August 8, 2006

Who Defines the Goals of Education?

The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done - men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.
Jean Piaget, 8/9/1896

Looking through the quote page today I found this quote of Piaget. I remember hearing about Piaget when my roommate in college was studying for her education classes. Then I went on to study education after nutrition but never came across him again, that I can remember. I am afraid his quote is all too true of the public education system, though as I understand, the system didn't fully adopt his philosophies. I think I'll reminisce a little, thinking back to Mrs. Wilson's 10th grade english class, and dissect this sentence! I'm not following her dissecting rules, but that's the beauty of graduating, isn't it? tee hee

"The principle goal of education is to create men"

Shutter. Can you imagine someone sending his child off to school in order for the school to "create" something out of her? I'll admit, in my homeschooling and child-rearing, I am trying to raise men to the best of my ability, to help the inevitable process along, to look critically at each one and see where I can serve to help them be the man God put them on the earth to be and to cherish their very being. After all, they were created long before they reached school age and they will continue to be full human beings all through and beyond the stages of (and in spite of!) formal education.

Unfortunately, this quote is exactly how I view school and the agenda therein. Like the goal is to create something out of the raw materials that arrive each morning at 8. Shutter. My child is not empty in need of filling. He comes complete; respect that. I recognized a teacher this year who really saw the children and their completeness, who was excited and felt blessed to be able to be a good teacher and influence on their lives. Thank you Mrs. Haase for not trying to create something out of our children but respecting the fact that they are already created and have a reason and license for being whatever it is they are and will be.

"who are capable of doing new things"

Hm. What's the matter with the existing adults doing those new things you're talking about, Mr. Piaget? After all, they're the ones who know everything about creating it in children, right? For whom and for what have you decided this new crop of kids should be doing and creating and inventing and discovering? What if they don't wanna? What right does the school have to decide to put the onus on the children? Well, I'm really being facetious here, but do you catch my drift? To me, a teacher teaches, shares, enriches, blesses, gives, but does not define or direct what the student does with his life. That is between God and person, not school system and person. Certainly school systems don't presume to know the needs and directions of our future society, do they? Don't they have enough on their plate? School systems do not demand that there are so many doctors, teachers, engineers, politicians, trash collectors, McDonald's workers, writers, lawyers....or do they? Maybe I'm naive here, I don't know. I wanted to be a physical therapist, but my counselor told me that my grades weren't good enough and she suggested nursing. That was quite shocking to me. She'd never met me before and she told me the career she thought I should pursue. A homeschool-counselor (if there were such things...I guess they're called "parents") would NEVER tell a student they weren't good enough for a career. They'd show them how to get there, or at least how to try. What's the worse that can happen by setting one's sights high?

I've said it before and I'll say it again. My counselor in high school told us "folks, if you're not going to be a lawyer, doctor or [I can't remember the other one because I was trying to find the box of M&Ms in my bookbag] you might as well forget it." A person the school HIRED AND KEPT for many many years to guide children into their adulthood poked us innocents with that speech. I am STILL dumbstruck by his stupidity 25 years later. And I am still dumbstruck that I was put into an institution that taught me that. They had already decided what kind of life we should be striving for?! What if I want to live in a shack - down by the river?! (Saturday Night Live joke) Then I went to my son's pre-high school meeting and listened to the current counselor say, "I told my son that I'm not paying for his C's in college. No one will hire you if you have C's on your report card." What a fearful man. Can it be true that people are HIRED AND KEPT working in school systems who believe this and vomit it on children? Yes, because the school system supports this view too.

The school IS trying to create something. For a myriad of reasons. #1 they need money from the state, but that's beside the point. It is also set up, created, by our government to serve the country and its interests. Ultimately money. It also has a narrow view of what careers can make money or contribute something important to society [besides $$$???] so the children are "created" hopefully to hop right into those careers that the school sees and accepts as important. Then the school can feel important. (I know, schools don't have feelings - forgive me Mrs. Wilson!)

"not simply of repeating what other generations have done - men who are creative, inventors, discoverers."

I am all for men being creative, inventors, discoverers and do I hope that teachers and schools strive to open these doors for our children. I just want them to realize, I think it's vitally important that they realize that this already lies within each child, not within walls of institutions. If they think it's coming from them, they've got a tough row to hoe. Discovering and unleashing what's already created within the child is what education means to me.

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