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Harm
Structure
Definition
Mindfulness
How Mind
Mindlessness
Program
Bottleneck
Irrelevancy
Technology
Learning
Creativity
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Control
FAQ 1
FAQ 2
FAQ 3
FAQ 4
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School Reform:
The Transition to Valuable Social Contribution
   
Shaun Kerry, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

One of the reasons for low morale among students is that they feel their work is meaningless and has no lasting value.  We could free up the student's time by eliminating required courses and allowing the students to develop according to their own unique personalities.  If we are to solve the problems that confront our society, we will need to do more than memorize data, pass tests, and forget.  We will need to develop creativity.  And the biggest obstacle to developing creativity is fear.  Along with criticism, fear is the

primary motivational force in today's school system.

Goleman, Kaufman, and Ray (1992) call this psycho-sclerosis, or a
hardening of the attitudes.  Fear activates the limbic system and shuts down the cerebral cortex.  Play - which stimulates creativity - is all but outlawed.  If evenings and weekends are packed with homework, there is no time for that.

Our mind has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years and is accustomed to learning through a wide variety of experiences and senses: visual, perceptual, intuitive, interpersonal, emotional, artistic, and verbal.  If our only method of conveying information is through the printed word, then we are ignoring ninety percent of our brain.  We are not adapted to sitting in a classroom for hours on end with a narrow focus on words alone.

  Dr. Myron Tribus had a powerful influence on the post-World War II recovery of Japan.  In a few decades, that nation went from almost being completely devastated to becoming a prolific producer of extremely high quality products.

William Glasser, M.D. has applied Dr. Tribus' principles to education.  He states:
"Boss-teachers tell students every day to work hard; even though they are punished, many students still do not work hard.  In fact many do even less after they are punished."

If fear isn't a good motivator, what is?   Let's look at what students want:

    Independence

    Real-world relevance

    The skills that are needed to get a good job and earn a living

    Information about health and medical issues

    Ability to make a social contribution

 
   Teachers who listen rather than lecture

    Adults who care rather than control

Some of the most highly praised books on education that exist today,
though in a more verbose style, will say essentially the same thing.  Children are generally curious about the world around them, when information about it is presented in a colorful and engaging way.  But they want to be in charge of their own lives.  They learn much better when they are in control.  For some reason, our educational system can't seem to break out of this rigid straightjacket.  We are prisoners of our own mindlessness, and each one of us must realize our responsibility to change this.

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