The Billows Teaching Machine

But back to the Billows Teaching Machine – the school.  We are so accustomed to its ways that we can scarcely imagine any alternative.  Children must be segregated by age.  Why?  Is that natural?  Do all children learn the same things at the same time and the same rate?  Uniformity is the product of a machine, not of a living organism, much less the living spiritual being called man.  Children must be hustled from room to room, or from subject to subject, at the ringing of a bell.  Why?  Do all subjects that merit study fit neatly into forty-two minute cubbyholes?  What if a child’s interest in the subject is just then beginning to kindle?  Doesn’t that matter?  What if it just takes longer to read a chapter of Treasure Island?  Should the child have to curtail the reading in mid-event – as if freezing the characters in place?

I know, I know, I am a college professor, I too meet my students at a certain time, for an hour, and then time is up (though we don’t have bells, and though, late in the afternoon, I’ll often ask my students to stick around a little longer).  We take it all for granted.  Why?  And the always somewhat arbitrary division of the day into subjects – why?

via Life Under Compulsion: The Billows Teaching Machine | Front Porch Republic.


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