Calling All Educators (and librarians, designers, students, etc. as the case may be)!

Three Postman questions--extremely pertinent--for you to answer. 1. What specific cultural biases, if left unchecked, will leave our youth with incompetent intellects and distorted personalities? 2. To what extent is formal education competent to deal with such biases? 3. How may education oppose, both emphatically and constructively, such biases as the school can hope to address?


Blogger brad said...

I'd love to see how this ends up linking to the conversation about knowledge.

6/03/2004 11:09 AM  
Blogger brian carlson said...

1. Any cultural bias left unchecked is going to distort personalities.
2. Currently, It's not able to deal with these biases.
3. The best way is to stop using the schools as some sort of philosophical battlefield or testing ground. The schools(specifically public schools, private schools are another matter) job should only be about the conveyence(sp?) if facts, not the forwarding of anyone's political, social, or religious agenda.

6/03/2004 11:19 AM  
Blogger e said...

i have to bite on that one, brian:
1) give specific answers/examples
2) why not?
3) is there anything knowable that is unclouded by political, social, or religious biases? (e.g., even in mathematics, the concept of 'zero' was seen--and still is in some circles--as only being a spiritual/religious concept since you cannot measure/quantify nothing). if you sat a 12th century german scholastic with a 21st century american elementary school teacher and asked them to write a curriculum, would they be able to come up with something bias-free? assuming the language was not a barrier, wouldn't they still find each other clouded by bias that the other didn't recognize?

6/03/2004 3:28 PM  
Blogger brian carlson said...

This is hard to answer in a small space but I will give it a try. I am trying to examine this outside of the bounds of my own cultural biases so bear with me.
1. examples: I shall try to give one from both sides of the spectrum. If we let the Christian or religious cultural bias(for lack of a better term) run to its extreme end we run the risk of creating bigoted theocratical culture similiar to what we see in nations under Islamic or Shyria(sp?) law. Or we end up creating an environment like Spain under the Inquisition. We go to the other end of the spectrum, with a very liberal anything goes cultural bais. When this is pushed to the extreme we end up with a culture of decadence that will eventually collapse in on itself. This is the direction that I believe America it's Public schools are heading in.
2. Currently our formal education system is not able to deal with these biases, at least in the public system. The reasons for this are many, most large school districts are firmly controlled by the NEA ( national education association) the national teachers union. The NEA has stopped caring about students and is more interested in protecting incompentent teachers, and in getting involved in things like: elections, gay rights, and a host of other causes that have nothing to do with education. The public schools in their present form cannot stem the tide of cultural bias that is currently in vogue.
3. This is a hard question. I think the first thing that needs to be done is that teachers and thier union need to get back to teaching and away from political activism. I think that at this point we can agree that there is( with some obvious exceptions) a very large body of information in which all sides can agree upon as fact at least through the primary grades and most of high school. Most of the knowledge base in subjects like mathematics, basic science, basic history, government, reading etc. is incontravertable. When you get to the higher levels of education the "facts" become somewhat more convoluted.
I don't know if that clears anything up. But I gave it a shot.

6/04/2004 9:24 AM  
Blogger e said...

good answers! thanks for hitting that ball back. and, as far as i can tell right now, i think your answer about the NEA being too involved in political questions is right on. unfortunately, it seems when the family, the church, the government and other social organizations have dropped the ball in lots of ways, schools are expected to pick it up. so teachers have to be surrogate parents--teaching sex-ed, drivers-ed, how to balance a checkbook, bake a cake, work with a tablesaw, dribble a basketball--surrogate pastors--helping students work through essentially spiritual issues--and role models as well as coaches and educators. it's too much. and i'm afraid that if we don't figure out a way to allow schools to be schools again, we're going to lose a whole generation of kids.

but i disagree that there is "simple" or distinct history, science, or math, even at low levels. and unfortunately when you're dealing with the origins of the United States Constitution (as opposed to the Articles of Confederation), the origins of humankind, or the origins of life itself, you tread on non-scholastic, faith-based, political ground.

so do we just not teach this stuff?

6/04/2004 9:58 AM  
Blogger brian carlson said...

that's a tough question. Ideally it would be nice if there was a way to teach those things from the middle ground. ... of course I am not sure where that is. In lieu of that what do we do.... do we do what the Southern baptists are contimplating and pull out of the public schools altogher or do we try to get more involved in the schools at the risk of our children's futures. tough questions.... but good ones to hash out.

6/04/2004 12:09 PM  
Blogger e said...

except for charter schools or a partial homeschool, partial at-school, flee or fight seem to be the only two options if we want real reform. private and public schools have operated alongside of each other for years. hopefully we can give the public schools enough financial backing and drop some of the standardized testing enough to let them try to right themselves.

easier said than done, however.

6/07/2004 2:44 PM  

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