Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The cure for common education?

Could the idea with the funny name -- Waldorf -- be it?

Could this be the cure for that which is wrong with education in the U.S. -- schools in which the students feel and act as if they are in prison -- teachers who dare not leave a coffee cup unguarded lest the inma -- er, students -- defile or poison it -- and learning that is as ephemereal and elusive as a rainbow?

Meanwhile, I am told that children in Africa walk for miles to sit on a dirt floor in a boiling-hot, tin-roof shack with the barest of supplies, so hungry are they to learn.

I am intrigued by a public school concept in which love of learning is intrinsic to the curriculum, in which personal character is integral, in which a foundation is laid for a lifetime love of intellectual development and in which the classroom connects to the real world.

I myself love to learn. I read hard books, old books. I watch documentaries on everything from World War II to the bulldog ants of Australia. I enjoy participating in the great pageant of life.

I'm no prodigy, no genius, by any stretch of the imagination. I am not a know-it-all, either, I am a want-to-know-it-all. God gave you and I our brains for a reason. It is natural to want to learn -- watch a toddler exploring his or Her world sometime and you can't help but realize that.

So what happens? They go to school. They encounter bullies, boors and boredom. They discover that learning is not cool and playing down their natural intelligence is the way to survive socially. What should be a thrill -- classic literature, mathematics, the history of the world -- is made into a chore and becomes loathsome -- left behind gratefully upon graduation.

Whatever person, philosophy or organization kills the desire to learn, blights a human life and threatens civilization.


Molly said...

The education system has become unwieldy. If you think about the origins of the word "educate" you realize how far we have veered off course. It has become less about drawing out what is already in the child and more about stuffing him full of information. I also think if we could go back to neighbourhood schools we'd eliminate many of the problems. When kids are treated as nonentities they're going to react---badly. If we could treat them as individuals, not try to force them all into the same mediocre mold.....well, you see where I'm going! I'll spare you the rest of it. Loaded subject!

Janice Thomson said...

Any school that infuses art, music and movement with math, English and science into the curriculum is tops on my list. There is no such thing as a perfect school system but I do think the Waldorf idea creates more intelligent and independent thinking so a child learns to think for himself on a rational rather than an emotional level. Thought-provoking post ECD.

Chase March said...

I have kids in my class this year who so obviously don't want to be in school whatsoever. It's really hard to know what to do with these kids. They distract everyone and cause problems that we teachers simply don't have the power to deal with. There are no meaningful consequences for them. And that is the problem.

I sometimes wish that we could choose our students like coaches can choose their teams. I would've cut a few students already. But the problem there is that those kids really need the help.

It might take some time but I think I can help those kids. I just wish there were an easier way to do so.

Eastcoastdweller said...

Ah, Molly, I love tracing out the origin of words so You have sent me on an etymological journey!