THE ATROCITY OF EDUCATION by Arthur Pearl

THE ATROCITY OF EDUCATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A broad, refreshing, but ultimately evasive essay by a ""New Careers"" spokesman who makes trenchant attacks on modern educational thinking from Rafferty and his pseudo-patriotism to the anti-intellectualism of various trendy liberal-radical experiments, the aristocratic warp of Friedenberg, and the folly of the behaviorists' ""making a person more 'employable' in a society with insufficient jobs."" His criticisms of educational practice are equally extensive: ""Youth is denied the opportunity to do anything constructive""; vocational education is a dumping ground; ability grouping makes ""the most vulnerable students mercilessly deprived of self-respect and social competence"" while limiting the sympathies and experience of the ""top"" students; hardware makes good teachers better but bad ones worse; and at present most teachers are intellectually dead, just as most counselors and school bureaucrats are provincial. What Pearl recommends includes an elaborate New Careers program for the whole society, perennial education and promotion in ""a truly full-employment, ecologically defensible economy."" Within the school he calls for diversity, mutuality, the introduction of individual and collective student rights; a turning away from the socio-educational ""policy and practice of low-level mass culture""; developing ""inter and intra-personal"" abilities; racial integration of staff and curriculum as well as student body. Unfortunately Pearl brushes off the question of the source of educational atrocities with non-answers like ""sloth,"" ""aimlessness,"" and ""stupidity."" He makes no serious investigation of the economics of education or its political context. And he offers no serious strategy for achieving his ""New Careers"" transformation, beyond suggesting it might be financed by ""the rich"" and military cutbacks. Thus his emphasis on work and self-development and cooperation and on competence and disciplined thinking -- ""We must learn that there are no anti-intellectual solutions to intellectually challenging problems"" -- is imperfectly orchestrated. It remains, however, one of the most suggestive overviews in recent years.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1971
Publisher: Dutton -- News Critics Press