Tuesday, February 21, 2023

My Chats with AI - The Problems of Modern Public Schooling

Chat with CHAT-GPT
21 Feb 2023
My questions in bold, responses in regular type.

You are researching the problems of modern public education. What books best describe the shortcomings of modern public education?
There are many books that discuss the shortcomings of modern public education. Here are a few that are widely regarded as important works on the topic:
  1. "The Death and Life of the Great American School System" by Diane Ravitch - In this book, Ravitch discusses the problems with the modern education reform movement, arguing that it has failed to improve schools and has instead created a system that is focused too heavily on testing and standardized curriculum.

  2. "Why Don't Students Like School?" by Daniel T. Willingham - This book explores the cognitive science behind learning and argues that many modern teaching methods are not based on what we know about how the brain learns best.

  3. "Savage Inequalities" by Jonathan Kozol - Kozol examines the vast disparities in educational opportunities between wealthy and poor communities in the United States, arguing that the system perpetuates inequality and discrimination.

  4. "The Global Achievement Gap" by Tony Wagner - This book discusses the skills that modern students will need to succeed in the global economy and argues that the current education system is not adequately preparing them for these challenges.

  5. "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" by Paulo Freire - In this influential work, Freire argues that traditional education systems are oppressive and fail to truly empower students to think critically and take control of their own learning.

These books offer important insights into the challenges facing modern public education and can provide valuable guidance for educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens who want to work towards improving the system.

  1. "Weapons of Math Destruction" by Cathy O'Neil - This book focuses on the issues with algorithms and data-driven decision making in education, arguing that they can exacerbate existing inequalities and perpetuate biased systems.

  2. "The Trouble with Boys" by Peg Tyre - This book explores the challenges that boys face in the education system, arguing that many modern teaching methods do not engage boys and that the system fails to address their unique needs.

  3. "Teach Like a Champion" by Doug Lemov - This book offers practical advice for teachers on how to improve their teaching methods and increase student engagement.

  4. "The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way" by Amanda Ripley - Ripley investigates the education systems of several high-performing countries and looks at what the United States can learn from their successes.

  5. "In Defense of a Liberal Education" by Fareed Zakaria - This book argues for the value of a broad-based liberal arts education and criticizes the trend towards narrow, career-focused education.

Thank you. Is there a phrase that describes the inherent tension between helping individuals become independent learners and mandatory systems of education?
Yes, there is a common phrase used to describe the inherent tension between helping individuals become independent learners and mandatory systems of education, and that phrase is "the paradox of education."

The paradox of education refers to the tension between the goals of education, which often include helping students develop critical thinking, creativity, and independence, and the realities of mandatory educational systems, which can be rigid, standardized, and focused on assessment rather than learning. In other words, the paradox of education is the tension between fostering individual development and meeting the needs of the system.

This tension is often discussed in educational theory and practice, and it is a challenge that educators, policymakers, and advocates for education continue to grapple with. Finding ways to balance these competing goals is essential for creating an educational system that supports student learning and development while also meeting the needs of society as a whole.

Thank you. What authors have written specifically on this paradox of education?

There are several authors who have written specifically on the paradox of education and the tension between fostering independent learning and mandatory educational systems. Here are a few examples:

  1. John Dewey - Dewey was a philosopher and educational theorist who wrote extensively about the need to balance the goals of education with the needs of society. In his book "Democracy and Education," he argues that education should be focused on developing the capacities of individuals to think independently and creatively while also preparing them to be responsible members of a democratic society.

  2. Paulo Freire - Freire was a Brazilian educator and philosopher who is best known for his book "Pedagogy of the Oppressed." In this book, he argues that traditional educational systems are oppressive and fail to empower students to think critically and take control of their own learning. He suggests that a more democratic and student-centered approach to education can help to overcome this paradox.

  3. Ivan Illich - Illich was an Austrian philosopher and critic of modern institutional systems. In his book "Deschooling Society," he argues that mandatory educational systems are inherently oppressive and fail to foster genuine learning. He suggests that a more decentralized, student-led approach to education would be more effective in helping individuals to become independent learners.

  4. Seymour Papert - Papert was a mathematician and computer scientist who wrote extensively about the use of technology in education. In his book "Mindstorms," he argues that computer programming can be a powerful tool for helping students to develop independent thinking skills and creativity.

These authors and many others have contributed to the ongoing conversation about the paradox of education and the tension between mandatory systems of education and fostering independent learning.

Thank you. Dewey is a figure who elicits negative responses from people. What things about Dewey's teachings have been controversial? 

John Dewey's ideas have been controversial at times, and he has both critics and admirers. Here are a few aspects of his teachings that have generated controversy:

  1. Progressive education - Dewey is often associated with the progressive education movement, which emphasizes hands-on, experiential learning and student-centered teaching. This approach has been criticized by some for being too permissive and failing to provide students with a strong foundation in basic skills.

  2. Social and political philosophy - Dewey was a prominent thinker in the field of social and political philosophy, and his ideas about democracy and social justice have been both influential and controversial. Some have criticized his vision of democracy as being overly idealistic and failing to address the realities of power and inequality.

  3. Instrumentalism - Dewey's philosophical approach, known as instrumentalism, emphasizes the practical value of knowledge and the importance of connecting learning to real-world problems. However, some have criticized this approach as being too focused on usefulness and not giving enough attention to the intrinsic value of knowledge.

  4. Criticism of traditional education - Dewey was a strong critic of traditional educational systems, which he believed were too focused on rote learning and discipline rather than cultivating creativity and independent thinking. However, some have argued that his ideas are too radical and fail to acknowledge the importance of foundational knowledge and basic skills.

Despite these criticisms, Dewey's ideas have had a significant impact on education and philosophy, and many educators continue to draw on his work to inform their teaching practices.

Thank you. What were illich's primary theses in deschooling society? 

Ivan Illich's book "Deschooling Society," published in 1971, is a critique of the modern educational system and an argument for the radical reimagining of learning and education. Illich's primary theses in the book include the following:

  1. Institutionalized education is oppressive - Illich argues that mandatory institutionalized education systems, which he refers to as "schools," are inherently oppressive and fail to support genuine learning. He suggests that they serve to reinforce existing social hierarchies and perpetuate a culture of dependence on experts and authorities.

  2. Learning should be decentralized - Illich proposes that a decentralized approach to learning, in which individuals have more control over their own education, would be more effective in fostering genuine learning and independence. He suggests that we should move away from a system that relies on experts and authorities to impart knowledge and instead focus on creating networks of learners who can learn from each other.

  3. Alternative forms of education - Illich advocates for the development of alternative forms of education, including community-based learning, apprenticeships, and self-directed learning. He suggests that we should move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to education and instead support a diversity of learning experiences that reflect the needs and interests of individuals and communities.

  4. Critique of credentialism - Illich is critical of the way that educational systems are used to credential individuals and validate their skills and knowledge. He argues that this emphasis on credentials serves to reinforce existing hierarchies and perpetuate a culture of dependence on experts and authorities.

Overall, Illich's thesis in "Deschooling Society" is that modern educational systems are oppressive and fail to support genuine learning and independence. He suggests that we should move towards a more decentralized and diverse approach to learning that puts individuals in control of their own education.

Thank you. What is it called when organized and centralized systems have an advantage in terms of growth and acceptance over decentralized and more personalized systems? 

The term used to describe the advantage that centralized and organized systems have over decentralized and personalized systems is "institutional inertia." Institutional inertia refers to the tendency of established institutions to resist change and maintain the status quo, even in the face of evidence that suggests that change would be beneficial.

In the context of education, institutional inertia can manifest as a preference for standardized curriculum, rigid structures, and centralized control. These systems can be more easily scaled and are often seen as more efficient and reliable than decentralized and personalized systems. As a result, they may be favored by policymakers, administrators, and other stakeholders, even when evidence suggests that more decentralized and personalized approaches may be more effective in fostering learning and promoting student success.

Despite these challenges, there is growing recognition of the value of personalized and decentralized approaches to education, and many educators and policymakers are working to promote more flexible and innovative models of teaching and learning that better meet the needs of individual students. However, overcoming institutional inertia remains a significant challenge for those seeking to bring about meaningful change in the education system.