A Purposeful Education


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Sam M says:

    “… we need a sense of purpose there if it is to be a human experience at all.”

    I am not so sure. Most people I know, including successful, well adjusted people, had no fantastic expereinces in high school. It just was what it was. Like most people, they saw no “purpose” in any of it, as evidenced by the constant questions about “when am I ever going to need to know THIS?”

    The fact of the matter is, the real answer is almost always, “Never, probably.” And that’s how we want it. Except in a few rare cases, we don’t use schools as vocational training, but rather as some kind of grand social experiment. This, despite the fact that the vast majority of people really just want to get trained so they can get a job. Canterbury Tales in Middle English? Not so much. This was still very much true of the college kids I taught. As much as we hate to admit it, most people have no interest in schoolin’.

    And truth be told, most of the time, learning simply sucks. Yes, you can get creative in a theater class. But learning algebra sucks for most people. Grammar, too. I mean, if you went to any office in America, even really happy offices where everyone gets along, and instead of working you told them they’d have to diagram sentences and learn what sin versus cosine means for the next four years, people would get miserable real fast. They would get miderable even faster if you told them that their relative rankings would determine how successful they would be for the rest of their lives. Throw in some hormones and the fact that EVERYONE in the place is on the sexual market, and what do you think might happen?

    That is, I am not so sure that it’s the design or the execution of schooling that’s the problem. I think it might just be inherently awful.Report

  2. Avatar Trumwill says:

    middle school was worse than high school by far

    This seems to be the case with just about everyone I know. High School is when things generally start to improve. The troublemakers and thugs start dropping out. Often the schools are larger so it’s easier to blend into the scenery and avoid trouble.

    I never participated in a single extra-curricular activity in high school, which is something I deeply regret. I think that after my horrible middle school experience that I was anxious to become invisible. And I didn’t have a whole lot in common with a lot of the people I went to school with (snobs, the lot of them). I think I missed out on a lot.Report

  3. Avatar Max Socol says:

    thanks for this, I really enjoyed it. I’ve often struggled to explain why I enjoyed high school so much, and you hit the nail on the head.Report

  4. Avatar Timothy says:

    There are great things that are happening in charter schools.