, though it occurs naturally due to the process of public education. What I mean is:
    The consequences of lates, lowered marks (due to absences/wasting time/etc.) lead to a different streaming of courses to find the ‘ideal job’ for the citizen. This was the model created by the Prussians a couple hundred years ago which is the basis of our education model. It is also worth noting that training the students to work during the day 8-3 is a simulation of the workweek (in other countries such as Laos studies occur in the evening as it is cooler and most children work with their parents~much better for a stable family as well as sunlight health benefits…but I digress). Also significant is the techniques of segregation that are used on students (sometimes out of necessity of large class sizes) and classroom management. Classroom learning also teaches future citizens how to follow the leader and seek information from the authority instead of seeking it themselves.
    So, all of this training occurs in public education with or without the teachers consent, a bit of it might be curbed but it is mostly ubiquitous. In terms of training, public education is fractured as well. Take a tyrannical model of education that we have (Prussian based see above) and then add hippie influence about learning for the purpose of self fulfillment. (More on this topic if you watch the 4 part bbc documentary called “The Century of the Self”) and there we have it. There are obvious conflicts between the two ideologies but generally speaking the idea seems to be that the student seek self fullfilment but only through the specific processes and rigorous regulations that we allow. Though particular teachers enjoy entrepeneurial skills the system of education often does not support or foster them. Grades are not assigned based on Jenny organizing the team (not after elementary grades at least).
    I do not quite know where to stop as I can speak on this topic at length.
    Final notes though.
    -I’ve already seen articles in magazines teaching employers how to manage these new employees coming from families with 1 or 2 children instead of baby boomers from 7. Bosses need to do more hand holding and less bossing. The product is changing. There will always be a large percent of students acquiring employment after High School, but any employment numbers do not tell the story. The real numbers of interest might be GDP except those are subject to many variables far beyond the scope of this topic, and any numerical changes in productivity are only measurable some 5-10 years after any changes are made.
    -If you found any of this interesting and wish to speak further on it, look me up and we’ll go for tea sometime as this topic is of particular interest to me.


  2. Nicholas Aultman Says:

    I’m a university student currently studying mechanical engineering. I was homeschooled from kindergarten through grade 12.

    I wish to highlight some very serious differences between the education my Grandfather received, and the average education that students are receiving today. My grandfather was born in England just before the war, and lived in London for most of his childhood. The type of education that he received was drastically different from anything that we see today.

    For one thing, the gap between teachers and students was enormous. All teachers were called “Sir” or “Ma’am,” and all students were referred to by their last names, or “Boy.” This created an immense psychological gap between the teacher and the student, which helped maintain a high level of respect and discipline. All of the teachers/professors that I have ever met wish to be addressed by their first names, which is quite a change from when my grandfather was in school. There is not that same barrier between the teacher and student anymore. The teacher is often seen nowadays as a facilitator rather than a master of various subjects. This removal of traditional barriers can, and has, created difficulties in terms of respect and discipline.

    Standards were also much higher. There was not any “No one left behind” type of policy. If a student was not motivated enough or smart enough, then he would be held back. There was a final exam in essay format that the student’s entire grade rested on. If he failed there were no remedial assignments. (While extremely harsh, this system was very good at preparing its students for the real world where there are very few “second-chances.”)

    These very high standards ensured that an unmotivated or a slow student would not hold back the other, brighter students from reaching their true academic potential. In many cases today, the class time is taken up with trying to explain simple concepts to poor students, while the bright ones are bored out of their minds. This is not a very motivating position to be placed in.

    I feel that I must add that I don’t think that a system, such as my grandfather was educated under, was very helpful to children with disabilities. Simply holding back a child with disabilities does not help them overcome their problems, as they often have a very unique way of learning. However, the policy of keeping them with the other students doesn’t work that well either because it ends up holding the other students back.

    Some people have stated that a policy whereby all students are taught without segregation will help breed tolerance of minorities with disabilities. But, how tolerant would your average student be, if he knows that he is being held back simply because “junior” can’t understand?

    In my opinion, the reason that there was this switch from extremely disciplined and highly segregated, to very lax and highly egalitarian was mainly due to the rise of postmodernism. In a world where all people, cultures, and religions are equal, all students should be taught together. If some students were segregated for whatever reason, that would create tension and intolerance between the different groups.

    This philosophy has penetrated almost all of our institutions, including public universities, public schools, and many private schools as well. From a most basic logical standpoint, postmodernism is a failure. Because postmodernism proclaims truth-relativism it can be easily refuted by a very simple argument. If all truths are relative, then the “truth” that all truths are relative is in itself relative. It is a self-defeating philosophy, and definitely not worthy of applying to educational policy.

    The school system is at the same time educating and training. It educates people in the core subjects with a postmodern spin. It is also attempting to train its students to become successful human beings who can be productive. Whether or not it is being successful or not is up for debate. The fact that newspapers write for the comprehension level of an 8th grader doesn’t say much for their progress.

    A solution that might work, would be a comfortable medium between what my grandfather experienced, and the kind of education used today. A system in which standards were much higher, slower students were held back, respect and discipline were emphasized, and teachers taught the true value of western civilization.

    I fully realize that a solution limited to a single paragraph will probably not solve anything, and leaves far to much room for interpretation, but I digress.

    Yikes! I really didn’t mean to write that much, but I suppose someone has to say that the emperor has no clothes…


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