Thursday, February 3, 2011

The 7 real lessons of schooling.

After reading the first chapter of “Dumbing us Down” by John Taylor Gatto, I felt ashamed.  He talks about the 7 lessons students are being taught in schools by having standardized classes, mandatory outcomes, and by traditional teaching styles.
Lesson 1: Confusion
Everything we teach is out of context, and has no meaning.  We teach too many outcomes in such little time.  The logic of the school-mind is that it is better to leave school with a tool kit of superficial jargon derived from economics, sociology, natural science, and so on than with one genuine enthusiasm”.  Our students crave meaning and application but we are providing them with disconnected facts.
Lesson 2: Class position:
Students are taught to stay in the class where they belong, and not to think about other classes available.  I’ve shown them how to envy and fear the better classes and how to have contempt for the dumb classes”.  We lie to students by saying they need high test scores and marks because one day that is what their employer will look for.  How do you get out of the class and move on?  The answer is simple; get higher than a 50% after the teacher preforms his/her number magic.
Lesson 3: Indifference:
We teach that students should show they are enthused about learning, even though they may not care about anything I do in the class.  Teachers plan their best lessons to engage their students, and force critical thinking, however “when the bell rings [we] insist they drop whatever it is we have been doing and proceed quickly to the next workstation”.
Lesson 4: Emotional Dependency:
By using all sorts of extrinsic motivators such as stickers, lunch tickets, marks, or stars, we force students to surrender their will to the chain of command.  Their opinion will be told to them by school authorities and any right that has been given can also be taken away from any school leader.  Individuality is a contradiction of class theory, a curse to all systems of classification”. Students that cannot handle it must deceive me by asking to go to the bathroom, so they can engage in something that is more meaningful.
Lesson 5: Intellectual Dependency:
Students must wait to be told what to do.  Successful students follow and comply by studying everything I tell them to study.  Bad students fight this by asking for the opportunity to think for themselves and pursue learning that is not being provided by the teacher.  The teacher is the one who tells the students what is important and what is useless information.  We’ve built a way of life that depends on people doing what they are told because they don’t know how to tell themselves what to do.”
Lesson 6: Provisional Self-Esteem
We know that the world would be a different place if everyone had true confidence; students are taught that their respect will depend on expert opinion.  We constantly evaluate and judge them on a daily basis.  They are held accountable by pieces of paper, which have this judgement, sent to their homes where their parents can then determine whether or not their child is good or bad.  The lesson of report cards, grades, and tests is that children should not trust themselves or their parents but should instead rely on the evaluation of certified officials”.  Students are being informed of their self-worth.
Lesson 7: One can’t hide
Students are always under extreme scrutiny and surveillance.  The supervision does not just occur inside the walls of the school;  we have extended school time to home by providing daily required work to be completed.  This homework takes away from any time which a student could use to discover something that has not been authorized by a specialist of learning. “Children must be closely watched if you want to keep a society under tight central control”.
This is what the book calls the 7 lessons of schools.  I encourage you to reflect and determine how many of these lessons are being taught to your students?

1 comment: