PSYB21H3 Lecture Notes - Churchill Professor Of Mathematics For Operational Research, The American Mercury, H. L. Mencken

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Published on 19 Apr 2013
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Ashlee Churchill
Professor Petit
HUMA01 Tutorial #2
September 20th 2012
Education: A Prison of the Mind
Much like a parasitic disease of the mind, the education taught in schools is,
undeniably, detrimental to the brains of children. Superficially, it is difficult to accept that
one’s education does more harm than good. The ability to gain knowledge and allow the
brain to burgeon is essential to human growth, but this process does not necessarily take
place in a school environment. There are places and people all over the world that are just
as important to learn from, such as traveling to different destinations in the world and
talking to the people that are living there. First hand experiences and learning from the
source itself are of equal, if not greater, value than receiving the knowledge through a
mere regurgitation of the works through a vehicle, namely a person who has simply read
the same book. The university system has an ideal education process that allows students
to expand their minds through a self-teaching method; however, high school education
does not prepare the mind for such a simple tasks. As seen in Gatto’s article Against
School, the schools education system shelters students by inhibiting their ability to
construct their own opinion, to flourish intellectually, and to develop a sense of
originality.
The high school education system hinders students’ ability to construct their own
ideas regarding the information taught. Invisible walls put up by the high school
curriculum act as hallways that teachers guide their students’ brains through, telling them
what to think and not allowing them to come to their own conclusions. Although Baldwin
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states in his book, A talk to teachers, that education is designed for people to create their
own beliefs, it is difficult to do so when the material being taught is strictly non opinion-
biased or taught through the eyes of the teacher. This way of learning is dull and tedious;
Gatto plays with this idea of education being boring in his essay and brings up a good
point that if anyone is bored it is no ones fault but your own (Gatto, 1). Gatto’s
impression of boredom has to do with the students’ lack of opinion and the teachers’
cycle of repeated material. If students could drive their own opinions and incorporate
them into their schoolwork, it would make for an interesting learning experience that both
the student and the teacher create together. Nevertheless, most of the time, this not the
case and students’ thoughts are often left unheard. One’s view on the content taught is
lost as it is imprisoned in the physical and mental walls in which the educational system
binds it.
High school simply does not do enough to prepare you for what university’s high
expectations and demands. When a professor asks their students to write an opinion
essay, on the selected quotes and essays presented during the first week of school, the
task seems overwhelming. Although the question may appear to be a fair and acceptable
request of one’s professor, it can be daunting for a first year student to comply with the
instructions. The previous institution that is high school does not help develop the right
critical analysis that should be used when asked a basic opinion question. In addition, the
topics provided in high school are quite restricted, while those in university explore a
much broader spectrum of subjects. Indeed, the education system has, in fact, negatively
impacted our creative freedom and thus we are unable to cope with employing such
liberties. In university, the student is often the teacher of his own education through the
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development of his own opinion, which relates to Baldwin’s explanation on the purpose
of education. Post- secondary education helps a student realize that he has a voice that
matters as opposed to high school education, which puts down opinions that are not
taught by the teacher or deemed irrelevant. The concept of generating one’s own outlook
seems foreign to students entering university. In Gatto’s article Against School, he refers
to H. L. Mencken, who wrote in The American Mercury who said that education is not
To fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence . . .. Nothing could
be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the
same safe level, to breed and train a Standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality
(Gatto, 35).
Digging deeper into this concept, could this be the reason why the high school and
university transition is so difficult? A high school student is taught basic universal
knowledge opposed to university where you are teaching your self with the help of a
superior, taking knowledge through whichever path you wish to take it.
The school education system makes it hard for intellectual advancement.
Students often ask, “ Why do we need school? One could conclude that one does not
need school to be academic. For instance George Washington, Benjamin Franklin,
Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln
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(Gatto, 34) whom are all great men that have
advanced intellectually. All possessed teachers to guide them on the way, but not one of
these men graduated high school. Another great example on an educated person who was
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George Washington was the first president and following him is Thomas Jefferson, who
was the third and Abraham Lincoln was the seventeenth president of the United States.
Although Benjamin Franklin was not a past president he was a renowned scientist.

Document Summary

Much like a parasitic disease of the mind, the education taught in schools is, undeniably, detrimental to the brains of children. Superficially, it is difficult to accept that one"s education does more harm than good. The ability to gain knowledge and allow the brain to burgeon is essential to human growth, but this process does not necessarily take place in a school environment. There are places and people all over the world that are just as important to learn from, such as traveling to different destinations in the world and talking to the people that are living there. The university system has an ideal education process that allows students to expand their minds through a self-teaching method; however, high school education does not prepare the mind for such a simple tasks. School, the schools education system shelters students by inhibiting their ability to construct their own opinion, to flourish intellectually, and to develop a sense of originality.