Monday, April 29, 2013

dumb by design?

I saw a friend at lunch time who is a believer in conspiracy theories, and he told me that American education was purposely designed to keep students from knowing or growing to their full potential. By making kids read on schedule, they make them resist reading. By warehousing them in large classes they can be assured that their individual needs are not met. By separating the education of the hand from that of the mind, they leave some students feeling stupid and the rest helpless. By making schools as boring as can be imagined, students are conditioned to do little thinking for themselves. They are made to feel helpless,  depressed and ripe for manipulation.

I don't personally subscribe to any conspiracy theories as to why American education so badly misses the mark. My own suspicion is that folks are simply out of touch. When the education of the mind is separated from that of the hand for so long, it is a real challenge to put things back together. When students have adequate encouragement for their success in their own homes, they seem more likely to survive the educational experience with a strong sense of self intact. But when kids are undermined in home and community, by economic poverty or  poverty of support, they have less resilience to contend with the stupidity of modern education. That, I think, is why some students survive it better than others, but all would do better with hands-on learning.

Today the CSS high school students left for a week long study period in Kansas. My fourth, fifth and sixth grade students worked on their shields and other objects of their own invention. When kids have the hands-on opportunity to create things from their own imagination, with real tools and real materials, there is no dearth of real learning.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Doug, I agree with you. I do not think there are conspiricy theories at work here...people are just out of touch. Couple that with the testing movement, and we have disaster...


  2. Interesting theory..
    I am not a great fan of conspiracy theories even thought they can be funny to read.
    I agree with your idea that pupils need some encouragement and a lot of support from their families.

  3. I don't ascribe to conspiracy theories but there are folks actually planning to do bad things to us for the satisfaction of their own greed. Like the power company that wants to cut a swath of land through my county. But these folks are dumb, and out of touch... not the kind who would lead one to believe there are folks meeting and plotting ways to keep us dumb.