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From: Birdchild (121.216.211.237)
Subject:         Problems with education – a question and journey
Date: August 29, 2009 at 5:58 am PST

P.S. I made a PDF with clickable footnotes and put the comic in the end so you don't have to click on it. It's also prettier so read it if you can. Due to the format here the you will see numbers after words. These are the links to the footnotes You can view or download the PDF at the link at the bottom of the page

To whoever or whomever may read this.

I will be posting this on a few different forums. If you see it in multiple places then no I'm not spamming. Of course I'd be a very strange spammer writing multiple pages of text not just copied verbatim from another website. I've searched around a little on each forum I will post on and I really hope I won't be breaking any rules by posting such a large lump of text. I'm looking for answers and you (the people on the forums I've chosen) seem to be the best to answer it.

I could have adapted this more but I'm posting this as it is in a highly generified* version. I hope those reading it won't mind its length as I wrote it as much to clarify for myself as to ask others and get ideas and insights.

For this reason or for no reason I wrote the strange quote below. Possibly to just get me started typing or to quench the shyness I have with exposing half baked ideas both to the written page(computer typed yes) and to others.
Is this to explain to others. Is this to explain to myself. Which is it. I cannot say. Only write. So it may flow where it flows. Following the streams of ideas. To get to whatever destination the logical flow and conclusions leads it too. Ramblings of a writer while writing a written writ

I am tasked with the prospect of finding what I like. What I do. For what I'd like to do as a career. While we live in a world of ever increasing change I'm of the disposition to make the correct choice first. Something I'd not want to change albeit of changing circumstances and/or knowledge. It's difficult to find appropriate references on the number of career changes that might be to expected in ones life than the oft quoted five to seven times, which is much increased from even a few decades ago.1 2 But it could be easily said that it will be fluid, even for someone who prefers consistency over change. Albeit only if it's a enjoyable logically and rational type.

My interests are varied. Ever changing, but among the flux their remains certain consistent points. Points which while not always on the forefront of my mind, clamouring for attention, remain points of interest. Ones which can always be picked up if the need arises.

The starting point of a career therefore should be sought from among these. One of these has been chosen for this essay. To help clarify in my mind and maybe elicit help and guidance from those of knowledge and wisdom whom I choose to share.

There is a problem with my choice however. While it has an easy enough series of steps to go through in it's traditional forms, my views on it are of correcting problems in it, so it therefore is possible the said series of steps steps might not be the best to take.

Of which do I speak. Education of course. A highly political and influencing topic at even the best of times. Many methods exist and ideas of old and new are often combined into a strange hodgepodge which just doesn't seem to be working. Why. A valid question. Attempting to answer it might shed light on where I should proceed from here. But it is still in flux in my mind. Whether it's from people trying, with both good and bad intentions, it matters not, to influence or shape culture and society how they see fit. Or just the evolution of philosophies and cultures that seem to value things the very antecedence of reason and logic I do not know.3 4 It is as I said an interesting question. And one that should rightfully so garner much attention and thought. But it does not however provide me with a basis of deciding which educational method is the kind which is worthy of my study.

For this I have had feelers out in all directions. From the first texts of Piaget5, to Papert6, Holt7 and many others. To classical on the one side and progressive on the other. For all the weird and wonderful ones which seem at first to be promising. To later reveal fatal flaws in either methodology or underlying philosophies.

Many people propose solutions, of which parts of have been incorporated into both others and the mainstream curriculum's of many places. However after my research and contemplations I'm of the opinion that it needs more than this. It may or may not but at least I would prefer to work in a place that had an entirely different methodology if not philosophy. One which values individuality and the uniqueness and curiosity of every child. Retaining a love of learning. Of not forcing memorisation while still retaining a love of learning. But never sinking down the sights of learning, of knowledge and the potential of the human mind.

It is of my opinion that each child is different and will require a different style but not necessaryly a different approach. We live in a beautiful yet complex world. We all have an understanding of it but there are certain ideas and tools which can help us better understand and cope with the unique situations which we encounter. It might be popular (in some circles) to blame all problems on the failings of education. We will always have problems as a world but it is of my opinion that with the proper tools and guidance's (not to be confused with being told what to do or think) we can have a happier world to do whatever we each want to do as we see fit (not infringing on that right or others rights with which this is not the place to discuss. Or it could be, but I don't want to ramble on too long)

I am constantly learning new things which will thus vary my opinion. I can't help but pick up and meld ideas along the path of my journey. Maybe one day I can contribute of these if I see fit to continue. Some are flat out irredeemable. Others have valuable points8 9 but a air of, shall I say kookiness in a couple of the underlying ideas and the founder of Waldorf education10 This of course doesn't completely discredit it as individual schools might be better than others in some respects to anthroposophy. And it's growing in popularity and my local (by that I mean 200km's / 124 miles away and thus not local at all) university might even offer a Bachelor of Education centring on it. Others like home schooling can be a perfect choice. But it's not for all and while probably most anyone could do it (disregarding time and financial situations) I would have reservations about going through it myself with a certain kind of parent but if the parent ensures they have love and freedom to think for oneself then it could be a great service to let them.

Maybe I'm strange. But I want to know everything. Well with the possible exception of sport, because through it can be occasionally interesting watching the reactions and thoughts of people watching, playing it myself doesn't hold much interest. (maybe modern day sports while still requiring massive amounts of skill in the upper echelons of at least many of them just aren't appealing enough. Maybe a game of televised Buzkashi11 would be interesting for a day, through that would most probably be just for the novelty of it)

This is of course not unsurprising to many people.12 But considering my own memories of school and certain aspects of my family environment I worry about my younger brothers. (probably shouldn't put personal things here but a certain incident from just 10 minutes ago is playing on my mind.)

As I was saying I love learning everything. The way I go about things might not be applicable to everybody and may be even be contained only in me. But when I get interested in one thing my search for knowledge spreads out like branches on a tree. Liken it to wikipedia for example, which I love reading coincidentally. Everything's linked and you can be learning about Vardo wagons which you saw in a cartoon one hour and then spend the next coming weeks reading novels by a particularly good short stories in both childrens and adults books that have nothing at all to wagons. (the only link been that the author owned one for his children to play in) This of course fused with all the intricacies and things to know. To dream of what it would be like living in a mobile home. To lie under a tree and just think. To learn of everything and anything. (too much to type here and I'm sure anyone with half a brain could write half a page plus on the things that one may be interested in branching from one topic alone)

However in spite of all that there's just so much out there that it can be a help to have someone help guide and show your way. Never to force. Never to destroy the spark of joy that it is to know. To force one to memorise and not to know, while not a crime and rightfully so, is still annoying and deserving of an evil eye by me. It should be helped and guided. Experienced by others as the wonder it is and helped by being introduced to the wonders and puzzles of the world. The world really is a wide and beautiful place, at least on my better days. On grumpier days it's not as good but points still shine through.

On my journey I have been impressed with the joy and spontaneity children discovered for themselves the basic principles of calculus via a constructivist. However I'm now also impressed with Lisa Vandamme's “Hierarchy of Knowledge” that she implements at her private school with a measure of success. Not extinguishing the love of knowledge, while providing a structured way to learn the world and the skills to get the best out of life.13 14 15

I see flaws in this too (I'm great at doing that) but it does seem to have elements of the best of both worlds.

Maybe I'm to young, naive and wet around the ears believing the things espoused above and thus would appreciate those further along the path's comments and insights. This however doesn't mean the thoughts I have don't have merit and therefore merit careful thought in turn.

I would appreciate any and all peoples comments. Ideally a giant would come know down my door and invite me to Hogwarts16 but comments are good too. It's a long shot but if you're rich and have a nice school espousing a similar learning style as the one I'm looking for, then feel free to buy me a plane ticket so I can come and be a trainee or just observe. (no idea why I'm putting this but one can dream)

I'm sure all will be kind and not too harsh. But since I'm kind of solitary I tend to keep my thoughts under-wraps due to harsh people in my past and present. If you do feel the need to be harsh then feel free. If there's problems with editing or points repeated then that's obviously my fault. But I have an excuse. A good one really. I promise. Well actually it's just I feel apprehensive about this and want to get it over and done with which is actually quite counter-intuitive. But remember you can catch more flies with honey then vinegar.

Of course demonstrating my pedantic nature I must point out this simply isn't true (despite first been published in 166617 which I suppose some could make a conspiracy theory of even through the correct number is actually more probably 61618) After all those facts I must highlight my youth with a comic.
http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/flies.png

* I know I could have used a better term that's in more dictionaries but I like this one
1 “The Six Stages of Modern Career Development,” http://www.quintcareers.com/career_develo
i “The Six Stages of Modern Career Development,” http://www.quintcareers.com/career_development.html.
ii Robert E. Hall, “The Importance of Lifetime Jobs in the U.S. Economy,” The American Economic Review 72, no. 4
(September 1982): 716-724.
iii John Taylor Gatto and John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher's
Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling, 2nd ed. (Oxford Village Press, 2000).
iv A. Rand, The new left: The anti-industrial revolution (New American Library, 1971).
v “Jean Piaget - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Piaget.
vi “Seymour Papert - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seymour_Papert.
vii “John Holt (educator) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Holt_(educator).
viiiBill Wood, “A Comparative Study of University Performance by Graduates of the
Mount Barker Waldorf School.”
ix Jack Petrash, Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out (Gryphon House, 2002).
x “Afghanistan Online: Afghan National Sport (Buzkashi),” http://www.afghan-web.com/sports/buzkashi.html.
xi John Holt and Pat Farenga, Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling (Da Capo Press, 2003), 98.
xii ““The False Promise of Classical Education” by Lisa VanDamme,”
http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2007-summer/false-promise-classical-education.asp.
xiii“Pedagogically Correct,” http://www.pedagogicallycorrect.com/.
xiv ““The Hierarchy of Knowledge: The Most Neglected Issue in Education” by Lisa VanDamme,”
http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2006-spring/hierarchy-of-knowledge.asp.
xv J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Raincoast Books, 2000).
xvi Giovanni Torriano, Piazza universale di proverbi italiani: or, A common place of Italian proverbs and proverbial
phrases (Printed by F. and T.W. for the author., 1666).
xvii“Papyrus Reveals New Clues to Ancient World,”
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/04/0425_050425_papyrus_2.html.


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