Quote

“We are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet.”

-Margaret Mead

Quote

Comments

  1. #1 decrepitoldfool
    April 1, 2008

    And yet we’re still stuck in the model of “here is a set of facts you must learn in order to pass this test so we can get funding”. We need to tell our kids the truth, that they need to learn to think and to adapt to a world that would make the adults run away screaming. Information is easy to get; figuring out what it all means is a different story.

    (My job did not exist when I graduated from college, nor for another 15 years after that.)

    In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.
    - Eric Hoffer

  2. #2 Tim
    April 1, 2008

    Interesting quote, but pretty well meaningless. How is our present situation different from yesteryear? Did pre-Newtonians know Newtonian dynamics before it was eludicated? How is it different from next year? Do you, or anyone know what will be discovered? And because the thought is obviously – even trivially true – why do we assume that there exists an ‘expert’ class that call themselves ‘Teachers”?

  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    April 1, 2008

    Tim, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the historical purpose of education has been vocational. If you taught a twelve-year-old in 1500 to plant, hoe and harvest or shear, spin and weave, those skills would last a (rather short) lifetime. If a new method of doing any of those came along, maybe your ex-student wouldn’t be quite so competitive, but they wouldn’t be out of work. (Dynamics, or even statics, wasn’t particularly relevant, so breakthroughs mostly only set other scholars back in their educations.)

    We’re not in 1500 anymore. The rate of change of technology and industry mean that my grandparents are painfully isolated from the generations that followed them, not by geographical barriers and changing family dynamics, but because they haven’t kept up. Successful modern living requires that people learn how to adapt, which hasn’t been part of anyone’s curriculum planning until very recently. It certainly wasn’t when Mead made her statement.

    I’m not sure why you’re using all the quotes (or which grammatical rule prescribes using single quotes for a subject and double for an object). Teachers get to call themselves experts when they’ve studied how their students learn to adapt. Their profession is adapting to our new world like anything else–at least when non-experts aren’t legislating otherwise.

    Oh, and their “class” is generally lower middle, even with all the work they do. This isn’t a MMORPG.

  4. #4 Tim
    April 2, 2008

    “Successful modern living requires that people learn how to adapt, which hasn’t been part of anyone’s curriculum planning until very recently. It certainly wasn’t when Mead made her statement.”

    …As a means of identification, I have been accused of being a teacher (at the secondary, post secondary, and industrial levels)- and sometimes of being a mentor: all accusations I most emphatically deny despite the institutional evidence to the contrary! …

    Do you really think that the people who came to Pennsylvania (for example) from the Holland and England at William Penn’s behest had not learnt to adapt? How about the migrants from Africa to Europe a few tens (or hundreds) of thousands of years ago? How does a ‘teacher’ teach a person to adapt; especially when the ‘teacher’ has never really had to adapt?

    Mead (Margaret) was definitely Victorian (at least in attitude). In her time, there was a number of paradigms that would still be familiar (unfortunately): one of these would be the superiority of the intellectual (read ruling; union; professional) class – indeed, in Ontario, Canada, at about that time, (I’m paraphrasing here: my memory betrays me so I will not pretend to quote.) teachers were informed that their first duty was to correct their students inability to understand civilized behavior, by physical reinforcement if necessary, because of their rustic, untutored upbringing, and, of course by their non-attendance at the local church, or whatever! The primary roll of ‘teaching’ was (and is, at least in the half dozen jurisdictions I am aware of) to ‘train’ the student to fill the societal function required by the ‘public’ authority.

    Ms., Miss, (whatever) Mead also was fond of the myth of the promiscuity of Polynesian girls: I invite you to investigate this with real south pacific people. (They do have a delicious sense of humour!) What exactly could she have taught them?

    My point is that, if there is such a thing as a ‘teacher’; (use double quotes if you prefer) that ‘being’ would and could not be a part of some organized ‘profession’ or ‘trade’ that ‘teaches’. Perhaps this idealised being could inspire people (of whatever age) to ‘look and learn’: then, perhaps, to inform the ‘teacher’ of the wonder he/she/it had discovered. I have not been able to discover the existence of any such being, ‘the teacher’, in any public, or otherwise, institution (in spite of being accused of being a participant in this illusion) during the past half century or more!

  5. #5 Stephanie Z
    April 2, 2008

    “[A]ccusations I most emphatically deny despite the institutional evidence to the contrary!” Ah, now I see the problem.

    I’m not sure which amuses me more, the idea of equating unions with the ruling class or that Mead (she hardly needs a title at this point, I think) intended to teach Polynesians Victorian mores.

    I’m very sorry you’ve never found a teacher who inspired you to learn. Those of us who have know how lucky we are.

  6. #6 the real cmf
    April 2, 2008

    One thing that is for certain: no matter what Margaret did or didn’t teach/learn in all her salacious years studying Aborigine girls, or mores, she did lend a whole new meaning to the phrase ” headhunters of Tchambuli”…

  7. #7 Tim
    April 2, 2008

    “I’m very sorry you’ve never found a teacher who inspired you to learn.”

    I an very sorry that you have never learned how to read!

  8. #8 Stephanie Z
    April 3, 2008

    Tim, perhaps you’d like to clarify what I missed. Your comment defined teachers as hypothetical ideals of inspiration. I’ve met them in action, in institutions. If you haven’t, that is a pity. If you’re saying something else, it’s not coming through.

  9. #9 Tim
    April 3, 2008

    “Tim, perhaps you’d like to clarify what I missed.” As a means of identification, I have been accused of being a teacher (at the secondary, post secondary, and industrial levels)- and sometimes of being a mentor:

    I’ve BEEN them in action, in institutions: as well as having been their victims.

    “the idea of equating unions with the ruling class” And precisely what is the difference when the union can dictate who is, or is not permitted to teach, and when they can do so!

    One (although not the only) reason for homeschooling is that
    the ‘schools’ have become institutions of societal political indoctrination and ‘teachers’ have nothing to teach.I have been in the position of ‘trying’ to teach aspiring elementary school teachers: college students; mathematics only to discover that they do not know elementary Euclidean geometry – something that should have been a requirement of ‘graduating’ from elementary school! These same ‘students’ also show no understanding of the geography, history, or political organization of the country they are in!

  10. #10 Stephanie Z
    April 3, 2008

    The difference is that, at least in theory, leadership of a union is chosen by its membership and may be removed at the membership’s discretion. Whether an individual member of a union feels well represented is a separate question, but not one that has to do with class.

    Sure, education students are not uniformly the best and brightest. But I don’t know that denigrating the whole profession is going to help. Neither is insisting that there is no such thing as a teacher. Instead of ignoring truly wonderful teachers in favor of making your argument, you might get further by holding them up as examples and figuring out what they do that others can emulate.

    As for geometry, I’ll give you that some discussion of lines, planes and angles is appropriate for elementary school. Theorems and proofs (the Euclidean part) are decidedly not. Trying to teach them too early is like trying to teach grammar at that age: a great way to convince kids a subject is just too hard.