Teaching Smart vs. not LO13648

C. Suzanne Deakins (sdeakins@teleport.com)
Fri, 16 May 1997 11:11:55 -0700 (PDT)

Replying to LO13623 --

Dear Ian,

Unfortunately saying that those exiting school don't have the basic skills
is the same "sayings" that have been used for over 100 years ago in both
UK and US, by each preceding generation. The truth is that our young
people have the equivalent of a BA or B.S. by the time they leave
secondary school (high school in the US) compared to just 25 years ago.
And they approach a graduate level compared to 50 years ago. They know
more, do more with their knowledge than ever before.

Children do get the basics in most schools in the US (basics being
reading, writing and arithmetic). The big question is are we preparing
them with thinking skills? Do they know how to think, not just what to
think? Yes spelling and grammar are important in the process of
communication, but if we teach them how to think about communication,
won't this lead to better spellers and more accurate use of grammar? Or at
least students who are interested in finding out if a word is spelled
correctly? On the other hand the quest for stabilizing the English
Language has been going on for two and half centuries and spelling
correctly is one of the those methods used to try to accomplish this.
There has been an on going struggle for many years between those who see
language as an indicator of changing cultural and consciousness in a
society and those who feel that communication requires stabilization. (As
a side note: Grammar (written) as taught in many schools is about 200
years old than in its spoken application. This makes it very difficult
for a child to grasp the language, when in their head they often hear it
spoken differently)

Math is important basically so they may use a calculator, computer etc.
And of course sequencing (counting) is extremely important in our
society...we start training our children at the age of 2 years, that one
is followed by two is followed by three. From an ontological point of
view, sequencing behavior is a key note for a well integrated society.

Technology is a means to an end, not the end product. Children need to
spend as much time as possible playing and developing their emerging
consciousness as children (..prolonged childhood, see Rudolf Steiner's
concepts of education). 5 years ago we were afraid that if a child did
not know how to work a computer, they could not survive. Now we have
programs so user friendly (thanks to Apple and Gates for look alike icons)
that 90 year old grannies are sending email and writing letters on word
processing as well as sharpening their gambling skills.

As a mother of six children and an educator, my goal for my children, is
not to have them be knowledgeable by memory, but rather be able to
approach many new challenges, think them through and be able, via thought
process, to acquire the needed attributes in order to gain an new skill.
How can we possible teach our children every attribute and skill they will
need to survive in tomorrow's world? 90% of the challenges we face were
not challenges 60 years ago, they weren't even a twinkling in the

The challenge with today's work force, is not stupid or lazy people, not
poorly educated people, but people who have not been taught to think for
today's world, who have not been taught to view work as play and important
part of their identity. Those emerging into the workforce, lack
confidence, understanding of the importance of communication, and an
understanding of themselves as being ontological in nature. Their (our)
lives are splintered into a 100 different directions and opportunities,
with no common denominator. Only understanding ourselves from a "common
perspective" an ontological point of view, can produce the healthy
integrated ego system needed to live a fulfilling and sane life. The leap
into sanity for our society will take more than good knowledge of spelling
and math.

Suzanne Deakins, Ph.D.


"C. Suzanne Deakins" <sdeakins@teleport.com>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>