Harmful Effects Of School

"Educational systems are often hostile to students, and schools still encourage compliance and narrowly focused understandings of learning, ability, and creativity…..[L]earning in school was (and still is) conceived of as product, and students are to move down the assembly line of learning in readily testable stages."

The Wounds of Schooling

By Kirsten Olson

"The process of schooling, while providing market-pleasing attainments, has diffuse psychological effects for many: It can make us risk-averse, or cause us to underestimate ourselves. We may be overly obedient to authority, toxically rebellious, or simply deadened. We may have suppressed creativity and lost the habit of thinking novelly, from too many standardized assessments. We are wounded and we don’t know why…

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In very simple terms, learning in school was (and still is) conceived of as product, and students are to move down the assembly line of learning in readily testable stages. Yet experiences of intense learning often have nothing to do with this. In most people’s lives, powerful learning involves intuition, risk, and ambiguity…

It is a brand-new assignment for American schools to offer sophisticated learning to all students, and teachers are often woefully undertrained to do this. Our school systems’ knowledge of how children actually learn is in its infancy…

Students are utterly without political power or representation in this system, and must rely on parents or guardians to protect them. Yet most adults, even teachers themselves, lack the knowledge to protect students effectively…

Because our sector is only beginning to develop the kinds of skills and knowledge required to teach all children effectively, we must become much more frank with parents and the public about what we don’t yet know about educating children. We must allow ourselves to unmask some of the myths of schooling:

• That the education system always has a child’s best interests in mind, or can act on them…

Educational systems are often hostile to students, and schools still encourage compliance and narrowly focused understandings of learning, ability, and creativity…

For many who have shared their stories with me, school fractured what they feel are their deepest strengths: their creativity, their humanity, and their capacity to imagine. They spend a lifetime trying to heal. Acknowledging our own wounds, and unmasking the myths of schooling, begin to help us navigate the shoals of schooling without becoming shipwrecked."

Whole text at Education Week.

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