Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Today I spent some time conducting observations in a school. One of the students I noticed had significant reading challenges and appeared to be enormously frustrated with academics because of this. He appeared somewhat distractible and not engaged. The teacher came to me and stated that if 'he had meds he would do better." I saw this as an ignorant and self serving response. She was plainly not understanding how this child cannot read well and this is at the root of the problem and that the dilemma is not an issue of his brain but how SHE can reach him and provide him a REAL education. I explained the recent study that showed no academic improvement or improvement in pro-social skills with kids on stimulant drugs and shared some of my own research. The response was only a blank stare. New York State Teacher of the year and author of "Dumbing Us Down" John Taylor Gatto remarked, "Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity." And this is what I sadly saw, these children had no outlets to explore their curiosity. A token system exists to bribe them into conformity and to make them dependent and unable to develop skills for the real world for the real world does not operate this way. I noticed that there seemed to be as many adults in the room as children. It seems we are doing much schooling, but not educating. Education comes through creativity, exploration. Children who are truly being educated have a zeal for learning. One of the students stated to me, "I hate school, I wish the school would be blasted off by a rocket into space." I did not respond to this, but to some degree in my mind have to admit, I agree. This statement received the response of "well, we don't speak that way", but I am more curious to know this child is so unhappy with the school he is in. Did anyone of the school staff consider that? Probably not. It will remain status quo. And who benefits? Not the children. I share a few other qoutes from John Taylor Gatto:
"...‘How will they learn to read?’ you ask, and my answer is ‘Remember the lessons of Massachusetts.’ When children are given whole lives instead of age-graded ones in cellblocks, they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic with ease, if those things make sense in the kind of life that unfolds around them."
"It’s absurd and anti-life to be part of a system that compels you to sit in confinement with people of exactly the same age and social class. That system effectively cuts you off from the immense diversity of life and the synergy of variety; indeed it cuts you off from your own past and future, sealing you in a continuous present much the same way television does..."
I have argued for a more humane mental health system as well as for democratic education and an educational system that encoruages our spirited children rather than stifles them. Gatto describes clearly the education system we should all be striving for- "Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die."

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

1 comment:

Don Berg said...

Gatto has been a great resource for understanding the existing system. If you have not yet read his Underground History I highly recommend it.

Looks to me like you would probably appreciate the Attitude First approach to education that I write about on my site. Part of my approach to attitude has been to draw from research into optimal states of mind, happiness, and motivation to propose a definition of attitude that makes it a more basic, more elementary, if you will, educational goal than literacy. On my Elementary Education page you can read about it. If you have a chance I would love to know what you think.


Don Berg

Site: http://www.teach-kids-attitude-1st.com

Blog: blog.Attitutor.com