Horace mann's "seventh Annual Report" to the massachusetts State board of Education in 1843 is essentially a paean to the land of Frederick the Great and a call for its schooling to be brought here. That Prussian culture loomed large in America is hardly surprising, given our early association with that utopian state. A prussian served as Washington's aide during the revolutionary war, and so many german- speaking people had settled here by 1795 that Congress considered publishing a german-language edition of the federal laws. But what shocks is that we should so eagerly have adopted one of the very worst aspects of Prussian culture: an educational system deliberately designed to produce mediocre intellects, to hamstring the inner life, to deny students appreciable leadership skills, and to ensure docile and. I t was from James Bryant Conant - president of Harvard for twenty years, wwi poison-gas specialist, wwii executive on the atomic-bomb project, high commissioner of the American zone in Germany after wwii, and truly one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century. Without Conant, we would probably not have the same style and degree of standardized testing that we enjoy today, nor would we be blessed with gargantuan high schools that warehouse 2,000 to 4,000 students at a time, like the famous Columbine high in Littleton, colorado.
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Nothing could be further from the truth. Is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is dream its aim in the United States. And that is its aim everywhere else. Because of Mencken's reputation as a satirist, we might be tempted to dismiss this passage as a bit of hyperbolic sarcasm. His article, however, goes on to trace the template for our own educational system back to the now vanished, though never to be forgotten, military state of Prussia. And although he was certainly edward aware of the irony that we had recently been at war with Germany, the heir to Prussian thought and culture, mencken was being perfectly serious here. Our educational system really is Prussian in origin, and that really is cause for concern. The odd fact of a prussian provenance for our schools pops up again and again once you know to look for. William James alluded to it many times at the turn of the century. Orestes Brownson, the hero of Christopher Lasch's 1991 book, the True and Only heaven, was publicly denouncing the Prussianization of American schools back in the 1840s.
The reason given for this enormous upheaval of family life and cultural traditions was, roughly speaking, threefold: 1) to make good people. 2) to make good citizens. 3) to make each person his or her personal best. These goals are still trotted out today on a regular basis, and most of us accept them in one form or another as a decent definition of public education's mission, however short schools actually fall literature in achieving them. But we are dead wrong. Compounding our error is the fact that the national literature holds numerous and surprisingly consistent statements of compulsory schooling's true purpose. We have, for example, the great. Mencken, who wrote. The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence.
Throughout most of American history, kids generally didn't go to high essay school, yet the unschooled rose to be admirals, like farragut; inventors, like edison; captains of industry, like carnegie and Rockefeller; writers, like melville and Twain and Conrad; and even scholars, like margaret mead. In fact, until pretty recently people who reached the age of thirteen weren't looked upon as children at all. Ariel Durant, who co-wrote an enormous, and very good, multivolume history of the world with her husband, will, was happily married at fifteen, and who could reasonably claim that Ariel Durant was an uneducated person? Unschooled, perhaps, but not uneducated. We have been taught (that is, schooled) in this country to think of "success" as synonymous with, or at least dependent upon, "schooling but historically that isn't true in either an intellectual or a financial sense. And plenty of people throughout the world today find a way to educate themselves without resorting to a system of compulsory secondary schools that all too often resemble prisons. Why, then, do Americans confuse education with just such a system? What exactly is the purpose of our public schools? Mass schooling of a compulsory nature really got its teeth into the United States between 19, though it was conceived of much earlier and pushed for throughout most of the nineteenth century.
Could it be that our schools are designed to make sure not one of them ever really grows up? D o we really need school? I don't mean education, just forced schooling: six classes a day, five days a week, nine months a year, for twelve years. Is this deadly routine really necessary? And if so, for what? Don't hide behind reading, writing, and arithmetic as a rationale, because 2 million happy homeschoolers have surely put that banal justification to rest. Even if they hadn't, a considerable number of well-known Americans never went through the twelve-year wringer our kids currently go through, and they turned out all right. George washington, benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln? Someone taught them, to be sure, but they were not products of a school system, and not one of them was ever "graduated" from a secondary school.
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Often I had to defy custom, and even bend the law, to help kids break out of this trap. The empire struck back, of course; childish adults regularly conflate opposition with disloyalty. I once returned from a medical leave to discover that all evidence of my having been granted the leave had been purposely destroyed, that my job had been terminated, and that I no longer possessed even a teaching license. After nine months of tormented effort I was able to retrieve the license when a school secretary testified to witnessing the plot unfold. In the meantime my family suffered more than I care to remember. By the time i and finally retired in 1991, i had more than enough reason to think of our schools - with their long-term, cell-block-style, forced confinement of both students and teachers - as virtual factories of childishness. Yet I honestly could not see why they had to be that way.
My own experience had revealed to me what many other teachers must learn along the way, too, yet keep to themselves for fear of reprisal: if we wanted to we could easily and inexpensively jettison the old, stupid structures and help kids take an education. We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness - curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight - simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids to truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she. But we don't do that. And the more i asked why not, and persisted in thinking about the "problem" of schooling as an engineer might, the more i missed the point: What if there is no "problem" with our schools? What if they are the way they are, so expensively flying in the face of common sense and long experience in how children learn things, not because they are doing something wrong but because they are doing something right? Is it possible that george. Bush accidentally spoke the truth when he said we would "leave no child behind"?
And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were. Boredom is the common condition of schoolteachers, and anyone who has spent time in a teachers' lounge can vouch for the low energy, the whining, the dispirited attitudes, to be found there. When asked why they feel bored, the teachers tend to blame the kids, as you might expect. Who wouldn't get bored teaching students who are rude and interested only in grades? Of course, teachers are themselves products of the same twelve-year compulsory school programs that so thoroughly bore their students, and as school personnel they are trapped inside structures even more rigid than those imposed upon the children. Who, then, is to blame?
My grandfather taught me that. One afternoon when I was seven I complained to him of boredom, and he batted me hard on the head. He told me that I was never to use that term in his presence again, that if I was bored it was my fault and no one else's. The obligation to amuse and instruct myself was entirely my own, and people who didn't know that were childish people, to be avoided if possible. Certainly not to be trusted. That episode cured me of boredom forever, and here and there over the years I was able to pass on the lesson to some remarkable student. For the most part, however, i found it futile to challenge the official notion that boredom and childishness were the natural state of affairs in the classroom.
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(we owe the first version of "The lotos-Eaters" to Arthur Hallam, who transcribed it while tennyson declaimed it at a meeting of the Apostles.). Long-lived like most of his family (no matter how unhealthy they seemed to be) Alfred, lord Tennyson died on October 6, 1892, at the age. Victorian, web, authors, alfred Lord, tennyson, biography. How public education cripples our kids, and why. I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time i became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as i often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn't seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren't interested in learning more.margaret
By now Tennyson, only 41, had written some of his greatest poetry, but he continued to write and to gain in popularity. In 1853, as the tennysons get were moving into their new house on the Isle of Wight, Prince Albert dropped in unannounced. His admiration for Tennyson's poetry helped solidify his position as the national poet, and Tennyson returned the favor by dedicating. The Idylls of the king to his memory. Queen Victoria later summoned him to court several times, and at her insistence he accepted his title, having declined it when offered by both. Tennyson suffered from extreme short-sightedness — without a monocle he could not even see to eat — which gave him considerable difficulty writing and reading, and this disability in part accounts for his manner of creating poetry: Tennyson composed much of his poetry in his. During his undergraduate days at Cambridge he often did not bother to write down his compositions, although the Apostles continually prodded him to.
lead to most of his best poetry, including. In Memoriam, "The passing of Arthur ". since tennyson was always sensitive to criticism, the mixed reception of his 1832 poems hurt him greatly. Critics in those days delighted in the harshness of their reviews: the quarterly review was known as the "Hang, draw, and quarterly.". John Wilson Croker 's harsh criticisms of some of the poems in our anthology kept Tennyson from publishing again for another nine years. Late in the 1830s Tennyson grew concerned about his mental health and visited a sanitarium run. Matthew Allen, with whom he later invested his inheritance (his grandfather had died in 1835) and some of his family's money. Allen's scheme for mass-producing wood carvings using steam power went bankrupt, tennyson, who did not have enough money to marry, ended his engagement to Emily sellwood, whom he had met at his brother Charles's wedding to her sister louisa. The success of his 1842 poems made tennyson a popular poet, and in 1845 he received a civil List (government) pension of 200 a year, which helped relieve his financial difficulties; the success of "The Princess" and In Memoriam and his appointment in 1850.
In 1829 The Apostles, an undergraduate club, whose members remained Tennyson's friends all his life, invited him to join. The group, which met to discuss major philosophical and other resumes issues, included. Arthur Henry hallam, james Spedding, Edward Lushington (who later married Cecilia tennyson and Richard Monckton Milnes — all eventually famous men who merited entries in the dictionary of National biography. Arthur Hallam's was the most important of these friendships. Hallam, another precociously brilliant Victorian young man like. Robert Browning, john Stuart Mill, and, matthew Arnold, was uniformly recognized by his contemporaries (including. William Gladstone, his best friend at Eton) as having unusual promise. He and Tennyson knew each other only four years, but their intense friendship had major influence on the poet.
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Alfred Tennyson was born August 6th, 1809, at Somersby, lincolnshire, fourth of twelve children of george and Elizabeth (Fytche) Tennyson. The poet's grandfather had diary violated tradition by making his younger son, Charles, his heir, and arranging for the poet's father to enter the ministry. (see the tennyson Family Tree.) The contrast of his own family's relatively straitened circumstances to the great wealth of his aunt Elizabeth Russell and uncle Charles Tennyson (who lived in castles!) made tennyson feel particularly impoverished and led him to worry about money all his. He also had a lifelong fear of mental illness, for several men in his family had a mild form of epilepsy, which was then thought a shameful disease. His father and brother Arthur made their cases worse by excessive drinking. His brother Edward had to be confined in a mental institution after 1833, and he himself spent a few weeks under doctors' care in 1843. In the late twenties his father's physical and mental condition worsened, and he became paranoid, abusive, and violent. In 1827 Tennyson escaped the troubled atmosphere of his home when he followed his two older brothers to Trinity college, cambridge, where his tutor was William Whewell — see nineteenth-century philosophy. Because they had published poems by Two Brothers in 1827 and each won university prizes for poetry (Alfred winning the Chancellor's Gold Medal in 1828 for "Timbuctoo the tennyson brothers became well known at Cambridge.