Danny Cardwell's picture

    Thoughts On Education

    Last July, I got an email from a friend who was in the process of finishing a Master’s degree in Special Education. She asked if I would complete a survey related to her research. I didn’t hesitate. A few days later she sent me a list of questions about my past experiences and my current thoughts about public school education. Listed below are some of my experiences, observations, and suggestions educators might want to consider.


    Looking Back

    1. I had a few teachers who were indifferent to the plight of poor kids and a few who were outright hostile towards us.
    2. Classroom hostility creates fear and anger, but indifference is much more damaging.
    3. Students can tell when they aren’t a priority: it does something to them.
    4. Some teachers were better than others when it came to hiding their lack of attentiveness.
    5. Students, not the faculty or parents, are the first to recognize when a teacher has given up.



    1. Public education is one of the highest achievements of mankind.
    2. Privatizing public education will cause more problems than it fixes.
    3. Market sensibilities force educators to ask how profitable something is instead of how much value it adds.
    4. The ability of a nation to advance rests squarely on the shoulders of its youth.
    5. Education is the process of self actualization.


    Looking Forward

    1. The three R’s are essential, but critical thinking is just as important.
    2. There has to be more focus on the humanities.
    3. Teachers, regardless of the subjects they teach, should use as much technology as possible in their classes.
    4. Students should be required to write in every subject.
    5. All students should have an apprentice level skill set in one service industry trade.


    Most masters degree candidates produce a thesis that adds a significant thought to or conducts a significant experiment for a given field.

    Does she have a specific issue or topic, or is she looking for one?

    She is set to walk this May. She wrote her thesis on language barriers in special education. I must confess: I have not read her final work.

    I like your list of responses.

    I think there will always be a tension between education for the sake of making a human life more worth living and preparing a person for roles at work. This problem cuts across all the different ways schools are funded and how their curriculums are decided upon.

    The public/private division as a part of government funding is bizarre as a matter of policy. I am less bothered by the act of subcontracting a public responsibility to a particular outfit than the complications that arise in each locality over who gets what resources. Those resources are subject to some of the worst political struggles that happen. No wonder that people who have the choice to live in different places make their selection based upon the real time options for education for their kids. I say real time because that environment is extremely volatile.

    I would add other industries to the benefit of apprentice level skills. Manufacturing, Construction, Agriculture and other material arts are worthy tasks and require much from those who do that work. That said, service does teach a lesson found nowhere else.

    I think these are all great points, Danny.

    I'd quibble with "as much technology as possible," because I have seen higher-tech approaches falter compared to some older techs. (Reading books can be supplemented, but it can't be replaced.)

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