Transforming OurSpace Using Thinker's Thoughts September 2007


Yo, to the In2:InThinking Newsletter readers from my home in Philadelphia.

Bill Bellows asked me to write a monthly short, emphasis short, piece as part of the monthly newsletter. In a moment of literary weakness I agreed, with the proviso that I could write about whatever I wanted. In a moment of editorial weakness he agreed. Together, we did come up a few guidelines for the piece/column/whatever. They are:

Each piece will be from 1- 2 paragraphs. Rovin will be responsible for 10 pieces, September -June, but may not write all of them. Others will be invited to contribute. Rovin/Bellows will edit all of them.

Reader responses will be requested. Perhaps at the end of each piece will be "What do you think?" and the next newsletter will include at least some of the responses. The responses must, perforce, be brief.

Subjects will be determined, but varied. Readers will be invited to suggest topics. There might be a continuing series around a central theme with several contributors, as one example. Point - counter point is another example. Controversial topics will be the grist for this mill.

We can call this part of the newsletter The Thinkers Corner or Thinkers Thoughts or something else. Having said all this here goes. I'll start with an easy one: What passes for education in this country.

Shel Rovin

On Education

What is labeled education in the US is nothing more than transmitting predigested information and conclusions to unsuspecting young people who were told, by parents, to pay attention to their teachers. The youngsters are constrained to follow an adult generated curriculum and ways of transmitting it. With some exceptions, predominantly, school children do not act independently both in pursuing what they want to know and in drawing their own conclusions. In short, they do not learn how to learn, a necessary ability to deal with previously unencountered situations and an ever-changing world. The question is what to do about it.

We know that those who teach learn the most. So having older students teach younger ones makes sense. Ending the tyranny of testing so students might learn because they want to rather than because they have to also makes sense, at least to me. Giving kids choices is another way to facilitate learning. But the likelihood of any of this occurring in the typical school setting is nil. But parents could enable these ways of learning. How about parents as learning agents? For example, when a child goes home after school, the parent might ask her to teach the parent something she learned that she liked, rather than saying how did your day go, etc. Parents might ask their kids what they might like to learn other than what they got from school and then lead them to good sources. And parents might tell the kids about their own work problems and invite them to help solve them. Taking kids shopping and asking them to figure out costs to learn basic arithmetic is a way that's fun and practical is another suggestion. If our kids are not really being educated in formal school settings lets do it in the best kind of environment-their homes and the real world.

What do you think?