Saturday, October 23, 2010

Can Excellence in Education Be Achieved in a Democracy?

It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. – Baudelaire
Suppose money were no problem. Then what could we do? Could we fulfill the aspiration expressed in the education codes of many states: “… to provide each child with a thorough and efficient education”?

Certainly we could have schools, seminars, and (in the language of Ed Biz), “information delivery systems,” that bring some children to be adults with high degrees of skill, or who have stored within them piles of facts which they know how to make use of. If people would be satisfied with this much – and even this is a lot – we could very likely approach some reasonable standard of excellence in education.

But some children are still not all children. And, more importantly, what about nurturance and values? Aren’t these crucial elements in what we understand to be “education” as opposed to “training” and “indoctrination”? We might want our daughter to grow up to be an architect, but not at the cost of her sanity or health. Our son we might envision as a medical doctor, but not at the cost of his religion or morality.

And how much agreement do you think Americans from all walks of life, from all religions or none, from all kinds of commitments to conflicting philosophies and values, will be able to find when it comes to supporting a common school in the hope of promoting a common education?

But isn’t there already a lot of consensus on basic values? Or is it just the sloganeering of those oblivious to their mutual misunderstanding?

To examine these issues further, see Trading-Off "Sacred" Values:
Why Public Schools Should Not Try to "Educate"

--- EGR