My Critique of Why America’s Children Can’t Think

Why America’s Children Can’t Think: Creating Independent Minds for the 21st Century—My Critique

By Peter Cline 2002

Peter Cline is an innovative consultant and researcher in reading and accelerated learning skills, according to the book’s jacket.

Innovation is just something new, according to my dictionary. It does not necessarily mean better or improved.

This book should have been titled Why America’s Children Can’t be Innovative (or Creative)? This is what I would expect an Innovation “Expert” to say and believe.

Innovation means change. He is a change agent. If something is not changing then it is bad, according to this man.

Why should children be creative or innovative?

They have plenty of opportunity to be creative when they study the Arts/Humanities, such as Art/Drawing, Writing compositions, etc. When younger than 5 they should be playing- being creative, not going to school. School is to teach them facts, most of which do not change. They learn that 1+ 1= 2 and “C-A-T” spells cat. Things like this do NOT change. They are absolutes. They are not being taught Advanced Molecular Chemistry or Biology. The field of advanced science is where a lot of the new knowledge is coming from (on the Internet) and most the world cannot begin to understand it. It would take several years of memorization, at the college level, to begin to understand this.

Besides how are the teachers going to grade creativity? How can one quantify or even qualify creativity? It would be subjective at best. Creativity/Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is little difference between demanding creativity than demanding conformity.

You have to have a starting point – a broad base of knowledge to start with and that is what school is for. You are not there to solve world peace, in K-12.

“The focus on test scores, which too easily leads to the result that teachers teach not much more than the test answers, is more likely to lower the median level of national intelligence than raise it. This invites the kind of lockstep education that was out-of-date even two centuries ago.” (xi-xii)

I do agree with the first part of this quote but not the second.

I disagree vehemently with this ‘lockstep’ education. Imagine if you would a country or a world were everyone was creative then we would have no  consensus, nothing in common whatsoever. We have a hard enough time agreeing on anything, as it is. So far as it being outdated even 200 years ago is flat out wrong. We’ve all been educated by this system. And yet we have made vast leaps of knowledge in the past 100 years.

Even if true that we learn better this way having an egoistical society with little in common is NOT good.

If everyone were allowed to remain a child then we’d have a world of very old children.

“No child should ever read a sentence that doesn’t lead to a discussion and speculation about its personal meaning.” (jacket)

Will this not lead to a bunch of self-centered adults? Personalizing everything will mean they will live subjective lives. They will not be able to view anything objectively. Textbooks are hardly about the individual. How is this going work, especially math and science books? Even history book—Hitler should be known about but how it relates to me is irrelevant. I was not there.

If something does not directly affect me then should I just ignore it? This can lead to unintended consequences, whereby it does affect me. If it affects   society in general then it affects me. I do believe that this will lead to what philosophers call Egoistic and perhaps even Egotistical behavior, which are unethical (At least the former is, and the latter maybe just bad manners.).

We need not psycho analyze our every thought or every line that we read. We just need to learn and understand as much as we can.

To think means to make rational decisions. How can you decide anything rational or otherwise until you have all of the facts? At least some of the facts but you must have something to base your decision on. Facts are what we are all taught, as children. We make decisions as adults.

WHAT IS THE BIG RUSH TO EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN or should I say to treat them as adults?


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