What is School’s Job?

Nabokov“So here we have three different worlds—three men, ordinary men who have different realities— a world completely different from the rest since the most objective words tree, road, flower, sky, barn, thumb, rain have, in each, totally different subjective connotations.  Indeed, this subjective life is so strong that it makes an empty and broken shell of the so-called objective existence.  The only way back to objective reality is the following one: we can take these several individual worlds, mix them thoroughly together, scoop up a drop of that mixture, and call it objective reality.  We may taste in it a particle of madness if a lunatic passed through that locality, or a particle of complete and beautiful nonsense if a man has been looking at a lovely field and imagining upon it a lovely factory producing buttons or bombs; but on the whole these mad particles would be diluted in the drop of objective reality that we hold up to the light in our test tube.  Moreover, this objective reality will contain something that transcends optical illusions and laboratory tests.  It will have elements of poetry, of lofty emotion, of energy and endeavor (and even here the button king may find his rightful place), of pity, pride, passion—and the craving for a thick steak at the recommended roadside eating place. So when we say reality, we are really thinking of all this—in one drop—an average sample of a mixture of a million individual realities.”

Nabokov’s Metamorphosis

In teaching social studies I marvel at the simple yet powerful notion of democracy, as it allows the expression of each of our subjective opinions in within Nabokov’s “one drop.” I revel at the opportunity to teach the act of communication, and be a member of a global, professional body of individuals whose goal is the exercising of the above-described ‘objectivity.’

For Nabokov’s objectivity to be realized though is to realize the paradox of Einstein’s relativity (one degree of separation between Nabokov & Einstein: a productive Monday morning!): the more we know about the object’s speed, the less accurately we know its location, and visa versa. Any definition we seek – for Truth in the religious sense, to the tenor of our elected officials and the implementation of our education systems – must be constantly reevaluated, recalibrated and ready at every moment to be torn down to make way for the New.

In the above vein, I hereby open this blog to the ongoing discussion of the question which fuels the pursuit of Educational Truth, and provides the title of this post: What is School’s Job?

A few answers in the form of an initial “Best of the Web” style posting:

A. Literacy 

·         McSweeny’s Syllabus: Writing for Non-Readers in a Post-Print Era

·         The Elements of Style Turns 50

·         21stCentury Literacies and the Direction of our Schools

·         Qu’est que c’est? Diigo

·         How the e-Book will change the way we read and write

B. Creativity

·         Sir Ken Robinson says Schools Kill Creativity

·         Tim Brown links Creativity and Play

·         Genius = Creativity

C. University?

·         Globe and Mail is Skeptical about Students being College-Ready

·         Japanese Pre-Schoolers Experience Exam Hell

·         You Talkin’ to Me? High Schools not doing their job

D. Represent & Maintain Culture

·         Technology Generation Gap: Gen Y vs. The Boomers

·         Network Education @ Golden Swamp

·         Jeff Utecht on the Culture of Availability

·         Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

·         Book ATM Changes Face of Book Buying

·         The Georgia Straight on Artists’ Copyrights

·         Dave Eggers on Public Schools 

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