Thursday, January 2, 2014

How we educate. . .

The word educate— from the Latin educere, means “to lead out.”  Increasingly, the methods used in much of the educational process of secular and religious schools as well as in the church, do just the opposite.  They isolate us and focus upon the internal instead of the external.  Popular technology, despite its claim to interact and connect, breeds exactly this kind of isolation (virtual friendships, anonymity, and less than truthful conversation and identity are the fruit of much of the technology and the way we use it).  We are surely not failing in the educational process because we have too little technology.  Could it not be the result of too much or too much unregulated technology?  Could not some of the issues of ADD or ADHD as well as other behavior issues be the result of a classroom which has become chaotic due to the unrestrained use of technology?

With so much to see (and education concentrating upon the visual image), the person actually sees less -- that is, what registers in the mind is less because the images are too many and pass too quickly before the eye to give the mind time to decide what is important and what is not).  This actually encourages a rather passive reaction to what is seen and heard.

T. S. Eliot asked, “Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”  His point is that we live with an abundance of information but we are not sure what to do with it, how to sort it out, and wherein lies the essential knowledge and the wisdom that makes such information useful.

C. S. Lewis said, "For wise men of old, the cardinal problem of human life was how to conform the soul to objective reality, and the solution was wisdom, self-discipline, and virtue. For the modern, the cardinal problem is how to conform reality to the wishes of man, and the solution is a technique.”  The older path of education sought how one might adjust to the reality that was there while the modern path adjusts that reality to suit the individual.  We have come, it seems, to the point where we adjust reality like we do the preferences on our smart phones, tablets, and computers in order to make what is outside of us fit what is inside of us.  In such a world, there is no real truth, nothing that is objectively true or real, and nothing concrete.  Facts have less impact than feelings and are useful only if we deem them appealing to us.

Our minds have become deadened to what we see and to the information around us.  Thrill has replaced every criteria of reality.  The video games of today succeed because they offer a new experience every time and not because they offer the same experience.  Pornography is appealing not because it is predictable but because the sheer abundance of it offers the prospect of something new and different each time it is viewed.  Therefore the mind has become trained to search for that which is new instead of that which is true.  We have followed the lead of our technology to surrender truth, morality, and beneficence to impulse -- an impulse unregulated, unrestrained, and unhindered.

Without TV to dominate our thinking, we made up stories, we played games together, and we found inspiration for what we did in the books we read.  Without all the music available on the I-pod or its lookalikes, we learned to play instruments and sing.   Without all the images to download, we learned to draw and paint and sculpt what was in our minds.  Without all the visual information, we learned to read and to unpack what we read to discern what was worthy and useful.  Without the virtual friendships of social media, we learned to interact, the art of conversation, we joined in real groups of shared interests or skills (not Google groups), and we met together instead of the controlled interaction of a screen and keyboard.

Modern day education should not incorporate all our technology into the classroom but would better serve the cause of education by creating technology free zones.  Think how much teacher time might be freed up if the classroom was not a slave to video or other technology?  The modern day home should find time to surrender technology so that the family can be together, interact face to face, and re-learn the social skills that once were our glory.  The Church does not need to compete with TV, social media, or the internet.  In fact, one of the worst things we can do in catechesis or worship is to emulate the technologies that work against community.  We must not further isolate people by adopting the very methodologies that have become our stumbling blocks to real relationships and honest friendship.

I know that it seems radical and some may call me a Luddite but the technology that is our genius can easily become our undoing.  This is as true for the Church as it is for the classroom and home.  The real champion of technology is the self-discipline to know when it is enough, when to put it down, and what its limits are.  Without such self-control, we will become the victims of what we can do instead of the masters of it all.

5 comments:

Marilee said...

"...that which is new instead of that which is true." That's it in a nutshell!

Anonymous said...

The most challenging and in some ways disturbing element of this topic is that the modern man of the C.S. Lewis quote thinks their mastery of technique is equal to the wisdom of the men of old. Such arrogance is very dangerous to humanity.

Carl Vehse said...

Here is a Lutheran Education Association (LEA) article, "The Common Core Standards: What Teachers Need to Know and Do" by Dr. Pamela Zimmerman, Concordia University-Chicago.

From LEA: Common Core State Standards:Should Lutheran Schools Consider Adopting the Common Core State Standards?, prepared by LCMS School Ministry, June 21, 2013.

From the LCMS Office of National Mission-School Ministry, Lutheran School Portal: Common Core Implementation Checklist for Lutheran Schools.

Back in the 60s I laughed to a record of satirist Tom Lehrer explaining New Math, especially when he mocked, "In the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you're doing rather than to get the right answer."

No one is laughing today, when Amanda August, Grayslake D46 Curriculum Director explains the math focus of Common Core where, for example, 3 * 4 = 11 is okay.

The Lutheran Education Association is into the leftist Common Core as much as the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is into the proposed leftist immigration bill.

So remember: the LEA is an RSO of the LCMS pushing CC to your kids. It should be called child abuse.

John Brandt said...

Here are three articles I've shared with my English dept. and administrators at Lutheran High School North in Macomb, Michigan. I have found that too many teachers and administrators don't read enough about CC concerns.

http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2013/12/liberal-arts-educational-technology-language/

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/11/common-cores-substandard-writing-standards.html

http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/2012/pdf/ib3800.pdf

John Slam said...

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