Devil’s advocate. A plea against Prince Ea (Casper Hulshof)

I wrote a post about the video already, but Casper Hulshof did the big job of analyzing the whole thing. I reposted the post here with his permission.

It’s really not difficult to criticize schools. Just pointing at anything that happens in schools and then stating something like: “That sure looks old, why hasn’t it changed?” is enough, really. You might want to add: “Does this [random thing in school] adequately prepare students for the future?” Since nobody knows the answer to such a rhetorical question, the answer might as well be: no. The TED talks with the most views and likes are about exactly this, the most famous of which are the talks by Sir Ken Robinson. I analysed those a few years ago. What struck me most about these talks was the use of many rhetorical devices to get the point across. When you remove all those elements, what you are left with is a fairly bland argument about, for example, the lack of attention to particular talents in schools. Hold the revolution. In my view, talks like this make people believe that everything is wrong in education, and that therefore everything should change. To someone like me, who knows a thing or two about educational research, this never ceases to irritate. To a teacher, it must be even more annoying to be put in one’s place by someone who is usually far removed from the field of education. In any case, if everything is so wrong in education, it sure is a miracle most of us have turned out to be fairly successful in life. Still, Ken Robinson is very popular. His ideas certainly touch a nerve. Criticism of the school system is probably as old as the school system itself. Undoubtedly, criticism has been a driving force behind many reforms and innovations in teaching and learning. My own work is, to a certain extent, based on criticism of educational practice. Still, I try to approach educational questions from a scientific viewpoint, something that can’t be said for everyone.

Some time ago, a video appeared on Youtube with the interesting title: “I just sued the school system!” (in all capitals). It quickly gained over a million views. The video was created by Prince Ea, an American spoken word artist, poet, rapper and filmmaker (wikipedia). If you haven’t yet done so, you might like to watch the video first.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The cinematics, lighting, the acting, and the music are all first-class (there’s even a ‘making of’ video). Prince Ea makes a persuasive case for educational reform Or does he? In this blog post, I analyze the case Prince Ea makes. Let’s say I’m the lawyer representing the school system (a devil’s advocate, indeed!)
To be able to comment on the case Prince Ea makes in this video, first I transcribed the whole movie to focus on the words themselves. The transcript is written below (in italics). I have divided the text into different parts (unrelated to cuts or camera changes in the movie), and my specific comments on the movie are written below each part. So bear with me, and let’s see if I can persuade both you and the presiding judge that Prince Ea is wrong in sueing the school system.

Albert Einstein once said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will lead its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, today on trial we have modern day schooling. Glad you could come. Not only does he make fish climb trees, but also makes them climb down, and do a 10 mile run.

We’re off to a bad start. The quotation that is used here was most probably never said by Einstein, as the quote investigator has pointed out. Referring to some authority figure, especially Einstein, is a popular rhetoric device that has also been used by Ken Robinson on multiple occasions. Still, does school make fish climb trees? Maybe it does, but certainly not in every case. More importantly, this is an example of a false analogy. Is it fair to say that school asks students to do impossible things? Maybe if teachers did not, that would be even worse. The implication here is that this video is about the ‘fish’: the people who have trouble in school because the school system presumably requires them to do stuff they are incapable of doing, and that this situation is undesirable.

Tell me school, are you proud of the things you’ve done? Turning millions of people into robots, do you find that fun? Do you realize how many kids relate to that fish, swimming upstream in class, never finding their gifts, thinking they are stupid, believing they are useless? Well, the time has come, no more excuses, I call school to the stand and accuse them of killing creativity, individuality, and being intellectually abusive. It’s an ancient institution that has outlived its usage. So, your honour, this concludes my opening statement, and if I may present the evidence of my case, I will prove it. 

A second analogy is introduced, and it is pretty weird, again. Schools are machines that turn people into robots (and they enjoy doing this, too, for unknown reasons). I would have used the term ‘zombies’ myself but I guess they are not this year’s meme anymore. Prince Ea seems to finds the idea acceptable for most people, but adds that it may not be appropriate for some: the already mentioned fish. Instead of allowing themselves to be turned into a robot, these people feel stupid and useless. From his remarks on unhappy fish, Prince Ea jumps to the conclusion that schools ‘kill’ many abilities that we value much in humans, such as creativity and the ability to think. This is the well-known ‘schools kill creativity’ rhetoric that has been praised in Ken Robinson’s popular 2006 TED talk. I’ve discussed those talks before. It’s also discussed as myth 19 in our book on urban myths in learning and education. It is simply not true. If children seem less creative during the years they visit school, it is mostly because of natural development. It is true, however, that schools do not specifically nurture creativity. The question whether or not they have to (and how) is interesting, but really should not start with an accusation.
Prince Ea concludes that schools are ancient institutions (which is true), that have outlived their usage (which is a statement that he will now try to prove to the judge).

Exhibit A. Here’s a modern day phone, recognize it? Here’s a phone from 150 years ago. Big difference, right? Stay with me. Here’s a car from today. And here’s a car from 150 years ago. Big difference, right? Well, get this. Here’s a classroom of today. And here’s a class we used 150 years ago [gasps from the audience]. Now, ain’t that a shame. In literally more than a century, nothing has changed.

Exhibit A is just bad. It’s the third analogy that fails. Prince Ea demonstrates that many things have changed over the past 150 years, but school has not. Indeed, phones and cars have changed, but there is also something that did not change: their function. We still use phones for calling people, and we still use cars to get from point A to B. In fact, it can be easily argued that phones and cars have not really changed in the past 150 years. With schools, it is the same. Many things about schools have changed (and Maria Montessori would probably agree with that statement), but their basic function: imparting knowledge, skills and culture to children, hasn’t. There’s also the fact that if, indeed, phones and cars have dramatically changed, this doesn’t imply at all that schools also need to change. They are just random examples of technology that has changed over the past century. Schools are not technology.

Yet, you claim to prepare students for the future? But whatever if it’s like that I must ask: do you prepare students for the future or the past? I did a background check on you, and let the records show that you were made to train people to work in factories, which explains why you put students in straight rows, nice and neat, let them raise your hand if you want to speak, give them a short break to eat and for eight hours a day tell them what to think. Oh, and make them compete to get an A, a letter which determines product quality. It’s grade A of meat.

So far, this whole talk is a nice demonstration of the use of analogy as a rhetoric device. Here we see the fourth example. It’s the popular ‘schools are factories’ comparison. To me, this is always a strange analogy, because the kind of teaching that is criticized here existed centuries before factories even existed. In a nice article on this subject, Audrey Watters has shown how this factory comparison may present a case of ‘invented history’. Basically, the comparison between schools and factories was devised a long time ago by educationalists who wanted to prove exactly the same point as Prince Ae does here. Educational technology has been heralded as the saviour of this ‘failed system’ for decades, starting with Pressey’s teaching machines in the 1920s, to MOOCs these days. It’s a nice business model, but again, the analogy is simply false. Schools are not and have never been robot-producing factories (and hopefully never will become ones as well).
At this point, you may start to wonder how people in the past were able to survive from these ‘factories’. So, it becomes necessary to introduce a new argument: times have changed.

I get it, back then times were different. We all have a past. I myself am no Gandhi. But today, we don’t need to make robot zombies. The world has progressed, and now we need people who think creatively, innovatively, critically,  independently, with the ability to connect.

To my great satisfaction, we get a few zombies after all! The argument here is that in yesterday’s world it was sufficient to have zombies, but not today. Tell that to Albert Einstein. This is basically a repetition of the earlier argument. If you assume that schools produce robot zombies, you can basically conclude anything. Here you also might ask: what do all these abilities actually mean? what is ‘ability to connect’? Connect to whom? These questions remain unanswered.

See, every scientist will tell you that no two brains are the same. And every parent with two or more children will confirm that claim. So, please explain why you treat students like cookie cutter frames, or snap back hats, giving them this ‘one size fits all’ crap [‘watch your language’, ‘sorry your honour’]. But if a doctor proscribed the exact same medicine to all of his patients, the results would be tragic, so many people would get sick, yet, when it comes to school this is exactly what happens. This educational malpractice, where one teacher stands in front of 20 kids, each one having different strengths, different needs, different gifts, different dreams, and you teach the same thing the same way? That’s horrific. Ladies and gentlemen, the defendant should not be acquitted, this may be one of the most criminal offences ever to be comitted.

After this small detour to the world’s progress, we are back on track. People (brains) are different, so education needs to adapt to these different brains. This logic is closely related to the whole learning styles rhetoric that has been thoroughly debunked by research (it’s myth 1 in our book). We are also presented with a fifth analogy, and it’s the fifth false analogy. Schools are doctors who proscribe the same medicine to every patient. This metaphor was new to me, and I think it’s a ill-chosen. Viewing students as patients suffering from some fatal disease, I don’t know. The comparison between teachers and doctors may have the underlying goal of making it easier to argue that both should earn the same amount of money. Also, the way Prince Ea describes the role of the teacher again neatly fits the ‘school as factory’ model that I already discussed. The rhetoric use of hyperbole (‘most criminal offence’) adds a bit of drama.

And let’s mention the way you treat your employees. [‘objection’, ‘overruled, I want to hear this!’] It’s a shame, I mean teachers have the most important job on the planet, yet they are underpaid. No wonder so many students are short changed. Let’s be honest: teachers should earn just as much as doctors, because a doctor can do heart surgery and save the life of a kid, but a great teacher can reach the heart of that kid and allow him to truly live. So teachers are heroes that often get blamed, but they are not the problem. They work in a system without many options or rights.

Now that teachers have been mentioned (I guess they, too, are zombies), it is time to devote some attention to them. I like this bit. It is true that the teaching profession has suffered, and that salaries are relatively low. The question is why this is the case. Prince Ea emphasizes the value and importance of teachers, and both are not really appreciated in society. I think this may reflect a problem in any capitalist culture. The effects of a doctor’s treatment are much more visible to society than the efforts of a teacher. We may tend to value visible, short-term effects more than invisible, long-term effects. What I’m saying is: this state of affairs may be not something to blame schools or the school system for. You’re barking up the wrong tree if you do.

Curriculums are created by policy makers, most of which have never taught a day in their life, just obessed with standardized tests. They think bubbling in a multiple choice question will determine success. That’s outlandish. In face, these tests are too crude to be used and should be abandoned, but don’t take my word for it, take Frederick J. Kelly, the man who invented standardized testing, who said, and I quote: “These tests are too crude to be used and should be abandoned.”

Prince Ea accuses policy makers, people who are not teachers but do control what happens in schools. This could be a valid argument if Prince Ea had specified what it is exactly that these people are doing wrong, and what they should do instead. Should curriculums be abandoned? If these people are stopped, does that make things right? Instead, he focuses on standardized testing, which is far more easy to criticize because most people don’t really like tests. It is not just something policy makers think about tests, test scores actually do for a large part determine success. You may dislike the situation, but if tests were abolished from schools the first thing any institute for higher education would do would be to implement selection tests. Wait, many already do. Also, the standardized aspect of testing seems much more fair to me than adjusting tests to each and everyone’s personal ability. If you only use tests that persons can pass, then indeed there is no use for them in the first place. After Einstein, this is the second time an authority figure is referred to use the argument from authority. In this case the honour falls on Frederick Kelly, who created the first multiple-choice test in 1914. Apparently, Kelly changed his about testing mind later, but I have not yet been able to trace the quotation that is used here. But even if it is correct, I wonder how interesting it is that someone changed their mind about something. If he had not used these tests, undoubtedly someone else would have.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if we continue down this road, the results will be lethal. I don’t have much faith in school, but I do have faith in people, and if we can customize healthcare, cars and Facebook pages, then it is our duty to do the same for education, to upgrade and change and do away with school spirit because that is useless, unless we are working to bring the spirit out of each and every student: that should be our task. No more common core. Instead, let’s reach the core of every heart in every class. Sure, math is important, but no more than art or dance. Let’s give every gift an equal chance.

Hyperbole again (‘lethal’), and emphasis on the comparison with medicine once more. I like the rhetoric use of the rule of three here: healthcare, cars, and Facebook pages. The phones got replaced, the cars stayed, but still, what I said earlier holds here as well. Comparing all these to education just poses no argument at all. The most intriguing part is the line about math. Is mathematics overrated? Is it as important as art and dance? The Ken Robinson virus seems to be spreading. I don’t agree with the statement, because I’m pretty sure that in today’s world mathematical knowledge is more important than many other disciplines. Should schools devote more time to dancing? Why? Just a few minutes ago Prince Ea argued that the world has progressed, but does the future involve more dancing? I’m jesting. In reality, this is a repetition of the point that was already made about schools needing to provide for students with different talents. Still, if your son likes dancing, would you want his school to devote as many lessons to dancing as to other courses? What about other talents? And where do we get all these dancing teachers from? The whole idea is romantic, bit impractical and unrealistic.

I know this sounds like a dream, but countries like Finland are doing impressive things. They have shorter school days, teachers make a decent wage, homework is non-existent and they focus on collaboration instead of competition. But here’s the kicker, boys and girls, their educational system outperforms every other country in the world. Other places like Singapore are succeeding rapidly. Schools like Montessori, programs like Khan academy, There is no single solution, but let’s get moving, because while students are 20% of our population, they are 100% of our future. So let’s attend to their dreams, and there’s no telling what we can achieve. This is a world in which I believe, a world where fish are no longer forced to climb trees. I rest my case.

Finland and Singapore perform well on international tests, true. They seem to take education more seriously, there. What’s funny is that students from these countries score high on international, standardized tests (e.g., PISA), the kind of tests Prince Ea was so critical of only a minute ago. Also, if you study the success of countries like Singapore and Korea, you will find a very, very traditional educational regime. One report describes education in Singapore as follows. “In general, classroom instruction in Singapore is highly-scripted and uniform across all levels and subjects. Teaching is coherent, fit-for-purpose and pragmatic, drawing on a range of pedagogical traditions, both Eastern and Western.” (source) Do you want to copy their methods? You’re welcome to do so, and it would probably be useful as well, but it would mean turning back instead of moving forward: exactly the opposite of what has been being argued by Prince Ea.

The plea ends with the animal we started out with. In an ideal world, fish do not have to climb trees. Fortunately, in the real world they are not forced to do so either, but it sometimes does help them to swim upstream.
So, are you still convinced by Prince Ea’s plea? I’m perfectly fine if you are. I just wanted to show that many of the arguments are old hat. They have been debunked or are up to debate: filming them in slow-motion does not suddenly make them valid. I have also tried to point out various ways in which rethoric is used to increase the vehemency of the arguments. Prince Ea has borrowed these arguments from a number of educational gurus, some of whom travel the world expounding their viewpoints on the ‘sorry state of education’. I’d rather they all went fishing, instead.

(‘The verdict: not guilty’)

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23 Comments

Filed under Education, Guest Blog, Myths, Review

23 responses to “Devil’s advocate. A plea against Prince Ea (Casper Hulshof)

  1. Els van Osch

    Top notch. I totally agree with your verdict. Sorry about earlier post with all the typing errors(autocorrection).

  2. A M

    I was recently discussing this video with colleagues. I felt the same about the video as you did too.
    I have an extra criticism that you didn’t include.
    “But if a doctor proscribed the exact same medicine to all of his patients, the results would be tragic, so many people would get sick, yet, when it comes to school this is exactly what happens.”

    Last time I checked doctors don’t treat 25 children all at the same time.

  3. YJH

    so did you just write this article to play devil’s advocate? because I have yet to find any counterpoint to his that has any substance (not withstanding any of my own criticisms of some of the positions he has adopted)

  4. Andrew

    Differentiated Instruction is also a big part of teaching. Us teachers don’t just give students a single approach to something. Delivery is adjusted in small group settings to reach individual needs. I ended up here as a result of attempting to fact check some of the quotes used. I don’t see eye to eye with you or the original speaker. However, I did enjoy reading your perspective.

    I think what it comes down to is that there are changes that we can make to better help our kids. I don’t care about the pay it’s not why I wanted to become a teacher. I would like to see standardized tests measure progress. Not a pass or fail. My low students can make all this growth but if they don’t pass a test then I failed.

    Also, the standardized test that I’m required to administer only measures student growth in reading. It drives me crazy. 50% of my evaluation is based off of reading growth. Math, writing, and everything else we do is not accounted for.

    We need these discussions though and we need to be collaborative and find a way to increase student success. Like you said, we have turned out alright, so the system can’t be that bad. But we can always make it better. How? I don’t know but that’s where the collaboration comes into play.

    Thank you for the good read. 🙂

  5. Genesis

    But Albert Einstein did say “Everybody’s a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.” I have no idea why you said, “The quotation that is used here was most probably never said by Einstein..”

  6. Zach

    Tell me, how does the school system prepare students for the future now, where have I used 3x+8=4y×2-87x as an officer of law enforcement, where have I used it as a manager at walmart, where have I used it as a chicken haul driver, where have I used it as a doctor. The only things that should really be taught, are the language English (meaning how to speak it,not how to write an essay over a story that isn’t even legit, nor interesting), I am pointing out that vocabulary should be taught, to help speak english. Everything else should be taught only if it’s your path of study, if I’m wanting to be a doctor, I should be taught how to be a doctor, what medicines are out there, what sicknesses are out there, what side effects of medicine are out there, useful alternatives to certain medicines. I shouldn’t be taught about the history of the world or I shouldn’t be taught how some medications were founded, just what are in them and what they are used for. If I want to be in law enforcement, I should only be taught how to profile a criminal, I should be taught psychology so I can negotiate, and I should be taught how to successfully negotiate someone out of shooting a hostage. What I’m saying, is that the school system should teach kids how to do what they actually want to do when they graduate from high school and are ready to take on life.

    • Sounds logical, but it isn’t. We know e.g. that having enough broad knowledge has 2 important benefits for the future:
      1) it helps to cope with change
      2) it’s the most important element for creativity.
      And I you’re wondering about math, well, even if you study languages, math is a great predictor to succeed.

      • Alphamineron

        I’m actually starting to doubt if you ever went to school. I’m in my graduate year of Senior High School, and thankfully I haven’t forgotten how obsolete this education system is, unlike you.

        Schools kill creativity. They don’t operate to educate students but to complete syllabus set by the government. Mostly the teachers are so dumb that they don’t know anything beyond the syllabus and when out of curiosity, you go and ask them about say – Quantum Mechanical Effects, they would tell you to concentrate on the syllabus.
        This is not education. I know that a clear conceptual knowledge of Mathematics and Science is required for anyone irrespective of what professional career they want. It helps clear out the vastly spread scientific ignorance. But why do I need to know the history? Learning historical facts is just as dumb as remembering at what time you had lunch on this day of the previous year. History doesn’t lead to innovation. Maths and science does.

        If you have any question of how well the education systems of the world are performing, go do a survey.
        In my own class, 2 out of 39, including me, are actually intellectual or I should say have the curiosity to explore subjects. The other 37 are so ignorant that they don’t even know what Apollo 11 was.

        The analogy provided are accurate. Schools don’t accelerate students in what they want to pursue instead schools force them to work according to a program, an algorithm. Surprisingly, that’s just how robots are programmed too.

        In my entire school life, I haven’t learned anything new in school. Books always do the work. It never happened that I went to school and the teacher taught me something new. In fact, channels like Vsauce, Veritasium, Physics Girl, PBS Space Time, MinutePhysics, etc had a much large effect on my life and other kid’s life from my class (remember 2 out of 39).
        You should really not comment on the school systems before conducting an international survey and seeing what the students are saying.

        Also, The functioning of schools is damaged as I mentioned above. The depiction of technology being changed shows how we have developed new and better ways to do the same things. It shows that we need to do the same with the education system. The day when the world is spewing out talented, confident individuals would be the day when you can say that our system is stable.

        What you are saying are just excuses for the inefficient system that we have. It’s like using an old propeller engine in a high altitude passenger jet. It would be highly inefficient but if it can get you to point A to B, it works right?
        NO! It doesn’t! Inefficiency is not an excuse. School systems are developed to treat a collection of different individuals so it can’t use the excuse that it’s treating so many children at the same time so there will be shortcomings.

        If out of 100, there are 51 things good with a system. It doesn’t mean that it’s not worth improvement. The world loses and degrades so many individuals with these methods of teaching. Treating the ‘A’ as a high quality of meat and treating the others as peasants. Manipulating that a certain subject is required without providing a relevant reason as to why that subject should be studied even when the student is not interested.

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  8. Isabella

    This will come across as elitist, which is not my intention since I’ve spent most of my life in low-SES school trying to bridge this very gap, but the fact is that school systems are set up to teach a few highly-valued skills, not to provide a baby sitting or entertainment service. We have incrementally lost the alternatives which cater to other types of learners, and this is compounded by the business model of education which aims to make money from learners (Hmmm – very close to the factory model!) rather than spend money educating informed and critical citizens.

    The school systems we have today were not intended for “everyone” – they taught basic “reading, writing , ‘rithmatic” and maybe things like music or botany etc if the teacher had a specific passion. Students then went on to other sorts of training, with only a relatively small number of academically-inclined (or monied!) students achieving a high school education.

    Schools and school curricular are thus designed around students with a specific and highly academic skill-set – an affinity for language, an aptitude for mathematical patterning and the ability to think very critically and abstractly (note, I did not include the ability to pass standardized rote-learning tests!). I imagine these are skills taken for granted by anyone reading this page, but this is not the case for large chunks of Western populations. Just ask any teacher who has to somehow “engage” 30 teenagers!

    Some of this is about societal expectations (how many students actually come from families where finding out about stuff is seen as cool/interesting/fun?), some of it is about opportunities (it’s hard to learn if your teachers are constantly leaving due to behavior or distance issues), and some of it is simply about academic ability (as the critics point out, our brains are are all different). Teachers on the whole – even much-maligned maths teachers – don’t just teach from a textbook; they do all the new-fangled things recommended by the experts and manage to do a pretty good job of differentiating the curriculum for a wide range of learners.

    As a law officer Zac may never need to use algebra, but learning how to do so developed specific skills such as logic and patterning which he needs every day to track down and convict criminals. He may never need write an essay on Shakespeare (unless he’s into theater or enjoys metaphor and analogy) but learning to do so taught him important critical thinking skills that allow him to read between the lines in an interview or to spot the rhetoric when choosing the next president. Without these skills he would be unable to do his job, much less be eligible for promotion. Could he have learned these things by playing computer games or engaging in a design process? Perhaps, but learning logic from a computer requires logic in the first place. And critical thinking is well beyond the reach of current computer algorithms.

    The problem is not school systems – it is the way society views education: leaving ages have been incrementally raised by governments seeking to reduce unemployment statistics in a world where opportunities for outdoor jobs, manual jobs and apprenticeship-style learning are rapidly diminishing, but nothing has been created to take their place.

    Quite simply, our society rewards an academic skill set; if manual dexterity or the arts really mattered, funding would not be disappearing exponentially, the curriculum would reflect this and parents would choose school based on students’ actual abilities rather than on ‘ 3 Rs’ exam results (and worse – uniforms and buildings/grounds!). We still think that being a doctor, engineer, or lawyer is the pinnacle of our child’s success, so it’s not surprising that schools cater for linguistically, artistically, musically, sportily or socially-gifted children through extra-curricular activities that are usually both expensive and time-consuming.

    Additionally, social expectations of schooling are simply unrealistic – we expect that every child should be trained to be a CEO without thinking about the hierarchical system that this implies. My state Board of Studies decreed our education system needed to raise 50% students into the the top 30% of the state in their final exams – I got very confused looks when I pointed out that this was impossible! Apparently the way to do this is to make learning “fun”, do less individual research tasks and teach everyone coding languages (whether or not they understand complex mathematical patterns), not to provide alternative pathways of learning or to create jobs other than cannon fodder (itself becoming an outmoded form of warfare) to accommodate people for whom school is simply not the right learning environment!

    Where are these ideas coming from?

    Well, have you looked at the media lately – it appears that you can be rich and famous without skill or effort, and that entertainment is needed in every aspect of our lives. This sounds trite, but it is as important as reliance on technology as a driving force behind the anti-school movements. A steady diet of entertainment everywhere we go, means that neither repetition and memorizing (because that’s what computers are for) nor deep/critical thinking (which takes too long and requires creativity and engagement) are seen to be a necessary part of learning. The apparent instant success of high profile entrepreneurs or arts-celebrities deny us the opportunity to see the process (usually including large amounts of struggle and boredom) behind the success. And then there’s the constant message that technology makes everything better so a computer must be better than a physical teacher (if nothing else, its cheaper). Thus schools are clearly outmoded, the curriculum has nothing to offer C21st students and computers will make learning fun again.

    What we need is more critical thinkers to dissect the debate and change the way society views schools and how it defines success – take the bait: start here!

    PS Dickens does a pretty good satire of the factory model at the beginning of Hard Times – try http://schooltales.net/hardtimes/ – so none of these arguments are at all new. Pedro – if you’re updating, it’s worth adding this to your argument.

  9. Isabella

    In other news – I’m using the original video and your post to teach my English students persuasive writing. Will be interesting to see how many disengaged or non-academic students are turned on to critical thinking by a chance to knock the system…

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  13. fergusjamescrutchley

    In terms of education rankings world wide, the U.S., with the biggest economy in the world, doesn’t even rank in the top 10. Why do you so vehemently defend its schooling system? Things need to change.
    If you look at the best education systems in the world, many of them are in South East Asia (Japan, Korea, Hong Kong etc.). In these countries the fundamental ideology behind education is different as well as the practices.
    In these countries, students are treated individually, meaning the best teachers are prescribed to the worst students. You talk about it being traditional, but traditional isn’t bad if it works. The point of this video is essentially that the education system in America does not perform as well as it should and we should investigate ways to help improve it. How can that be a bad thing?

    Also you say “It is simply not true. If children seem less creative during the years they visit school, it is mostly because of natural development.” Absolutely not. In Finland education is about co-operation, creativity, arts and humanities as much as it is anything else. Finland’s students performing well at standardised tests does not in any way validate standardised testing, it validates the success of an educational system that fosters creativity.

    How about you stop being so disparaging and condescending to this video and direct some of that towards a thoroughly under performing education system. I understand it may not be as bad as Prince makes it out to, and that you think he is blindly following this inflammatory rhetoric, but please don’t let your own predispositions blind you too, because as far as I’m concerned, your as guilty as he is.

    • Awesim

      I believe the system is actually as bad as prince says it is (well i live in new Zealand so it may be a little different). I can never have a moment when my mind isn’t on school and assignments, i find life so boring, because all i know is school, but being informed i now know that how i feel now is not how i will feel in the future. I cry a
      With all the access to technology, how are we not using it to educational advantage??I bet its because they don’t want us to have an opinion.The greatest power is knowledge, seriously. I’ve learnt soo soo sooo much from the internet, useful things too. I would dropout of school if i wasn’t forced to go by my parents because i believe success (in a non-religious perspective) is not about making money. Its about having basic needs (which does not take much money) and being happy about what you do. I know i could make something big of myself if i were to take responsibility. But apparently i am just a stupid teen in a phase. I wanna make a difference in the education system and for now i’m going to study up on it and come up with a bulletproof plan.

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