Why America’s Children Can’t Think

posted in: Bookshelf | 0

I just finished the book, Why America’s Children Can’t Think by Peter Kline. It was a fairly random selection at the library while John was rolling around on the story-time carpet, and I was peeking through the shelves trying not to be frustrated with my three-year-old’s kinesthetic learning style.

I have found my home school manifesto. This book should be the required reading of every educator, parent, or concerned citizen. Here are some quotes from the book:

In the “fill ’em up” approach to education, if we assume that children are born with nothing on their minds, and that it is the business of education to fill those minds with the things that Everyone Should Know, as if we were programming computers, then there might be some sense in a lock-step curriculum. However, the human mind is fundamentally different from a computer in that respect, because all of us are born with the ability to compute and create language genetically encoded in our brains. It has also been established that no two people learn in exactly the same way. And indeed, many, if not all, of us seem destined for our own special kind of knowledge, skill, experience and creativity.

He takes the reader through the path of growth through reading, how we learn to read and what the process of reading does for our ability to construct the mental furniture necessary for thinking independently. How thinking independently leads us to create.

So life is about dreaming up the realities of the world we intend to inhabit. We read so that we can imagine, so that we can write, or so that we can create other things.

I want for my children these very things. I want them to learn in an environment of openness, free of agenda, where I am ready to guide them to think deeper on every subject, not just get the right answers to the questions. I want to nurture the creativity that is so fragile within all of us so that they can use that energy to go out into the world and do something worthwhile.

In the afterward he clearly explains why so many have chosen to self-educate their kids (although he’s not talking about home schooling at all). He discusses Martin Mayer’s book “The Schools.”

Mayer points out that public schools were designed to do three things: to teach students to show up for work on time, follow instructions without questioning them, and avoid rocking the boat. In some work situations, these are essential tools that still must be rigorously taught to those who have not internalized a work ethic. It is true that without these skills, it’s practically impossible to find or hold a job; but unfortunately, our times demand more. Today’s economy is no longer the industrial or information age, but rather an “ethereal age,” groping for new kinds of relationships. It is in jeopardy because so few people fully qualify for the most demanding and essential jobs in the present economy.

To sum up, this book has absolutely nothing about homeschooling in it, but if you need help understanding and articulating that gut feeling that your child might need more than the options you saw before you and caused you to take your child’s education into your own hands, this book will most certainly help.

Leave a Reply