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Wasted : why education isn't educating…
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Wasted : why education isn't educating (edição 2010)

por Frank Furedi

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Never has so much attention been devoted to education and the problems with it. Tony Blair's 'education, education, education' slogan ensured it remained at the forefront of political agendas. This book is an analysis of current processes within the education system.
Título:Wasted : why education isn't educating
Autores:Frank Furedi
Informação:London : Continuum, [2010].
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
Etiquetas:Education, sociology, politics.

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Wasted: Why Education Isn't Educating por Frank Furedi

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'Why do teachers call the thick children gifted?'

This question, posed by a 12-year-old interviewee, is in essence the puzzle British sociologist and cultural critic Frank Furedi tries to solve in Wasted, as he gets his head around lamentable state of contemporary western education, with its perverse incentives and paradoxical ability to degenerate even as it receives more and more attention and funding.

Furedi's answer is highly convincing. He identifies a decline in the ability of teachers to wield authority in the classroom -- not just in terms of discipline, but in the much broader sense of being agents of a civilization's mission to socialize its young.

Once this authority is lost -- or is deferred and diluted as it is passed to children themselves, or to education 'experts' -- the door is opened to what Furedi terms 'reverse socialization', i.e. children being lauded for their ability to 'teach their elders' about not just current technology and pop culture, but about being exemplary human beings. This is accompanied by social engineering, as teachers and other educators manipulate students' 'personal learning' and convince them to conform to trendy values such as multiculturalism and fanaticism about climate change and environmentalism.

Furedi also criticizes the 'unhappy turn to happiness', i.e. schools' shift from academic work to therapy, as feelings and self-esteem push out actual education:

"Perversely, the more we try to make students feel good about themselves, the more we distract them from engaging in experiences that have the potential to give them a sense of achievement."

So what should be education's focus? Furedi is conservative/traditionalist here. He believes education is a conversation with generations past, as the lasting knowledge that undergirds a civilization is passed on to form and transform current students. His vision is formal -- education is not the same as the 'learning' that happens in day to day life.

Furedi is not exactly alone in his analysis. His focus on the importance of teaching solid academic content to form good citizens echoes American education critic E D Hirsch, and his criticisms of trendy pedagogy and therapeutic nonsense reflect the widespread dissatisfaction of many conservative writers and educators.

So why read this book?

First, Furedi's analysis is unusually systematic and dispassionate. This is not a fire-breathing diatribe; in fact it's if anything a bit dense and academic for the popular market, although it's generally well-written. Given the gales of accusation and misunderstanding that surround 'dialogue' on contemporary education policy, this cool tone is a huge plus.

Second, Furedi's analysis of authority is fresh and provocative, and provides depth and a new dimension to the question 'Isn't it the teachers' fault?' that always pops up when failing schools are discussed. Both sides of this fault line should find Furedi's analysis compelling.

So, finally, why not five stars? Furedi fails to take seriously enough the problems posed by students' differing abilities. He firmly believes that a formal academic education is right for every child. I applaud his optimism, but I'm not sure I can share it. ( )
  mrtall | Aug 12, 2011 |
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Never has so much attention been devoted to education and the problems with it. Tony Blair's 'education, education, education' slogan ensured it remained at the forefront of political agendas. This book is an analysis of current processes within the education system.

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