Making Minds Less Well Educated Than Our Own

Making Minds Less Well Educated Than Our Own

Making Minds Less Well Educated Than Our Own

Making Minds Less Well Educated Than Our Own

Synopsis

In the author's words: "This book is an honest attempt to understand what it means to be educated in today's world." His argument is this: No matter how important science and technology seem to industry or government or indeed to the daily life of people, as a society we believe that those educated in literature, history, and other humanities are in some way better informed, more knowing, and somehow more worthy of the descriptor "well educated." This 19th-century conception of the educated mind weighs heavily on our notions on how we educate our young. When we focus on intellectual and scholarly issues in high school as opposed to issues, such as communications, basic psychology, or child raising, we are continuing to rely on outdated notions of the educated mind that come from elitist notions of who is to be educated and what that means. To accommodate the realities of today's world it is necessary to change these elitist notions. We need to rethink what it means to be educated and begin to focus on a new conception of the very idea of education. Students need to learn how to think, not how to accomplish tasks, such as passing standardized tests and reciting rote facts. In this engaging book, Roger C. Schank sets forth the premises of his argument, cites its foundations in the Great Books themselves, and illustrates it with examples from an experimental curriculum that has been used in graduate schools and with K-12 students. Making Minds Less Well Educated Than Our Own is essential reading for scholars and students in the learning sciences, instructional design, curriculum theory and planning, educational policy, school reform, philosophy of education, higher education, and anyone interested in what it means to be educated in today's world.

Excerpt

For a few years in the early 1990s, I was on the Board of Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Most everyone else on the board were octogenarians— the foremost of these, since he seemed to have everyone's great respect, was Clifton Fadiman, a literary icon of the 1940s. When I tried to explain to this board the technological changes that were about to come that would threaten the very existence of the Encyclopedia, there was general disbelief. There would always be a need for a great encyclopedia and the job of the board, as they perceived it, was to determine what knowledge was the most important to have in the book. Only Clifton Fadiman seemed to realize that my predictions about the internet might have some effect on the institution they guarded. He concluded sadly, saying “I guess we will just have to accept the fact that minds less well educated than our own will soon be in charge. ”

He didn't say “differently educated, ” but “less well educated. ” For some years the literati have held sway over the commonly accepted definition of education. No matter how important science and technology seem to industry or government, or indeed to the daily life of the people, as a society we believe that those educated in literature and history and other humanities are in some way better informed, more knowledgeable, and somehow more worthy of the descriptor “well educated. ”

Now if this were an issue confined to those who run the elite universities and prep schools or those whose bible is the New York Review of Books, this really wouldn't matter all that much to anybody. But this out of date conception of the educated mind weighs heavily on modern notions of how we educate our young. We are not educating our young to work or to live in the nineteenth century, or at least we ought not be doing so. Yet, when universi-

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