Re: Reforming Education
Sat, 9 Oct 1999 03:54:59 EDT

In a message dated 10/9/1999 0:14:58 AM EST, writes:

<< "Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:

> > True, maybe they shouldn't. And maybe parents are suckers,
> > for loving and taking
> > care of their children.
> Oh come on! If that were true the first time the child screamed
> at the top of its lungs for an hour you would chuck it in the
> trash container.
> Parents "love" children because nature has programmed us to do that.
> Children are "cute" because nature makes them that way or nature
> makes our perception of "cute" match the image of a child.

That is my point. It may not be logical for parents to love their children, but it is human nature.>>

In general, I agree. There is some strong bias in the human psychological make-up for adults to care about children (especially, but not just, their own children). Of course, there are people who for various reasons are exceptions to this rule. When you combine the fact that it is generally human nature to care about children with the fact that there are some people who are exceptions and do not care as much about children as the rest of the population, then you get the conflict which arises which causes "society" to take interest in the welfare of all children. In general, since the majority of parents are assumed to care about their children, it is left to them to see to their care, but society continually gets involved to try to off-set the possibility that parents may not care. There is also the issue of parents who care but may not either be following optimal strategies (as perceived by others) of child-rearing or don't have the resources to follow those strategies completely, which add to this impetus for society to involve itself in the parent child relationship.

<<And you can't change human nature.>>

Actually, we can change human nature, though right now the changes we can make are crude and often not for the better. Eventually, I anticipate that we will be able to completely reshape human nature. The question is should we, and if so, into what?

<<And saying that people shouldn't care about whether young people in their community are being properly educated, may be logical, but that goes against human nature also.>>

My first response above generally agrees on the point about there being a natural inclination to care about the young. However, I don't think it is necessarily true that it is logical not to care about whether young in your area are being educated. I could make the logical argument that these are the people you will have to deal with in your day to day life, and that well educated people might provide a better environment for you to live in.

<<Don't argue against natural human impulses. Instead point out the harm that forcing 'education' on young people does.>>

Oh, I try to argue against at least one natural human impulse a day....and then argue for one a day as well<g>. What we should do is take human nature into account in our plans and theories. Indeed, part of the problem with education and the young is in a way "human nature". When we are very young is when we have the best learning ability of our lives. If at some point in your life you wanted to have the best education you can, then you really need to start at a very young age. Unfortunately, at such early age, a child is still immature intellectually, emotionally, and experientially. They simply don't have the capacity to make such a far reaching decision. That is why we must use substituted judgement to try and figure out what this young person would want in the long run. Now, having said that, I think one of the most important things to remember is that children are pre-programmed to learn, just not in a modern environment. They learn by play, and they want to play. The trick is to structure learning in such a way that it is perceived by the child as play, but retains the knowledge instruction that the child will need for later life. I think one of the biggest problems is that we don't know very good ways to play which impart modern skills and knowledge. Transmute teaching into play and you will not have to compel it...the child will ask you.

<< At the same time someone who is psychotic due to personal
> experiences (something like the war in Vietnam) or simple
> personal genetics may be driving people away, but this is not
> derived from "conscious" decision.

It may not be a conscious decision. You may want to feed a hungry dog, but if that dog looks like he might bite you, you probably will give the food to another creature instead. And nobody would accuse you of being indifferent to the dogs needs.>>

Or you could offer the food in a way that the dog would not feel threatened. To put the scenario another way: Patients in a hospital will often lash out at nurses and doctors, they will yell, make demands, refuse to cooperate in their own care. The natural reaction to this is to say, forget them, I've got other patients who will gladly accept care. However, health care providers don't have that luxury. The fact is, when someone agrees to enter the hospital, we have a moral obligation (which we accepted with the job) to give that person the best care we can. It is not a matter of how we feel, but what the patient needs. You do what you can to put that person at ease, show them you are there to help, get through past the hurt and fear and sometimes plain contrariness to do what needs doing for that person. Now, in that scenario, it is where the one offering help is in control. Where it is valid to walk away from the snarling dog is when you are not in a situation of personal safety. No one can ask you to get bitten for your troubles.

<< That is true. The idea that everybody can be helped is a fantasy.
> > But it is a fantasy that many people believe.
> It isn't a fantasy. The problem is with the belief that "help"
> has a universal form. In one situation "helping" a person may
> be to assist in the termination of their life, in another situation
> "helping" may be to fight tooth and claw to prevent them from doing so.
> The fantasy is that there are "universal" answers.

People tend to underestimate how easy it is to solve problems. Certainly, very few problem can be solved by turning over vast sums of money to social workers with below average IQ's. Or allowing lawyers to make all the decisions. >>

Theoretically, everyone can be "helped", however, the reality is often different because of lack of time, resources, insight, or technological advancement. I agree that there are no universal answers to the problems of the world, but that doesn't mean there aren't answers for every problem (customized for the situation). Often, solutions can seem easy in retrospect, but might be devilishly difficult to find and put in place. You have a point, however, when you say that throwing money at a large beaurocracy which is poorly staffed would be bad (but I should add that most of the social workers I have met have been reasonably intelligent but are themselves drowning in the twin threats of beaurocracy and having to deal with the difficult interpersonal issues of those they are trying to help). As for lawyers making decisions, I think it would be best to have a diversity of viewpoint in decision-making processes.

Glen Finney