On public education. February 14th, 2014
In response to http://devblog.avdi.org/2014/02/10/the-passion-gospel/
Still another objection I received went like this: “I’m not passionate about the job, but I’m passionate about learning“. In this case, it may be that my background colors my opinions. I was homeschooled. Among the other homeschooled kids I grew up with, a distaste for learning was generally regarded as a “public schooled” malady. A hunger for knowledge was considered normal, and learning itself was regarded as something you ordinarily did for fun every day.
We don’t call someone who eats three square meals a day “passionate about eating”, and similarly I don’t see the point of using a superlative as strong as “passionate” for something that’s as natural as breathing. I want and expect to learn something new every day. That’s not passion, it’s just a healthy appetite. I’d rather identify the lack of this natural impulse as what it is: a disorder. But maybe that’s just me.
I too was homeschooled as a child, and you really hit the nail on the head about public school (and even private schools) fostering a distaste for learning. Every person I’ve met who was home schooled absolutely loved learning new things, and when you put them amongst public schooled peers it makes them stand out as nerds and geeks.
However, I feel that labeling the disinterest that the majority of people demonstrate as a “disorder” fosters the wrong reaction. Yes, it’s a negative side effect of the social structures that schools foster among children, and its horrible, but it’s also become the status quo.
That’s a pretty ugly blanket statement about public schools. First off, there are people everywhere that love to learn no matter where they’ve gone to public school. A lot may depend on the social status of the student or where their school is in the country/world.
I’m sure there are plenty of home school student who DON’T enjoy learning, you just haven’t met them yet.
You’re right, my anecdotal data is biased by my tendency to only associate with those who are equally intellectually interested. There probably are plenty of homeschooled children who don’t enjoy learning, particularly among those who were homeschooled for religious reasons rather than educational reasons. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any case study on the subject that is devoid of bias (they’re always either sponsored by homeschooling groups or teachers associations).
And yes, of course the public school system still produces people who love to learn, but not as a majority. Not even as a major fraction. The popular culture and colloquialisms of the United States demonstrates this clear as day (I should identify that I’m referring to the US educational system, as was Avdi, I assume).
Look at television. Educational institutions such as The Discovery Channel and The History Channel now feature more reality entertainment than educational programs. When’s the last time you heard TLC called The Learning Channel? SyFy had so little science in their fiction that they dropped it from their name entirely. PBS, the last bastion of educational TV, is so lowly regarded that public officials consider it a financial burden.
The only intellectual celebrities our culture has, got there through commercialism. We pay collective billions to professional sports athletes, but the closest thing we have to a high paid all-star intellectual is Ken Jennings (or possibly Bill Nye, but I doubt he’s as rich as Ken).
This is not a culture that favors learning. If intellectualism was the norm, “nerd” would not be derogatory.
Now, of course schools aren’t the only contributing factor, but it’s where children spend half of their waking day during the most impressionable period of their lives. The only stronger influence than that is their home life. We can’t change their home life, but we sure as hell can change the schools.