Education of a useful sort
Suppose you have a car. If you know a great deal about that car, are you educated?
- Suppose you study the physics of cars — that according to Newton’s First Law, cars in motion tend to stay in motion. Suppose you study the chemistry of cars — that rapid oxidation of complex hydrocarbons releases carbon dioxide and water vapor that expand against a piston to turn a crankshaft, moving the car forward. Do you know enough to drive?
- Suppose you study the history of cars — that the windshield wiper was invented in 1903. Suppose you study the literature of cars — that Wind in the Willows featured a car the year Ford invented the Model T. Do you know enough to drive?
- Suppose you study the mathematics of cars — that a car with a 15 gallon fuel tank that can travel 375 miles before refueling burns fuel at 25 miles per gallon. Suppose you study the economics of cars — that building more cars according to a pattern allows the cars to be sold at a lower price. Do you know enough to drive?
- Suppose you study auto mechanics — that sheet metal can be folded and bent to repair dents in cars. Suppose you study computers and cars — that tests can diagnose engine problems. Do you know enough to drive?
- Suppose you study the sociology of cars — that some people love cars and others hate them. Suppose you study the psychology of cars — that people buy cars for different reasons. Do you know enough to drive?
- Suppose you study the art of cars — that uncluttered, simple designs make cars more appealing to the eye. Suppose you study the language of cars — that a bonnet and a boot are a hood and a trunk. Suppose you study the music of cars — that “She’s real fine, my 409.” Do you know enough to drive?
- Suppose you study teaching techniques — that graphic organizers and testing rubrics improve the success of studying cars. Suppose you study critical thinking — that meta-cognitive strategies increase one’s understanding of cars.
At the end of the day — through layers of educationists, administrators, teaching certifications, mandated curricula, standardized testing, whole language learning, classroom design directives, contract provisions, political correctness, lunch menu restrictions, and everything piled on everything else — do you know enough to drive?
Truth is, . . . we could turn education around — spend a lot less on official temples and acolytes — if we let the bubble collapse, and then concentrate first on what matters.
The car you need learn to drive is you. “Do you know enough to live wisely?” is seldom addressed, often pinned under a mountain of evidence formal educators dump to prove their worth. Back to basics? Not really. Job skills? Those will follow naturally.
Students will find their own way if nudged with good questions: What can you know? How should you behave? How should you interact with others? They lead to self-discovery of golden threads of worthwhile simple wisdoms. They learn that great thinkers across time turned their keen intellects to what matters in each single life: learning to deal with the simple daily problems of living.
Simple wisdoms ignite the spark of self-regulated learning. Mastering character, subjects that are important take care of themselves.