Friday, June 10, 2011

casting doubt...

One of the lines in yesterday's quote from Jules Payot on the subject of will used the term "methodical skepticism." Can you imagine a school system or educational method in which children are led to question rather than accept as certain the proclamations of the teaching staff and the state approved text books? The idea of methodical skepticism is related to Cartesian doubt, and the writings of Descartes:
Several years have now elapsed since I first became aware that I had accepted, even from my youth, many false opinions for true, and that consequently what I afterward based on such principles was highly doubtful; and from that time I was convinced of the necessity of undertaking once in my life to rid myself of all the opinions I had adopted, and of commencing anew the work of building from the foundation... – RenĂ© Descartes, Meditation I, 1641
One of the things that happen when we work with wood or other real materials in our efforts to craft useful and beautiful objects is that we encounter physical reality and are forced to learn from it, not simply accepting those things that are described by others. Misquoting Descartes, he proclaimed, "I tinker, therefore I am..." Cast doubt, and see what you can catch from it... the truth perhaps?

So I raise the question, and cast the doubt, is education designed to put us to sleep? Or to awaken us to a world of exploration and discovery? As Jacob Bronowski said, "the hands are the cutting edge of the mind." Still the hands, still the intellect, and stifle the imagination.

According to a shocking article in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, my home town's public high school has been measured by Diplomas Count as having a graduation rate of 55.2%. That is an alarming figure, and while there may be some anomalies on which to lay the blame, it is obvious that our public education is not doing enough to encourage students to stay in school. According to Sterling Lloyd, senior research associate,
"If students have information about all the opportunities that exist after high school that might encourage students to persist. They'll see the connection between a high school education and future job opportunities."
I have been an advocate for mentoring and internship programs to engage students in outside the school learning opportunities, and have discovered that I have not done enough.

Make, fix and create...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

A low graduation rate, which we also have here, ends up being an excuse for placing blame rather than a reason to find solutions.

Mario

Anonymous said...

A low graduation rate, which we also have here, ends up being an excuse for placing blame rather than a reason to find solutions.

Mario

Doug Stowe said...

We know that some students manage to get their GED certificates, so the overall rate is not as dire as the statistics suggest. However, schools would prefer to think that there is something wrong with the kid when he or she drops out, rather than accepting that there just may be something remotely wrong with the school. By accepting blame, or responsibility, you also accept the power to make change. But our local school administrators don't seem to be going in that direction.

Anonymous said...

The schools could never believe that they're doing less than a great job, or that some students manage to get their education outside of it. Maybe even despite the schools.

Mario

Doug Stowe said...

Successful students are often used to cover the unsuccessful ones. See, it worked for Marie... too bad about Johnnie, but he just didn't have what it takes...