Thursday, October 11, 2007

Movie Idea

There's a guy who is reasonably attractive, intelligent, outgoing, and adjusted. However, the remnants of his raging self-consciousness remains. Therefore, as he goes through his day, he is unable to stop thinking about his self-projection, although he generally fails to give much credence to the thought, rarely altering his behavior.

Spain's Modern Schools-Early 1900s

In having finished the Modern School articles, I get the sense that alternatives were deemed viable options partially due to the environment of rampant social disorder. Anything was possible, given the current situation was perpetuating illiteracy and inequality. It seems to me that if more people were educated as to the rampant problems in our (US) schooling, there would be a more lively discourse as to such viable alternatives. Unfortunately, we've been taught to blame various factors in assessing education's 'failure,' including economics, geography, race, and lack of accountability. In that we are afforded these and countless other scapegoats, we fail to see that, in the big picture, there are problems inherent in the system. How do you get people to comprehend the level of social disorder that exists when it's so easy to shift blame to something too abstract or too primeval to alter or address? I honestly do not know. Yell, maybe.

I also got the sense that the Modern Schools spoken of in the chapters took full advantage of the natural evironment, which is something that poses logistical problems when in the 'concrete jungle' in which we find our public schools most in need. Even given this, an attempt must be made, in whatever environment, to get out and experience one's world. What a wonderful concept, yet one that is ignored in so many of our schools nationally.

Response to Rousseau's Emile

Rousseau's chapter made me question how inchoate my definitions of certain philosophical terms were. There were discussions of terms such as 'morality' and 'reason' that I must be defining differently than Rousseau..or maybe we just disagree in principle.

It seems to me that, while I don't have many disagreements with some of the methods mentioned, there was stressed a strong and concerted effort to avoid meaningful learning where learning is just asking to be seized. It seems that his approach was to avoid getting too explicit about reason and morality based on the assumption that children totally lack these types of understanding to build on. True, some children may lack a highly complex, logical and abstract morality and sense of reason, when compared with a sane, logical adult. (Whether any of these exist in the world, I'll leave open to the individual for assessment). However, I would contend, based on personal experience, that children have developed for themselves and understanding as to the order of things in terms of reason as well as morality. By avoiding the explicit explanations thereof, I feel as though we're missing great opportunities to help them learn, learning that is made meaningful by their having challenged their own framework of beliefs.

Worst of all, I feel as though Rousseau was terribly contradictory on these points of reason and morality at certain places throughout the chapter.

Of all the things that rubbed me the wrong way, so to speak, there were two that stood out which challenged ideals integral to my understanding of children and of learning. He suggests that we prevent, without explanation, certain actions in which the child may engage that we deem harbingers of negative consequences. His point is that we should avoid commanding children, a point with which I could not agree more. However, I don't like the idea that we shouldn't ever verbalize, after the child has avoided any certain action, the reasons that their choice was a good or bad one, whatever the case may be. I believe that this is a missed opportunity to help them develop their understanding of the world.

The only other specific piece of the text that made me cringe was his contention that 'at so early an age, while the heart is still insensible, children ought to be led to imitate' virtuous actions. Insensible, eh? He seems to contradict the idea of imitation as being meaningful elsewhere in the chapter.

Overall, I think would go for many of the methods employed by Rousseau, in a certain type environment. Yet, I think in avoiding explanation on the grounds that there is a lack of ability to grasp, we are letting wonderful bits of learning go by, which greatly lessens the impact of the sensory exploration that the child is engaging in. I am also curious to know if Rousseau thought this method of learning to be applicable to girls as well as boys. If not, I'd be interested in a comparison.

Discussion Response-Week 3

In having just graduated from college, I've been bombarded with questions with regards to my future plans. Upon relaying to family and friends my "affinity for the alternative," I am generally met with the same question, which, in a way, relates to the second question in the discussion. That is, "Are these kids ready for the societal boundaries they face once they are done attending such a place?"

I think in asking this question, we are, although generally without intention, validating the structures that exist in the society in which we live, and assuming schooling's role in the perpetuation thereof. In my personal opinion, the society in which we live has a vast array of deep-rooted problems that need addressing. When one asks the same question of many of our public schools, the answer is often an emphatic yes! Too many of our schools prepare people to enter into a stratified society that has yet to solve, actively or fervently address, or even recognize, problems of racial inequality, economic inequality, gender inequality, etc...If the success of a school is that simple, then why all the fuss?

However, when you flip the question on its head, rather probing whether our society is one that I hope our schools regenerate for eons to come, I think the public schools get a similarly emphatic negative response. When you think of some of the alternatives out there, which better approximate the ideologies of the anarchist and other progressive theorists, you see that the goal of their methods inspire one to internalize the beauty of natural inquiry, of thinking, and of knowing. Is a society full of people with an honest appreciation of knowledge a better one that we have today? I think, in many ways, it certainly would be.

In short, I don't want to change the school for the sake of fitting into our current society, rather, I want a society that is produced by the type of school/childhood/quest for knowledge I deem to be ideal.

Indeed, logically speaking, if we were to let society dictate that which, inherantly defines that society, we will be utterly stagnant. Such an arrangement cannot exist if we wish to have progress of any kind.

Because the system of schooling should always be changing to produce the ideal society, I think any argument is relevant, provided it is fueled by the vision of a better society.