Joined: Jan. 2006
Yes, I agree with much of what you say, I perhaps should have made myself a little clearer. With regards to the US and creationism, it's a serious downfall of my idea that creationism in the US has existed prior to much of the "modernisation" of education.
BTW I know what you mean about the Cambridge system, I was educated in a very similar way for part of my higher ed. It suited me, but it's by no means a good method for most people, and given secondary school education today, it's downright disasterous. I would also agree that modern secondary ed is not awful, just that the way we are doing it is missing the point of education. Mind you perhaps what I think the point is and what other people think the point is differ!
I think the purpose of an education is manifold. In no particular order:
1) to produce useful and independant members of society as far as is possible.
2) to allow citizens to understand the world and systems around them, both in terms of science and the humanities.
3) to teach people how to think, not just what to think. Of course some of the "what" has to happen, we aren't going to reinvent the wheel with every kid, but I would argue the emphasis has shifted from "how" too much towards "what".
4) to encourage learning appropriate to the student doing it (W. Sanderson's "I will never admit there is such a thing as a dull boy".)
And probably a dozen things I have forgotten!
The link I am making with creationism is not necessarily causative, i.e. I am not saying that this education system makes creationists. What I am saying (I think! is that this reliance on the "right" answer type education and the generally "woolly" approach to scholarship/intellectual honesty most people encounter prior to 16 and 18 actually aids this type of thinking.
Obviously, as you mention, there are vastly more important causative factors, but to use a medical analogy, we are more efficiently mixing our population and thus the ideas contained in that population. We are not effectively innoculating people against certain virulent and harmful ideas. This is education as a vaccine as it were. I am not suggesting we fight off dogmatic religious bunkum by inculcating a dogma of our own. I AM suggesting that by encouraging "rote" learning and "league table" approaches to educational success we are failing to prevent dogmatic ideas proliferating.
Is that clearer? I apologise if I'm a bit waffly, this is an idea I idly had at lunchtime whilst reading the BBC site, it's isn't exactly coherently sorted out yet! (Obviously! What I'm looking for is someone to tell me (as you kindly have) I'm talking bollocks, or at least partially bollocks, and then hopefully engender a more profitable discussion.
P.S. Good luck with the OU degree. I'm going to do one "for a laugh" (i.e. I don't need to do it, I just want to) in my spare time in the next few years I think, depends on a few things. I don't think learning stops when you leave your grad school.