The Purpose of School
Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National School Boards Association. In Spring 2011 he was a Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and Mind Dump, and occasionally at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at scottmcleod.net.
I will not reduce public education to an economic institution.
It has become popular over the last few decades with the growth of the 21st
Century Initiative to talk as though school is primarily a preparation for work.
That idea is demeaning and dehumanizing.
When Thomas Jefferson envisioned universal education in America, he saw its
purpose as the equipping of leadership for the nation's meritocracy. That idea never
really worked because the best and the brightest have generally used their
education to pursue personal goals (often in the business world) instead of in
public service. In America, they have that right. But I point out Jefferson's
views to show that we seem to have come full circle - from education being about
producing good people who could service society to education being about a
student's personal preparation for work.
I've talked elsewhere
about the purpose of school. Our school system provides a huge number of
safeguards for society - starting with ensuring that all our kids have had the
polio vaccine and been inoculated against measles by the age of four or five.
Having lived in the Third World for a few years, I don't take that lightly.
The motto of my school is that we are a place committed to creating lifelong
learners. That's an elementary school motto. And when I look at the
pre-K kids standing in the bus line at the end of the day, I hope that as a
faculty we've managed to whet their intellectual appetites that day enough to
make them want more tomorrow.
I hope that when I contribute to a math class for third graders or discuss
figurative language and poetry with fifth graders that I find a way to peak
their curiosity, to help them enjoy learning, and to equip them with the tools
they will need later in life to make learning itself an enjoyable activity.
I'm concerned with the jobs my students get - especially with the jobs my
special education students get. But I'm more concerned with the sort of people
they become. And what of the minimalist approach that looks at children and
teenagers and thinks first (or only) about their place in society's economy? I
find it insulting to core. It makes me want to heckle public speakers and defend
the values I imbibed as a student of the liberal arts.
What place does the world of work have for Hemingway for the average
that thinks primarily about your future job?
I'll leave you with this thought: Education is not the filling of a pail, but
the lighting of a fire. The words belong to William Butler
Greg Cruey, Guest Blogger
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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