“Don’t Stay in School,” which has “gone viral,” attacks schooling for teaching useless knowledge, such as the fate of Henry VIII’s six wives, rather than how to find a job, do taxes, manage finances, vote or understand one’s rights. The lyrics include my favorite science factoid: “Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell.”
The video misses the point, writes Michael T. Hamilton, a former English teacher and a homeschooling parent, on PJ Media. Reading Shakespeare and dissecting a frog doesn’t preclude learning real-world knowledge.
“Brown’s allegedly useless knowledge enabled him to create this viral video,” writes Hamilton.
. . . my wife has newly plastered our walls with Classical Conversations historical timeline cards, with which she is successfully teaching our 5-year-old “useless” facts about ancient Sumeria and Mesopotamia, the creation of the alphabet, the Pax Romana, and the division of the Roman Empire.
. . . my son will know the laws, how to represent himself to job interviewers, and how to vote. But my son need not (and will not) learn these to the exclusion of Shakespeare, abstract math (which the ancients deemed one with philosophy–also useless in Brown’s book, I presume), or the frog thing.
Learning about history is a good basis for learning about human rights.
What does it mean to be an educated person? asks Marc Tucker. Few colleges and universities have “given serious thought” to the question and fashioned “a serious integrated, coherent curriculum in response to that analysis.”
Distribution requirements — a little of this and a little of that — don’t do the job.
U.S. students specialize earlier, instead of taking general education classes in high school and the first two years of college, he writes. “With every passing year, our college and university programs are more vocational in nature.”