SJ's UTNE response : LUSENET : MEd Cohort III : One Thread

I will copy mine off of my hard copy as soon as I have time!

-- Anonymous, November 11, 1998


11/11/98 I read "LEARNing in the Key of Life" by Jon Spaydein the June '98 issue. The article begins by asking the reader: "What should it mean to be educated?" This is followed by several other questions, such as: "What is the Good?" For every person asked these questions, there will be a different answer and opinion. Our nation is very diverse: filled with different cultures, religions, political as well as socio-economic groups. A person's response to the questions posed will be based on their past experiences and ultimately depend on what "group" they are currently in or what standards and beliefs they have been brought up with.

The following are though-provoking statements from the article: John Ralston Saul, a Canadian historian and critic says: "Technical training is training in what is sure to be obsolete soon anyway; it's self-defeating, and it won't get you through the next 60 years of your life." "Training, says Saul, is simply '...learning to fit in as a passive member of a structure. And that's the worst thing for an uncertain, unchanging time.'" David Orr from Oberlin College, advocates the importance of "...slow knowledge: knowledge shaped and calibrated to fit a particular ecological and cultural context. It does not imply lethargy, but rather thoroughness and patience." Compared with "...'fast knowledge' that zips through the terminals of the information society." "Orr says that we are focusing energy and resources on fast knowledge thus ignoring all of the riches and meaning that slow knowledge adds to our lives."

"People cannot learn what they do not love." This quote from Goethe is followed by this statement: ..."We always find time for what we truly love one way or another." True in all aspects!

The idea of education taking place in everyday life experiences, not only in the classroom, but out in the community, in the real world is presented: "...a combination we can make of school, salon, reading, online exploration,m walking the streets, hiking in the woods, museums, poetry classes at the Y and friendshi[ may be the best education of all."

Actually, special education for the severely mentally impaired does do some of this everyday life education out of necessity already. Most of these students need to be taught functional everyday living skills, whether they are needed to gain more independence in their home, school, community or work environment. In order to accomplish this teaching, special education teachers, job coaches and para-professionals are out in the "real world" with their students learning "real world" skills.

Nice thought for the entire population of students being educated as such, but we need to be realistic. Our culture is so grade orientated and scheduled that it would be a LONG time before any kind of change such as this would take place. Some have tried to introduce parts of this idea, such as environmental studies and community service projects, but to really incorporate these ideas, it would take lots more money, staff and time. More money would also be necessary to provide the extra staff needed for the special education students to be successful, not to mention safe, in this type of learning situation. It would be a nice change if all people were allowed to learn what they love!

This is not the time for Duluth, the conservative city it is, to even think of these kinds of changes in the total structure of education. The ever-looming possible strike doesn't help the cause either.

-- Anonymous, November 11, 1998

Sue, I read the same article you did. I liked the quotes you used. I think that revamping education in the schools to incorporate the ideas in this article would be ill advised. I think it is our job to train kids. We need to make sure that kids have the formal training they will need to make a life for themselves in the future. I commented in my response to this article that kids will have a tough time pursuing the goal of self education because much of their time is spent chasing the formal education that we put in front of them.

Their time will come. But now they have work to do and much to learn. Here is a question for you. Do you think that schools are rushing so quickly into technology issues such as teaching wiiith the internet, that more and more of what we expect children to learn fall into th "fast knowledge" category? Sometimes I think that technology has made our students lazy and impatient. What do you think?

-- Anonymous, November 16, 1998

My response to your response on Nov. 11, 1998 to the John Spayde article, "Learning is the Key to Life" -

I also read Spayde's article.I agree with many of his assessments of our educational problems, but I am not totally satisfied with his determination for a solution to these areas of concern. I don't think our education is too specialized, but rather too generalized. Compare the amount of time spent each day in high schools on non-academics in our country to schools in Europe & Asia, and the difference is astounding. One reason for the loss of actual academic teaching time, it seems to me, is that educators are increasingly being asked or are told to take on the role of the family, of trying to teach the values, responsibilities, and social skills that should be learned in the home, of forming one's base which was previously acquired from one's family. And that, in my opinion, is what's causing each generation to have less of a sense of their individual and of their American essence or soul. I agree with Spayde's comments on how learning is best done when it comes from the heart. I try to develop in my students a love for reading, writing, and discussion in all areas of the humanities and sciences. From my perspective, reading and writing are becoming lost arts; we need to do more, not less. Being "in the streets" is where we put our acquired knowledge from formal education to work. If young opeople can't do this, it's from "laziness" - not from lack of formal instruction in judgement forming but from modeling in the family. These are some of my ideas on his particular article. Spayde's article borders on bashing formal education, in my opinion.

-- Anonymous, March 15, 1999

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