My Great Wonk Alert.

In my last post, I mentioned that nearly everyone; parents, students, Fearless Leaders, and even Future Generators are asking entirely the wrong questions when it comes to education. I suggested that I had better questions to ask and told you that I would be suggesting some of them here.

This is all a rather long-winded way of saying that the next few posts will include my usual ironic observations and witticisms, but I’ll be attempting to introduce serious topics concerning education. I suspect that I’ll lose a few readers because of this, but some things are more important.

So what are the questions that we should be asking in regards to education? Nearly everyone who has an opinion on the subject seems to agree (to some greater or lesser extent) that education in this country is not going as well as we’d hoped. Mostly people seem to be perplexed about this failure. After all, our teachers work their tuckuses off despite all the hurdles we place in front of them, our students work hard to learn what our teachers present to them, and our parents of course are diligent in following up and supplementing everyone else’s work with their hard-earned wisdom and experience. So how is it possible that we’re still not doing a good job?

My hypothesis is that we don’t actually know what we want from our education system. Because we don’t know what it is we want our education system to do, is it really at all surprising that we’re unable to do it? I suppose that it is possible that at some point we’ll blindly stumble into the correct answer, but that might take a long time and even if it were to happen, we might not recognize it and move on to something else.

We can expedite this process by asking the right questions. These questions are not new and I’m willing to bet that absolutely none of you will be surprised by them. In fact, I’m willing to bet that everyone thinks that we’ve answered these questions a long time ago.

1. What is the purpose of education?

2. Why are we educating our students and to what end?

3. How do we educate our students?

See, I told you so. What I find disturbing is that despite our confidence in having answered these basic questions concerning education, we’re still having problems. This leads me to conclude that we’ve answered at least one of them incorrectly.

Students of education will probably recognize the viewpoints I’m going to espouse in the next few posts as being strongly influenced by the works of Mumford, Dewey, Orr, and Leopold. In fact, it is entirely possible that nothing that I have to say is really new, but this is the internet and rehashing stuff other people have already done makes you “epic.”


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