Sunday, December 21, 2008

Real World Education

I just read this article on the state of liberal arts in universities today. It's an interesting juxtaposition to this article on the University of Chicago's co-ed dorm room policy.
The 2 Million Minutes project is another interesting perspective on education in America, as well as in India and China:

I read yesterday, again, about a situation where a family whose kids are teased mercilessly at school (who knows why, maybe they are too short, skinny, wide, political, or blue) but they continue to participate in government education in order to ensure that their kids are able to participate in the "real world." Well, if the situation wasn't so sad, I'd laugh till I choked. "Real world?" I've been hearing that from people, well meaning and not, for years. Like my world, my life are fake? Come on over and I'll dish up a logic class, or 2.

Real world. My oldest can and has taken her self 1/2 way around the world and back, alone, on a couple of different occasions, learned 3 languages, received a 3.8 her first semester of college, all while working 20 hours a week. We are criticized regularly because our kids won't be able to "make it in the real world." After visiting a state U where the basic dorm decor includes how to save your roomie from alcohol posioning, how to report a date rape, and how to recognize your common everyday venereal disease, my kids are thinking our little bubble of "fake" life-complete with laughter, respect for self and others, real academic learning -is not a bad deal.

Really, what it boils down to for most folks is that we don't buy in to their definition of conventional. We don't intentionally pursue wealth or physical comfort. Our real world consists of other values which they would rather deny the existence of.

Sigh. American Education, whose initial purpose was to create literacy in the broadest sense of the word as well as wise citizens making way for co-ed dorm rooms, a student led initiative at the U. of Chicago, anyway. Real world, up close and a little too personal.

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