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“A scientist asks why we educate children at all”

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A new book titled International Perspectives on the Goals of Universal Basic and Secondary Education looks pretty interesting. It examines the goals of education in different countries around the world. It’s edited by Joel Cohen.

Here’s a quote from a press release:

In surveys of American stakeholders, including parents, educators, school board members and legislators, the results are surprisingly consistent, and reach far beyond basic academic skills and knowledge. “Most people wanted students to develop skills in critical thinking and problem solving, social skills and work ethic, citizenship and community responsibility, physical and emotional health, love of the arts and literature and preparation for skilled work that does not require a college degree,” Cohen says. By contrast, the Bush-era law, now up for revision and renewal, overwhelmingly relies on the standardized testing of students’ reading and math skills as the measure of schools’ success.

Published in December, International Perspectives on the Goals of Universal Basic and Secondary Education, includes a sweeping range of views on education, with chapters written by authors from every inhabited continent and many cultures and religions. Cohen co-edited the book with Martin B. Malin, executive director of the Managing the Atom Project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. “It turns out that people have amazingly diverse views of the goals of education,” Cohen says. “We hear about the need to teach tolerance and open-minded understanding of sacred texts in the Arab world from the late, great former minister of education in Tunisia. We hear from the headmaster of a Nigerian Koranic school about the need to inculcate moral behavior. A Chinese educator favors education for world commerce and collaboration in business. A Singaporean diplomat favors developing skepticism and a questioning attitude in the spirit of Socrates.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. Larry,

    This book looks great but I’ll probably have to ask the bank for a loan so I can buy it! Or maybe I’ll ask for a comp. copy and throw my academic weight around….

    But I think this is an important question – why do we need school at all? Further, we are testing all the wrong stuff – if we test anything, it should be a students “involvement” not the outcomes.

    Thanks for letting me know about the book.

    David

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