Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Here we go again: more support for social and emotional classrooms

This time from David Brooks of The New York Times.

Citing statistics showing that "most people vastly overestimate the extent to which more money would improve our lives," Brooks concludes that "Most schools and colleges spend too much time preparing students for careers and not enough preparing them to make social decisions."

This conclusion betrays two fallacies:
1. The don't-make-educational-recommendations-without-visiting-actual-classrooms fallacy, which journalists and professors (especially education professors) repeatedly fall for (see here, here, here, here, and here).
2. The just-because-it-would-be-nice-if-students-learned-it-doesn't-mean-that-schools-can-actually-teach-it fallacy.

If David Brooks were to spend more time in grade schools, he would see that many schools actually shortchange material that would prepare students for careers in favor of activities designed to improve social skills.

And if he were to think about how one would go about teaching kids not to "overestimate the extent to which more money would improve our lives," he might consider how hard this is to teach, and that this is one area where experiential learning may be the only route to true understanding. 

1 comment:

1crosbycat said...

Ugh! I think the schools are already spending too much time trying to impose their own values and worldviews on our kids, and not nearly enough time teaching FACTS. And skills, maybe even math skills that are not on the state test. I just read 16 essays of high school students writing about "Ethics in Education" (interestingly, most of their sources were philosophers whose views helped shape Marxism) and I noticed a few, hopefully relevant things: 1) marxists.org says that "The Marxist approach to education is broadly constructivist, and emphasises activity, collaboration and critique, rather than passive absorption of knowledge, emulation of elders and conformism; it is student-centred rather than teacher centred, but recognises that education cannot transcend the problems and capabilities of the society in which it is located" 2) one girl actually said that desiring and having wealth is unethical, 3) one boy said that capitalism is more unethical than ethical. It is up to parents to teach kids how to make social decisions, and it should be the school's job to teach in a way that enables the kids to get jobs and not have to move back home after college. And I think both schools and the government would be all too happy to take care of our "too much money" problem and should stay out of our marriages and social lives.