Re: Nate's interesting question

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Sun Mar 06 2005 - 20:08:54 PST

To continue the discussion, with thanks to David and Nate for further

I am very comfortable with David's broadening of the "cognitive
consequences of education" beyond test scores to behaviors related to
dealing with modern bureaucratic
states. There is good evidence for that view. But my doubts about the
general transformative effects of education on cognitive functioning
in general remain and, I believe, have a pretty solid foundation.
Others would, of course, disagree.

I now understand what Nate was pointing to in the link between
dismanteling state mandated education and child exploitation of many
kinds. There are too many examples
to leave the matter in doubt, although what compulsory education means
in many fourth world countries is pretty uncertain and its coexistence
wtih child exploitation seems pretty clear to me.

I moved my activities to the "unsupervised hours from 3-5:00 precisely
for the opening that this once almost empty space provided. That space
has been erroded badly by state sponsored afterschool programs that
mandate finishing homework assignments before doing anything else and,
while still providing openings for more expansive activity, may well
be functioning primarily as surveillance and pacification programs for
the soon to be supersized.

I don't think schooling is going away, Nate. The picture of that
classroom in Ur tells me that it is an essential part of large scale
state regulated societies. Can it be twisted and
disaggregated in new, more equitable, and more humane ways? The
evidence from this
list says YES -- in some places by some teachers in some schools
sometimes. The only way I know to answer the quesetion of what could
replace schooling as we know it is to keep on experimenting with new
social arrangements and studying their development. I am glad to have
a theoretical toolkit, academic forbearers, and wonderful colleagues
to help me in what we call, research -- a word I task to mean to
re-search, to search over and over and over again. No easier to tell
the process from the product than the dancer from the dance.


On Sun, 06 Mar 2005 21:03:41 -0600,
willthereallsvpleasespeakup who-is-at
<willthereallsvpleasespeakup who-is-at> wrote:
> Mike Cole wrote:
> >So I take it that what you are arguing is that one of the positive
> >benefits of compulsory
> >education is that it reduces child labor, increases social capital,
> >and provides future workers with skills that will be important for
> >labor in the years to come? This will be somehow real labor, not
> >slavery.
> >
> >
> In my most optimistic moments I would say schooling is a developmentally
> leading activity. That optimism leaves soon after early childhood.
> I am not sure I would say education increases social capital and at best
> it only narrows the playing field. I am also not saying anything about
> worker skills. I am not even sure what these skills would be. My
> concerns lie mostly in the ethical position of certain predetermined
> ends if schooling is "deconstructed". If we have any grasp of history
> and / or current affairs we have to acknowledge certain undesireable
> activities coming to front.
> So Mike, if we get rid of schooling in middle and late childhood, what
> should they do in their spare time. Sadly, the unsuprvised hours of
> 3-5:00 give me little to be optimistic about. Maybe Wal-Mart offers a
> solution since they are already violating child labor laws left and right.
> If not schooling - then what?

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