Everything Starts with Education!
Education is the most important thing. Second only to the desire for education. We have a number of people with whom we would consult on education. The list would include, but not be limited to:
- John Taylor Gatto
- Carol Dweck
- Sir Ken Robinson
- Annette Karmiloff-Smith
“I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress genius because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.”― John Taylor Gatto, Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling
Whatever an education is, it i should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whateevr you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.
The school year in the United Kingdom is antiquated and out of touch with the requirements of education as a whole. Children used to be allowed the summer off to help their parents on the farms they once tilled. This no longer happens, yet we still honour the summer holidays and allow children 6 weeks off school.
Not withstanding the enormous financial pressures placed on parents when penned into a 6 week slot for holidays, what else are we not seeing by continuing this historical practise?
What Works Best For Children?
Research on the behaviours of children during the holidays and upon their return to school indicate that those children who spend their time playing football fair less well than those who continue to read and write, doing even small amounts of homework to keep up their studies. This seems obvious, but so few parents understand the importance of maintaining an attitude of education, let alone the activities to support it.
John Taylor Gatto says reading, writing, and arithmetic only take about 100 hours to transmit, but schools purposefully distort the learning process and intentionally slow down the students’ learning so as to justify robbing them of 12 years of their lives while they teach what Gatto refers to as the seven lessons schools really teach:
2. Class position
4. Emotional dependency
5. Intellectual dependency
6. Provisional self-esteem
7. One can’t hide
Philosophy In Schools
This has been a contentious concern for the past few decades. At the NPP, we believe that teaching children HOW to think is more important than teaching them to test.
We would support such action as expressed in the link here. In schools, their philosophy sessions develop reasoning skills, speaking and listening, confidence, collaborative thinking and respect. They are also one of the few places children can legitimately explore alien invasion, time travel, unplugging from the matrix and the virtues of being a pig! Experts say philosophy can be described as ‘rational investigation of existence, ethics and knowledge.’
Ludwig Wittgenstein was once a primary school teacher, and a driving force in developing the “ordinary language” or “linguistic” school of philosophy. We feel he was ahead of his time, just as we are!
Wittgenstein frequently said that children were natural philosophers in that they ask important questions about the world and about human life and morality. The Mind Unleashed would agree with our sentiments, and can be found here.
“… the key difference between science and philosophy is that we need the results of science more than we need everyone in the body politic “doing science.” By contrast, we need everyone “doing philosophy” more than we need the results of philosophy”
The Importance of teaching children how to think instead of what to think: metacognition.
Open Letter to the Guardian from academics, comedians and other celebs to get philosophy in schools:
The Princeton philosophy department argues that because philosophers have a “better understanding of the nature of man and his place in the world,” they’re better able to identify address issues in modern society
Is this what we want for our children? What could we teach them that is better than this, more useful for life? More growthful? Can we offer them something that allows for cognitive and social-emotional growth throughout each stage of their development, as they reach young adulthood?
The NPP would like to think that they can! And the next section tells you how:
It is the opinion of the NPP that a proper rethink is necessary when it comes to the age and requirements of our school children. We currently bombard them with exams from 14 to 16 and 18. We gauge their competence, thrust them into a curriculum and then drive them and their thinking down this very narrow path until they prove they have memorised some information at 18, before beginning the whole process again at university!
The radical rethink would involve starting the children in the school system at 7 or 8, with two intakes per year, not one, so as not to disadvantage those children born in June, July and August. This isn’t the radical part. The radical part is keeping them in school until they are 21. This is not as bad as it sounds if you consider that all neuroscience research on development points to a person being a ‘child’ until the age of 25.
Why would we do this? We think the benefits stretch far beyond the children. We would initially stop all testing at 16 and 18, instead offering the teenagers more time to develop their thinking, not their memories. This would begin at 14 in order to benchmark where they are at that point. But it wouldn’t be an episodic memory test: it would be a capacity and capability gauge. It would be a measure of their complexity. Having a longer school framework also allows the children to change their minds should the subjects they choose not be for them.
Teaching children up to 21 would also disrupt the (thinking behind the) teaching of teenagers as we see it today. How would teachers benefit? First, we would stop calling them ‘teachers’ as the implied meaning-making around the word is something we subscribe to from a very early age and it has an element of conformity with students, teachers, parents and government. We think a more appropriate word would be ‘facilitator’, as what we are really trying to achieve is the facilitation of thinking capability, not the downloading of information for later-recall. That’s what Google is for! Imagine Google in 10 years’ time…
By the time they are ready for university, they are much more mature in and of themselves. Starting university at 21 would ensure a mature graduate, much more so than we have today. This would mean a more capable and psychologically-ready student. This would affect their capacity to perform in university, with a much higher standard of output than we see today. If you have a PhD, imagine doing that qualification at 23 compared to 43. How different would the output be? Which one would be more mature?
Moving on from university, a graduate would now be 24 or 25. This would benefit the industry they wish to enter as they are no longer adolescents, but more mature in their world view, and having gone through a much better school system, much more capable in their thinking capacity, which would have positive ramifications for industry. A business does not care if you have a history degree and can remember the facts surrounding the 1800’s industrial revolution: it is more interested in your ability to think around the issues at hand and how this thinking will benefit the team, the organisation or the industry.
This is a very brief outline of the thinking behind education from a non-partisan perspective that is interested in what is best for our next generation, and that will have positive ramifications for generations to come. If you are bored of the left fighting the right on education issues, with the exact same promises every time, yet never seeing them follow through on any promise, maybe it’s time for that rethink?
Finally on the subject of children’s education, please watch this fantastic video from Sir Ken Robinson and his ideas about divergent thinking.