Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category

Nostalgia…in education

Posted: July 21, 2015 in Ideas

Nostalgia is pervasive in all manners of existence.  It would be wonderful to think that each day time could be set aside to think, speculate…then write…revise, edit…create something worthy of other’s time.  But yet each day moves rapidly filled with obligations that in many ways were brought on by this same nostalgia.  For instance, it would be nice to know that each day, a small amount of time could be set aside to get involved in the pursuits of the mind.  Unfortunately, employment, parenting, and any other commitments that have been added on by societal morays and concepts take away that time.  So, like many others, I hope to get more involved with the pursuits of the mind.  As long as I can break away from the nostalgic view of the creative process – think, create, review, revise, recreate…repeat, I think I might be able to move forward.

Having spent the majority of the last 25 years in education, it should not surprising that I see that greatest affect of nostalgia is in the world of academia.  Centuries ago, education was accomplished many times through the storyteller / philosopher / elder / teacher explaining, in painstaking detail, via multiple examples a concept…this was not a dialogue – nor was it meant to be.  Sometime in the 20th century, that all changed.  Yes, with publishing becoming easier, and the relative number of “educated” people growing, the idea that more than a single teacher could discuss, with a modicum of intelligence, a certain concept…that idea continues to grow exponentially because of internet, smartphones and sound-bite like phrasing.  Today, many consider themselves experts – or at least well-versed enough on a topic, so that they could debate, discuss, or dictate with and /or to others.  So our “nostalgic” view of education is that of a round table discussion involving teach and student and progressing in such a way that the line between the two would hopefully get blurred.  That image is one more propagated by the Media than by Academia itself…for those in academia long for the days of the Socratic method / style of thought provoking questions inviting contemplation…not the current climate of questions of provocation which provoke a defensive reaction which inevitable stifles further contemplation.

The school calendar would be a primary example of our nostalgic view of education.  The school year, for instance, is an ode to nostalgia.  Built around an agricultural lifestyle, the school calendar insists on “summers-off” so that the children of farmers could help with the planting, cultivating and eventually the harvesting of crops.  There is no longer a reason for this. The argument against a shift in the school calendar originate from  the parents, as well as the vacation industry.  But where is the benefit to taking off two or more months from school?  Students of today struggle now as it is because of limited support as far as academic support is concerned.  Young people rarely embrace intellectual pursuits when grades are the consequential.  The extended break in the summer months only makes this worse.  Summer reading, reading contests and / or summer work does not accomplish what daily attendance to an academic institution could.  Many view this as a painful change…but as they say “change is good.