7,000 kids a day drop out of school in the US. Of those remaining, an alarming number are put on medication or sent to special ed and labelled ADD, ADHD, learning disabled or behaviorally/emotionally disordered. Special ed has been called a pipeline to prison.
Our conventional curriculum focus does not serve or meet the needs and potentialities of far too many millions of children. Some sobering statistics
Our brain has two hemispheres; the left specializes in math, science and verbal skills (and technical/engineering mechanical/ linear processes. It is focused on the external world, logistics, and physical parts and processes. The right hemisphere specializes in intuition, imagination, transcendent thinking and big picture interconnectedness. Education is focused on left-brain capacities. College entrance exams test for math, science and verbal skills. Other curriculum has been systemically squeezed out.
Our human brain also includes the mammalian/emotional/mid-brain (as well as the reptilian brain), and that, too along with the right hemisphere, has been ignored. What happens with poorly developed emotional brains and right hemispheres? The frontal lobe as well has been turned over to mechanistic “executive functions.” Look around. Read the news. Check out the Walgreens or CVS pharmacy counters. Hang out in a public school.
Our current system of education is not developing the full human capacities of our youth, but instead developing children as economic integers dominated by a materialist outlook. What else do we expect from a materialist paradigm? Lonliness and alienation are epidemic? That’s what you get with a parts and pieces, separation/categorizing paradigm. With anxiety, alienation, depression, “mental illness”, and suicide skyrocketing, when do people stand back and say, ‘Hey, maybe it’s time to seriously re-examine even our most cherished operating assumptions’?
“When we strip away a focus on developing the humanity of our children, we are left with programmed mechanistic strategies designed to achieve the programmed goal of raising text scores. Nowhere is the result more glaring than in urban classrooms serving low-income children of color, where low test scores meet programmed, scripted teaching. The reductionism spawned has created settings in which teachers and students are treated as non-thinking [for themselves] objects to be manipulated and “managed”. Lisa Delpit – education executive and author, Other People’s Children
“Our academic system is designed to reward extreme left-hemisphere gifts and behavior. If you look at our level of aggression in society, it tells us what is going on in the left hemisphere. It gets stressed out; it is on a timetable, so it’s always urgent and always late and behind, and this results in a snappish attitude and behavior. To the left hemisphere, everything is either right or wrong; It is all about hierarchy, so I know where I sit on that ladder—what’s above me and what’s below me—and I have to behave accordingly to fit into my little box. Okay, that’s one way of being. But how happy are these people?” – Harvard neuroanatomist, Jill Bolte Taylor (who suffered a stroke that shut down her left hemisphere for 8 years)
“There continue to be dedicated, thoughtful, committed teachers, but the narrow focus has driven them to despair as more and more meaningless, mechanistic goals are mandated.” Lisa Delpit
“In the traditional method of education, in which the things considered worth knowing are handed down from teacher to pupil as disembodied information, knowledge is cut off from the activity in which it has its meaning, and becomes a false abstraction.” Louis Menand
“Acquiring literacy does not involve memorizing sentences, words or syllables – lifeless objects unconnected to an existential universe – but rather an attitude of creation and re-creation, a self-transformation producing a stance of intervention in one’s context.” Paulo Friere