Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sayers on Education's Failure

One of the writers my wife and I just started reading recently (on the issue of today's largely ineffectual education system and the philosophy on which it is built, versus a classical education) is Dorothy Sayers. Here is an except from The Lost Tools of Learning which I found particularly lucid and insightful:

For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects.


Steve said...

Makes many young student ripe for the propaganda pickin'.

Nicholas Jenkins said...

It's a nice thing I've chosen to educate in a college environment (which has its own unique challenges). ;) I can side step some of this and just worry about correcting what the public school system has, or HASN'T done.

Aaron Snell said...

Hey Nick, it's great to hear from you! Hope everything's going well. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I fear that, for you in higher academia, the problem is probably compounded rather than alleviated. By the time they get to you (which is certainly also the case for me at the high school level), they have often been successfully taught "subjects," but not how to think; they have learned much, but not the art of learning. The more I see, the more I am convinced that every new thing we as educators are asked to do to help solve our students' woeful unpreparedness is only plugging leaks in a dam that is cracked through and through and is about to come down. The only truly effective solution would be to erect a new structure, a new framework. The difference between where students should be and where they are (the acheivement gap) only becomes more pronounced the higher you go - as my college professor friends (as well as I, having seen what the average college student is like) can attest.

Read the Sayers essay I linked to - I think you'd find it fascinating, and representative of where I'm at at the moment on this. Say hi to your wife, and I hope the Montana winter is treating you OK!