“We need kids who don’t just do what they’re told but who are self-directed.”
— Ken Kay, P21, quoted in USA Today
Self-directed children? Who woulda thunk it. That’s what our culture produced not too long ago from one-room school houses where young men and women were taught to think, debate and create. Let’s hear it for a Results Only Learning Environment.
This is the core of our education values in America. The fact that some people, many people, grow up to be entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators is because they rebelled against the system of education compliance. The best critique of this system is probably Alfie Kohn’s Punished by Rewards – http://www.alfiekohn.org.
On the other hand, I do think we should play by the rules, color and raise our hands when we want to speak. Actually, I mean social etiquette is how to create an environment of independent thinkers who understand who to work with one another.
When my oldest son, now 23 yrs old, was in 1st grade, he came home bored from school every day. He was already reading. He already had a love for history. And there were kids in his class who didn’t know their left hand from their right, didn’t know colors etc. He asked my wife if he could learn at home. So, began our family’s experience with homeschooling. He is now a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Furman. His younger brother was told my a professor at his college this semester to stop answering questions in class. His assessment was that most of the people in this class for his major are in it for the grade, and not for what they can learn. Pretty insightful for a 19 year old.
I understand the compliance issue in education as not about education but about behavior control. I see the issue of controlling student behavior as a problem with the design of the education process that produces boredom rather than learning. There is no easy solution to this, except to clone Raf Esquith in LA. See his Teaching Like Your Hair’s on Fire. No compliance in his classroom, just opportunity and challenge to learn.
There are only a very few schools in America that have taken this notion to heart. Having started one of them in Baltimore I can tell you how utterly strange and foreign the idea of helping students grow into responsibility is to most everybody. (aisudbury)
Can you believe that E.D.Hirsch’s Core Knowledge group wants to teach higher-level thinking skills independent of content? With this perspective on education, how are we going to engage our students? Why do we allow organizations that take such a narrow view on education have such tremendous influence on the business of education? Shocking!
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Daniel H. Pink is the author of five provocative bestselling books about the changing world of work. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and their three children.
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