传统教育 —Robert Epstein:论中学的意义以及是否需要废掉中学?

2021-02-20 09:58:22

Well, not quite. But while writing a new book called The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen, I explored some ideas that go almost that far.

其实,也不尽然。不过在写《反青春期案例:重新发现每位青少年心里的成人》时,我探讨了一些想法,基本如此。

I’m a father of four children, and about 10 years ago I noticed—I couldn’t help but notice—that my 15-year-old son was remarkably mature. He balanced work and play far better than I did, and he seemed quite ready to live on his own. Why, I wondered, was he not allowed to drive or vote, and why did he have so few options? Simply because of his age, he couldn’t own property or do any interesting or fulfilling work, and he had no choice but to attend high school for several more years before getting on with his “real” life.

我是四个孩子的爹,大概在10年前我注意到——我无法不注意——我那15岁的儿子超级成熟。他把学习和娱乐平衡得比我好,似乎已经准备好了独立生活。我想,为什么就不能让他开车或投票,为什么他的选项寥寥无几?就是因为他的年龄,他不能拥有财产或者从事任何有趣或者充实的工作,可他别无选择,只能上高中,在开始“真正”生活之前,再消磨几年时间。

As a longtime professor and researcher, I got curious. Were our young people always required to attend school, and were their work opportunities always limited to babysitting, yard work, and cleaning the floors at fast-food joints? Were they always subject to so many restrictions? Are teenagers necessarily incompetent and irresponsible, as the media tell us? Is there really an immature “teenage brain” that holds them back? After all, past puberty, technically speaking we’re not really children anymore, and presumably through most of human history we bore our young when we were quite young ourselves. It occurred to me that young people must be capable of functioning as competent adults, or the human race quite probably would not exist.

作为执教多年的教授和研究者,我开始觉得好奇。是否我们的年轻人总要上学,是否他们的工作机会总局限于看孩子、打扫院子、在快餐店扫地?是否他们一直都有这么多限制?十几岁的孩子们是否真像媒体报道的那样无能又不负责任?真有尚未成熟的“青春期大脑”拖住他们?毕竟,从技术层面上讲,过了青春期我们就不再是孩子,大概在人类历史上,我们多半在自己还是孩子的时候就生儿育女。这让我想起年轻人必须得成为合格的成人,否则人类无法存在。

Over time, through interviews, surveys, and scholarly research, I began to investigate these matters in depth. What I learned amazed me—even shocked me.

随着时间流逝,通过采访、调查、学术研究,我开始深入考察这些事情。我了解的情况让我吃惊——甚至震惊。

Consider school, for example. The first compulsory education law in the United States wasn’t enacted until 1852. This Massachusetts law required that all young people between the ages of 8 and 14 attend school three months a year—unless, that is, they could demonstrate that they already knew the material; in other words, this law was competency-based. It took 15 years before any other states followed Massachusetts’ lead and 66 years before all states did. Along the way, some powerful segments of society staunchly opposed the mandatory education trend. In 1892, for example, the Democratic Party stated as part of its national platform, “We are opposed to state interference with parental rights and rights of conscience in the education of children.”

以学校为例。美国第一部义务教育法直至1852年才实施。麻省法律要求年龄在8岁至14岁的所有年轻人每年在校时间为3个月——除非他们能够证明自己已经掌握了学习内容;换言之,该法律以能力为基础。时隔15年,才有其他州效法麻省先例,时隔66年,所有各州才全部实施。与此同时,一些强有力的社会阶层坚定地反对义务教育趋势。例如,1892年,民主党在其全国性纲领中宣称,“我们反对国家干涉教育儿童中的家长权利以及良心权利。”

Restrictions on work by young people also took hold very gradually. In fact, the earliest “child labor” laws in the United States actually required young people to work. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that laws restricting the work opportunities of young people began to take hold. Those laws, too, were fiercely opposed, and in fact the first federal laws restricting youth labor—enacted in 1916, 1918, and 1933—were all swiftly struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. After all, young people had worked side by side with adults throughout history, and they still helped support their families and their communities in countries around the world; the idea that there should be limits on youth labor, or that young people shouldn’t be allowed to do any work, seemed outrageous to many people.

禁用童工的规定也是逐渐生根的。事实上,美国最早的“童工”法要求年轻人工作。直至1800年代末期,限制年轻人工作机会的法律才开始生效。这些法律也遭到强烈反对,实际上,第一批限制童工的联邦法律——分别实施于1916、1918及1933年——很快都由美国高院所阻止。毕竟,一直以来年轻人都跟长辈一起劳动,而且在世界各地的农村,他们也帮忙帮补家庭和社区;应有对年轻劳力的限制或者年轻人不能劳动的想法,对很多人而言真是骇人听闻。

Eventually, multiple forces—the desire to “Americanize” the tens of millions of immigrants streaming into the United States to get jobs in the land of opportunity, the effort to rescue millions of young laborers from horrendous working conditions in the factories and mines, the extreme determination of America’s growing labor unions to protect adult jobs, and, most especially, the extremely high unemployment rate (27 percent or so) during the Great Depression—created the systems we have today: laws severely restricting or prohibiting youth labor, and school systems modeled after the new factories, established to teach “industrial discipline” to young people and to homogenize their knowledge and thinking.

最后,多种力量——让数千万涌入美国的移民美国化、在机遇之地找到工作的愿望、拯救数百万劳工于工厂及矿区的水深火热中的努力、美国不断成熟的公会保护成人工作的坚定决心,尤其是大萧条时期极高的失业率(27%左右)——造就了我们今天所拥有的体系:法律严格限制或禁止劳工,学校体制以新工厂为模型,建立的目的就是向年轻人传授“工业纪律”,使他们的知识和思想统一化。

Unfortunately, the dramatic changes set in motion by the turmoil of America’s industrial revolution also obliterated from modern consciousness the true abilities of young people, leaving adults with the faulty belief that teenagers were inherently irresponsible and incompetent. What’s more, the rate at which restrictions were placed on young people began to accelerate after the 1930s, and increased dramatically after the social turmoil of the 1960s. Surveys I’ve conducted suggest that teenagers today are subject to 10 times as many restrictions as are mainstream adults, to twice as many restrictions as are active-duty U.S. Marines, and even to twice as many restrictions as are incarcerated felons.

不幸的是,由于美国工业革命骚乱所引发的巨大变化也从现代意识中将年轻人的真才实干断送,让成年人有一个错误的印象,觉得青少年天生不负责任,毫无能力。而且1930年后,强加于年轻人身上的限制程度开始加速,在1960年代社会动乱之后更是显著增加。我做过的调查表明如今的年轻人承受的现实是主流成人的10倍,是美国现役海军的2倍,甚至是牢狱犯人的2倍。

Over the past century or so, we have, through a growing set of restrictions, artificially extended childhood by perhaps a decade or more, and we have also completely isolated young people from adults, severing the “child-adult continuum” that has existed throughout history. This trend is continuing. Just last year, Reg Weaver, the second-term president of the National Education Association, while lamenting the fact that 30 percent or more of our young people never complete high school, called for extending the minimum age of school leaving to 21. When adults see young people misbehaving or underperforming, they often respond by infantilizing young people even more, and the new restrictions often cause even more distress among our young.

在过去100年,我们已经通过越来越多的限制人工将童年延伸了大约10年,我们将年轻人完全与成人隔绝,切断了自古已有的“儿童-成人连续体”。这种趋势还在继续。就在去年,美国教育协会的第二任主席Reg Weaver一边哀叹30%以上的年轻人连高中都没毕业,一边呼吁将离校的最小年龄延至21岁。

Some leaders in education are far more trusting of our nation’s young—and also recognize the inherent dangers of infantilization and isolation. The former New York City and New York state teacher of the year John Taylor Gatto has long warned about the dangers of artificially extending childhood, and has blamed our schools for damaging families and stifling creativity and a love of learning. Leon Botstein, the longtime president of Bard College and the youngest college president (at 23) in U.S. history, has called for the outright abolition of our high school system, pointing out the obvious: High school is a waste of time for the majority of the students—that is, for those who haven’t already dropped out.

教育界的有些领袖人物对我国的年轻人还是相当信任——也意识到幼儿化和孤立的固有危险。前纽约市及纽约州年度优秀教师John Taylor Gatto 一直警告人工延长童年的危险,责备学校损害了家庭,压制了创造力和对学习的热爱。Leon Botstein长期担任Bard学院院长,是美国历史上最年轻的院长,他呼吁直接取缔高中体系,指出了显而易见的事实:高中纯粹浪费广大学生——即尚未辍学的学生——的时间。

Our educational institutions today are cursed by at least four fatal legacies of the Industrial Revolution—ideas that may have been helpful a century ago but have no place in today’s world.

我们当今的教育机制受工业革命四个致命遗产的诅咒——这些思想在一个世纪之前或许有帮助,但在当今世界并无容身之地。

First, although cars can be assembled on demand, it’s absurd to teach people when they’re not ready to learn. As the brilliant German educator Kurt Hahn (the founder of Outward Bound) said, teaching people who are aren’t ready is like “pouring and pouring into a jug and never looking to see whether the lid is off.”

首先,尽管车可以按要求组装,当人们还没有做好学习的准备就教授他们就滑稽可笑了。如天才教育家Kurt Hahn (Outward Bound户外学校的创始人)所说,给没准备好的人教书就好像“不停地往罐子里倒水,却从不看盖子取下来了没有。”

Second, although mass education was exciting in the era that invented mass production, it does a great disservice to the vast majority of students. People have radically different learning styles and abilities, and effective learning—learning that benefits all students—is necessarily individualized and self-paced. This is the elephant in the classroom from which no teacher can hide.

第二,虽然大众教育在产生了大生产的时代确实激动人心,但对大多数学生造成了极大的伤害。人们的学习方式和学习能力千差万别,而有效学习——让学生受益的学习——必须个人化,而且要自己掌握节奏。这是任何老师都无法否认的。

Third, although it’s efficient to cram all apparently essential knowledge into the first two decades of life, the main thing we teach most students with this approach is to hate school. In today’s fast-paced world, education needs to be spread out over a lifetime, and the main thing we need to teach our young people is to love the process of learning.

第三,虽然在生命前20年里有效地填鸭貌似必要的所有知识很有效,用这个方法,我们教给学生的主要东西就是厌学。在今天节奏飞快的世界,教育需要成为终身事业,我们需要教授给年轻人的重点是热爱学习这一过程。

Finally, whereas that first compulsory-education law in Massachusetts was competency-based, the system that grew in its wake requires all young people to attend school, no matter what they know. Even worse, the system provides no incentives for students to master material quickly, and few or no meaningful options for young people who do leave school.

最后,虽然麻省的第一部义务教育法以能力为导向,可成长于该法律影响之下的教育制度要求所有年轻人上学,不论他们现有知识如何。更糟糕的,系统没有为学生提供快速掌握内容的激励因素,为离开学校的孩子提供的有意义的选择也寥寥无几,甚或全无。

A century ago, there was no way to address these concerns, but, thanks to computers and the Internet, we now have rapidly improving tools that will soon allow virtually all young people to master essential material at their own pace, and to do so at any point in their lives. There will probably always be a place for the classroom, but it will be a place where intense and intimate learning takes place with highly willing students, not a step on an assembly line.

一个世纪前,没有方法解决这些问题,但有了计算机和互联网,我们有着迅速改进的工具,很快就可以让所有年轻人按照自己的进度掌握基本内容,而且可以在他们生命中的任何时点这么做。可能教室总会有,但那会是完全心甘情愿的学生深入而紧密学习的地方,不再是生产线上的一个步骤。

Are young people really inherently incompetent and irresponsible? The research I conducted with my colleague Diane Dumas suggests that teenagers are as competent as adults across a wide range of adult abilities, and other research has long shown that they are actually superior to adults on tests of memory, intelligence, and perception. The assertion that teenagers have an “immature” brain that necessarily causes turmoil is completely invalidated when we look at anthropological research from around the world. Anthropologists have identified more than 100 contemporary societies in which teenage turmoil is completely absent; most of these societies don’t even have terms for adolescence. Even more compelling, long-term anthropological studies initiated at Harvard in the 1980s show that teenage turmoil begins to appear in societies within a few years after those societies adopt Western schooling practices and are exposed to Western media. Finally, a wealth of data shows that when young people are given meaningful responsibility and meaningful contact with adults, they quickly rise to the challenge, and their “inner adult” emerges.

年轻人是否天生缺乏能力而且不负责任?我和我同事Diane Dumas所进行的研究表明在很多成人能力上,十几岁的青少年和成人一样,而其他研究则早已表明在记忆力、智力和理解力测试方面,他们优于成人。当我们看世界各地的人类学研究时,我们发现年轻人大脑“不成熟”势必导致骚乱的说法毫无根据。人类学家已经识别了100多个当代社会,发现根本没有青少年暴乱;这些社会甚至没有青春期这个词。甚至哈佛大学自1980年代开始的更瞩目的长期人类学研究也表明青少年暴乱开始出现,是在这些社会采用西方学校教育惯例、接触西方媒体之后的几年之内。最后,大量数据表明当年轻人被赋予有意义的责任、与成人进行有意义的接触时,他们很快就能应对挑战,而“内心的成人”也开始出现。

A careful look at these issues yields startling conclusions: The social-emotional turmoil experienced by many young people in the United States is entirely a creation of modern culture. We produce such turmoil by infantilizing our young and isolating them from adults. Modern schooling and restrictions on youth labor are remnants of the Industrial Revolution that are no longer appropriate for today’s world; the exploitative factories are long gone, and we have the ability now to provide mass education on an individual basis.

仔细看看这些问题会产生令人震惊的结论:美国许多青年经历的社会与情感暴乱完全是现代文明的产物。我们把年轻人当婴儿对待,让他们和成人隔离,才产生了这种混乱。现代学校制度和对童工的限制是工业革命的残余,不再适合当今世界;剥削工厂早已不复存在,我们也有能力因材施教。

Teenagers are inherently highly capable young adults; to undo the damage we have done, we need to establish competency-based systems that give these young people opportunities and incentives to join the adult world as rapidly as possible.

十几岁的孩子其实是能力很强的年轻人;为了消除我们所造成的伤害,我们需要建立以能力为基础的体系,给这些年轻人机会和动力尽快加入成人世界。

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