Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

There was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or
for many years, or stretching cycles of years.

I don't like the title of this post - people should not regard other people as "smarter" but rather as people who had more opportunities - but the content is worth reading, consisting mostly of the text of a talk given to the School Law Institute by Thomas Sobol on the subject of the No Child Left Behind act. It is worth reading not because of the political position it takes - who cares, really? - but because it grasps, where so few grasp, the subtlty of what we are trying to accomplish with an educational system.

"Schools are places where children come together to learn, and it turns out that the coming together is as important as the learning. Or rather, the coming together enables learning of a different kind - establishing an identity among peers, taking responsibility for one's actions, learning to tolerate and maybe appreciate diversity, balancing one's own interests and desires with a sense of the common good. A good education helps children become competent, wise, and just. Competence alone is not enough."

It does link together, you know. Crime in the street, hooliganism during the national celebrations, incompetence in the professions, criminal intent in the boardrooms - all of that tracks back to learning. And learning is not just school and our children are not just products, not just recipients of "competence". And, as they say, smarter people than me should know that. Right?

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 31, 2023 10:52 a.m.

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