Poetic Knowledge is something we don’t cultivate or nourish any more in modern schools or life, nor even in many homeschools for that matter. Since homeschooling has become more mainstream, many homeschooling families overlap in their views with those of modern schools, some families because they don’t know there is a different way and are scared to do this differently, others (such as our case), because we know there is other way, yet we are consciously or unconsciously scared. Many have not reached the maturity that will make you come to these convictions but others have, even without rationalizing all this such as I have done these last months by reading the book and in my own meditations of four years of defining what is that we do, and why we do it so that I can know how to do it.
Schank and some modern education critics, (link to his article a couple of paragraphs down), criticizes that universities teach the LIBERAL ARTS, and that to him makes no sense, that is obsolete, a curriculum a hundred years old that should… you guessed it, ‘change.’ The teachings should be practical, teach skills useful to the societies in which they exist. People learn by doing, so they conclude they should be busy practicing skills, as some homeschooling families pride in having their toddlers busy bombarding their senses with educational materials ad nausea and calling that learning. So if you are a college in Spain, you should teach tourism skills since Spanish economy is based on tourism. Many jump into this superficial view of blaming schools and college failure on their lack of practicality. But Taylor warns that poetic schools do not have a materialistic or utilitarian goal, they can’t, since education is not reduced to a materialistic or utilitarian goal such as modern education does. They are not there to make students get a better job. So Schank and other critics are only the other side of the same coin. It’s not a solution, it is a more adjusted procedure for the same wrong conception of the educational system.
I contend that schools and universities today have a syllabus that looks like they are teaching the arts as Charlotte Mason or Taylor, or the poetic schools or societies thought about them, and they believe that what is wrong is the system or method, but I say it’s just the opposite. It’s not the curriculum that is obsolete, is the system that has become finally completely modern since its conception one hundred years ago, when the professors were told to teach the liberal arts in this new paradigm, but who kept the old paradigm or poetic method as much as they could. Finally, the rubber band couldn’t hold anymore and it snapped.
Teaching is violent, teachers have an obsolete curriculum they don’t understand, and can’t even teach according to modern principles of education and being flat and openly utilitarian in their approach. They have to keep face, still add ‘math, languages, literature’, when they should go straight for things such as tying your shoelaces in kindergarten, learning to buy over the internet, or to cook a quick meal, or how to insert pictures in Facebook, and if you wish to be more elitist, how to cook in a hotel for tourists, or how to advertise the high end goods you intend to sell by the beach or mountain. They should teach how to become a premiere league gaming referee, did you know that’s a job? and profitable. I had no clue. Today we went to a Cinderella play, and one of the actresses, who really did a good job, she was one of the stepsisters, is studying law, and said in the program that she hopes her acting skills will help her in court and as she works as a lawyer. Well, that to me is plain honest. We should truly add drama as a main subject pragmatically speaking, not to present the public with a play, for law students and those who study relationships and politics and modern sophists in any trade, don’t you think?
The method of teaching should have never changed, because education is a constant, we humans have the same humanity and same way of learning, only different external and cultural means, but children are persons, and they learn naturally, and they crave ideas, words, and poems, and they observe nature, and they respond to songs and dance, and they are never tired of listening to the tales of our culture. Tell this to the many moms who are familiar with all this, even if they have a computer or two 🙂 .
Let me clarify this more. Children today do not hear true English language as Willa wrote (as in Winnie the Pooh, or any of the ‘dreaded’ classics from our Western civilization). They believe them to be boring. Why? There is nobody that knows them poetically (this is, who reads them with gusto, because they love them, to just fly and dance, and sing, and commune with the roots and heirloom of our tradition). They are on the other hand, dissected, analyzed, annotated, pushed, or presented as boring, that’s the expectation. And the few professors that understand this, can’t practice it. The parents, experts and administrators want results, grades. They want to see children regurgitating facts, ‘doing’ something with knowledge. They treat students as factory workers, they don’t trust them. They do not see education as a fostering of friendship and relationships, as something to be and become, not to have or control.
Add to the fear factor the reality that we don’t live in poetic environments anymore, but surrounded by ugliness, functionality, consumerism, and technology that helps but that also adds to the lack of poetry (as opposed to scientific), and you have parents who think of learning as a race, who see knowledge as a product, a learning of skills for a better paid job, or for utilitarian reasons, and you’ll get to this view of education as something that could (or should) fix the economy as Roger Schank says. But we should not fall in the trap of idealizing this past poetic society as something impossible to recreate, or believing poetic learning, knowledge, life, or homeschooling are all out of our reach.
Taylor, thank you for talking about the forced concept of multiculturalism but vindicating a good knowledge of our traditions and culture.