One of the great things about extended breaks is the opportunity to catch up on some of the reading materials piling up on the shelf.
Among those was the book What is Your Dangerous Idea?, a collection of short essays answering that question, written by a wide variety of “today’s leading thinkers”.
While many relate to teaching and learning, the only one that directly addresses public education is by Roger Schank, one of my favorite curmudgeons on the subject.
My dangerous idea is one that most people immediately reject without giving it serious thought: School is bad for kids. It makes them unhappy and, as tests show, they don’t learn much.
Schools are structured today in much the same way as they have been for hundreds of years. And for hundreds of years, philosophers and others have pointed out that school is a really bad idea.
Schools should simply cease to exist as we know them. The government needs to get out of the education business and stop thinking that it knows what children should know and then testing them constantly to see if they regurgitate whatever they have just been spoonfed.
Schools should be replaced by safe places where children can go to learn how to do things they are interested in learning how to do. Their interests should guide their learning.
There’s more to Schank’s essay but that should give you the fundamentals of his argument.
I find myself wanting to challenge his idea – while agreeing with much of it.