Friday, February 12, 2010

Published 8:46 PM by with 2 comments

Differing Thoughts on Educating Children

In my recent studies, I've come across these quotes. You can probably tell which ideas I agree with and which one I don't.

"Why should we have to try to develop such [actively inquisitive] minds, when children are born with them? Somewhere along the line, adults must fail somehow to sustain the infant's curiosity at its original depth. School itself, perhaps, dulls the mind- by the dead weight of rote learning, much of which may be necessary. The failure is probably even more the parents' fault. We so often tell a child there is no answer, even when one is available, or demand that he ask no more questions. We thinly conceal our irritation when baffled by the apparently unanswerable query. All this discourages the child. He may get the impression that it is impolite to be too inquisitive. Human inquisitiveness is never killed; but it is soon debased to the sort of questions asked by most college students, who, like the adults they soon to become, ask only for information."

~ Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book, Chapter 18: How to Read Philosophy

"We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is simple... We will organize children... and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way."

~ Excerpt from a 1906 document from Rockefellar's General Education Board, called Occasional Letter Number One

"Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgement and disposition of business. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned. To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation; to make judgement wholly by their rules is the humour of a scholar.... for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need proyning (pruning) by study..."

~ Francis Bacon, Essay L: Of Studies

"To a very great degree, school is a place where children learn to be stupid. A dismal thought, but hard to escape. Infants are not stupid. Children of one, two, or even three throw the whole of themselves into everything they do. They embrace life, and devour it, it is why they learn so fast, and are such good company. Listlessness, boredom, apathy- these all come later. Children come to school curious; within a few years most of that curiosity is dead, or at least silent... The expressions on the children's faces seemed to say, 'You've got us here in school; now make us do whatever it is you want us to do.' Curiosity, questions, speculation- these are for outside school, not inside."

~ John Holt, in his book Why Children Fail


Em said...

"When you can't think of anything to write, just put down things other people wrote."

~Alyssa Santoyo

Haha, yeah, I like the ones from How to read a book and How Children fail too.

Lyssa said...

I can think of plenty of things to write, but these people say what I'm thinking better than I can sometimes, Miss I-Only-Write-a-Blog-Once-In-a-Blue-Moon.