2020年9月23日08:36:26世界各地的公立学校都在以惊人相似的方式发展已关闭评论 628 7686字阅读25分37秒


If you were starting from scratch, and wanted to help children become contributing, well-rounded members of society, would you have invented this plan? Surely not. Nobody else did. Well, almost nobody else.


All around the world, students attend schools which have an astonishing degree of similarity.


Children are required to attend.


It runs from kindergarten to grade 12.


Students are divided by age, not by what they need or want to learn, nor by what they've already learned.


The teacher is the authority. The children provide heads which the teacher is supposed to fill.


There is little or no opportunity for students to explore a subject in depth, to develop a passion, to hone a skill.


There's an hour for one subject, then an hour for another.


Teachers are considered qualified if, and only if, they have the required certificate.


Whether they can teach well is irrelevant.


Whether they love or hate children is irrelevant.


Whether childhood is a happy time for anybody, is irrelevant. That's not on the spreadsheet.


Curriculum is fixed, and taught at a fixed rate, even if that doesn't work for some students… even if it doesn't work for anybody at all.


It centers around a standardized curriculum and lesson plans, not real-life experiences.


Students and teachers alike believe that the main purpose of school is preparing students to pass the exam.


Whether in colonial Madagascar of 1908 (above) or 1920s America (below), public schools have evolved in remarkably similar ways.

无论是1908年的马达加斯加殖民地(上图)还是20世纪20年代的美国(下图) ,公立学校的发展方式都惊人地相似。

If you were starting from scratch, and wanted to help children become contributing, well-rounded members of society, would you have invented this plan? Surely not. Nobody else did. Well, almost nobody else.


For many centuries, the favorite pastime of European rulers was invading one another to win more territory.


King Frederick William III of Prussia encountered a problem: Most of his troops were farmers who had been drafted to serve him. When the enemy shot at them, they had an annoying tendency to go home to their family and farm. He wouldn't win more land with that army! He wanted soldiers who, if ordered to make a suicidal charge, would blindly obey — not soldiers who might shoot their captain and go home.

腓特烈·威廉三世遇到了一个问题: 他的大部分军队都是被征来为他服务的农民。当敌人向他们射击时,他们有一种恼人的倾向,就是回到自己的家和农场。他不可能用那支军队赢得更多的土地!他希望士兵们在接到自杀冲锋的命令时盲目服从,而不是开枪打死自己的上尉然后回家的士兵。

To create them, Prussia instituted a system of schools that focused on making students respect and obey the authority figure — a teacher. (1)


When young men arrived for their first day in uniform, they already knew how to stand in a straight line. Prussia became a military powerhouse. It expanded its territory, and today we call it Germany.


But the king couldn't tell parents, "Send us your children so we can teach them to be cannon fodder." Schools also taught reading and arithmetic. History does not tell us if the primary goal was to mold obedient soldiers or obedient citizens. Prussia got both. Students did not, however, learn to think independently. The teacher had the answer; the students' job was to memorize it.


This, alone, would have been enough to persuade other rulers to adopt what became known as the Prussian System. Soon another incentive appeared: The Industrial Revolution.

仅此一点,就足以说服其他统治者采用后来被称为普鲁士体系的制度。很快另一个动机出现了: 工业革命。

Previously, most Europeans lived in the countryside and worked for themselves — typically as farmers, shopkeepers, blacksmiths, or carpenters.


The invention of the steam engine changed all that. Within a few decades, urban factories sprang up. Farmers — sometimes seeking a better life, other times forced off their land — moved to the city. But they weren't reliable factory workers.


Owners needed workers who would show up on time, follow orders, and accept boredom as their fate in life. Prussian-style schools churned them out.


More support came from a different direction. Horace Mann, an American reformer, thought the Prussian school system could improve the lives of poor people in the United States. He got Massachusetts to adopt it and other states soon followed.

更多的支持来自不同的方向。美国改革家 Horace Mann 认为普鲁士的学校制度可以改善美国穷人的生活。他让马萨诸塞州采纳了这一法案,其他州也很快采纳了这一法案。

European nations introduced the Prussian system in their colonies. It created the docile, low-level workforce that they needed, while appearing to benefit the local population.


In most countries today, school enrollment has increased but the Prussian system still predominates.


Today, further support for this Prussian system comes from a new source: The education industry. A vast network — administrators, teachers, and government officials; textbook and curriculum publishers; teacher training colleges; aid workers in developing countries; and the inevitable consultants — all derive their income from the public school system that has evolved.

今天,对这种普鲁士制度的进一步支持来自一个新的来源: 教育产业。一个庞大的网络ーー行政人员、教师和政府官员、教科书和课程出版商、师范学院、发展中国家的援助工作者,以及不可避免的咨询顾问ーー都从不断演变的公立学校系统中获得收入。

Many of them genuinely care about children and education. But they also care about their income and job security. That shapes their thinking, and limits their enthusiasm for deep change.


And so here we are today, with a model of schooling intended to mold soldiers who wouldn't run away when the enemy started shooting, and which evolved to meet the needs of factory owners, but also to make everyone feel good about sending their children into it. The origins of this system are still in evidence.


This year the Global Partnership for Education, a Western NGO that has spent $6 billion to influence school policies in developing regions, proudly announced its latest grants with this photo of schoolgirls marching in lockstep. (The boys, in back, aren't so enthusiastic about the lockstep thing.) (2)

今年,全球教育伙伴关系---- 一个西方的非政府组织,花费了60亿美元来影响发展中地区的学校政策---- 自豪地宣布了它最新的拨款,这张照片上的女学生步调一致地游行。(后排的男孩子们对步调一致的事情不是很热心。)(2)

A never-ending stream of critics, in the global South and North alike, see plainly that the system doesn't work, and think this is so obvious, it shouldn't be hard to improve it.


But the system does work — for many people. Not only those in the education industry, but also for the global elite. And so, it continues to thrive. Even if children do not.


What can YOU do?


My goal here has been to give a brief history of the school model that has spread to much of the world. There were schools long before this, but the earliest schools focused on learning. This system does not.


If this is what you've got, and you want to change it, I can't tell you what to do. Too many people are already trying to run it from afar! But I'll suggest a starting point:


Set a goal to talk with five people in the next three days — family, friends, other parents, government officials — about this. Ask what they think. Discuss your ideas.


If you do this, I'd love to hear what comes of it, either as a comment (below) or a reply to the Tweet on 17 Sept. 2020 (at @k_colonialism) that has brought many people to this page.

如果你这么做了,我很想听听你的看法,无论是评论(见下文) ,还是回复2020917日的推文(@k _ 殖民主义) ,这让很多人来到了这个页面。

And of course, we welcome links to this page on social media or your website. If you found this informative, your friends and followers are likely to, as well.


By Sasha Alyson


  • 本文由 发表于 2020年9月23日08:36:26
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