“Learning” and “Schooling”


{May, 1985, Adview Magazine}


There is a difference between going to school and learning. I do not suggest, as many do, that students are not learning at school. Rather, my point is that learning can take place outside school as well as inside and that, accordingly, we need to look carefully at the tendency to pour more money into our schools whenever there is a complaint about the curriculum.


The ultimate goal of formal education is freedom. The teacher’s aim is to assist his students to acquire the skills that will make the teacher useless. Once a student learns to read, to manipulate numbers, and to write simple English, the educational establishment has done 90% of its job. The student is now free to learn what he wants to learn.


It is not disputed that a curriculum beyond the three R’s is valuable. What is disputed is the claim that we have failed our students if we have not offered them courses in everything from computers to contraception. We are kidding ourselves if we think we can devise a curriculum that can keep pace with our rapidly changing society. And we are flattering ourselves if we think students can learn only if we teach them.


Any number of good teachers will tell you that they did not really learn their subject until they started teaching it. Clearly, learning for them did not stop when they left the classroom as students. And where did all those people come from who are now teaching computer science? They obviously did not all go to school to learn what they are teaching since computer schools are of recent origin. Many computer experts learned about computers outside the traditional classroom situation. All they really needed were the basic reading and mathematical skills and the desire to learn.


Schools can probably teach just about anything we ask them to teach. But what they should be teaching is what they teach best and what students need most.


It is not true that the more courses we offer students, the more they learn. Indeed, the opposite is true --- the more courses we offer students, the more we lose sight of what students should be learning.


We should not be emphasizing more courses. We should be emphasizing the basics, and we should be emphasizing quality. A
sharper focus on the basic skills and a genuine expectation that those skills be mastered will produce a generation of students that will know how to teach themselves.  They will then be able to create their own curriculum.






   -Contact Me-



We all see things in different ways. Help me to see things your way. I welcome  your questions and comments.   


    --- Jesse Shearin





P O Box 641
1609 Church Street
Scotland Neck, NC 27874


Telephone: 252-826-3767