Link and Quotation: Louise Cowan on education

"...[J]ust as putting a Band-Aid on someone’s injured finger doesn’t make one a doctor, so giving direction in the normal skills and activities of daily living doesn’t make one a teacher. Schools have a unique purpose — the formation of citizens who are knowledgeable and wise enough to govern themselves.

And this is one of the things wrong with our educational philosophy. We’ve made teaching more like behavioral instruction (like the training of young animals) than the drawing out of noble aspects in rational and imaginative beings. We’ve neglected the elevating metaphors — those bundles of symbolic content revealing nobility that would otherwise remain hidden. We have become almost completely fact- and skill-centered, and our incessant testing is only one evidence of such reduction.

A teacher is not really needed for the mastery of facts and skills. To gain this sort of information something simply has to capture a student’s attention long enough for bits of data to sink in. A film, a cellphone, a game, an iPad — these are adequate vehicles for the acquisition of information and skills. And for almost a century now we have increasingly reduced education to this sort of robotic learning and are beginning, in all areas of our national life, to face the consequences. For facts are mere information, and skills are mere habits of behavior. Neither is necessarily related to principles and virtues needing to be instilled in our young if democracy is to survive. "

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