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  • damariszehner

Discussion Forum: Education

Updated: Jan 31, 2020


Education is often neglected among people who write about a future altered by climate change and the end of fossil fuels. It's true that other subjects, such as renewable energy, carbon emissions, extinctions, and human population pressures, seem more urgent. We take education for granted, the way we take air and water for granted; maybe we think that we've figured it out, and we can just coast. Even most people who advocate for reforms are generally just suggesting tweaks to the current system. But if education, however it is conceived and implemented, is fundamental to the development of human beings, then it must be looked at far more carefully.


So I invite you all to diagnose current problems, imagine reforms, and describe the system that you think best fits a human-shaped life. Feel free to be as radical as you like; consider ages, arrangements, subjects, methods, schedules, funding, buildings, elementary, secondary, college, and anything else that needs to be rethought.


On your mark, get set -- Go!

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lhfontaine
Dec 10, 2019

I have been an elementary teacher for several years and am so overwhelmed by this question that, to be honest, I can't answer it. Both problems and solutions are discussed nearly every day by me and my coworkers. There are definitely more problems than solutions, but in short, the most effective change would start in the home. I'll leave it at that for now. Bless your work.

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damariszehner
Dec 06, 2019

Mkblock -- Yay for Plato! You're exactly right, that we need to know what education is and what its goal is. I'm not averse to one goal being job training, but even that is poorly done; schools feel they have to push STEM and technology training, when most employers say they want people with the liberal arts skills of communication, curiosity, critical thinking, and cross-cultural understanding (as jelliott points out). Some people would say that public education in a democracy should promote civic literacy and behavior -- but we do an abyssmal job at that, too. And almost no one talks about the development of the human person as education's goal, which is not surprising, because we don't …

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mkblock2016
Dec 06, 2019

I think the most fundamental question we can ask in this discussion is ‘What is education?’ followed closely by ‘What is education intended to do?’.


These questions, I think, would be remarkably helpful in this discussion. For, thus far in the dialogue, many and various thoughtful and thought-provoking suggestions have been offered; yet we lack any standard against which to judge these suggestions either as “good” or “bad”. However, if we are able to pinpoint some core aspects of ‘what education is’ as well as ‘what education is supposed to do’, then we could evaluate our various suggestions on the level of “good/helpful for achieving this goal” or “bad/unhelpful for achieving this goal”.


How would our current educational model answer…


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jelliott65
Dec 05, 2019

I'm not sure that the system should be changed so much as what we expect from the system. There aren't many students i've talked with who believe the standardized testing is meaningful or helpful. It doesn't help go beyond public education. And much of the emphasis has become making students "college ready" ...especially in the area of business.


But it might be very helpful for them to learn to reason and use logic...to understand the difference between facts and inferences...and how to avoid being sucked in to conspiracy theories.


Politically, if push came to shove, i'd probably fall toward individual states determining educational standards (not necessarily local), but even then there may be certain things that should be understood from…


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damariszehner
Dec 03, 2019

These are great comments so far. I see some common threads.

-Connection with and understanding of nature. Most of you say that children need to be outdoors more, understand local and global ecology, and grow a garden.

-You also would like to see real work for the real world modeled and taught: home economics, for example, as well as contributing to school maintenance.

-In addition to real work, you think there should be real play, that children should be free to imagine indoors and out and not just stuck in a chair all day.

-djf mentioned the Catholic school model, and Jeanne the trivium and quadrivium. It seems there is good reason to look backward as well as to loo…


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