Monday, September 19, 2011

Yet Another Prod for Education Reform: Even Many Great People Shunned School

I've just listened to the CD-course, "The World's 100 Greatest People."

Many of them had little education, did poorly in school, and/or hated it:
  • George Washington "was poorly educated and neither spoke nor wrote particularly well."
  • "Although Lincoln went to school, he was mostly self-educated."
  • "In his early life, Churchill was a failure both academically and socially. He did though thrive in military school."
  • Rousseau "had no education."
  • Adam Smith found Oxford "uninspired and worthless" and dropped out.
  • Thomas Edison spent just three months, total, in school.
  • Henry Ford's education "consisted of eight years in a one-room school house and his grades were mediocre at best."
  • Neither of the Wright Brothers finished high school.
  • Charles Darwin, "who was not particularly successful in school, received his education on a five-year scientific voyage as a naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle."
  • Louis Pasteur "was a poor student early in his life."
  • Oliver Cromwell attended only one year of college.
  • St. Augustine "skipped school and told lies, and got into assorted scrapes."
  • Albert Einstein "did not perform well in school."
And HERE is a list containing more recent luminaries who shunned school. And my conversations with people, successful and not, indicate that the long-standing dislike of school indeed remains alive and well.

This raises questions:

Why should schools be such that even world-class people hate it? Why should we not replace our arcana-larded curriculum with material students really need and want to know? Why should we not hire the most fascinating teachers, not only those willing to withstand the soporific, feeble-theory-based two-year training program taught by out-of-touch professors rather than master teachers? Requiring aspiring teachers to complete such a program no doubt screens out many would-be fascinating teachers.

Why should we, as we now so-often do, place students in classes at random, which means the slow are intimidated by the bright and the bright are stultified, forced to listen to the teacher's third explanation of a concept the bright student knew before the teacher even taught it?

Employers use education as a key tool for screening job applicants. Should that be given less weight? After all, we all know many people who were good in school and bad in life and vice-versa.


Anonymous said...

One reason why employers rely so much on education as a screening tool and why so many jobs require a degree is because of the Griggs v. Duke Power Supreme Court decision, which ruled that IQ tests in hiring are discriminatory. So, employers relied on a college degree (or lack thereof) as a rough proxy for IQ.

Another reason is that it keeps many people without the relevant degree from applying, and thus the level of applicants at a manageable level.

Marty Nemko said...

There is a person who sent a comment on this post to me for moderation. I believe he is the same person who frequently embeds a legitimate question with ad hominem and simply incorrect personal attacks so I do not post his comments. If s/he would submit posts that confine themselves to the substance of the post, I'll be pleased to respond.


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