School of Shock

September 3, 2007

The Rotenberg Center is the only facility in the country [US] that disciplines students by shocking them, a form of punishment not inflicted on serial killers or child molesters or any of the 2.2 million inmates now incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons. Over its 36-year history, six children have died in its care, prompting numerous lawsuits and government investigations. Last year, New York state investigators filed a blistering report that made the place sound like a high school version of Abu Ghraib. Yet the program continues to thrive—in large part because no one except desperate parents, and a few state legislators, seems to care about what happens to the hundreds of kids who pass through its gates.

Full Article


Chomsky Quotes on Education

August 21, 2007

Some Chomsky quotes on education (from wikiquote).

  • “Most problems of teaching are not problems of growth but helping cultivate growth. As far as I know, and this is only from personal experience in teaching, I think about ninety percent of the problem in teaching, or maybe ninety-eight percent, is just to help the students get interested. Or what it usually amounts to is to not prevent them from being interested. Typically they come in interested, and the process of education is a way of driving that defect out of their minds. But if children[‘s] […] normal interest is maintained or even aroused, they can do all kinds of things in ways we don’t understand.”
    • Source: Conference titled “Creation & Culture” in Barcelona, Spain, November 25, 1992

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Kohn puts Supernanny in the Naughty Corner

August 14, 2007

I really admire Alfie Kohns work and advise everyone to take a look at “What does it mean to be well educated.”

In the following article he describes the parenting mistakes made in the television show supernanny which is teaching thousands of parents across the world how to raise children (I know its been screeened in the UK, US andBrazil).  For more of his work online see his website.

One of his arguments I found especially interesting was the fact that supernanny never considers wider issues.  In a recent UN survey the UK was found to be one of the worst places to raise children and I think Chomsky does a good job of describing why that is –

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Education And Discipline, Bertrand Russell

July 20, 2007

Bertrand Russell is one of my favourite educators and I was hoping to find a public domain version of his book “On Education” which I love.  Unable to find the book I did discover this article which I think is worth reading as an introduction to his educational philosophy.

Education And Discipline

Any serious educational theory must consist of two parts: a conception of the ends of life, and a science of psychological dynamics, i.e. of the laws of mental change. Two men who differ as to the ends of life cannot hope to agree about education. The educational machine, throughout Western civilization, is dominated by two ethical theories: that of Christianity, and that of nationalism. These two, when taken seriously, are incompatible, as is becoming evident in Germany. For my part, I hold that, where they differ, Christianity is preferable, but where they agree, both are mistaken. The conception which I should substitute as the purpose of education is civilization, a term which, as I mean it, has a definition which is partly individual, partly social. It consists, in the individual, of both intellectual and moral qualities: intellectually, a certain minimum of general knowledge, technical skill in one’s own profession, and a habit of forming opinions on evidence; morally, of impartiality, kindliness, and a modicum of self-control. I should add a quality which is neither moral nor intellectual, but perhaps physiological: zest and joy of life. In communities, civilization demands respect for law, justice as between man and man, purposes not involving permanent injury to any section of the human race, and intelligent adaptation of means to ends. If these are to be the purpose of education, it is a question for the science of psychology to consider what can be done towards realizing them, and, in particular, what degree of freedom is likely to prove most effective.
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