I wrote into my local paper and they chose not to publish this little piece on education, which is just fine. That is why God created the blog…
While reading Sara Raab’s October 2nd article “Hands-on education” in the Pensacola News Journal (The article has been archived and is not available to the public.) many of her points disturbed me. Instead of teaching children to master difficult concepts, we need to make geometry “fun,” fun being the highest good here. High school students are learning about “square footage and area and circumference” by cutting out fabric? That is scary.
But, I was most struck by how far we as a country have come in our understanding of education. Ms. Raab’s article seems to praise the development of a system that “work(s) with members of the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce to plan a curriculum that matches local employers’ needs, workforce trends and higher-paying jobs.” This is a horror of a model, which has its roots in humanism. In fact, this is vocational training and not education at all. True education renews the mind, creating fertile ground for the development of ideas and preparing the learner to evaluate incoming information.
Horace Mann and John Dewey, both humanists, were two of the most influential men in our nation’s history when it comes to education, with Mann often being described as the father of American public education. Mann endorsed the Prussian model of education (we get our word kindergarten from this system), and Dewey was greatly impacted by his trip to what was then called Soviet Russia. Their overriding philosophy was that we need an education that is “socially useful,” and by useful they mean productive.
In Dewey’s book Impressions of Soviet Russia and the Revolutionary World, Dewey wrote, “For a leading principle of this advanced doctrine (the Soviet model of “technical education”) was that participation in productive work is the chief stimulus and guide to self-educative activity on the part of pupils, since such productive work is both in accord with the natural or psychological process of learning; and also provides the most direct road to connecting the school with social life, because of the part played by occupations in the latter.”
Did you catch those phrases: “advanced doctrine,” “productive work,” “connecting the school with social life?” We are training our children to be workers and fill a need in “workforce trends.” Can you see that we are adopting a system of education that reinforces the belief that there is no lord over the state but that the “society” is all in all? This is a system of education that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and is being abandoned around the world. It saddens me that we think this is cutting edge and provides the best education for our children.
Dewey wrote long, rambling sentences; but, that is typical of the intelligentsia of his day. Convoluted sentences come from convoluted thought and we ought to abandon such convoluted thinking and reevaluate what it is we want our children to learn. I would urge those who do know there is another Lord over the state (and believe that He is truly all in all) to reevaluate where they are sending their children for their education. And I would also urge taxpayers of all stripes to question what the next generation of children will look like.
There are better models out there. Seek them out.