The Conspiracy of Ignorance, The Failure of American Public Schools by Martin L. Gross

If you have a child in the public school system, then you need to read this book. The author explains what is going on in the public school system and gives ideas of how to fix it.

Some of the information that he gives in the book is that the education of the educators is below what it should be. For example, a college student who wants to be a math teacher, is required to take less math credits than a normal math major who is going for a bachelors degree with a major in math. The same is true of all the fields in teaching. The student who wants to be a teacher is not required to take as many credits in the field they want to teach as the student who is going for a general degree with a major in that field.

The other sad fact is that teachers are most often in the bottom of the student pool. He believes this is because the courses for becoming a teacher are less rigorous than those for even general education degrees, so the poorer students are drawn to the easier track.

He sees the fact that most teachers were not the best students themselves as part of the reason that they don't inspire learning in their students.

I want to quote just one part of the book in this review, but I think it is very telling.

The debate over what is central to teaching - information or a particular slant on learning - became the subject of an extended conversation I had with a professor of education in Connecticut, an intelligent Ph.D. with considerable power in the state system.

He was candid and forthright in his opinion. "Passing on the accumulated knowledge of society from one generation to the next is not the goal of education," he insisted. "It may have been at one time, but society is changing and education with it."

Detailed information, once the mainstay of our schools, need no longer be taught, according to this education professor. Today, he says, it can easily be garnered from he computer and the Internet, at whose use children are expert. What is now more central to teaching and learning, he theorized, is the understanding that we are no longer a manufacturing society but a service one. People need to learn how to work in groups, not singly. This, he is sure, is what students should gain from school today.

It was refreshing to hear an educator come right out and say what many, myself included, have suspected. It is not that ignorance is an unfortunate by-product of a poor education system. Rather, it appears that in contemporary teaching circles it may actually be a goal. (page 59)

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