Today’s guest blogger is Robert McCay, a retired community mental health psychiatrist from Philadelphia who has published articles on schools, reading, child-rearing, and psychiatry. Last summer, I contacted Dr. McCay after I read a letter he had written to the editor in USA Today, and we’ve had several interesting conversations about schooling since then.
If you’d like to be the author of a guest blog, please let me know.
Let’s Help Academia Do What Can Be Done
by Robert McCay
Inasmuch as most of our well-meaning schools and colleges are riven with anxiety, boredom, resistance, anger, forgetting, and failure — even as fewer than one-third of recent college graduates are proficient in literacy, down from 40% a decade ago — it would appear as if it’s time to stop Teach’em-Test’em schooling and start a growth-promoting education instead:
So if we’re serious about turning schools into mind-expanding, ego-enhancing institutions — producing children ready for the rapid changes, high-skill requirements, information overload, and the uncertainties of the 21st century — we should first announce, loudly, that while schools and colleges could educate, as currently organized most of Academia is seriously counterproductive.
1: Stimulate them with interesting materials like art, music, sports, computers, good books, magazines, work, people, exercise, microscopes, libraries, museums, zoos, trips, and especially the daily newspaper.
2: Abolish all quizzing and formal assessment prior to those necessary licensing exams before doctors, lawyers, and plumbers are let loose on the public.
3: Make the compulsory attendance law apply only as far as the playground and let them mill around until they’re bored to death after which the vast majority will come voluntarily into the classroom and set up a whole new dynamic between teacher and child including the fact that they can be sent immediately back to the playground if they fail to settle down.
4: Always give them plenty of choice and control over what they learn and when they learn it while we can use Purkey’s Invitational Education; i.e. “Show me what you can do and then I, or another child, will help you do better.”
5: Let the colleges, businesses, and graduate schools give their own tests for admission because K-20 teach’em-test’em is making a farce out of the term “education.”
6 :Use choral reading, a.k.a. reading in unison, as the #1 method above all others combined with group arithmetic-problem solving and writing together.
7: And/or maybe have the government declare reading, writing, arithmetic, and button-pushing illegal (!) before age 14 because then we couldn’t stop those rebellious critters from teachin’ ’emselves how, just like they taught themselves to speak the native tongue, the most difficult thing we’ll ever do.
8: Have the public schools work with the homeschoolers/unschoolers.
9: Note the success of experiments where the reward for demonstrated learning is to be excused from all examinations.