I don’t have anything incredibly deep to say about the bout of illness that I battled last week. As @Drew_Morris put it on Twitter:
The aim of Montessorium is to get at the truths about the right approach to education. To that end, one of the things that draws our attention the most are persistent problems. Find a few below—vocational training vs. education, parent rights vs. child rights, some grist for the mill of a truly conceptual and value-oriented financial education, and more.
And speaking of seeking the truth on unsolved problems: tomorrow, come check out our panel on Rethinking DEI in Schools, with Chloe Valdary, Kmele Foster, Greg Salmieri, Ray Girn, and myself. It’s at 3:30p PT, 6:30p ET. This is part of our ongoing Agency and Identity initiative, which is aimed at carving out a positive vision for identity formation, a topic that is at once contentious, important, and with its own inherent difficulties.
Philosophy of Education
Who Said Science and Art Were Two Cultures? (essay) — Kevin Berger riffs on C. P. Snow’s lamentation about the disconnect between the arts and the sciences. The exact value of different areas of education, and how they relate to one another and contribute to a unified life, is an unsolved problem in education. Berger’s essay is excellent.
Vocational Training for the Soul (Montessorium essay) — You can also check out my essay on another unresolved tension in education: general/moral edification on the one hand vs. vocational value on the other. This is one that I think Montessori largely solved in principle. (Originally published at The Chalkboard Review.)
Things I Learned at School that I’m Still Unlearning (Twitter) — A long, ongoing Twitter thread from @made_in_cosmos on all the implicit lessons of a traditional education:
“5. You are only supposed to work on things that are assigned to you”
“9. You must be smart but not too smart, doing things ahead of the schedule gets you in trouble”
“17. Drudgery in school is necessary as a preparation for even worse drudgery at work”
Ancient Rivers of Money (essay) — This 2020 piece from Venkatesh Rao talks about cognitive lenses for money. Seemingly not directly related to education. But we think a lot about how children form mindsets around money and how education can help here. The different metaphors and frameworks described by Rao are incredibly relevant for thinking about learning to cognize money, in terms of what goals and potential errors.
Parenting and Education, History of Education
Liberal States, Authoritarian Families (book) — Here’s a good review. Excerpt from the intro:
“A political regime grounded in natural freedom has to contend with the brute fact that children are not immediately capable of freedom or even of consent to government, and so it always has to find some way to account for the authority that must be exercised over them until they are. Even if all other traditional authorities over adults could somehow be expunged, the problem of dependent children would remain with us.”
Getting moral and political clarity on the nature of custodianship is another unsolved problem and one of the issues we’re most interested in at Montessorium. This book is an excellent scholarly treatment of the history of the topic.
SF School Budget Crisis (article, SF Chronicle) — A small vignette from a particularly beleaguered school district that both echoes and foreshadows issues similar issues across the country. Public schools have struggled to handle the pandemic (and other cultural issues) in terms of operations, reputation, and enrollment, and the financial consequences, though postponed by pandemic stimulus measures, are starting to show up.
Back of the envelope math: cutting $125M in salaries when you can’t change compensation equates to something like 500 to 1000 teachers laid off.
See you next week,
Matt Bateman, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Montessorium
More Montessorium Content
Ironically, the result of the common “no right answer” mantra is actually to destroy motivation. If there’s no right answer, if there’s no truth here, why bother?
Emerson on Education
Emerson's philosophy of education, like all his other philosophies, can only be gleaned from reading through his essays and lectures and synthesizing relevant remarks.
Paying Contingency Its Due
Upon reflection, it becomes obvious that our past progress depended on conscious choices of motivated individuals; that the companies, technologies, and processes we rely on every day were never guaranteed to be founded, discovered, or developed.