22 Apr

Educational provocations

Category: Sound Thinking
By: Ken Myers
Published: 04/22/21

Steve Talbott on establishing ends for education before selecting means

“I have, in the following collection of short statements, attempted to gather some thoughts that could usefully stimulate discussion among school board members, parents, and teachers, as well as students in the upper grades. I certainly cannot claim whole, or even part, ownership for many of these statements. I have sifted the underlying truths from my own experience, from conversations with friends and colleagues, and from the educational literature. . . .

• Lack of information has not been the bottleneck in education for decades, or even centuries. Rather, the task for the teacher is to take the infinitesimal slice of available information that can actually be used in the classroom and find some way to bring students into living connection with it.

• The single thing children suffer from most in today’s society is the lack of close relationships with caring adult mentors. . . .

• The quality of kids’ play is correlated with their later cognitive, aesthetic, and social skills. There is, on the other hand, no demonstrated positive connection between these skills and early computer use — and there may be a pronounced negative connection. . . .

• Elementary schools should not be vocational training centers.

• The task of schools is to encourage the development of children who can decide what sorts of job are worth having in the coming century, not to train children to fit whatever jobs the system happens to crank out.”

— from Steve Talbott, Devices of the Soul: Battling for Our Selves in an Age of Machines (O’Reilly, 2007). Steve Talbott talked about this book on Volume 88 of the Journal.