Read Owen Barfield Night Operation.
“A powerful movement arose for a return to the older and simpler practice of instructing children in ‘the three Rs’ (reading, writing, and arithmetic) and leaving it at that. Anything else would come under some such heading as ‘learning’ or ‘erudition’, the encouragement of which was admittedly undesirable. The sponsors of the movement argued something like this: It is agreed on all hands that the primary purpose of education is to avert elitism by scotching discrimination. But it also has a subsidiary aim, namely the transmission of knowledge, which has been widely regarded as an end in itself. If we confine education to the three Rs, then on the one hand we achieve its primary purpose, while on the other we lean firmly on an educational principle which has been established as effective by many centuries of practice.
To this argument their opponents had two replies. First, it is not the case that instruction limited to the three Rs discourages elitism. Some children acquire them more easily and apply them more cleverly than others and in doing so become different from those others. Obsession with the three Rs belongs to the old twentieth-century ideal of equality of opportunity. Modern education aims at equality of result. Mastery of the three Rs may end in using language correctly enough to convey coherent meaning, and an ingrained habit of speaking and writing correctly is the deepest and most pernicious of all the hidden roots of class-distinction and racism. But secondly, and more importantly, that whole approach to the problem is out of date. It is based on a way of life that has long been declining and has now practically disappeared.”
Owen foresaw (as did others) that the machinery of the state would one day be used to produce Manchurian candidates for citizens, and would eventually realize that real thought was subversive. It's not the "State" that's evil (in ideal form) but the "machinery" part. A real State, and a strong one, isn't necessarily huge. It is, however, powerful. But it isn't mechanistic. Because reality isn't a machine. Reality is a creature.
Sir Ken Robinson wonders why it (education) is failing. American kids are top of the world until the 3rd grade. Kids are creative & not afraid to be "wrong". "If you are not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original." We've standardized this in educations and companies. (This is due to "mechanization" of ALL THINGS, Sir Ken. Since you've moved from Stratford upon Avon to LA, you are obviously thinking this over. Please read Richard Mitchell for the complete frontal assault on "education".)
Rough Transcript ~
"We all have bodies. Why do educate progressively from the waist up, and then focus on the head? Why is dance not as important as mathematics? The whole purpose of education seems to be to produce university professors. They are not the penultimate form of human life. They tend to live in their heads. They are disembodied, in a kind of literal way. They look on their body as a form of transport for their heads. Their body is there to get them to meetings. Education came into being to help get to the top of the industrial system or to get people into the admission process of universities. In the next 30 years, more people (according to UNESCO) will be graduating with degrees than have graduated in recorded history. Degrees will mean nothing. It's a process of academic inflation, which is shifting beneath our feet. IQ is varied & dynamic, as well as interactive. Creativity comes about from the interaction between different disciplines. IQ is also distinct. Some people have to move to think. Human ecology is diverse. We'll have to rethink fundamental principles of what we are looking for.
So why is "education" or "educator" a bad word? The Brits never went in for Lowest Common Denominator education (they kept the grammar schools). Sir Ken ignores, unfortunately, many other factors, but he is on to something. Perhaps he smells the Gnosticism inherent and implicit in the Modern Dystopia. How can we rethink fundamental principles merely by placing hope in kinetically savvy children?
On the contrary (and in addition to his strong opening) modern problems exist (at least in this sense) because children are denied a life of the mind, as well as an identity of the body. The ancient ideal always had held them together. Think of the playing fields of Rugby, and the modern language classes, as well as the chapels, which built the British Empire. Oxford and Cambridge turned out Latin scholars to whom Arabic & Sanscrit & Indian subdialects would be child's play. Any biography of this period (I am thinking of John Buchan's memoirs) will give you a portrait of a time in which education was for the "whole man".
There was not separation of fact/value, and certainly no snobbery towards the past in the name of the "modern". Rather, Humans were taught to subject themselves to rigorous discipline and initiation into archane arts, which then proved remarkably useful (somehow) for modern mastery.
So Language is racist. It is discriminatory and prejudiced. By learning the exactly right word for the precise thing, man was freed from immersion in the sensate and enabled to understand the world he lived in. This created a problem for the revolutionary state, once it had assumed the position of being "in control" (after WWII). How do revolutionaries "conserve" their victory? Easy, they go from chaos to chaos, which they produce, necessitating more revolutions.
Here's Sir Ken Robinson trying again. This is better, actually, fairly good. "The Enlightenment view of intelligence" however had little to do with a knowledge of the classics. This reminds me a little bit of Corelli Barnett's criticisms against older style education. I do agree that ADHD is a bogus diagnosis, particularly for boys, who are by nature so & should be. And I do agree that standardized testing and mechanized education is really, really bad (which C. Barnett thinks is good, as long as it's focused on technics).
Sir Ken is presenting this a la mode, but this is a "getting back to". There is nothing "modern" about a medieval style education. He is treating industrialist education (which manufactures batches of children with rubber stamps to support & be in its own image). Maybe the case is better made without dragging in older ways & mores, but effectively, that's what he is doing.
Defining "divergent thinking" is a lot like defining "forward thinking"; it occurs to one that one would just be happy to be able to think at all. The same thing for defining creativity "as having original ideas with value". What's a value? Is this different from a fact?
But I heartily agree that our education system destroys childhood. Seattle is now sending one year olds to kindergarten (the rich ones, anyway). And he is trying to something good. Why isn't he talking about the classical education movement? Or taking on the system like Richard Mitchell? Still, he has my support. Just not my imprimatur.
Education in America is a mind-job. Everyone knows it is. But no one does anything about it. Least of all the ones who could & should. You want to learn or think? You're on your own.
Quote of the day, From S. Sailer:
"We're not talking about reality, you see, just perceptions of reality and perceptions of perceptions of reality."