“The old rule when I started teaching was ‘never let them see you smile until October.’ And children were ‘seen and not heard.’ And kids memorized.”

This is a quote from Professor Ugoretz’s mini-lecture for this unit. When I look back at my educational history I find myself examining the various facets and subjects of my education through the lens of such old school (School 1.0) adages. In my introduction in the forum I separated my formal education background into religious and secular throughout grades 1-12 and music and liberal arts in college. These exclusively different areas of study have each been approached differently with regards to the method of learning quoted above.

In a sense, the concepts of old school teaching often sacrifice analytical and creative thinking for sponging raw knowledge. They promote rigid discipline versus open-ended discussion. The only area I find that has embraced such an approach in my history is music. Studying music – theory, training the ear, instruments, and vocals – requires unwavering devotion, perseverance, and unyielding willpower to progress. So in such a particular environment the learning experience has mimicked mottos of old. There’s rarely a need for computers and technologies (only those that directly facilitate listening to recordings and watching performances). There are books, pencils, pianos, and lots of memorization. In my experience, the concept of “seen and not heard” has not quite held true but – “never let them see you smile” has. The warmth and openness of the classroom I’ve been accustomed to since grade school disappeared when I entered the conservatory.

Moving backward when I examine my educational experience from grades 1-12 I often feel a sense of disappointment. I find myself blaming the “new system,” the methods of teaching that have “evolved” from School 1.0, for various deficiencies – too low a standard in core subjects such as math and reading, teaching methods that promote laziness, too comfortable a relationship with authorities that obstruct learning and covering ground, and so on.

Perhaps the true culprit and cause of my disappointment is not the modern education system but rather the idiosyncrasies of my educational background. Despite the religious benefits (or requirements) of a yeshiva education, the split curriculum splits the focus. Private institutions of learning often seem to get in the way of their task with religious politics and social community issues causing bureaucratic stalemates and unqualified hires. Aside from a few teachers, it is hard for me to recall true moments or times in my educational history that have had consistent  growth.

I have found that I take refuge in autodidactic learning. Even in music, in the Brooklyn College Conservatory, where the gain is noticeable and steady, the root of my learning is in personally cultivating and nurturing my advancement. My education is primarily drawn from books, Internet, media, travel/tourism, and well even Wikipedia. I feel comfortable as my own tutor or in the hands of dead writers and poets. Perhaps my distrust of and disillusionment from the modern schooling system will be placed in a better perspective from this course.