Monday, December 06, 2010

792 Curiosity

792 Curiosity

Curiosity may have killed the cat. But a lack of it or its misdirection is killing society. Today's education "system" is a catastrophe and there are a million reasons. But the main one is that lack of curiosity, or, to put a finer point on it, lack of a love of learning for its own sake.

Yes, public schools are:

--Often run by ditherers and blatherers and too many of them.
--Governed by school boards whose members, vary from the coddle-the-brats type, or are on power trips and/or looking for resume credits or are knee jerk budget cutters. There is an occasional sprinkling of genuinely concerned citizens, some of them with some good ideas that are likely to die aborning.
--Public institutions, which have to respond or pretend to respond to public influence, outcries, concerns and quirks.
--Rife with edu-fads: open classrooms, closed classrooms, multi-grade classrooms, new math, newer math, and on and on.
--Unable to choose who gets to be a student or which student gets thrown out for misbehavior or sloth.

But that's not the real problem. The real problem is lack of well-directed curiosity, a love of learning, which is acquired in the home well before a kid starts school. And that's where the solution to all this baloney has to start. Inducing love of learning and well directed curiosity is not a mechanical process, it's a response to an atmosphere.

If mom and dad don't read, or read only "People" magazine or "Sports Illustrated," the kid's going to go right for the TV, the computer and the video game console.

Obviously, some kids are naturally incurious. It's mom and dad's job to find a way to alter that nature by finding something constructive that hooks the kids' interest. A good teacher can help. They have to find a way to make a child say "wow!" about learning something. That's the opening. Baseball statistics, cars, hair, makeup, explosives, war, peace, heritage, language, art, whatever. SOMETHING's going to hook them. Something's going to start them asking "why?" That's the tunnel in. Once found, the rest likely will come by itself, whether the classroom is open or closed, whether they're taught new math or old. It's tempting to say "turn off the TV." Not necessary. There are enough "learning" channels -- National Geographic, Discovery, TLC, etc. It's tempting to say "turn off the computer." Nonsense. The entirety of human knowledge is on line, and there to be discovered. It has to happen early.

And the best teachers love challenges from their students, anywhere from elementary grades to grad school. Those are the ones who will rise to the challenge and seek answers and study along with their students. If only they could get out from under the paperwork and the thumb of the third assistant superintendent for nose wiping.


Shrapnel:

--Support breast cancer research by going pink -- buying stuff for the cause. Apparently including a pepper spray in a fight-breast-cancer-pink canister, available at gun and knife merchants all over the place. Ward off breast cancer and muggers in one easy step.

--So the House censured Rangel, which was their right or their duty depending which side you're on. Too bad his heroic life of public service has a late chapter like this. But at least he still has his job, if he wants to keep it -- which, probably, he will.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2011

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