The mother in this video said she hopes her plea for help goes viral — here you go! I cannot believe that this needs to be said, but American public schools need to stop funding drag shows. The mother in the video above proved her point. She would not have been allowed in the school wearing the same outfit that a man dressed as a woman was permitted to wear while dancing in front of young children.
"Does this outfit make you turn your head? Does this outfit seem appropriate for anybody here to see? This is what the man dressed like in front of our kids. So if this makes your head spin — if this pisses you off in any way, shape, or form — it should. Because I’m embarrassed to stand here in the outfit that I am in today, but I have a point to prove — that this outfit should not be ever accepted in our schools anywhere."
Worse, the school failed even to do a background check on the exotic dancer. A simple search, as the mother pointed out, showed that the dancer had very questionable pictures online with blood smeared across their face. Kids are told to leave school for wearing shorts that are too short or even sandals. Why are primarily left-leaning American public school boards normalizing this alternative lifestyle and sexualizing children?
Hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars have gone toward placing crossdressers in schools, often without parental consent. There is no educational basis behind these crude shows. It is wrong. The goal is to normalize the woke agenda. Women no longer exist as there is now a full spectrum for gender, and children too young to tie their shoes properly can now make life-altering decisions on a whim without parental consent. This is not a conspiracy theory. The far left is increasingly bringing cross-dressers and drag queens into schools to teach (i.e., groom) very young children about sexuality. This has gone too far.
Michael Burry Slams “Out Of Touch, Rich White Man” Bill Gates
Less than two weeks ago, we reported on the fact that The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is bankrolling an activist educational group that believes math is racist and that arriving at an objective answer is an example of “white supremacy.”
Specifically, as Summit News noted at the time, a conglomerate of 25 educational organizations called A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction asserts that asking students to find the correct answer is an “inherently racist practice.”
The organization’s website lists the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as its only donor.
“In fact, over the past decade, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded over of $140 million to a variety of groups associated with Pathway. Their “antiracist resources” are at the epicenter of a new training course for teachers offered by the Oregon Department of Education throughout the state,” reports National File.
“Three of the most prominent organizations receiving grant money from the Gates’ are The Education Trust, Teach Plus, and WestEd, all non-profit 501c organizations.”
A guidebook for teachers produced by Pathway called ‘Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction’ ludicrously claims that mathematics “is used to uphold capitalist, imperialist, and racist views.”
Teachers are instructed to blame non-white students getting answers wrong on “white supremacist practices,” which are truly to blame for the “underachievement” of minorities.
This liberal, progressive insanity appears to have triggered Michael “Big Short” Burry who unleashed his usual acerbic, and entirely accurate, wit on Gates and the entire concept of math being racist…
“Math is a form of #whitesupremacy? Where I’m from, whites are the dummies in math. South and East Asians apparently didn’t get the message whites use math to #suppress them. Would be a #LOL moment at the local high school, at whites’ expense. “
“I am of a generation that I know junior people who worked with Gates. Brilliant, exacting, and intimidating. Could and would pick apart and embarrass anyone in the room who was not prepared. Open conflict was his weapon. The right answer was never wrong.“
Ending with the all too telling hashtag: #formenotforthee
Many people spotted this article and passed it along, and I’d like to thank you for doing so. When co-author Gary Lawrence and I wrote our book Rotten to the (Common) Core, one of the things that Mr. Lawrence kept stressing to me was the deleterious effects of standardized testing, which would only get worse – much worse – under Common Core (and let it be recalled, for the record, that Billious Hates was one of its sponsors). The reason it would get much worse, he emphasized, was its reliance on adaptive computerized standard tests. The result would be “teaching to the test, on steroids”, reduction of teachers to proxies for the testing company, and a dramatic erosion of academic standards in the name of a standardized curriculum.
He didn’t need to convince me, because in my own short stint of college teaching, I could readily see the “results” of America’s obsession with all things technological, including standardized tests “graded” and “scored” by computers. Students overwhelmingly were unable to think, unable to write, and most of all, wanted to know “the answer”, when what I wanted to know was why they were thinking what they were thinking. In a nutshell, there simply is no substitute for the human interaction element of pedagogy, and there is no substitute for the ability to write out answers and argue a case. I recall even in my geometry and algebra classes in school, when teachers were still permitted to teach their subject disciplines, that they were always interested in “seeing our work,” the steps we used in a geometric proof or the working out of a quadratic equation. The process of reasoning getting to the answer was as important as the correct answer itself.
Regurgitating an answer for a computerized test is not education, it’s indoctrination.
With that in mind, consider now the results of Common Core:
What intrigues me with this article is that the results are even worse than I or Mr. Lawrence were imagining when we wrote our book:
Reading and math scores in the US have suffered ‘historic’ declines since most states implemented the Common Core curriculum standard six years ago, according to a new study from the Pioneer Institute.
While Common Core was promoted as improving the international competitiveness of U.S. students in math, our international standing has remained low while the skills of average and lower performing American students have dropped in both math and reading. –Pioneer Institute
The study notes that in the years leading up to common core, fourth and eight-grade reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were rising gradually (2003-2013). After Common Core was implemented, scores for both grades have fallen – with eighth grade falling nearly as fast as it had been rising.
One of the components of the Rotten to the Common Core “system” was computerized books. There too, the USSA has paid a heavy price, adopting a technology just as studies were being done about the reading retention between an actual physical book, and an ebook read on a computer screen or ipad. For most people, those studies concluded that the physical book somehow correlated with retention of knowledge. (Personally, I can vouch for that; I do little research reading computer screens, and when I do, I seem to get much less out of it.)
What caught my eye here, however, was this:
“Several of us allied with Pioneer Institute have been pointing out, ever since it was introduced, the deeply flawed educational assumptions that permeate the Common Core and the many ways in which it is at odds with curriculum standards in top-achieving countries,” said the institute in a statement.
According to the report lower scores as a result of Common Core were predicted a decade ago.
“Nearly a decade after states adopted Common Core, the empirical evidence makes it clear that these national standards have yielded underwhelming results for students,” said Pioneer Executive Director Jim Stergios. “The proponents of this expensive, legally questionable policy initiative have much to answer for”
“It’s time for federal law to change to allow states as well as local school districts to try a broader range of approaches to reform,” Rebarber added. “With a more bottom-up approach, more school systems will have the opportunity to choose curricula consistent with our international competitors and many decades of research on effective classroom teaching”
It’s precisely those “progressive” assumptions that were the focus of our book, and that some teachers have been warning about for years, for ultimately those assumptions stem from the “stimulus-response” psychology of German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt in the 19th century, and his influence spread far and wide, with Russian psychologist Pavlov (of bell and salivating dog fame), and American “educators” John Dewey, Thorndike and many others falling under his spell. And that means at the rotten core of Common Core there’s a philosophy that humans are nothing but cattle and consumers, a ball of chemical reactions disguised as emotions and thoughts. A mechanism, with a heartbeat. That philosophy is behind all computerized standardized tests, and I do mean, all, without exception. The stimulus is the question; the response is selecting the “correct” answer. Learn by rote, don’t think. Stimulus: “Who killed John Kennedy?” Response: Answer C: “Lee Harvey Oswald.” No room to question, no acknowledgement that that case has massive problems. Just memorize, repeat. Next question. Memorize. Repeat. Next question… An endless cycle of boredom, of having to “pass” tests designed to ensure you agree with “the narrative.” No wonder our students are not only failing, but bored. In the end, the Amairikuhn edgykayshun system is nothing but a form of mind control technology. A soft form of it, to be sure, but a form of it nonetheless. And if you think I may be exaggerating in that assumption, check out our book, where we expose the curious relationship between the Clowns In America’s MK Ultra program of mind control and standardized tests.
And those types of assumptions, like it or not, form the basic assumptions of most of the entrenched “progressive” “elite” that fill the federal “education” bureaucracy. Those assumptions empower them because they keep the “products” – there’s that assumption again – of the “education” “system” indoctrinated and subservient. Expecting that they, or the federal bureaucracy will relinquish that power is whistling in the wind.
But here’s a thought: civil disobedience maybe should begin in the school “systems”…
By now, if you’re a regular reader here, you know I have to occasionally rant about the state of Amairikuhn Edgykayshun. But today I’m not going to rant, because the article that V.T. sent along (and my thanks!) is more properly greeted with tears than anger. The statistics it cites are sobering reading:
Amairikuhn edgykayshun is a microcosm of the country as a (w)hole: nothing works; the system is not designed to reflect the vast majority of people, or for that matter, any sort of traditional culture as might have thus far survived. The progressive movement that began first in education in the nineteenth century, and then later captured large swaths of both political parties, is triumphant. It has completed its march through the institutions, and captured the academy. And the result, in the latter, is abject failure, and Amairikuh is completely “enstupidated”; consider just these entries from the article:
#1 One recent survey found that 74 percent of Americans don’t even know how many amendments are in the Bill of Rights.
#2 An earlier survey discovered that 37 percent of Americans cannot name a single right protected by the First Amendment.
#3 Shockingly, only 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government.
#4 During the 2016 election, more than 40 percent of Americans did not know who was running for vice-president from either of the major parties.
#5 North Carolina is considering passing a law which would “mean only scores lower than 39 percent would qualify for an F grade” in North Carolina public schools.
#6 30 years ago, the United States awarded more high school diplomas than anyone in the world. Today, we have fallen to 36th place.
#7 According to the Pentagon, 71 percent of our young adults are ineligible to serve in the U.S. military because they are either too dumb, too fat or have a criminal background.
I can attest to similar experiences. And forgive me if I’ve mentioned these personal experiences before in my “edykayshunal rants,” but they bear repeating. Back when I was teaching college in the late 1990s, I once began a Modern European History examination with a question that ran something like this: “Name five provisions of the Treaty of Versailles and discuss their implications.” One student – an “edgykayshun” student incidentally – answered that question by beginning “The treaty of Versigh…” Yes. It’s that bad, and students are that stupid and oblivious. And that was the 1990s, so I can readily believe the points in this article. And it’s worth mentioning that during my time teaching in college, I learned many things from my students, namely, that Ulysses Grant commanded the Army of Northern Virginia, that Germany won World War One (in 1914, no less!), and that, as one snowflake put it on her examination, “Hitler had some personal issues,” and with that bit of pop psychology, all the crimes of the Nazi regime were “explained.”
Perhaps I was simply a bad professor, but I don’t think so.
One reason I don’t think so is that as an adjunct, I was not allowed to pick my own textbooks in some cases. This was done by the tenured faculty at the main campuses of the institutions I taught for. In one case, the textbook I was required to use for Russian History actually referred to Stalin as a “great statesman,” with but passing glosses on the Stalinist purges, and an almost total mangling of the effects of collectivization. More recently, Diana West, in her important book The Red Thread: A Search for Ideological Drivers Inside the Anti-Trump Conspiracy, noted that Nellie Ohr, when reviewing a book about Stalin, wrote the following:
The opening of Ohr’s review of the … book, written while she was teaching Russian history at Vassar in 1995, is worth quoting, not for what it tells us about the book, but what it tells us about the reviewer. Ohr writes:
“To introduce students to the Stalin era can be a frustrating task. To convey the terror and excitement of the period, one can assign a memoir of a prison camp victim or an observer such as John Scott or Maurice Hindus.” (West, op. cit., p. 9)
There it is… it was exciting, a ride on the Stalinroller coaster at Six Flags Over Novosibirsk.
So what’s to be done? If you’re a parent, and have children being victimized by this abominable system – and there are no other words for it than those – one place to start would be to research your local colleges of education, read their texts, find out how much time future teachers spend in education classes versus learning the actual subjects they want to teach. Attend a few of those teacher “continuing education” seminars, or a few education classes, and find out for yourself just how looney and loopy those classes really are. Talk with teachers who think that all that claptrap is… well, claptrap, and have brainstorming and strategy sessions in what to do about it.
And if you’re a teacher who is fed up with the childish games being played in methodology or pedagogy courses, or have an anecdote on the latest silliness you had to undergo at your last “continuing education” seminars, please share them in the comments, or if you have a mind, write a guest blog about it.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
Think about when you were younger and would sit in class just wondering about the world you live in. Maybe you were thinking about the big questions in life. Who are we? Why are we here? Or maybe you were thinking about a book you were reading or a conversation you had with your friends. Maybe you were reflecting on the day or just absorbing the rhythm and melody of your favorite song.
Although you might have thought that you were simply daydreaming, this may be a key sign of intelligence.
Metaphorically speaking, most people view the intellect as nothing more than a basin, albeit a leaky one, waiting to be filled with the ideas of others. On the contrary, the true intellect is more personal. It is a unique gift that must be self-discovered for an individual to truly flourish.
In 1983, a developmental psychologist from Harvard University, Howard Earl Gardner, proposed a theory that will make you question the way you view intelligence, as well as the structure of our education system. He hypothesizes that intellect comes in nine different types, and that each person best expresses their own unique intelligence. However, we all possess each type on some level and can develop our skills in each category.
1. Musical-Rhythmic and Harmonic
The first type of intelligence is musicality, or the ability to recognize various tones, rhythms, notes and harmonies. These people tend to be the best musicians and can have a genius ability to compose music, play instruments or sing.
“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” – Victor Hugo
Visual or spatial intelligence is the ability to visualize two or three-dimensional images with the mind’s eye. Those with spatial intelligence tend to be very successful in any area that requires this type of thinking, such as the artist or architect who can plan out works in their head, and then manifest them in three-dimensional reality.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein
The third type is linguistic intelligence. This type does best when dealing with words and language. Writers, story-tellers, poets, and translators all fall into this category. The ability to remember events associated with different dates on a timeline is also common for the linguistic type of intellect.
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins
Fourth is the intelligence of reason, also known as logical or mathematical intelligence. This is the intelligence that deals with numbers, facts, and statistics. It is the type of mind that can be spectacular at picking apart the details of a problem, but not so great at seeing the bigger picture. Logic and critical-thinking are very important staples of the left brain and anyone with a strong logic-type intellect could be very successful with a career in computer science or engineering.
“As a human being, one has been endowed with just enough intelligence to be able to see clearly how utterly inadequate that intelligence is when confronted with what exists. – Albert Einstein
In other words, motor skills. This is the type of intelligence that can control the body’s motions and reactions. Athletes, dancers, actors and soldiers all express this type of intelligence as do musicians because of their ability to handle instruments with precision.
“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
The interpersonal intellectual understands the emotions, motivations and thoughts of others. High social skills are present, as well as a great ability to work in groups or as part of a team. Inter-personals find it easy to communicate and empathize with others, sometimes making them misunderstood as extroverts or superficial.
“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” – Muhammad Ali
The intrapersonal is the reflective type who can best relate to himself or herself. This type of intelligence deals with the ability to understand ones own uniqueness, strengths and weaknesses.
“The better you know yourself, the better your relationship with the rest of the world.” – Toni Collette
The naturalist is able to communicate on some level with the life-force of Earth. The recognition of flora and fauna, and the intuition to understand the natural world are expressions of the naturalistic intellect. Hunters, gatherers, and farmers fall into this category along with botanists and chefs. It is a sensitive intelligence type often with great cognitive ability to memorize plant species, rock, and mountain types. Naturalists best understand man’s role in the greater ecosystem of the planet.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein
Existential intelligence, also known as spiritual intelligence, is the rarest. It encapsulates everything we do not see or hear, but is instead in tune with the knowledge of existence. It is the spiritualist, astrologer, and the psychic. This intelligence type understands that there is more to reality than what we can see and usually seeks fulfillment in alternative practices such as meditation or yoga, which others don’t always understand.
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.” – Albert Einstein
Is the education system holding children back from proper development?
Is it possible that our current educational paradigm is not allowing children to develop their own intellectual abilities? It could be that the intense focus on math, science, and literature is actually stunting growth in many of the next generation’s children instead of helping each child become everything they can be. Perhaps the next generation of kids would be more in tune with their own unique gifts if the education system opened up to the concept of multiple intelligences and allowed for a more holistic approach to learning instead of always demanding intellectual conformity.
School is supposed to help children grow into mature, conscious, responsible, intelligent adults, who have mastered the art of living, and who can contribute their gifts to the world.
School as we know it, however, couldn’t be further from that. In fact, school, as it exists in most places across the planet, helps only to stunt children’s intelligence and fill them with stress and worries, which results in the chaotic world that we experience all around us.
Here are eight ways school is making children stupid and depressed:
1. It teaches children to conform
At school, children are taught to obey orders and blindly follow what they are being told. Children are told what to do, no matter if they like it or not. They are told to sit for hours upon hours at a desk without complaining, doing nothing other than memorizing information that most probably they will never need in their lives. They are told when to talk, when to move, even when to pee. By and by, children learn to stop trusting their inner voice and conform to what authority wants from them, which makes them suppressed, depressed, and unfulfilled.
2. It teaches children what to think, not how to think
School does not teach children how to develop their capacity to think logically so that they can reach to their own conclusions when presented with information. On the contrary, children are forced to believe in things they are being taught, no matter whether they are true or not, or whether they sprout out of their own understanding or not. Hence their critical thinking is prevented from improving, and as a result children are turned into stupid automatons.
3. It teaches children to be uncreative
Children’s imagination is wild, but school suppresses it. Children can be incredibly creative, but the Arts are almost nonexistent in most schools around the world, since a career path in the Arts is usually not considered as profitable. Instead of allowing children to explore their selves by spontaneously expressing their innermost thoughts and feelings through painting, music, theater, and so on, they are confined in four walls, learning boring things that don’t matter to them and don’t help cultivate their mind, heart, and spirit.
4. It teaches children to fear failure
Mistakes help us grow into wiser beings, but school is teaching children to fear failure, as if it is some kind of evil they need to avoid. Children at school are told to study solely in order to pass exams, and those who fail at exams are looked down upon, sometimes even mocked at, as if they are failures themselves. Therefore children learn to do their best in order to avoid making mistakes, which only prevents them from trying to achieve new things later on in life, lest they will encounter any possible failure.
5. It teaches children to think play is bad
Children find tremendous joy in playing, having fun, laughing, doing things for no reason or goal other than play itself. Play makes their heart pulsate with happiness and turns their life into a celebration. Slowly slowly, however, as children are growing up, they are taught that play is not good, since it’s not something productive, and that they should consider it simply as a waste of time. They are taught to be serious, uptight, worried about future ends, which is only making them depressed, not allowing them to let go and relax into the present moment, savoring all the beauties life has to offer.
6. It teaches children to avoid listening to their heart
Unlike adults, children are in touch with their heart. But after years of social conditioning, when they finally turn into adults themselves, they have created thick barriers between themselves and their heart, not paying attention to its voice anymore. This conditioning takes place mainly at school, where almost every day children are forced to do things they hate doing, that they find boring and futile, and which they are taught society will reward them for. As a consequence, they develop the habit of not trusting and following their inner voice and lose touch with what their heart is beating for.
7. It teaches children to associate money with success
Another way school is making children dumb and depressed is by having them confuse monetary gain with successful living. At school, children learn that the primary goal in life is to earn a good salary, and are being told to sacrifice almost one third of their lives learning and doing things just so they can get a degree that will allow them to find a job later in life and most probably work as corporate slaves. Thus children stop pursuing their passions that would give true purpose and meaning to their lives, and instead do dull things that only burden their psyche, and which merely achieve to help them survive but not truly live.
8. It teaches children to sacrifice today for the sake of tomorrow
The present moment is all that we have. The future, just like the past, doesn’t exist, and if we give it too much attention, we will not be able enjoy the here and now. Most people, however, don’t enjoy the present moment, but are always trying to achieve a future end or goal, thinking that once they achieve it, they will be fulfilled and happy. This mentality has been mainly imbued in them via schooling. At school, children are made to believe that sacrificing today by studying hard and following orders will reward them tomorrow by bringing them joy and freedom. Hence children learn to always be focused on the future, which is making them waste their lives and is filling them with regrets that results in immense anguish in their psyche.
Educators and parents in the United States are becoming increasingly frustrated by the Common Core States Initiative program, which was deployed in June 2010 as part of President Obama’s Race-To-The-Top (RTTT) program. During the following four years, public schools throughout the states were enticed to integrate the Common Core program as the Federal Government dangled $4.3 billion in funds to reward schools for satisfying certain federally determined performance on standardized tests, with the funds only going to schools which implemented Common Core.
The US federal Government has stated that their goal with Common Core was to make all students “college-and-career-ready”. Sounds great in theory, but Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, thinks that the Common Core program is actually resulting in colleges being flooded with students unprepared to do college level work. He believes that:
“Common Core pretended that it was going to be raising standards, but what it did, in fact, is put enormous pressure on colleges, many of which are now succumbing to that pressure, to lower their standards.”
In other words, the actual effect of Common Core is the further dumbing down of America’s children.
Among other things, with the Common Core program in place, students are guaranteed entry into state college without the need to take any remedial courses, as long as they pass the Common Core standardized tests.
With standardized testing and federal programs like Common Core, which focuses mostly on math and english , there is little that teachers are allowed to bring to the learning experience, and creative teaching styles are trivialized and pushed out of the classroom altogether. It’s as though U.S. public school have now been entirely co-opted, stolen even, from communities, and no one at any level in the actual school building has a say in what students do during the school day.
What effect will this have on the ingenuity and creativity that is to come from America’s future generations?
“Common Core is described by proponents as a utopian education for the 21st century with primary, almost exclusive, emphasis from grades K-12 on mathematics and English language arts through “disruptive innovation” using the latest in “educational technological advancements”. In reality, as you will read below, it is a critical step towards the stated goals of the wealthy elite to uniformly ‘mono-mind’ the global educational system, create a 24/7/365 community at our public schools, and to develop a “from-cradle-to-work-force-ready” individual.” ~ Jamie Lee
What skills, qualities and information do we need to live an honourable, healthy and happy life? And of those skills and qualities, which are provided and nurtured through the school system? The answer is almost none of them.
It’s clear that we need to redesign our education model.
It is up to the parents, mentors, peers and other societal influences to fill these gaps, but we all know this doesn’t regularly occur. If the guides and teachers in a child’s life don’t have the knowledge and skills to properly inform and take care of themselves, then how can they be expected to share it with others? They literally can’t. To break this cycle, we need an effective safety net to provide the skills and information that our children need to develop into awakened, functional and well-rounded adults, not just well-behaved employees of “The System”.
The education system in western society is not geared towards providing what’s best for each child. Primarily it is designed to produce citizens who contribute to, and consume from, the interdependent global economy. It’s like a factory assembly line; it helps us find which mundane 9-5 job we are best “suited” to, as we grow into stressed out and discontented adults.
It is in this sense that we are indoctrinated through our schooling to uncritically accept the socio-economic system that we are born into, regardless if it means ill-health and discontentment for the individual, and even our society as a whole. The model is simply attempting to shape new generations of children into conforming to the old ways, without recognizing the uniqueness of each child — or that we are undertaking a huge paradigm shift into a new era of human consciousness.
The Way Forward? A New Six Dimension Model of Education
An interview with Will Stanton
Will is a young Australian writer, researcher, activist and teacher who has worked in a number of primary schools, including a government school in Kathmandu, Nepal. His book, Education Revolution, exposes the challenges and shortfalls of the current system from an insider perspective, and proposes an entirely new model of education; one that frees children from indoctrination and nurtures their innate potential as unique, loving and creative human beings.
In the following interview, Will explores the Six Dimension model he created for a new educational paradigm of our future. He believes teachers are the current system’s best asset, but are underpaid and overworked and are generally faced with a restrictive system that inhibits the highest potential being realised by each child, and each teacher. He also discusses the decreasing investment in education by our governments, as well as ways this funding barrier can be transcended — by moving to new ways of organising our society, economically, socially and politically.
Education is much, much more than conventional subjects and the occasional personal education class. Clearly there are valuable skills and information to be taken from the current system we educate our children in, so a proportion of it should be incorporated into the way we move forward. Yet we have to accept the reality; both culturally and politically, our education model is not only failing our kids’ health and wellbeing, it’s also perpetuating a system of social order that is lethal for our collective and planetary future. We cannot continue to train children in the “old ways”, which clearly are not working for our society or our environment.
Please note: This article is part of the ‘Redesigning Society’ interview series, which you can view in full on The Conscious Society YouTube Channel. This series presents a range of expert perspectives on the current state of societal affairs, as well as the collective changes we desperately need both philosophically and practically. Details of upcoming and past guests and topics can be viewed here.
American Schools Are Training Kids for a World That Doesn’t Exist
By David Edwards
Are Americans getting dumber?
Our math skills are falling. Our reading skills are weakening. Our children have become less literate than children in many developed countries. But the crisis in American education may be more than a matter of sliding rankings on world educational performance scales.
David Edwards is a professor at Harvard University and the founder of Le Laboratoire.
Our kids learn within a system of education devised for a world that increasingly does not exist.
To become a chef, a lawyer, a philosopher or an engineer, has always been a matter of learning what these professionals do, how and why they do it, and some set of general facts that more or less describe our societies and our selves. We pass from kindergarten through twelfth grade, from high school to college, from college to graduate and professional schools, ending our education at some predetermined stage to become the chef, or the engineer, equipped with a fair understanding of what being a chef, or an engineer, actually is and will be for a long time.
We “learn,” and after this we “do.” We go to school and then we go to work.
This approach does not map very well to personal and professional success in America today. Learning and doing have become inseparable in the face of conditions that invite us to discover.
Against this arresting background, an exciting new kind of learning is taking place in America.
Over the next twenty years the earth is predicted to add another two billion people. Having nearly exhausted nature’s ability to feed the planet, we now need to discover a new food system. The global climate will continue to change. To save our coastlines, and maintain acceptable living conditions for more than a billion people, we need to discover new science, engineering, design, and architectural methods, and pioneer economic models that sustain their implementation and maintenance. Microbiological threats will increase as our traditional techniques of anti-microbial defense lead to greater and greater resistances, and to thwart these we must discover new approaches to medical treatment, which we can afford, and implement in ways that incite compliance and good health. The many rich and varied human cultures of the earth will continue to mix, more rapidly than they ever have, through mass population movements and unprecedented information exchange, and to preserve social harmony we need to discover new cultural referents, practices, and environments of cultural exchange. In such conditions the futures of law, medicine, philosophy, engineering, and agriculture – with just about every other field – are to be rediscovered.
Americans need to learn how to discover.
Being dumb in the existing educational system is bad enough. Failing to create a new way of learning adapted to contemporary circumstances might be a national disaster. The good news is, some people are working on it.
Against this arresting background, an exciting new kind of learning is taking place in America. Alternatively framed as maker classes, after-school innovation programs, and innovation prizes, these programs are frequently not framed as learning at all. Discovery environments are showing up as culture and entertainment, from online experiences to contemporary art installations and new kinds of culture labs. Perhaps inevitably, the process of discovery — from our confrontation with challenging ambiguous data, through our imaginative responses, to our iterative and error-prone paths of data synthesis and resolution — has turned into a focus of public fascination.
Discovery has always provoked interest, but how one discovers may today interest us even more. Educators, artists, designers, museum curators, scientists, engineers, entertainment designers and others are creatively responding to this new reality, and, together, they are redefining what it means to learn in America.
At Harvard University, where I teach, Peter Galison, in History of Science, asks his students make films, to understand science; Michael Chu, in business, brings students to low income regions to learn about social entrepreneurship; Michael Brenner, in Engineering and Applied Science, invites master chefs to help students discover the science of cooking; and Doris Sommer, in Romance Languages, teaches aesthetics by inviting students to effect social and political change through cultural agency. Similarly, in the course I teach, How to Create Things and Have Them Matter, students are asked to look, listen, and discover, using their own creative genius, while observing contemporary phenomena that matter today.
Because that’s what discoverers do.
Learning by an original and personal process of discovery is a trend on many US university campuses, like Stanford University, MIT, and Arizona State University. It also shows up in middle school, high school and after school programs, as in the programs supported by the ArtScience Prize, a more curricular intensive version of the plethora of innovation prizes that have sprung up in the last years around the world. Students and participants in these kinds of programs learn something even more valuable than discovering a fact for themselves, a common goal of “learning discovery” programs; they learn the thrill of discovering the undiscovered. Success brings not just a good grade, or the financial reward of a prize. It brings the satisfaction that one can realize dreams, and thrive, in a world framed by major dramatic questions. And this fans the kind of passion that propels an innovator along a long creative career.
Discovery, as intriguing process, has become a powerful theme in contemporary culture and entertainment. In art and design galleries, and many museums, artists and designers, like Olafur Eliasson, Mark Dion, Martin Wattenberg, Neri Oxman and Mathieu Lehanneur, invite the public to explore contemporary complexities, as in artist Mark Dion’s recent collaborative work with the Alaskan SeaLife Center and Anchorage Museum on plastic fragments in the Pacific Ocean. Often they make visitors discovery participants, as in Martin Wattenberg’sApartment, where people enter words that turn into architectural forms, or sorts of memory palaces. In a more popular way, television discovery and reality programs, from Yukon Men to America’s Got Talent, present protagonists who face challenges, encounter failure, and succeed, iteratively and often partially, while online the offer is even more pervasive, with games of discovery and adventure immersing young people in the process of competing against natural and internal constraints.
All this has led to the rise of the culture lab.
Culture labs conduct or invite experiments in art and design to explore contemporary questions that seem hard or even impossible to address in more conventional science and engineering labs. Their history, as public learning forum, dates from the summer of 2007, when the Wellcome Collection opened in King’s Cross London, to invite the incurably curious to probe contemporary questions of body and mind through contemporary art and collected object installations. A few months later, in the fall 2007, Le Laboratoire opened in Paris, France, to explore frontiers of science through experimental projects in contemporary art and design, and translate experimental ideas from educational, through cultural, to social practice. And in the winter 2008 Science Gallery opened in downtown Dublin to bring contemporary science experimentation to the general public (and students of Imperial College) with installations in contemporary art and design. Other culture labs have opened since then, in Amsterdam, Kosovo, Madrid and other European, American, Asian, African and Latin American cities. In the USA, culture labs especially thrive on campuses, like MIT’s famous Media Lab, Harvard’s iLab, and the unique metaLAB, run by Jeffrey Schnapp within Harvard’s Berkman Center. These will now be joined by a public culture lab, Le Laboratoire Cambridge, which opens later this month near MIT and Harvard, bringing to America the European model with a program of public art and design exhibitions, innovation seminars, and future-of-food sensorial experiences.
The culture lab is the latest indication that learning is changing in America. It cannot happen too fast.
We may not be getting dumber in America. But we need to get smarter in ways that match the challenges we now face. The time is now to support the role of learning in the pursuit of discovery and to embrace the powerful agency of culture.
As the school year begins, Common Core standards and tests are taking a beating in education research, while public support for the standards continues to plummet.
The standards have been promoted as “research and evidence-based.” National Reviewreports, however, that a Common Core validation committee member said, “It was pretty clear from the start that nobody thought there was sufficient evidence for any of the standards.”
While the expert depicted the process as “inclusive” of various opinions, they noted that this alone does not meet the bar to constitute “sufficient research evidence.”
This committee member was not alone in his observations. Two UC Santa Barbara professors, Lorraine M. McDonnell and M. Stephen Weatherford, argued in a 2013 paper that Common Core’s producers were well aware of their research’s shortcomings: “They chose to downplay them because they would complicate the agenda at a time when a policy window was opening but might not be open for long.”
Last week, Jason Richwine at National Review Onlinedelved into a compendium of Common Research, and identified just two papers out of 60 that presented research on the standards’ effect on test scores. The studies were tenuous at best and openly admitted the narrow nature of their findings.
In addition to the research behind the supposed benefits of imposing nationwide standards, Common Core’s suggested content is also under scrutiny. Supporters argue that suggested content in Common Core is irrelevant, since the standards allow schools to choose their own curricula. But opponents contend that the new standards and the tests created for them will inevitably shape a national curriculum.
A new study, authored in part by Sandra Stotsky, one of the only validation committee members who refused to sign off on the standards, attacks Common Core’s approach to U.S. history.
Stotsky said that the Common Core program “dramatically reduces the amount of classic American literature and poetry students will read in favor of non-fiction or so-called ‘informational texts.’”
Common Core authors also call for reading historical documents out of context to encourage an unbiased reading. Stotsky’s study vigorously disagrees with this approach, which it characterizes as an attempt to “shoehorn little bits and pieces of decontextualized U.S. history texts.”
Meanwhile, one historic anti-Common Core vote has been reversed: A Florida school board revoked its decision to opt out of Common Core-aligned testing Tuesday. After the initial decision to dump the tests, school officials lashed out at the vote and insisted it would wreak havoc on the school system.
Anti-Common Core parents at both the original vote and at Tuesday’s meeting attended dressed in red to signify their protest. After the testing was reinstated, one parent declared, “8:30 in the morning, I’m looking at a room full of red. They will not be deterred.”
Since 45 states adopted the standards in 2011, enticed by the promise of federal Race to the Top funds, five states with conservative governors have repealed the standards or instituted a review of them.