Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quick Non-fic Review: Real Education

Just finished Real Education by Charles Murray, who also wrote the controversial Bell Curve. The book is written around 4 premises: Children have different abilities; half of children are below average; everyone does not need to go to college; the future of America depends on how we educate the gifted. Addressing the secular masses, Murray makes a case for a liberal arts education before college, insists that we need more cultural literacy (something the current president could use, whether he is campaigning in all "57 states," giving a speech in Ford's theater or speaking before both houses of congress), and discusses education in terms of Gardner's multiple intelligences at length. And he seems to say that homeschoolers may have an advantage in that we seem to already know and use his suggestions, finding alternatives to college and encouraging our children in a way that acknowledges and nurtures their strengths.

That children have different abilities is one of those painfully obvious ideas that folks are quick to deny. If only they had better schools, the ultimate curriculum, certified teachers, more money, etc., all children would be able to learn. Murray contends that none of this is true; you can make a learning experience safer and more pleasant, but the result won't vary:

Half the children are still below average. No matter what you do, unless, of course, all children are identical and there is none achieving more or less than any other.

Everyone does not need to go to college. He makes a great case for skilled labor careers.

On educating the gifted: This is an interesting part of the book, and one I'm still thinking about. How do we educate the gifted, and why does it matter for the future of the country?

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