Games And Apps Will Push Social Skills Back To The Center Of Schooling
August 19, 2013
Games and apps begin to unchain us from the outdated educational conventions of the 20th Century.
During the last century, schools mastered the process of brick and mortar teaching. Students learned to line up against cinderblock walls and follow rigid schedules. The school day mimicked the work day. Children sat in rows and responded to bells. Practically automated like a factory, teachers–expected to act more like foremen than educators–herded kids from classroom to cafeteria, from gym to playground. Skilled teachers were reduced to attendance-takers and grade-stampers. The lines between “schooling,” “conditioning,” and “brainwashing” remained fuzzy and ambivalent.
In 1954 Michel Foucault wrote that “in its education a society dreams of its golden age.” So presumably, at some point the United States envisioned our rich way of living modern life and, perhaps unintentionally, we created a training program to make it a reality.
And one could easily argue that it worked perfectly. Private schools nurtured budding executives. Magnet schools crafted bright kids into middle managers. The rest of the institutions catered to the labor class.
It was a “know-your-place” kind of education. It reinforced a world of haves and have-nots.
“The education system is essentially a socio-economic class system,” said Susan Crown.
Schools teach not only reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also cultural and social behaviors.
The prioritization of cognitive skills, test scores, and easily quantifiable information only veils the even bigger achievement gap in interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.
Michel Foucault also asked, “Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?”
Foucault wasn’t the only one who noticed. After all, in The Republic, Plato also illustrated how ways of thinking can be confining.
He used the image of prisoners chained in a cave in his discussion of the essence of education.
He wrote about the inherent tensions of schooling, between creating good citizens rather than simply creating good conformists.
Is teaching about igniting the passion that comes from within the individual, or putting in place the social conformity that is a prerequisite for civilization? Both, of course.