Schooling and How Schools Don’t Prepare Children for Life

This entry is my reaction to an article on Medium:

“Stop Telling Your Kids That School Will Prepare Them for Life” by Rich Stowell

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Students are being prepared….

Prepared to be obedient, to conform, to not think deeply, to not question authority, and to function at the lower levels of a hierarchy.

Several decades ago, when I was designing a gifted program for a small rural school district, a statistic that appeared said that about 4% of the population was gifted (whatever that means), and that about 19% of the prison population was gifted. However, bright kids seem to fall along a continuum from those who see the game and don’t want to play it to those who willing play the game, whether they see the game or not.

Personally, I loved kids like Joseph when I was teaching, but I was a fringe teacher. I wanted different things from my students, even when I moved into teacher education, where I tried to seed a revolution in education. But, I’m not sure how successful I was. I may have affected a few students (who actually entered the teaching profession), but I fear the majority were gobbled up by the status quo.

But, today’s schools are not interested in deep, meaningful learning. In fact, they appear to be more interested in dumbing down our kids. A dumbed down population is much easier to control than a population of deep and critical thinkers.

A friend of mine’s son, when he was in middle school, woke up terrified one night and came into his mom’s bedroom. She asked him what was wrong. He said he had a nightmare. She asked what the nightmare was about. “He said, ‘zombies.’… She told him they talk in the morning. In the morning, she asked him what he meant by zombies. He said, “Zombies are people who cannot think for themselves, they want you to be like them. … And, if you do what they say, your dignity flies out the window.”*

Tell Joseph to keep up the good work. As my friend suggested to her son, he could play along and avoid getting in trouble by “acting” the part, but he should never believe that he was that type of student. But, either way, Joseph needs to keep his dignity and integrity.

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* Bateson, N. (2016). Small arcs of larger circles: Framing through other patterns. Axminster, UK: Triarchy Press. — pages 70–75

About Jeff Bloom

I’m a Researcher with and am on the Advisory Board of the International Bateson Institute and am a professor emeritus with the Department of Teaching & Learning, College of Education, Northern Arizona University.

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