Posts

Showing posts with the label education

Is Education the Answer to Economic Inequality? Not in the USA.

Image
Education can't solve economic inequality When my guru forwarded Nick Hanauer's article in The Atlantic, "Better Schools Won't Fix America," I devoured it enthusiastically.  Hanauer, a wealthy American philanthropist, with considerable credentials as a patron of education in the USA, was disavowing the dogma that education can erase the income gap--a dogma he calls "educationalism."  Hanauer's criticism of his  cohorts in the 1% is scalding.  "Educationalism," Hanauer writes, "appeals to the wealthy and powerful because it tells us what we want to hear: that we can help restore shared prosperity without sharing our wealth or power."



Global education versus American education The article does not devalue education, but debunks a generalized notion that education alone can solve economic inequality.  His argument, in a nutshell, is that "great public schools are the product of a thriving middle class, not the other way around…

How Is Money Created?

Image
Money isn't just pixel dust!
In an earlier post I described money as “pixel dust.” I was being cute—way too cute! Sometimes an analogy can hide much more than it reveals. Money is not created by Tinker Bell, though I did feel a bit smug upon realizing that the writers of the Zeitgeist film series repeated my observation that when you take out a bank loan you create that debt out of nothing.



Banks have the right to create money, but they need your help
The bank does not have the money it is lending you. Stop and think about that for a moment, because it is the answer to the question “how is money created?” As more and more people struggle to understand bitcoin, the fact that money is just a way of recording debt is starting to sink in. When I googled the question “how is money created?” I was surprised by the number of sites covering the question—the number of people who knew the answer. I found myself asking, as I often do, how could I not know this? Shouldn’t every ten-year-…

The Trump Vision for Education in America

Image
Education is one of the Trump campaigns important positionsUntil November 9, 2016, I never imagined there would be any reason to consider what Donald Trump had in mind for education in the USA. I was surprised to see that “Education” was one of sixteen important “positions” on the Trump campaign web site which has now been dismantled in favour of  https://www.donaldjtrump.com (This post is updated from my original comments on November 10, 2016.)
The Trump plan has only one theme:  choice The Trump vision for education has one theme:  “choice.”  I have to admit I find “choice” to be a very appealing notion in education, in particular, because it necessarily implies variety. (Singular, silver-bullet solutions in education seem to inevitably produce more problems than solutions. See "Everything Works!") In the Trump plan “choice” means “public or private schools,” “magnet schools and charter schools.”
What does "choice" mean in practice?Each of these varieties of educat…

Do No Harm Part II: Avoid Irony

Image
In Education, sometimes less is moreI used to teach a course on Public Speaking.It took me three years to figure out how to properly organize and deliver the course.I think I finally did it right in the third year.The trick was to abandon my teacher ego (a subject for a future post), get out of the way, take care of administrative and secretarial necessities of the course, and allow the students to perform and to educate each other—as much as I could (which was never easy for me).A majority of the students who took this course were from the Faculty of Education and consequently destined for careers as educators.One message I passed on to all the students, especially those planning to become teachers:avoid irony. Every Joke has a victimThis is very complicated advice because if you ask students to list the five features they appreciate in teachers, a “sense of humour” is bound to appear consistently in the list.(Here is another issue that I suspect teacher training programs never deal w…

Do No Harm

Image
"Do no harm" It was always my intention and ambition as a teacher to honour the basic tenant of the Hippocratic Oath:“Do no harm.”It sounds simple enough, and I assume most teachers feel as I do, but for people with sadistic impulses the classroom must seem like a tempting playground.Since the oath was intended for doctors, much of what it proposes would not apply to teachers, but even some of its tenants like honouring gods and mentors, not using a knife on patients, and not providing abortions seem odd promises even for ancient Greek doctors.On the other hand, the proscription of having sex with patients or revealing their confidences could and should also be applied to teachers with their students.(These proscriptions, in my mind, go hand and in hand, and will be discussed in a future post.)


"Spare the rod and spoil the child" But I’ve never been able to get passed the basic “Do no harm.”It is a burden and a challenge for any teacher once you start thinking about…

Time to Blow the Whistle

Image
What does "education" mean? Teachers, past, present and future, and students, it's time to blow the whistle.  Complaints and confessions are needed.  Name any problem--crime, depression (economic and psychological), sexism, racism, drug abuse, the breakup of marriages and families, etc, etc--and someone has already proposed that "education" is the solution.  Does anybody ever stop to consider what these specialists (politicians, administrators, sociolgists, ecologists, psychologists, pedagogues and functionaries) mean by "education"?


New myths for old The world renowned literary theorist and educator, Northrop Frye, described education as the process of getting rid of old myths, in order to replace them with new ones.  Frye was a great believer in "myth," so his declaration isn't quite as cynical as it sounds.  So let me play the cynic, although as you might guess, like most cynics, I'm really just a slightly bruised idealist.


Educatio…