Low Tech Dividend

No More Teachers, No More Books: The Commercialization of Canada’s Schools by Heather-Jane Robertson builds its critique around this principle: “Our schools need to cultivate advocates not breed entrepreneurs”.

She paints a picture of the political climate:

But as successive governments demonstrate that protest will not alter their agenda, disillusioned Canadians conclude that “they’re all the same” and decide to shut down as citizens and reboot as consumers.

Later she recounts anecdotes and retails observations that turn on the rhetoric of a form/content binary:

In an amusing British study, a researcher followed up on claims that computer use fostered “joint authorship” and “collaboration” among young writers. He gave two students one piece of paper and one pencil to share. They also collaborated. Not only were their written products of equal quality to those that were word-processed, but the students spent more time on content and much less on formatting. Furthermore, no “mouse-wars”. ensued.

I tend to view play with form as a means to grapple with content and so I conclude that regardless of whether one prefers the gardening metaphor of “cultivate” to the animal husbandry of “breed”, one is happy to read this passage that reminds one of Paul Goodman’s ruminations:

At school, children outnumber adults, and children show not the slightest interest in anyone’s reform agenda. All they want is nice teachers, a good day, something interesting to do.

It’s as basic as person, time and place.

And so for day 472

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