I don’t know who Don Gale is*, but as I read his commentary in the Tribune today (Let’s not reduce education to mere data transfer) I saw him echoing something that I have felt for years.
“The CEO of Yahoo ordered employees to come into the office rather than work from home via computers, not because they can't do their work at home but because they work more productively and more creatively when they interact with others in the hallways and at the company cafeteria.
All of us, beginning with state legislators, must realize that information transfer is not the only purpose of education. In fact, it is probably a secondary function. The primary purposes are social. We throw young people into classrooms so they might begin to sense from classmates and teachers the importance of education . . . so they might be exposed to different disciplines . . . so they might see the value of multiple viewpoints . . . so they might learn to appreciate those different from themselves.
The highlighted part is what I’ve been saying for years, the rest is there to keep it in context and because I liked the Yahoo story.
High School drop-outs are created long before high school. I’ve seen this many times in my middle school classes and thought that if we, as middle school teachers could just get them to see the importance of education, and maybe even encourage a desire in them to learn anything, they would be more likely to stay in school. A lot of times this is where all the extracurricular subjects and activities that are getting thrown by the wayside by the hyper-emphasis on the core subjects come into play. For a lot of students, these activities are what make them happy to come to school.
Even in the core subjects, the micromanaging and over-testing make it harder and harder for me to find the time to help students see the beauty in mathematics, to learn to like the challenge and satisfaction of figuring things out on their own.
* The Tribune describes him as “a long time fan of computers, books, education, newspapers and wisdom.”