Education 101

Understanding education involves knowing something about human development and something about our social and economic system. We have been pushed from one best idea to another over the years all promising to provide the best, equal education to all youngsters.  But, all have fallen short because each has dealt with a limited part of the people and world we live in.

In the first place human beings are different, a statement everyone would agree with.  But, we are also alike. Physically we all have the same ten fingers and toes, a brain, and so forth. However, Albert Einstein, Mohammed Ali, Frank Sinatra and Mother Theresa are all very different.  While these are extreme examples, we all do have different abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Throughout the centuries abilities have changed as the world has become more technologically complex. In the late 1800’s a farmer followed a horse and plow all day to get his ground ready for planting. He determined what the weather would be by the way some of his body parts felt. Today, a farmer can ride a tractor that pulls enormous equipment, listen to his radio for a reasonably accurate weather forecast and talk on the cell phone to get commodities futures.  In the early and mid twentieth century manufacturing required physical skill in doing a limited job. Today, robots do much of that work with limited human control, and we are in the beginnings of 3D and 4D manufacturing-building by layering.  (So far I can’t go much beyond that.)  The nature of work continues to change without common understanding of what skills are useful.

This brings us directly to the economy which has been based on manufacturing goods that enter the selling and buying part of the economy. As noted above, not only can we produce more with less human labor, but we also produce more than we can consume, despite the ever increasing blizzard of advertisements. Are we now in a period of changing to different ways of determining meaning and importance to human life that will lead to a change in the direction of our economy?

Finally, we come to the social aspect of what we are talking about: national development. How can we bring a sense of unity to such a diverse population living in an environment of major change. Adults used to entertain neighbors, fellow members of social organizations and friends from employment in their homes. This kind of community has mostly disappeared to be replaced, if at all, by associations at work and, for singles, evening and weekend gatherings at cafes and bars. One thing that is largely lost is the ability to discuss children and their education experiences with people who are known and trusted. An example of the desire to share what is going on with children and their lives is the gathering of parents in some neighborhoods at morning bus stops for elementary children.

The concern of parents about the information and behavior to which their children are subjected is raised increasingly by the electronic media.  The principal instruments, cell phones and computer tablets, continue to widen the opening to the world for their possessors.  There is really no way to control any aspect of life to which youngsters of any age have access. Thus, direction of children’s education has largely escaped their parents.

This brings us to schools; public, private, religious. What can we expect from them? Most Americans vest their support and participation in public school. Expectations are high, critiques are rabid, books and articles are written espousing and criticizing this or that method and arguments rage over standards and accountability. More about schools next.

  1. #1 by Marv Mostow on October 30, 2013 - 2:43 am

    Dr. Boswell it is wonderful to hear your thoughts about education. I always found what you had to say important to consider, think about, mull over. I am glad that I get this opportunity again through your postings on your blog.

  2. #2 by John Boswell on October 30, 2013 - 7:12 pm

    Dear Marvin, what can I say except I’m grateful!

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