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Talk at Black Oak Books
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Ned DavisNed Davis and I spoke at Black Oak Books yesterday evening. Actually, Ned did most of the speaking and I added color commentary. Our audience were few in number and not ready to man the barricades.

The message of Ned's new book Lessons for Tomorrow is that America's schools are obsolete. Kids learn by roaming around and doing stuff with other kids. School stifles kids' instinct for discovery by demanding obedience, docility, and conformity. In a world that is flat, America is losing its competitive edge and we will be flattened.

Black Oak Books

A woman in the audience told us education is never going to change anything. Things just happen and that's the way it is. One fellow advocated home schooling for all. A woman who joined the group near the end of the discussion told me how she home-schooled her daughter for education but sent her to high school as a junior for socialization.

Even in Berkeley, people are not ready to riot for better schools. Ned said that he'd interviewed many teachers who knew in their hearts many of the things that are wrong with our school system. Parents seem to be the most clueless group. The parents' vibe is that while most schools are garbage, the school their kids attend is okay. Few parents see more than one school, and you can't generalize from a sample of one. Assessing a school is not like choosing a car, where the choices are many, the dealers are hungry for your business, and you can always fall back on Consumer Reports for an objective assessment. (Reminds me of the finding that 90% of male drivers think that they are among the top 10% of all drivers on the road.)

Ned DavisSo what are we supposed to do if we are mad as hell and don't want to take it any more? Ned suggests we need a major commitment, like that of John F. Kennedy when he called for putting a man on the moon. That's what we need: another JFK.


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