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Ariel Durant, who co-wrote an enormous, and very good, multivolume history of the world with her husband, Will, was happily married at fifteen, and who could reasonably claim that Ariel Durant was an uneducated person? We have been taught (that is, schooled) in this country to think of "success" as synonymous with, or at least dependent upon, "schooling," but historically that isn't true in either an intellectual or a financial sense. Horace Mann's "Seventh Annual Report" to the Massachusetts State Board of Education in 1843 is essentially a paean to the land of Frederick the Great and a call for its schooling to be brought here.
Inglis breaks down the purpose - the actual purpose - of modem schooling into six basic functions, any one of which is enough to curl the hair of those innocent enough to believe the three traditional goals listed earlier:1) The adjustive or adaptive function.
Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority.
By the time I finally retired in 1991, I had more than enough reason to think of our schools - with their long-term, cell-block-style, forced confinement of both students and teachers - as virtual factories of childishness.
Yet I honestly could not see why they had to be that way.
For the most part, however, I found it futile to challenge the official notion that boredom and childishness were the natural state of affairs in the classroom.
Often I had to defy custom, and even bend the law, to help kids break out of this trap.
When asked why they feel bored, the teachers tend to blame the kids, as you might expect. He told me that I was never to use that term in his presence again, that if I was bored it was my fault and no one else's.
Who wouldn't get bored teaching students who are rude and interested only in grades? Of course, teachers are themselves products of the same twelve-year compulsory school programs that so thoroughly bore their students, and as school personnel they are trapped inside structures even more rigid than those imposed upon the children. The obligation to amuse and instruct myself was entirely my own, and people who didn't know that were childish people, to be avoided if possible. That episode cured me of boredom forever, and here and there over the years I was able to pass on the lesson to some remarkable student.
Modern, industrialized, compulsory schooling was to make a sort of surgical incision into the prospective unity of these underclasses.
Divide children by subject, by age-grading, by constant rankings on tests, and by many other more subtle means, and it was unlikely that the ignorant mass of mankind, separated in childhood, would ever reintegrate into a dangerous whole.