Here’s David Chalmers giving a TED talk on his Extended Mind hypothesis.
It’s a provocative philosophical hypothesis that’s very relevant to our day and age. The basic idea is that our mind extends beyond our brain to the things we use to enhance our mind. Anything we use to enhance our intelligence (Google) or to store memories (a notebook or our gmail account) becomes part of our mind. I like this thesis because I’ve always been against brain-centric model that’s dominated the modern world… truth is that the brain is part of a larger system (neurological) which is part of a larger system (the body) which is part of the world. Our minds operate over this fuller context.
Unlike many philosophical issues, there are strong implications in his thesis for education, business and how the individual should interact with the world at large.
Public education needs reform from the ground up. Not band-aids.
I’m telling you, there is a consensus emerging among scholars who research this sort of thing: schools are terrible environments for learning.
Here’s a video interview with Peter Gray who is a research professor of psychology at Boston College. His current research and writing focuses primarily on children’s natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play.
Now here’s the critical question: would you willingly send your kids to a prison? Of course not.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you know that I haven’t been writing as much lately. Mostly because I’ve been helping to put together stuff like this: The 50 Best Colleges of 2012 Rankings.
I really enjoy being involved in projects like this because it feels great to make something so good and high quality… something that matters. Our mandate when building this ranking was to come up with a better methodology than all the big guys out there. And I think we did. I really do. And I’m proud of everyone who was involved in making it happen.
Not only is it satisfying to build something good, but it’s double great to get noticed for it:
- Wellesley College on List of Top 50 Colleges
- Top 50 Colleges & Universities in America
- Rice named among Top 20 U.S. universities
- UF Ranks 36th in ‘The Best Colleges’
- 50 best colleges in U.S. Did your alma mater make it?
- Top 50 Colleges and Universities’ Rankings Published for 2011-2012
- A&M earns No.26 ranking according to thebestcolleges.org
More evidence that it doesn’t exist anymore.
What does exist is a gender gap in the quality of education being offered boys in this country because boys are expected to learn as if they are girls, from women who expect them to act like girls. And nothing turns a boy (as young as five) off from learning as much as cross-gender conformity.
When it comes to education, my theory is that it’s best to let kids manufacture themselves. Let their natural curiosity drive their education. Let the amazing world they inhabit be their primary source of information. And sure, I’m all for formal, sit and focus based education too. It has it’s place. But it is not the whole of education. Kids need to be allowed to explore and be taught how to think, not just taught what to think.
I am no longer interested in sending my boys to public schools. For more than one reason. Here are a few off the top of my head:
1. Kids are taught what to think, rather than how to think
2. Most public schools are built around female behavior and female learning tendencies. This imposes the virtues of one gender onto the other gender, and creates a sense of displacement and alienation and 2nd class citizenship for boys.
3. Boys are systematically being turned off to education because their imaginations are being censored*
4. Most public schools do not teach kids to explore and be curious.
5. Most public schools teach kids how to sit still and lead sedentary lives. With obesity at epidemic levels, who the hell wants their kids to sit still?
6. Most public schools teach to standardized tests and memorization while stifling natural curiosity.
7. Most public schools do not teach kids to ask questions or to be critical or to discover
8. Most public schools have turned into government instituted, lowest-common-denominator babysitting factories
9. Most public schools teach boys that their (fidgety) behavior is not appropriate – when it is the schools who should be structuring male learning around natural male behavior.
10. Most public schools never teach kids important skills like gardening/farming or money management or how to fix things or how to build things or how to run a business
11. Kids are taught to be powerless: to receive information like they receive television, as passive observers. They are not enabled to engage this wonderful world, to take smart risks, to explore.
12. Education takes place in a vacuum. It is not grounded in the student’s environment and surroundings and daily life and so it feels very disembodied and irrelevant.
* see the documentary Raising Cain