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Education and 'resourceless minds'

 
 
Reply Mon 20 Dec, 2010 09:48 pm
The quote below is from Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London. It describes the misery of a tramp's boredom.

Quote:
'But a man like Paddy, with no means of filling up time, is as miserable out of work as a dog on the chain. That is why it is such nonsense to pretend that those who have ‘come down in the world’ are to be pitied above all others. The man who really merits pity is the man who has been down from the start, and faces poverty with a blank, resourceless mind.'


It got me thinking about intelligence and how structures are forged in the mind which enable one to entertain themselves by thinking about things in different lights. Surely education cannot be the sole difference between a 'resourceless' and a 'resourceful' mind? I always thought the ability to think critically was something that people either have or don't have, and is nurtured by education, but I suppose we can never know the extent of how the mind is altered, in comparison to what it would have been without the formal education. Are there any studies done? I don't know what these studies would be exactly. I haven't thought about this in much depth (thus just throwing it out there).
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  3  
Reply Mon 20 Dec, 2010 10:02 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
Quote:
Surely education cannot be the sole difference between a 'resourceless' and a 'resourceful' mind?


Surely formal education is not.

Most of my education has taken place outside of a classroom.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Dec, 2010 10:30 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Quote:
Surely education cannot be the sole difference between a 'resourceless' and a 'resourceful' mind?


Surely formal education is not.

Most of my education has taken place outside of a classroom.
I agree Finn... A formal education is designed to limit ones perspective and imagination; in other words, to limit resources... It acts in the same fashion as a telescope, to limit ones field of vision even while magnifying what is in focus... What the author was refering to is The Man with the Hoe aspect of thought, free only in the sense of free of alternatives and opportunity...

It has been said that play is the work of childhood, but I say thought is the play of adulthood, and most of us have too much going on and going in and not enough going around in our thoughts... And I can help thinking, but the little education, such as I have from a few good books at least makes thought entertainment... And I needed it...

Most of my life I worked at a job that could be competely boring, and isolating; and I couldn't plug in, turn on, and tune out... And there the stuff I had read would circulate in my thoughts, and I would ask: Is that true; What Plato said, or Aristotle, or Nietzsche... I could not reach for the books I was reading... My tools were in my hands and I levered great thoughts against an uncertain reality...
dogdog
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Dec, 2010 09:58 am
@Fido,
I believe you would find Howard Gardner's "The Unschooled Mind" worth reading. Here's a review:

http://www.scottlondon.com/reviews/gardner.html
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Dec, 2010 08:54 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
The Pentacle Queen wrote:

The quote below is from Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London. It describes the misery of a tramp's boredom.

Quote:
'But a man like Paddy, with no means of filling up time, is as miserable out of work as a dog on the chain. That is why it is such nonsense to pretend that those who have ‘come down in the world’ are to be pitied above all others. The man who really merits pity is the man who has been down from the start, and faces poverty with a blank, resourceless mind.'


It got me thinking about intelligence and how structures are forged in the mind which enable one to entertain themselves by thinking about things in different lights. Surely education cannot be the sole difference between a 'resourceless' and a 'resourceful' mind? I always thought the ability to think critically was something that people either have or don't have, and is nurtured by education, but I suppose we can never know the extent of how the mind is altered, in comparison to what it would have been without the formal education. Are there any studies done? I don't know what these studies would be exactly. I haven't thought about this in much depth (thus just throwing it out there).
All thought/reasoning rests upon knowledge and is no better than the quality of knowledge owned beforehand... There are a lot of ways of getting educated short of a formal education, and I am living proof... We think of education as providing opportunity and do not realize education is opportunity... To those outside looking in, getting an education seems about as productive has having a party... It is a luxury to all appearances to those living hand to mouth having not an extra moment not held to account for survival... If it is at all possible, education is an investment people make with no certain return... If, on the other hand, you know your rent is due and your belly is starving, you already have all the knowledge you need...When your stomach is talking to you there is no room for lecture or sermon in your ears... What does it matter that the world would open up with possibilities through learning... You may as well offer the uneducated a handful of ones as an education because poverty so ties people to the moment that any future seems remote...
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Dec, 2010 09:26 pm
@dogdog,
dogdog wrote:

I believe you would find Howard Gardner's "The Unschooled Mind" worth reading. Here's a review:

http://www.scottlondon.com/reviews/gardner.html
Really??? He would have teachers come at education from all those angles??? First of all, I think he badly overestimates the abilities of teachers who are in no sense polysemous, and rather limited to teaching what they have easily learned.... Speaking from experience, those who could not teach me what seemed so obvious to them flailed about in exasperation and often connected with me in ways they never would have wished to...

It is not hard to get people to learn... First teach them what is obvious, which is to say, what they already know... Do not tell people there is money after an education... Pay people at every step of the way to get an education... Put some money in it... Instead of being nigardly with teachers; pay them according to the respect you would have them enjoy from their students...

You have little chance of convincing people that work is worthy without making it worth a living wage... If everyone a kid knows is working for nothing, he is learning not to work.... Consider the words of Caesar: When he had trouble recruiting soldiers, one of his general suggested a raise in pay... Caesar said: Double it... It takes a lot to capture the imagination of a Roman... No less does it take to capture the imagination of our youth... But; It is not educated people for the most part who are suffering a want of opportunity and who are living in prison... The educated can make, or find opportunity where the uneducated can dind nothing but misery...

It is a false economy to make education so prohibitively expensive in the hopes of making credit slaves of all who graduate... WE teach people they have no responsibility to society, and that they owe to no one but themselves for their education... Instead we should teach that much is given and much is expected from the citizens of this land... Education should be no more the path to slavery than is ignorance... The rewards should be tangible to entice people into the intangible rewards of knowledge, which should be so much more than simple freedom from want...What do you think
dogdog
 
  2  
Reply Wed 22 Dec, 2010 10:40 pm
@Fido,
I think there's a lot underlying what at first reading hits me as many random thoughts about education, but it is true that Gardner has been talking about the unschooled mind and multiple intelligences for 20 years and education seems to be moving away from his desired influence. Of course, high stakes testing wasn't much of an issue in the early 90's. Back then I applied Gardner to my practice as a high school teacher and it wasn't as complicated as it might seem. High stakes testing means all pegs must fit in the square holes. Gardner is simply saying that education should acknowledge that pegs come in different shapes, and the better we understand the shapes and adjust schooling to those differences the more learning will occur. It's not that not all children can learn, but rather that individuals learn differently from one another and we should capitalize appropriately on that fact.

And yes, education should not put people into debt, and quality educators should be paid well. It is interesting, also, that our sense of independence and liberty has led to a land where people seem to feel no responsibility to others, and this includes the multitudes who voluntarily pursue ignorance and dependence upon others. Given my chaotic childhood I am still baffled about my personal roots and how they led to a sense of duty when it comes to education and self-reliance. I give credit to my mom and a few great teachers (some of whom were books).
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Dec, 2010 10:57 pm
@dogdog,
dogdog wrote:

I think there's a lot underlying what at first reading hits me as many random thoughts about education, but it is true that Gardner has been talking about the unschooled mind and multiple intelligences for 20 years and education seems to be moving away from his desired influence. Of course, high stakes testing wasn't much of an issue in the early 90's. Back then I applied Gardner to my practice as a high school teacher and it wasn't as complicated as it might seem. High stakes testing means all pegs must fit in the square holes. Gardner is simply saying that education should acknowledge that pegs come in different shapes, and the better we understand the shapes and adjust schooling to those differences the more learning will occur. It's not that not all children can learn, but rather that individuals learn differently from one another and we should capitalize appropriately on that fact.

And yes, education should not put people into debt, and quality educators should be paid well. It is interesting, also, that our sense of independence and liberty has led to a land where people seem to feel no responsibility to others, and this includes the multitudes who voluntarily pursue ignorance and dependence upon others. Given my chaotic childhood I am still baffled about my personal roots and how they led to a sense of duty when it comes to education and self-reliance. I give credit to my mom and a few great teachers (some of whom were books).

You forget that the notion of efficiency and economy permeate the whole of society...Almost everyone with the desire can learn something.... The money is on the most people educated for the least cost; but that economy is false since so many intelligent people fall by the wayside to become thorns in the side of society... Most criminals we may presume are flat assed stupid... We don't know that we only catch the persistently stupid, or the usually unlucky...

Law is far more expensive than education, and education is only as expensive as it is because we do not pay the students to learn... If they approached it as a job, with incentives, the teachers would have to get out of the way.... Tell the kids: Come in, learn the lesson, take the test, get the money for the score and take the rest of the day off -and don't forget to to turn out the lights... Suddenly the teacher would just be another resource... No one on this earth with the least little experience tries to catch a fish on a bare hook; and yet that is what we do with kids and education.... Put some bait on it for christ sake...
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Thu 23 Dec, 2010 07:30 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
Finn nailed it.

I read the other day that Benjamin Franklin went to school for only two years, between the ages of 8 and 10. I can't think of many minds more resourceful than his.
boomerang
 
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Reply Thu 23 Dec, 2010 07:42 am
@dogdog,
Thanks for that link. I'd like to read that book.

It reminds me very much of Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk:

0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Dec, 2010 08:18 am
@boomerang,
I am very Autodidactic, and I have read a bunch of the bunch of books I own... To me, the informal education has certain advantages, but the idea of a liberal education is a good one simply because I will never know what I don't know until some one points it out to me...I have been trying to stuff books in all the holes in my knowledge for years... At this point, a liberal education would be an impediment to my education...

Some times, and for most folks, a guide is essential...If you want to learn about a certain subject: Learn all sides at once in a classroom from some one who really knows most of the subject... I don't owe anything for the education I have, but it is not worth much either... It has taken me a lifetime to get and I am still working on it, and I can't exchange it for money... So it is purely an aesthetic pleasure, the pleasure of feeling I know what is going on...
dogdog
 
  2  
Reply Thu 23 Dec, 2010 10:21 am
@Fido,
A guide is essential for children, especially, but I have found that as an adult my education has been mostly about paying for credit, and those credits were necessary to satisfy the state in order to obtain licenses to earn a living in my chosen field. I have learned precious little in grad school that I could not have learned by reading books on my own. In fact, my independent reading has proven more valuable. Grad school introduced me to key writers and thinkers, but the classes served more as a springboard than an end in themselves.

And yes, schools kill creativity for many. NCLB has made this worse for all but those in the middle of the pack. The gifted tend to be bored with curriculum designed to help them master basic skills they already know, and struggling students are forced to take extra "intervention" classes to push them to proficiency in reading and math, thus denying them electives wherein they would likely discover their nonacademic talents and thrive.

No Child Left Behind has been dubbed No Child Left Ahead by the gifted/talented crowd while pre-vocational programs for those who would truly benefit from them have all but disappeared.

I, for one, am thankful I had the opportunity to take wood and metal shop classes in junior high. These have proven invaluable as a homeowner, especially because I rarely saw my father and when I did he sure wasn't wearing a tool belt.

Now, since schools are fast-tracking some to prison while serving as mind-numbing justification for drug abuse for others, the question remains, what to do? Gardner was on the right track, I think, but systemic change must and will and is happening whether we like it or not. I'm skeptical of the current trends because too many of the reforms are grounded in the factory model that has dominated education for over 100 years. Standards, though logical on the surface, are exacerbating the problem by making schools more like basic skills assembly lines. We need education for the 21st, not the 19th, century.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
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Reply Thu 23 Dec, 2010 10:26 am
@Fido,
Books and classrooms are two of my very favorite things but they're no substitute for curiosity when it comes to learning.
Fido
 
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Reply Thu 23 Dec, 2010 06:39 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

Books and classrooms are two of my very favorite things but they're no substitute for curiosity when it comes to learning.

Curiosity and creativity go together in my book, but it was purely painful to watch people trying to teach creativity to middle school students... After you spend years saying there is only one correct answer, what is the point of torturing kids over creativity... For the truely creative mind there is no impediment... For the uncreative, the barriors that challenge the creative are effective limits that guide thought to a predetermined conclusion... Is any amount of torture justified for such people??? They cannot change... No one should expect them to...
0 Replies
 
 

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