Over the weekend Best Buy had a great deal on a really slow Gateway laptop computer, somewhere around $300. So my brother and my father and I split the bill and bought the thing, which I’ll be able to take to school on Mondays and Wednesdays. It will help me stay awake in class.

Oh, I also got Dr. Robert Epstein’s The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen from my university’s library (I had them order it). If you look at the reviews on Amazon, you’ll see the reviewers tend to either love it (5 stars) or hate it (1 star). I’m only about 40 pages into it, but I think I’ll be on the love side. (Though most of the bad reviews seem to have something to do with one point the author makes about corporal punishment… they are probably completely missing the point of the book, but I haven’t reached that part in the book yet.) I couldn’t agree more with some of the negative opinions mentioned about the modern schooling system.

One thing you might not even think about, especially when actually going to elementary school, is how students are split up for the most part entirely by age, and that determines your curriculum for a year. Does that really make any sense? Does it come from an attempt to make the dumb kids not so jealous of the smarter ones? While I can imagine that could be a real issue in education, I don’t think making the smarter children suffer for it is a good idea. (And, for the record, I do not really believe “slow learner = dumb”.)

Who decides on the curriculum anyway? A vast majority of what is taught remains unused and is forgotten, making the teaching of it a waste of time. Why do so many dedicate their lives to continuing the cycle without question? Jay Leno likes to go around and make fools of people who do not know trivial facts, but, besides some politics related trivia, do the answers really matter? I might be considered an idiot if I didn’t know what photosynthesis was, but knowing it doesn’t really gain me anything. A student’s interest should guide their curriculum to a greater extent, but first ending useless curriculum material is a greater priority. There is no such thing as learning for the sake of learning. Learning for the sake of interest, yes. Nobody goes around reading everything they get their hands on, it would be impossible. Instead, what we choose to read is guided by our interests. I know adults might be scared that without a school and busy work, children would just watch TV all the time, but if their interests are supported, I think most students would be quite motivated to learn and work quite a lot.

“I like to see their eyes light up when they finally figure something out,” said a teacher once upon a time. This reason is inappropriate for becoming a teacher. The subject of what you’re teaching should be more important then how students look at you.

“This plays DVDs really slow… it keeps having to buffer.”
“You mean you have to be connected to the Internet everytime you want to watch a DVD?!”

Categories: Old posts


drrobertepstein.com · September 20, 2007 at 2:12 AM

Just a quick thanks for the supportive blog. And I could certainly use a few 5-star reviews on Amazon! Those bad reviews don’t make much sense; I can’t imagine that those reviewers actually read the book. Cordially, /re

Sean Hannifin · September 22, 2007 at 10:51 PM

Another 5-star review will be added when I’m through with the book. In the meantime, I’m sure I’ll mention it quite a few more times on the blog.

Thanks for commenting! And thanks for writing the book in the first place! 🙂

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