Sunday, July 18, 2010

Education:What children really need ?

Here is my response to a paper written by Dr Hannah David , an Israeli educationist.

She claims based on the writings of Charles Murray that a large proportion of kids don't have the innate capacity to graduate high school with a diploma. She suggests that graduation which will enable kids to receive higher education should be reserved for those that have ability.

The question that should be asked is whether kids are getting an education at all and are they becoming life- long learners and not how many get a piece of paper at the end of 12 years study. At least 90% of kids will never look at maths again after leaving school and that's includes those going to university.

Instead of quoting Charles Murray we should be reading Deborah Meier and Alfie Kohn. All kids deserve an education that gives them life skills, how to communicate , acquire critical and design thinking , and the values of responsible and caring people .

It is not about how much you know , but how you think and how much you care.

Below are quotes from Deborah Meier in a response to Charles Murray , and a quoe from Alfie Kohn 's article -' what it means to be well educated' .

Alfie Kohn has 2 books on education translated into hebrew.

Having read Deborah Meier and Alfie Kohn the question is not whether we should try and make all kids succeed in a school system and curriculum which does not teach thinking and values , at most kids learn some facts and skills, or should we be examining what kids really need ?

Deborah Meier

'What all kids need is an engaging, stimulating curriculum on one hand and engaged, stimulating adults on the other. Kids need to be keeping company with a lot of adults who have qualities kids of all races and classes admire and imagine they, too, could emulate. Interesting people with power. Keeping company with interesting peers and adults is half the battle, especially across lines of class, race, generation, status, and expertise. Then comes the hard part. Having unconditional respect for each other (as we learn to decide how much to trust each other). We need enough of the latter—trust—to feel that we are amongst people whose intent is probably trustworthy. What we can offer each other in the way of expertise is what time alone only can reveal.'

Charles Murray says that Educational romanticism consists of the belief that just about all children who are not doing well in school have the potential to do much better. Correlatively, educational romantics believe that the academic achievement of children is determined mainly by the opportunities they receive; that innate intellectual limits (if they exist at all) play a minor role; and that the current K-12 schools have huge room for improvement.

Deborah Meier
' Behind our claimed commitment to democracy is a leap of faith. It rests on a imagining a level of mutuality that we are unaccustomed to articulate much less practice, an acknowledgement of each other’s worthiness that we don’t often even pretend to. It asks of schools something we haven’t seriously considered. Hoover Institute’s Charles Murray calls it romanticism. But it’s a romance that has led us to hold dear to an equally fragile idea—democracy; it’s an idea sometimes hard to defend until one considers the alternatives. It’s the “romanticism” that led Rose to go back home to interview members of his family about their working lives, and Sennett to re-examine the place of craftsmanship in the ideal of democracy itself. '

From Alfie Kohn's article -

'The assessments in progressive schools are based on meaningful standards of excellence, standards that may collectively offer the best answer to our original question simply because to meet those criteria is as good a way as any to show that one is well-educated. The Met School focuses on social reasoning, empirical reasoning, quantitative reasoning, communication, and personal qualities (such as responsibility, capacity for leadership, and self-awareness). Meier has emphasized the importance of developing five “habits of mind”: the value of raising questions about evidence (“How do we know what we know?”), point of view (“Whose perspective does this represent?”), connections (“How is this related to that?”), supposition (“How might things have been otherwise?”), and relevance (“Why is this important?”). It’s not only the ability to raise and answer those questions that matters, though, but also the disposition to do so. For that matter, any set of intellectual objectives, any description of what it means to think deeply and critically, should be accompanied by a reference to one’s interest or intrinsic motivation to do such thinking. Dewey reminded us that the goal of education is more education. To be well-educated, then, is to have the desire as well as the means to make sure that learning never ends. '

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