Over Thanksgiving weekend, my college-student daughter started singing. She knew, and claimed that her friends knew, hundreds of songs. My father, a pediatrician, asked what he thought was a rhetorical question, “Why do kids know the words to every song but they can’t memorize something for a test that will get them a higher grade?”
This is, actually, a real question.
Also on Huffington Post
President Barack Hussein Obama was re-elected in a landslide.
We progressives who donated time and money to ensure that this happened have a right to be pleased.
But now it is time for loyal critics to speak up. And one area that must be attended to is education—at all levels. That unmentionable education radical Bill Ayers—someone Obama once knew but had to repudiate—wrote a letter to Arne Duncan explaining clearly what is wrong with the current system, but it does not quite go far enough.
Our world is built largely on consistent "conceptual metaphors" that order our way of thinking. If education is war survival by any means necessary makes perfect sense. Anyone with the money to purchase a paper would do so.
Observe how kids learn to throw balls, or to jump rope, or to play chords on the guitar, or to speak a new language if they move to a new place.
All of it happens with others, in activities that involve what we could call the social mind-body.
And compare that to school.
I invite you to join me in an enterprise I’m calling a Critical Anthropology of Education. This approach to education—helping young folks grow into the kinds of people we and they want—is fully anthropological in every sense. This field is, for each of you, optional. It is not on the test.
Except that for our society as a whole, it is mandatory. And the test is all around us. We aren’t doing too well.