Monday, December 10, 2012

Curmudgeon on the idiocy of modern 'education' part 2,374

The pastor was on a bit of a roll early Sunday morning.

The retired nun who was supposed to pitch the Archdiocesan Retirement Fund for Religious at the 7:00 a.m. Mass hadn't shown up for some reason, and Fr. Ed (no, not his real name) was left to make the pitch himself.

Fr. Ed is about to be involuntarily retired himself; he's closer to 80 than 70 (though he's recently taken to fibbing about his age) and, though he's got 20 years on me at least, I can only envy his energy level.

But he didn't talk about himself; instead he talked about the nuns who taught him in his North Side grade school many years ago. He was effusive in his praise. He focused on their teaching of history -- clearly a favorite subject of his to this day -- and I'd recount this part of the homily in further detail (it drew scattered applause at one point) but I still fret about my anonymity.

Suffice to say that in praising the good sisters of his youth, he inadvertently panned the teaching of history at present by contrasting how much he and his peers knew about local history compared to what today's kids know.

Regulars here will know that my Long Suffering Spouse is a Spanish teacher, but this year she was asked to take one intermediate grade history class.

Only we don't even call it "history" any more. It's been dumbed down to "social studies."

So my wife took the jibe personally. "He doesn't know what we're up against," my wife fumed as we got into the car after Mass.

The teachers are expected to read to the children from the textbook in class (they won't read on their own -- and, if they do, they don't understand what they read). And while short-term comprehension is desirable, long term retention is absolutely not the goal.

The principal, it seems, does not want to bother the little darlings with learning "facts." Facts can be looked up on "devices." Instead, today's 21st Century kids have to be taught to "analyze." This is what passes for modern educational thinking. (And ours is good school!)

"How in the heck does one 'analyze' when one does not know facts?" I asked.

"That's my argument," my wife responded, "but we're told that kids don't have to know anything because that's available on their screens."

Facts might as well be buried below miles of granite, for all the good they'll do today's kids if this is really the way teachers are supposed to teach.

I can't remember everything; neither can you. When I can't remember something, I can look it up. But I had to know it in the first place -- once upon a time -- to remember that I don't know it now. I have a second screen going at home all the time these days, or multiple tabs open at the office; I'm always Googling something, or looking in Lexis or Wikipedia (or, at home, IMDb).

This will come as a newsflash to some of you, perhaps, but not everything one reads on the Internet is entirely accurate; for example, although it's usually reliable, Wikipedia has been famously pranked from time to time. Without a framework -- a skeleton -- of understanding, how is even the screen-equipped modern student supposed to evaluate anything he or she has looked up?

Educators are so incredibly stupid. The word 'story' is right there in the word hiSTORY. What 'educators' worry about as dry, dull facts are the details that make the stories of the past come alive. You don't 'force' kids to 'memorize' and 'regurgitate' boring 'names, dates and places,' you teach them one gripping yarn after another, and those 'names' are the characters that populate the stories, the 'places' are the locations, and the 'dates' just help us keep straight which story happened first.

"But that's not what they want us to do!" Long Suffering Spouse lamented.

Well, why in tarnation not?

1 comment:

empress bee said...

i heard on the news that in palm beach county 25 is passing in history. 25!!!!! yes, 25. no wonder they can't spell, can't add, can't make change and make fodder for jay leno's man on the street. sigh...

smiles, bee