Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dumbing Us Down - The Encore

After reading through and thinking about Oliver DeMille's questions and listening to the debriefing recording, I find I have a few more things to write about Dumbing Us Down.  Since you seemed to enjoy my other rambles about the book, I thought I'd put these here too as my encore.

DeMille cited the following quote from Gatto:  “School is a 12-year jail sentence where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.” and asked our thoughts.

I think high school especially felt like a jail.  I knew how to work the system and get good grades without learning anything.  I could have (and in some cases did) learned more studying on my own than in the classroom.  I counted down the days until I could get out and move on to college where I hoped to actually learn something.  When I got my college acceptance letter in December, I just phoned it in through the end of the school year.

I learned how to skim through things.  How to memorize what would be on the test.  How to parrot back what the teacher wanted to hear.  All bad habits.

I did not learn to think for myself.  I did not learn to read and comprehend.  I did not learn to study for the joy of studying, rather than to pass the test.  I did not learn to pay attention in lectures.  I had to learn those good habits later in life and am still struggling to learn them now.

DeMille also asked about comments on this quote:   “It is possible that compelling people to do something guarantees that they will do it poorly, with a bad will, or indifferently…”?

I totally agree with Gatto on that one!  Making someone do something, especially when they don't know the reason behind it or see any value in it, won't lead to good results.  It will be done half-heartedly at best.  We see this at work all the time.  Assignments are done so poorly they have to be completely redone.  What a waste of time. 

How many books were you required to read in high school that you didn't want to read?  Did you remember anything from them?  I sure don't, except that I hated them and maybe that the teacher was stupid!  What a waste of time.

During the debrief there was a discussion on how the American family has lost their intellectual life.  People hardly ever think together.  They live together, eat together, etc.  We don't learn together or think together.  Even in our homeschool environment, we don't do enough of this.  Once in a while we have discussions with a book we're reading, but the three of us rarely read the same book: combinations of 2 of us do.  The only thing the three of us tend to discuss in depth are various Food Network competition series (Next Iron Chef, Rachel versus Guy, etc.)  Perhaps that should change.

Another idea that stuck with me:  You don't need to worry about what works or doesn't work for anyone else's family, only yours.  Their education isn't your problem.

Exactly!  And I wish others who chose a different path for their children would also know that.  I don't have to defend my decision to homeschool to anyone else.  And I don't care that you choose to send your kids to public schools.  It isn't my business.  I have never liked being the poster child for homeschooling.  I don't want to recruit anyone.  I don't want to spend hours while someone agonizes over the decision or not.  I suppose I should want to, but I don't.  They need to decide for themselves.  They need to answer for their decision, not me. 

And finally, DeMille threw out the question of what the "hidden curriculum" is in the subtitle of the book.  I don't really agree with the panel in the recording.  I think the hidden curriculum just refers to what actually goes on in schools.  People don't want to believe it, or don't see it.  They are so brainwashed to into believe that teachers know best, we don't know anything, and we can't possibly do it better.  The hidden curriculum is the power that the schools have over those who don't think for themselves.

Great book!  Great mentoring series, check it out if you think you are interested:  mentoring the classics.  The introductory price is available through the end of January only.

Next month:  Gifts from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  I plan to post my thoughts here on that one too.


retha said...

True, true and true again.
Janet I like what you said:
1." I don't have to defend my decision to homeschool to anyone else. And I don't care that you choose to send your kids to public schools. It isn't my business"

2."They are so brainwashed to into believe that teachers know best, we don't know anything, and we can't possibly do it better."
A great part of my irks with the system we thought we had no choice in. Although I still do not know how our choice is going to end.

retha said...

ps: do you know this place?