Tuesday, February 18, 2014


First, we know a child's ultimate integration into society, and his or her finding some form of "success" within it has as much to do with what are called traits of "character" as with intellect. You can have very smart kids that take wrong turns, do stupid things, or simply wither in laziness.

Mike Rose's new book, “Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us,” asks some very important questions and raises very important points having to do with "character," as described in this article in the Washington Post, The misguided effort to teach ‘character.’
"It is healthy to be reminded about the fuller scope of education in our test- and grade-obsessed culture, but what concerns me is that the advocates for character accept without question the reductive notion of cognition that runs through our education policies, and by accepting it, further affirm it. The problem is exacerbated by the aforementioned way economists carve up and define mental activity. If cognition is represented by scores on ability or achievement tests, then anything not captured in those scores—like the desired qualities of character—is, de facto, noncognitive. We’re now left with a skimpy notion of cognition and a reductive dichotomy to boot. This downplaying of the cognitive and the construction of the cognitive/noncognitive binary will have some troubling implications for education, especially for the education of the children of the poor.
The idea that aspects of character: independence, resillience, persistence, creativity, skills of collaboration and cooperative problem solving, are "non-cognitive" is a branch of educational stupidity I've addressed previously in the blog, in a post entitled It's more than just woodshop and other posts as well. It seems I have to keep repeating myself in the hopes that at some point, people will listen, test what I've shared within the fabric of their own understanding and do something about what ails education in this nation.

Also, without remorse for having repeated myself, I'll mention the child's most natural inclination toward craftsmanship. Given even the slightest chance, children are inclined to make things, and as they grow and learn, are naturally inclined to become skilled in making things. Within the unscripted confines of craftsmanship and artistry, are available all the necessary traits of character that children must develop to find meaningful places within human culture, let alone "success."

Today is a big day here in Eureka Springs as we will learn from the Arkansas Public Service Commission whether or not they intend to wade into the AEP/SWEPCO power line proposal that has been threatening our small local community. They will do one of four things as I had mentioned in an earlier post. The least likely thing for them to do is to throw the application out. But they should know by now that any decision they make to enable construction of the power line will only add to their embarrassment.

Make, fix, create, and lead others to join you in it.

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