For those of you interested in another perspective, I'd suggest reading the book "Education: Free and Compulsory" by Murray Rothbard, available for free (ironically) here:http://mises.org/daily/2226
Seems like kind of the same thing...
Perhaps I simply don't read the kind of journals these people do but the quality of research there is crap. Why does anyone at all care about what George Harris said about something ages ago? What was his sample size? What steps were taken to randomize it? What kind of criteria was used to judge outcomes? George Harris can frack off...when he actually knows how to do a regression analysis...then he can come back and play with the big kids.
I mean honestly it's one thing to consider it coffee-table material - conversation starting but not useful in determining an outcome. However precisely the same argument could be made for the Weekly World News. Personally I'd rather be debating paving the rain forests and giving teachers stun-guns than any of the books suggested in this thread to-date.
Oh and where these people paid by the word? Murray Rothbard and Gatos could give Gurdjieff a run for his money.
I mean just listen to this nonsense.
With the development of civilization and individual diversity, there is less and less area of identical uniformity, and therefore less "equality." Only robots on the assembly line or blades of grass can be considered as completely equal, as being identical with respect to all of their attributes. The fewer attributes that two organisms have in common, the less they are "equal" and the more they are unequal.
Doesn't anyone see how specious that is? What's an "attribute"? How many them exist? Without a formal definition you can get any answer you want. Irony of irony Harris actually touched on this in the very book that Rothbard references! Essentially he says that we see differences depending on what we are comparing things too. Men look very similar when compared to animals but not when compared to each other.
Civilized human beings, therefore, are unequal in most of their personalities. This fact of inequality, in tastes, and in ability and character, is not necessarily an invidious distinction. It simply reflects the scope of human diversity.
Since Rothbard doesn't define his term "attribute" it's hardly unexpected that he'd define a term like "personalities" let alone "tastes, ability and character".
It is evident that the common enthusiasm for equality is, in the fundamental sense, anti-human.
Given that Rothbard defines virtually nothing what can we conclude here? Some things about some parts of people are intrinsically unequal and changing that is somehow against humanity. Congratulations! You've just won, a brand new "is-ought" fallacy!
It tends to repress the flowering of individual personality and diversity, and civilization itself; it is a drive toward savage uniformity. Since abilities and interests are naturally diverse, a drive toward making people equal in all or most respects is necessarily a leveling downward. It is a drive against development of talent, genius, variety, and reasoning power.
So making people have all or mostly the same interests and abilities (whatever those are) is bad. Is math an interest or an ability? Is not giving most people an foundational education in math a bad or anti-human? To me anyway while we could quibble on the various elements of math education which are the most relevant to society. Do people here really advocate that having no ability at math doesn't give people a significant disadvantage in today's society? How about language? Should everyone have their own languages? Or histories? Or science?
See this is what makes Rothbards argument sound like a gigantic strawman in regards to today's schools. If by "abilities" he means "education" schools don't have the ability to educate people in every subject to exactly the same level. At best they can provide knowledge foundational to operate in society. As it stands we barely get high-school graduates educated in enough math to understand the math that gets thrown at an adult every day. Likewise we barely give them enough science to understand the science that gets thrown at adults every day.