Thursday, February 19, 2015

Teacher-Student Relationships Ought to be Master-Apprentice Relationships

The ideal teacher-student relationship would be one in which the students chose their teachers and the teachers in turn chose their students, creating a master-apprentice relationship. This would, I think, lead to the kind of educational relationship suggested in my last post.

If students more properly learn through having a close personal relationship with a mentor, the way we teach today simply cannot teach many people very well. And the flat outcomes more than suggest this to be the case. More, as a substitute teacher, I have been listening to middle school and high school students talking about their teachers. I hear students considering teachers as at best people they generally disrespect and don't care about and at worst antagonists. There is no way you are going to learn anything from someone you don't respect, don't care about, or who you think of as an opponent.

But what if students had some say in who their teachers were? What if students were told they could choose a teacher as a mentor, who would help them and guide them? That would mean the students would be more responsible for who they choose as a teacher. There would be more buy-in from the students, and those students would likely have a closer relationship with their teachers. The teachers would also then have more buy-in, since they would more directly care about their students. And the students would know and understand that.

In other words, students would select teachers. But teachers also need to be able to select students. Teachers ought to be able to reject students. This would make it so students know they have to do what is needed to keep their chosen teachers.

I think this could work as early as middle school. And at the university level, you could even introduce the idea of free lance professors. If we reintroduced mentorship, professors could collect students and rent out classrooms at universities, or be able to make a case for getting hired precisely because the can come in with a group of students, demonstrating they will attract students to the university. I think we would have better university professors under such a system. And I think students would learn a great deal more from their professors.

Indeed, if the principle of education is selection rather than instruction, only someone who knows the student well, as we find in a mentorship situation, could know what to select and when. I also suspect that the use of Gravesean psychology would contribute to more proper selection, since one would select psycho-socially appropriate literature, ideas, etc. for the students when they are ready for them. The teacher would thus guide the student toward greater psychsocial complexity. This would mean a complete revamp of education from K through graduate school. It would imply a very different series of works and the kinds of things we ought to be teaching our students. But that's a post for another day.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Education as Selection, Not Instruction

If this idea on education is right, it has profound implications for what should go on in a classroom and between teachers and students. And regarding passing and failing. Our schools are not engaging in selection, but are trying to make sure that everyone survives. But in doing so, the herd immunity is weakened over time, and the population becomes weaker and weaker and weaker. Less and less learning occurs.

This is an idea that needs fleshing out. I read it and the sudden truth of it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Left vs. Right vs. Reality

The right is rooted in religiosity and aristocracy. In many cases, the latter is rooted in the former, where it is believed that one's rulers are chosen by God. It is believed by those on the right that humans are essentially sinful, meaning humans are essentially anti-social in nature. This means it is important that there be laws created by those closer to God (those chosen by God) to control people, to keep them from acting on their sinful drives. The beliefs of the political right can be rightly understood if we understand these facts.

The left is rooted in the belief that human beings are atomistic individuals, that our natural state is non-social isolation. However, as our population grew, we were forced together, and social structures had to be developed to make a fundamentally nonsocial being get along with other fundamentally nonsocial beings. Since there are many benefits of being social, it is important that people be made to be social, so laws have to be passed to force people to act in pro-social ways. More, morality is what allows us to live in the social environment; if we are not naturally social, we are therefore not naturally moral. Thus, morals have to be enforced by law. The beliefs of the political left can be rightly understood if we understand these facts.

However, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, and ethology have demonstrated that most mammals -- especially primates, most especially apes, and most, most especially humans -- are social. More, morality is a natural, evolved feature of social animals, and human especially. Thus, it is natural for humans to be social and it is natural for humans to be moral. Why, then, do we see people acting immorally? Nobody said humans were perfect. There are inevitably going to be sociopaths within a given population. Also, institutions matter. We can either have institutions that reward sociopathic and immoral behaviors or we can have institutions that reward virtue and transforms problematic behaviors into social goods.

The left and right are wrong about human nature. And they are thus wrong about human sociality, morality, and governance. We need theories of governance, economics, and civil society that are based on our current understandings of human nature.