I just read ‘The Objective of Education is Learning, Not Teaching’. The author starts with an interesting point that, “a child learns such fundamental things as how to walk, talk, eat, dress and so on with out being taught these things”. That might true for quite a few things but there is one thing that stands out that children are very specifically taught and that’s potty training.
If we are relying on students to teach each other and staff then one of three things will happen:
- The students will buy in and it will be a great experience.
- The students will not buy in and the only teaching will get is how little they were interested about the subject and did not care that they couldn’t inform the crowd.
- Misinformation will be thrown around the room.
If we look at the authors example of his son and the 13 year old that he idolized, the actual information was rejected based on the face that the 13 year old had to be right. If we take this example and try to apply it more broadly this is the same thing as Sarah Palin saying that there were going to be death panels and her being believed, or that Barack Obama’s recent trip to India was costing 200 million dollars a day. The people that read the blogs/saw the news stories saw them as fact because the news person that they trusted told them. Just like Ernie there was misinformation being spread and then the person that heard that information would not be swayed even in the face of evidence to the contrary. This plays into the entire story about old philosophy professors argument that is made in this article. Except now instead of just trying instruct people some of the “professors” of our time make people scared and then tell people things that will make them feel safer. Instead of dealing with issues they try to make people afraid and then make decisions based on making them money and making the people feel better about whats going on. This became absolutely apparent when I read the Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein where people had discovered that the easiest way to get people from a Socialist government to a purely Capitalist one is to strike when there has been a disaster and people are willing to accept anything that is passed towards them since they are in shock and can’t process everything that is coming to them.
Sorry for jumping around here but if we look at the statement “Why doesn’t education focus on what humans can do better than the machines and instruments they create?” This is a valid point only if we trust what the machines can do for us. Putting on my Superman III/Office evil genius hat for a second, if I have a group of people that have been educated to only trust what the machines can do better than them then the time is ripe to write banking software that starts taking their money. They won’t be worried that their bank balance is slightly lower than it should be because the machine did it for them. Another perfect example is electronic voting machines in the US election system which people have shown can be hacked to allow only certain votes to come through so that each “ballot box” can favor one candidate over another. Instead of having a human do the unnecessary task of counting paper ballots and have someone be accountable for it we have machines which can normally count well giving us invalid results.
Finally the author asserts that the thought of students having self discipline and getting their work done brought forward an image of “George Orwell winking in the back of the classroom”. Truly I hope that they are kidding, having a student have the self determination to find things for themselves and do their own work is the antithesis of what Orwell is talking about. What is completely Orwellian is “people of trust” making everyone scared and then telling them what to do. To go back to my original example, yeah a child would probably figure out to go to the bathroom themselves but I tell you folks if that is what we are setting everyone up for things are going to get shitty before they get better.