It is halfway through mid-morning science class and there is still only one seat occupied – that of the teacher, David Riebold. “It’s my first no-show in a while,” Riebold says wistfully, looking at the test tubes he has laid out. “Ah well, there’s always lesson preparation to do.”Skipping class is no big deal at Summerhill, Britain’s most progressive school, where pupils set the rules and can miss lessons to play or pursue their own interests. Today Riebold’s class of 12- and 13-year-olds may well be out celebrating, if they’ve heard the news. For after a long battle with the government that has included threats to close the Suffolk independent boarding school, Ofsted has delivered its first endorsement in Summerhill’s 86-year history.
[technologies] have nothing whatever to do with the fundamental problems we have to solve in schooling our young. If I do harbor any hostility toward these machines, it is only because they are distractions. They divert the intelligence and energy of talented people from addressing the issues we need most to confront.
I agree the main problems we should all face in education are with its fundamental aims and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get to distracted by technology that doesn’t really allow us to do anything we couldn’t do before. I’d really like to hear peoples opinions on this so please comment.
TECHNOS QUARTERLY Winter 1993 Vol. 2 No. 4
Of Luddites, Learning, and Life
By Neil Postman
“I would bar educators from talking about technical improvements until they have disclosed their reasons for offering an education in the first place.” So wrote Neil Postman in his cautionary tale, “Deus Machina,” in the Winter 1992 issue of TECHNOS. Here he takes his challenge one step further, to those who say that new technologies will soon make schools extinct. They have it all wrong, Postman says, because they don’t understand the real purpose of schools.
This episode focuses on Susan Polgar, the first female chess grandmaster, whose incredible story suggests that genius does not always have to be innate, but can be taught.
Susan’s remarkable abilities have earned her the label of ‘genius’, but her psychologist father, László Polgar, believed that genius was “not born, but made”. Noting that even Mozart received tutelage from his father at a very early age, Polgar set about teaching chess to the five-year-old Susan after she happened upon a chess set in their home. “My father believed that the potential of children was not used optimally,” says Susan. (1)
“Schools, he says, are irremediably broken. Built to supply a mass-production economy with a docile workforce, they ask too little of children, and thereby drain youngsters of curiosity and autonomy.
…..the truth is that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us.
…[in education] We need to start from the cold-blooded premise that almost everyone is a genius — not that almost everyone is worthless.” John Taylor Gatto