I read chapter two in Sir Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds, wherein he examines what he calls the septic focus in education and society on purely academic skills. He explains where our respect for this narrow set of human activity has come from and the impact (both positive and negative) it has had on the world.
He looks at IQ as a factor in academicism and at the (same) skills that particular number purports to measure. He also looks at the assumptions underlying England’s “eleven-plus” exam, which separates the sheep from the goats at the end of sixth form. All are found wanting.
I was most taken with his comments on pumping up academic standards and the results we’re supposed to get from doing so. Everyone, of course, is freaking because we need to enhance our science and math curricula, to “toughen standards.” If we do this, then the nation will prosper and prevail because we will then have the scientists and mathematicians we need.
The problem is, of course, that England did a study on that very issue and found that ten years of increased science curriculum/standards/testing had not increased the number of science majors in college to any appreciable degree.
And here’s a truth that we all know, and I assume that even the politicians who pass the “standards” laws know, one’s education is not a path to one’s employment. He talks about geology as a major. Only one-fourth of all geology majors actually get jobs having to do with geology. Geology as a major is the fourth largest provider of employees to the financial services sector.
He also points out that the surge of British rock music in the 1960s and 70s had not, gasp!, been preceded by a focus on music in British schools. Paul McCartney had actually been rejected from the school chorus because he wasn’t musical enough. Many leading lights of that era were art majors
But we don’t need examples from England to tell us this is true. I have a degree in theatre: I am an educator. My wife has two degrees in theater: she is a hospital administrator. Most of my friends, in fact, have degrees that have nothing to do with their employment. But those who are successful are so because they are vital, creative people.
My point is that if we want a successful economy, we will rig our schools not to train people in job skills but to promote their creativity. If you want workers who will continually innovate and move your company forward, then you want people who were expected to do the same in school. This means, if you follow me, that you would want art/music/dance/theatre/writing as a major part of your employees’ backgrounds. You’d want the garage band daddies, the community theatre or chorus members.
Anyway, that’s the direction I think Sir Ken is heading in his book.
And I also began a small side project with William Blake: I’m going back through all the orchestral scores and cutting out the reverb in an attempt to get better “prints” of the playback. Since I can add the reverb back with that other piece of software, there’s no reason to clog the laptop’s processors trying to manage that during the original playback.