Sunday, February 10, 2008

More Zen education

Another quote from Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. This one just reinforces the old John Stuart Mill line about teaching them to enquire not to mimic, but with a government as childishly intransigent on educational theory as this one, triangulation of a point may be the only way to get through to them:
Schools teach you to imitate. If you don't imitate what the teacher wants you get a bad grade. Here, in college, it was more sophisticated, of course; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you As. Originality on the other hand could get you anything - from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it.

It's the last line that is so compelling, and so disturbing. Not only does the system stifle innovation, it punishes it. And this was written in America in the 70s. In Britiain in the 00s, with our demented testing regime and almost Maoist overworking of young children, the situation gets bleaker.

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