23 December 2009

Yound minds will learn -- unless they are stopped

Maria Montessori wrote this in 1949:
If the spirit of an undergraduate reacts to social injustice, or to political questions concerning deeply felt truths, the order of authority goes out that young people must avoid politics and concentrate on their studies. What happens then is that young people leave the university with their minds so shackled and sacrificed that they have lost all power of individuation and can no longer judge the problems of the age in which they live. (p. 11)
Who trusts the design of a factory to a young engineer, or engages a lawyer only just allowed to practice? And how do we explain this lack of confidence? The reason is that these young men have spent years in listening to words, and listening does not make a man. Only practical work and experience lead the young to maturity. (p. 22)
from The Absorbent Mind (1958 English translation of 1949 Italian edition; Dell Publishing, New York)


Josh said...

Also very nice, and why I'm in favor of some huge high-school-age ed. overhauls.

My first would be to require ALL students to try at least one AP course, and ALL students to take at least one shop course.

Also, all students must do apprenticeships in a number of fields.

Last, a note: The specialization inherent in our market system does not fit horribly well with humans. Don't get me wrong, we are very good at specializing, if by "good" we mean that we are more efficient in the things we make. However, humans need to be generalists, in general, and the downward wage pressures, when people are treated like just another input, gobble up the time and effort people need in order to be people rather than inputs. That was the beauty and purpose of a liberal education in the nineteenth century, and why it went public. I am not enamored, at all, by the overspecialization at the high school level right when we are in the midst of an education revolution, just because it got hard. That's not to say I favor the status quo, either.

David Zetland said...

@Josh agree on broad education, and you're echoing Small is Beautiful :)

DS said...

awesome. because every thinking mind eventually comes to the question of fairness in the world and critical thinking involves trying to think of BETTER ways and FAIRER ways of doing things.