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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Does Schooling Actually Harm Students?

Readin' 'n' writin' 'n' 'rithmetick
Taught to the tune of a hick'ry stick
-- Cobbs & Edwards (1907)
We’ve each been told a thousand times: “School is good for you!” Everywhere and always? Have you lost your memory?

Let’s ask a more general question. What disadvantages does the student suffer, when he or she is subject to one kind of curriculum rather than another? For example, one product of emphasizing math (or pick your own most hated subject) is that a large number, if not the majority, of students leave school believing:
a. they don’t like math;
b. they can’t do math well;
c. math is incomprehensible.
This situation is not improved, contrary to current misconception, when schools are pressured with faddish “high stakes” testing.

In the best case, where all curricular "targets" have been hit, we may still wonder what the collateral damage has been. It is not uncommon for academic students to get their diplomas although they are physically feeble or obese; and, for Jocks, especially “stars,” even if they are near illiterates.

The Hippocratic Oath, (partially rendered)
“I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone”
guides, somewhat, the practice of physicians and other medical personnel. But, educators have no Hippocratic oath. In education, blessing one's efforts to change schools with the incantation, "reform," seems to ward off collateral damage. Certainly, "reform" can never hurt.

To examine this issue further, see Pursuing Educational Targets: 
What is the Collateral Damage?

Cordially,

-- EGR