Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see – Neil Postman

Schools and consumption

Reading this fantastic article on Truth Out (thanks again to my awesome uncle who sends me these). It argues that consumerism and consumption is killing the US schools.

However, I see the same things happening in Australia. I believe the current situation in schools is killing the creativity of our students in several ways:

  1. standardised testing promotes the recall of facts without the benefit of using those facts to promote the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (maybe another post?).
  2. the national curriculum is beholden to challenges in teacher preparation that mean that valuable arts education is suffering.
  3. the reintroduction of grades rather than levels encourages students to compete and fails to consider how each child is working at their own level in all subject areas

I’m not sure what we can do, but it needs to be dealt with. It’s not enough to encourage knowledge rather than creativity. As Holt once said:


Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.

And maybe that’s where schools go wrong. Maybe that’s what they should be focusing on rather than testing kids’ knowledge of something that someone, somewhere has decided they ought to know based on their values, their life journey and their beliefs.


5 Responses to “Schools and consumption”

  1. beautifuldaymama

    That article is really heavy. Its sad, because there are a lot of aspects I really appreciate about public school. Have you seen the movie The War on Kids? It about the same theme. Heavy stuff, man.

    • Rebecca English

      Yes, me too. I was a school teacher for 7 years so there’s obviously a lot I appreciate about schools. However, I also fear the good things are being co-opted by people who want to try to ‘measure’ everything. I’m reminded of that quote, often attributed to Einstein (but apparently it wasn’t him) that says “not everything that can be counted, counts. And not everything that counts can be counted”. Sadly, I fear education policy makers, bureaucrats and ministers have forgotten the wisdom of those words.


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