Friday, October 30, 2009

Dehumanized: When Math And Science Rule The School

A few days ago I complained, in part, about our tendency to treat education as vocational training.

I think we all know that education should be much more than that. Our economic lives, while important, vital, and often enriching in ways far beyond filthy lucre, are still only a small part of what it means to be a fully realized human being.  This is especially important in a democracy, a political form that requires a well-educated populace in order to function properly. As Epictetus wrote, “Only the educated are free,” and without free people democracy ceases to function.

Over the course of the past 30 years, increasing pressure has been put on our educational system to produce workers rather than citizens. This has short changed our children and, I believe, damaged our democracy.

I was going to make this post be about my reaction to Mark Slouka’s recent article entitled “Dehumanized: When Math And Science Rule The School” that appeared last month in Harper’s Magazine, but it’s really such an incredible article that I would rather just share it with you whole.

It's long but a worthy read for anyone concerned about teaching our children to be more than just workers.

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Tracy Griffin - Artist said...

Love this post! And, so true!
I'm stopping over from The Jason Show where I read your comment. I checked out your art! I totally adore collage!! And, really enjoyed yours! Thanks! The body work is simply intriguing!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for me, I'm a self imposed victim of this mentality. I had to take certain courses in college where I did just enough work to get a grade that wouldn't negatively impact my GPA. Now that I'm older, and arguably, wiser, I wished that I had paid more attention to things that weren't necessarily put me on the path to Gekko-esque success.

The only thing I can say counter to all of this is that it is still in my control, both as a person and a father. I can choose to educate myself and my son in the areas that the system appears to be failing or focused on things that will make us all better employees. So, while it would be nice to have the system change to a degree, it is important to realize that desire to seek out knowledge will always be important.

susan said...

Tom – ok, I read the article. Many points come to mind, but like so much that is happening in the world today, it comes down to “too much.”
In the past, cultures who pursued unsustainable paths eventually failed, which mattered mostly to the nearby cultures, & less & less as distance increased. Now we basically have one goal as a planetary culture. Make more stuff, make more money. Which is a problem because there are TOO MANY PEOPLE! We’re using it up.

Wealthy societies usually have more art. The less time you have to spend looking for food & surviving, the more free time you have for other things, like art. I feel like the article is in part saying – we’re a rich society, so why are we focused only on economic movement?

But everyone has to find a way to get by when they grow up. That's inevitable. I hear what he's saying about the lack of rounded education but life takes money. That's where we are now. I think we're going to have to move toward being happy with less but I'm not sure how to make that into a viable income unless one goes with bartering, even then you have to acquire the raw materials.

MOM #1 said...

I'm loving that article. I have complicated feelings on the subject,especially getting ready to set my Baby Boy on the college path. I have feelings along the lines of Susan's above, but not nearly so articulately communicated, so I'll leave it at that.