Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Education Week"

Occasionally I will read something in "Education Week" that strikes a harmonic cord with me philosophically. This week (August 26, 2009) Daniel Wolff made some comments and included some quotes that quickened the spirit of education for me in his article "The President's Laugh Line." While addressing the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce the President suggested that we "rethink the school day to incorporate more time." Wolff goes on to quote or summarize comments by Franklin, Lincoln, Ford, and Kennedy to redirect the conversation from "longer school days" to "better use of schools." Wolff writes:
Ben Franklin, writing as Poor Richard, declared: 'A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.' His Autobiography basically argued that he had become a great American, scientist, and political thinker by spending less time in school, not more.

Abraham Lincoln read Franklin, and when he ran for office made sure to portray himself as a largely uneducated backwoodsman. Henry Ford believed too much schooling could ruin a mind. And John F. Kennedy, for all his presidential rhetoric about the importance of education, thought his time in prep schools and then Harvard mostly silly: The socializing was fun, the learning of little to no consequence."
Wolff then comments what would be lost if our students were forced to spend longer days in school: time with parents working two jobs, responsibility and money from after school jobs, time spent supervising siblings, relaxation, time to do homework. I could add many things more that would be lost with a longer school day. I would suggest reducing the things we try to cram into a school day before we make the school day longer. But, that was not the point of this article.

Wolff ends with suggesting a more flexible, alternative solution. A school building, he says, is a major community resource with computers, cafeterias, libraries and sport facilities. "Why not institute a program that transforms our public schools into community centers?" They could be a place for students to do their evening research and homework. I would ask, why are school libraries and school computer labs shut down after school? Why aren't night classes added to assist students who need more help. I say we should reduce the socialistic load placed on schools during the day, restore the vision of education and, instead of lengthening the school day, simply extend the hours the school is opened and equip with man power to teach and assist in the learning process. Men like Franklin, Ford, Lincoln and Kennedy realized that school does not have a monopoly on education. If schools continue to think they have a monopoly on education and that they control the educational process they will continue to deteriorate as an educational institution.

Mr. Wiemers

1 comment:

ziwolff said...

Hey thanks.

Daniel Wolff