Education can ameliorate, or exacerbate, society's ills. Which will it be?
by Lowell Monke
I first encountered the idea of the compensatory role of schools in 1970, while preparing to become a teacher. In Teaching as a Subversive Activity, Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner argued that one of the roles of schools in a free society is to serve as a cultural thermostat—to take the temperature of the culture, determine where the culture is over- and underheated, and then gear instruction to compensate for those extremes. If a culture becomes too enamored with competition, schools would emphasize cooperation; if it overemphasizes individuality, schools would emphasize community responsibility; if it allows poor children to go hungry, schools would (and do) develop lunch and breakfast programs to feed them; and so on.
But from what wisdom or tradition does one seek guidance in determining what is the mean and what needs compensation?
But I appreciate his suggestions for more "natural" learning methods, especially bringing children into actual contact with nature.