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Evolutionary Education

Learning *with* our ancestors
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Imagine an education system where the courses of study over a school year reflect humanity's achievements in a particular historical era. Each successive school year brings the students closer to the present era. Thus:

Kindergarden/Preschool: Students learn how to build simple lean-tos (or find and inhabit caves), identify edible plants, snare small animals (probably catch-and-release), start fires with available materials, tan hides, and communicate with painting.

1st Grade: Students learn to identify ore-bearing rock, metal smelting basics, basic mathematics, economics of trade, farming using home-built implements, hut building, animal herding and pottery.

Etc, etc. The final year of public education would include (among other courses) computer engineering, aerospace engineering and quantum physics. Upon graduation there would be little that our next generation couldn't handle. They would be better informed, more capable, and have a better grasp of the 'big picture' (where we come from and how we got here).

I'm most curious to hear what half-bakers would add to the curriculum.

phoenix, Aug 08 2001


       It might make a fun summer camp or adult retreat (live action Civilization, anyone), but it doesn't make sense the way you have it set up. Ninety percent of what you teach the kids will be useless and obsolete, which is worse than eighty percent of what's taught right now.   

       But, that aside, be sure to have an hour of stone-tool chipping every day.
centauri, Aug 08 2001

       I like the idea, but it seems to me that mastering all those disciplines would take many hundreds, or thousands, of years. You might as well just have students learn the history of civilation in real time.
snarfyguy, Aug 08 2001

       Something like this could be said to already happen. In math, for example, students start by learning operations which are arguably prehistoric, move on to the simple sums and operations known to the earliest civilizations, then to the geometry of Euclid and some Hindu and Arab developments before winding up their secondary-school career (usually) with the math of 17th century Europe -- calculus. (This is a simplification that wouldn't be very true or complete but neither's, say, Euclidean geometry, and it's still useful.) You could teach the history of the field alongside the rest of it and let the school subjects bleed into each other a little.   

       Of course, if the point of the class was to learn math this would just distract and slow things down, which is why it's not really done.   

       More importantly, do we want five-year-olds who can make flint spears, stalk giant mammals, and cannibalize each other? Most of us, I mean. (And what do you do with adults who absorbed ethics from slave societies at age six and Machiavelli at twelve?)
Monkfish, Aug 08 2001, last modified Aug 09 2001

       What if they got to the later end of the 1700's and decided to behead the teacher, just as in France?   

       would make Pink Floyd's lyrics a little more real. "we Don;t need no education. We don't need no thought control. No dark sarchasm. Teachers, Leave us kids alone."   

       And besides what we college students learn? Astral Projection and telepathy? Now that would be useful in class. . . test days, days where it is just plain boring, and days where your bf or gf is not far from you and you want to send a very private note along ;)
Tain, Aug 09 2001

       Of course I wouldn't expect any student to become an expert at everything. More like 'see how it's done and move on' is what I had in mind.   

       [Monkfish] Of course I wouldn't put a spear in the hands of a five-year-old, but I don't see the problem with showing him how to make one (and demonstrating the ingenuity behind it). After all, at five, the kid already knows how to pick up a rock. As for what you do with the adults, well, that's a good question. I bet they'd have some interesting ideas for the HB, though.
phoenix, Aug 09 2001

       Didn't you learn about Lamarck in biology class, about Aristotle in physics class, about Pythagoras in math class? This is pretty well baked in the abstract, but it doesn't make sense to carry it to the unified extreme you describe. "The big picture" is all well and good, and I'm certainly a fan of historical perspective, but it's not really important to learn every last detail of yesteryear's obsolete theories and techniques.
egnor, Aug 09 2001

       <technology-illiterate adult> Great! now I'll have to wait another twelve years for my first grader to set up my computer for me! </technology-illiterate adult>
beauxeault, Aug 09 2001

       Would you also offer a 'Creation' based learning system? You can't have one without the other (at least not in southern US schools).   

       Classes offered:   

       Ark building 101   

       SODDOM & GOMORRAH - the fun years.   

       Crucifiction 301 etc.
Reverend D, Aug 09 2001


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