Can Our Public Schools Be Improved Further? Yes! And Here Is How

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The American Education System has undergone something of a radical transformation in recent years. For many decades, our nation’s children were subject to an unenlightened pedagogy, consisting of learning ‘facts’ and a body of knowledge around predetermined subjects such as science, mathematics, history, and even English grammar. Arithmetic in particular was taught in a medieval way, with students expected to find the ‘correct’ answer to a given puzzle rather than providing estimates or a ‘reasonable’ answer as in the featured image above.

Thanks to the perseverance of progressive education professors such as William Ayers and Linda Darling-Hammond, the teaching of antiquated subjects has largely made way in favour of social justice and Black Studies. Whereas in the pre-internet & social media era, there was arguably a need to learn about physics, or know how to spell or add-up ‘correctly’, this is no longer the case. Wikipedia and other online references are available in the event a child wishes to know anything about the world: what therefore is the point of memorising ‘facts’? As for grammar and ‘correct’ spelling, these are positively a hindrance when composing 140 character limit messages.

It is fair to say then that Common Core education has made America number one again and the envy of the rest of the world. However, it is always dangerous to rest on one’s laurels. We have therefore looked elsewhere to see if there are other schooling systems whose teaching methods we can also adopt. Here are some that literally blew our minds with their progressive thinking.

Maharishi Schools – pupils at Maharishi schools in Britain, Australia, Iowa and elsewhere follow the mystical and trademarked techniques of transcendental meditation, acquiring important life-skills or rather powers of clairvoyance, invisibility and even flight/levitation.  Parents are encouraged to learn transcendental meditation at the same time as their child, which helps create a strong parent/child bond.

Burgess Hill School, UK – founded by a graduate of Cambridge University, the Burgess Hill Boarding School in the UK promoted the idea that ‘every child should first find himself, education can come later’. Kids were essentially left to their own devices in order to ‘find themselves’ and were completely free to decide how to fill their school day. The Time Magazine recalls:

At Burgess Hill School near London, two seven-year-olds strolled into the recreation room. “Got a match?” asked one. “Sure,” said the other. The boys were puffing away, when suddenly the headmaster appeared. “Hi, Jimmy,” they said with friendly smiles. Waving back with kind disinterest, James East, M.A. (Cantab.), explained to a visitor: “Kids always smoke, and I’d rather know about it than have it done in secret.”

Burgess Hill is the tight little isle’s loosest “freedom” (progressive) school. Shunning all rules, it allows boys and girls aged 7 to 17 to smoke, swear, pet, go barefoot, stay dirty—and study only if they want to

Cool!

Finally, there is the example of Waldorf schools, introduced into the world by one Rudolph Steiner. One former student wrote glowingly of xer experiences:

Based on my experience as a former student, a teacher at my old school, and an Anthroposophist, I would like to describe the subtlety of indoctrination that students in Waldorf schools are subjected to. In fact, its chief characteristic is its nonidentifiable form. I should state that the various ideas of Rudolf Steiner are taught to Waldorf students, but this is done without reference to their origin or their special nature. The teachers associate these ideas with their subjects as if they were objective facts and not part of a prescribed vision of reality. This is why Waldorf students can have the feeling that they are left completely free to form their own ideas. At the most, they may notice certain specific practices (that may seem very odd to some of them), which they may choose to ignore. Nevertheless, Anthroposophical ideas and practices form their psychic, cultural, and intellectual universe for many years, immersing them unconsciously in a worldview that will accompany them throughout life and that they are likely to return to on many occasions.

The invisibility of the indoctrination process depends primarily on the public’s ignorance about Anthroposophy. Anthroposophy is indeed very complex. Contrary to what one might expect, only a small part of it is what might be called its esoteric doctrines (teachings about the cosmic nature of Christ, reincarnation, the cosmic evolution of the Earth in several successive incarnations, the spiritual hierarchies, etc.). This esotericism is cultivated by Anthroposophists, often members of the Anthroposophical Society (but not always). However, the largest part of the Anthroposophical worldview does not consist of these ideas; instead, it consists of interpretations concerning all fields of knowledge and the arts.”

We have no idea what Anthroposophy means but, any student who learns words as long and sophisticated as this is clearly well-educated. We need Waldorf schools in America now!

MillionDollarBonus

Wow excellent article Pbier! As much as I admire our current education system, this doesn’t mean there aren’t still many ways to improve.

I really like that heavily worded math question in the image above. They could have just written “103 – 28 = …”, but that would give an advantage to more mathematically minded people, and would be racist against everyone other than Asians and whites. When it’s worded like that, and unsophisticated, almost sarcastic sounding answers like the one above are marked incorrect, even though technically they are correct, everyone gets a chance to shine and be smart, not just the numerically gifted.

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