Alfie Kohn, What Does It Mean to be Well Educated?
And More Essays on Standards, Grading, and Other Follies
You only learn things and learn how to think if there’s some purpose for learning, some motivation that’s coming out of you somehow. In fact, all the methodology in education isn’t really much more than that—getting the students to want to learn. Once they want to learn, they’ll do it.
The point is, it doesn’t matter what you read, what matters is how you read.… You only learn if the material is integrated into your own creative processes somehow, otherwise it just passes through your mind and disappears. And there’s nothing valuable about that –it basically has the effect of learning the catechism, or memorizing the Constitution or something like that.
—Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power
After finishing my 23rd year of teaching, I do breathing gathas and slowly reconnect in the days ahead with the clarity of Alfie Kohn…
Nel Noddings: “the main aim of education should be to produce competent, caring, loving, and lovable people.” 2
The best sort of schooling is organized around problems, projects, and questions—as opposed to facts, skills, and disciplines. Knowledge is acquired, of course, but in a context and for a purpose. The emphasis is not only on depth rather than breadth, but also on discovering ideas rather than on covering of prescribed curriculum. Teachers are generalists first and specialists (in a given subject matter) second; they commonly collaborate to offer interdisciplinary courses that students play an active role in designing. All of this happens in small, democratic schools that are experienced as caring communities.
Critique of Education: Aims: quantifiable results, standardized procedures to improve performance, on order and discipline and obedience to authority. Read the rest of this entry »