Wednesday, 22 October 2008

What education might be for?

My contribution to the wit of the 20th century was "Anglicans like to be told what to do so that they can go ahead and not do it"
I try to not tell people what to do (some would laugh) and this worries some people. We work the education system in such a way that we get good at discerning what bring the teacher's or authority figure's approval, so when we are deliberately not told it can be alarming.
Janet Albrechtsen, the rightist commentator, writing in The Australian this week reminds us that education should be about teaching kids to sift what they are taught so that they can detect the teacher's bias. This is not dissimilar to my own goal, (rather unusual for me to agree with Ms Albrechtsen). I don't want people to believe what I believe, I want them to respoect what I believe but to make up their own minds.
The ongoing grammar debate might have something of this. The trouble is that people want to be told what to easy it is to just assume that there is a set of rules. This is the great flaw, grammar is much more fluid than that.
The rules by and large are not absolute, the only given is that you need to be understood. So accurate spelling is probably more important than meticulous sentence structure.
But if I write that chocolate pudding is deeeelishus, you probably know what I mean.
We make absolute prepositions at the end of sentences....which don't make the slightest biut of difference (and it is now widely regarded that this rule is more breached than kept).
What about split infinitives? Most people don't have a clue about this ...and although each year ay Synod we used to count up their number, I would like to also contend that this rule is more subtle than it is often given credit for....(did you even notice that I split the infinitive in that last sentence?) viz: to also contend has a slightly different meaning from 'I would like also to contend' or 'to contend also'...'to anxiously deny' (don't you think dear reader) is different from 'to deny anxiously' or 'anxiously to deny'.
The point? People shoudl be being taught to think not to regurgitate!!

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