Monday, June 2, 2014

Modern Education is in the Stone Age (by Paul A. L. Hall).

Modern Education is in the Stone Age

Come on, now.  Do you really think institutions of learning are really only able to produce a minority of well-educated intelligencia!  That shows the scope of the lethargy the traditionalists have sunk into.
The first axiom to propose is that the average human mind is brilliant and capable of extreme excellence. The stimulus of knowledge, along with an adequate diet of protein, begins with the average human as an infant.  So I suppose one might observe that the classroom out of the stone age begins at the home.  In all fairness, I really don't mean to insult the stone age by comparing the failure of the modern education system with them, but it was the best term I could come up with.  
The brain is quickly whittled down in early childhood by internal mechanisms that remove whatever isn't being used, or stimulated, as a survival tactic.  So the child emerges from infancy with substantially less brains than it was born with.  The industrial age brought with it a need for most parents to place baby's affairs on the back burner, assuming, and being assured by all the learned higher educational institutional fodder, that baby's growth will happen naturally if the parents simply saw to the physical well being of the child.
So they end up with a mundane toddler instead of a brilliant one.  You might protest that society doesn't need a majority of brilliant minds.  A minority of geniuses is what most would prefer.  After all, brilliance is looked down upon in modern society, and if the brilliant person can't succeed on his or her own in spite of the prejudice and impediment opposing them, why, they're quite quickly brought down in adult life anyway.  People don't like seeing nine-year-olds in the twelfth grade when their little babysittered child of the same age is struggling through the fourth.
But why should intelligence be a factor?  Surely the highly intelligent and gifted will excel, unless they have some severe disability, but what about the rest of the students.  What I'm saying is that the mind readily absorbs and remembers input if it is the correct sort.  Something the institutions have ignored perhaps even since the stone age itself.  They've always simply chosen a method which mostly deferred to one of the most useless things known as human dignity, in which the learned instructor professes his subject to attentive pupils taking copious notes.  And they determine with some air of satisfaction that if most fall by the wayside, so much the better.
A company producing a line of goods would soon go out of business with that attitude, if only a third of it's product were up to standard.  If they were loosing two thirds of what they manufactured when it went through quality control, they would be all over the problem, re-tooling, re-thinking, re-planning, hiring and firing until they got it right.  So then if they got down to about ten percent coming out as seconds, why, then they could sell that to the discount merchandisers and no one would know the difference.
The brilliance of the average mind, therefore, is not so much in the quantity of brains, as in high intelligence, but rather in the quality of brain power which is not only present in all healthy minds regardless of how intelligent they are, but also, in other species as well.  I remember the time I had a chance to run a small experiment teaching three to the neighbor's dog, Missy.  
The animal was absolutely thrilled when she learned about the concept of three.  She used to greet me down the road when I got home at night and tried to block me from going to work in the mornings.  She wanted her classes!  I had used pine cones to teach her and soon all the neighbors began to find pine cones on their doorsteps each day delivered by Missy.
In another experiment I tried teaching classical musical phrases to finches in the back yard.  I had put up about twenty assorted types of finch feeders and by the second year there was quite of flock in the back yard.  I noticed that they had a singularly monotone call and remembered that they are cousins to the domestic canary, so I began to whistle phrases of classical music outside.  It was amazing how fast they picked it up.  It was hard at first to recognize because they had accelerated the tempo.  I would stick my head out the back door some mornings just to listen to the volumes of music coming from all the treetops where they perched.
This shows the thrill and happiness had by an individual, regardless of some sort of lack of intelligence quotient, when in the process of learning.  That in stark contrast to the student who can't wait to graduate and escape the boredom of institutionalism.  To which the institutionalist responds inevitably that higher education may therefore only be had by the intelligent.  Oh, they might pull out their token average mind, maybe even the occasional low I.Q. and claim anybody can make a go of it.
In fact what they're turning out is only one sort of individual that has, in lieu of brilliance, the right mix of capabilities to endure their system and pass their testing, and somehow absorb adequately their curriculum.  The result is an individual whose education poorly equips him or her for a real world, yet their gained prestige vaults them into high income brackets and positions of leadership that, barring some innate ability had in spite of their education, renders them incompetent at best to perform the roles in society required of them.
So then that society with the wrong type of person in places of authority, namely those who are able to succeed by coping with a sub-standard system, then must endure the results.  Results such as false fronts and illusions, such as big businesses that cook the books, politics that can only prosper society by cycles of recession and warfare, infrastructure engineers oblivious of what constitutes successful economic engines, and on and on.  [economic engine link at page  bottom]
These are by no means unimportant people.  It's just that they aren't the only type of important people.  The problem is that the system that has evolved around them is keeping all the other types of significance down.  And it's sad that it's so accepted as the status quo.  "Well, that's how it is,"  they say, "that's how you do it."  Or as one person so aptly put it, "It's not what you know, it's who you know."  There is a place for those who are the type of person with the knack for excelling in today's school system.  Perhaps in duty that involve repetition, boredom, and lack of innovation such as agricultural labor or jobs that improve already existent innovations.
Some might at this point try to point out how far education has gotten us.  They might protest that the very computer I'm using to write this I have because of our learned potentates.  But the reality is, that if the rest of the populous would have had a chance, by now we would have had something far better than the computer.  They would have had computers back in the days of Babbage.  In fact, they did.  But they lost it along with Babbage.  In fact, if the learned had had their way, we may well have still been not quite able to do things like measure longitude to this day because if it weren't for the king of England, the educationalists would have blocked the development of the chronometer.
If the really gifted person, one found in the majority the schools turn away, were to be using these systems, he or she could be writing the code for the operating system off the top of their head, as it were, as they worked.  You think excellence in mankind emerged only from the few who attained scholastic prominence?  What breakthroughs we have in the world have mostly happened in spite of the education system, not because of it.  
The next axiom is a sad indictment upon that concept of education which dates back to the ancient Greeks.  They shouldn't have quit their day job as fishermen and shepherds which is how they got their extraordinarily rich language.   I mean, aren't they the guys that thought the Earth was the center of the universe?  You call that being educated?  In a trial, if a witness' testimony were flawed in the slightest, it would be thrown out of court.  
But, anyway, this axiom proposes that contact with the environment, and in particular a natural environment, stimulates learning.  One of the first things we can observe of the contrast between a natural environment and a classroom environment is that the former is variegated and the latter is not.  In case you don't know what variegated means, one simple definition would be: "enlivened by variety; diversiform".  Perhaps what we are noticing from the failure of the education system to even so much as be able to produce a ninety percent student body with an A plus average, is this: that the classroom is dead.
But in all fairness to the poor teachers that are busting their behinds trying to do the best they can with an impossible situation (I know most of mine did), we should silently observe the classroom-is-dead thing, but state it in a more compassionate way, that modern education is in the stone age.  -- No offence intended to the stone age. 
The misconception under scrutiny here is that learning is something isolated to the brain.  As I discuss in another article, both learning and the brain are intertwined with the entire body and maybe even with whatever environment the body finds itself in.  It seems that the very survival mechanism inexorably incorporated into the economy of the body and the brain actually resist the formation of both temporary chemical memories and permanent physical memories in the classroom environment simply, perhaps, because, in it's frugal way, the body, principally the endocrine system, deems the classroom stimulus unnecessary to be remembered.  
And by now the by-product of the institutionalistic scholasticism with it's accompanying standardizations of alphabet soup after the names of the graduates awarded their accreditation, has brought into existence a new aristocracy.  After all, ever since the days of the ancient Greeks, it was the nobility that sought to buy the degrees for their kids to keep the family dynasty artificially superior to others.  And there were plenty of sophists willing to sell out to the rich in order to keep this momentum going throughout mankind's pathetic little flawed history.
It is possible for the plebian to ascend to the heights if they have the appropriate credit rating, but then that colors their choice of curriculum, perhaps placing them in a mundane but lucrative career not worthy of their talents.  If they don't choose the right high paying career, they'll never be able to pay back the loans.
The wealthy and the aristocratic ontogeny are, if any, the least qualified or equipped for higher learning.  That doesn't mean they should be excluded, but if you limit higher education to this minority, you lessen the chances of the society as a whole, enjoying the prosperity of the abundance of sheer brilliance the average citizenry adds when brought into the mix.
The fact is, that the probability of a truly capable and innovative person emerging from a majority is far greater than one emerging from a minority.  But in this, the modern education system virtually seals the doom of contemporary society, at the worst, or the not-so distant future one at the best.  As a recent play points out, and as I discuss in another article, the gifted is kept down by modern scholasticism and is then nickeled-and-dimed into a pathetic little lifetime career of mundane labor in a mix of full and part time jobs five days a week and then a weekend job on the other two days just to afford a poverty-level existence while the educated prey upon him or especially her. 
It would seem that the use of the word "doom" in this instance would be highly subjective; a term used to be sensationalistic.  On the contrary.  The survival of any civilization depends on the contributions to it by it's gifted.  They are the only ones capable of dealing with the novel problems and unique impasses a society inevitably runs into.  If the society insists on artificially flunking them out of their opportunities, then it's over, understand?  That's the end of the society, the civilization, and ultimately life itself on the poor little tiny blue planet they inhabit, out on the edge of one of the smaller galaxies in one of many universes.

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