Weapons of Mass Instruction (Part 2)

My other favorite thing from Chapter 9 in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction is “Grandpa John’s Real Learning Index”.  Gatto describes to his granddaughter the difference between schooling and education, then he challenges her to look at his observation of what Real Learning entails and decide if she has been educated or if she has just been schooled.

Grandpa John’s Real Learning Index

  1. Self-knowledge:  This is the biggest prize of all.  Without it you are lost and will flounder again and again through life.  By now you should have introspected enough to know your own character:  its proclivities, strengths, weaknesses, blessings, curses.  How much assistance has your high school given you to accomplish this?
  2. Observation:  Your powers of observation in any situation should be razor sharp; at will you should be able to function like an objective camera/tape recorder sucking in accurate data for later analysis.  Can you “read” the primary documents and images from every age and place?  Or must you take someone else’s word for their meaning?
  3. Feedback:  Are you rigorously trained to pick up cues about yourself from the reactions of others and from signals out of the environment?  Do you have trouble accepting criticism and evaluating its worth?  If you rely on test scores and teacher evaluations as stars to steer by you are in for a shock when you discover discrepancies between what you’ve been taught to think and reality.
  4. Analysis:  Can you take a new problem, break it into structural and procedural elements, gauge the relationships among those, reckon major outside influences, and do all this without expert help?
  5. Mirroring:  Have you learned to be everyone else as well as yourself?  Can you be a chameleon at will?  Or are you trapped in your own tight skin the way little people are.  Can you fit into every group, even a group of your enemies, opting in and out as you please, yet remaining yourself?
  6. Expression:  Do you have a voice that’s your own?  Can you deliver that voice with clarity, style and force in writing and speaking?  Without that, your ability to recruit allies will be feeble, and you will likely be swallowed up by someone whose expressiveness is superior to your own.
  7. Judgement:  Can you evaluate dispassionately?  Can you see through falsehood?  The society you are entering is a house of mirrors; little of what you see and few of those you meet will be what they appear.  The most attractive personalities are invariably dishonest.  How much chance did you have to develop judgement and test it.
  8. Adding Value:  Do you add value to every encounter, to every group of which you are a part?  Do you even know what that means?  If you aren’t worth something to others, then truly you are worthless.  That’s Kurt Vonnegut speaking in one of his books, Slaughterhouse Five, I think.

Wow!!  I mean, wow!!  This is how I want my children to be educated.  This is how I wish I was educated; I was so schooled.  Most of these things I had to learn after I finished college, and some of them I am still learning.

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