We have been programmed to assume that what kids are taught at school is better knowledge than what they get by connecting to the internet. We are also assured that schools standardize subjects so each youngster will learn the same material — at least at a minimum.
For both of these supposed articles of faith for schooling, the opposite has become true — sometimes radically so. Yesterday the Minneapolis-St. Paul StarTribune published a column by Katherine Kersten describing a legal “battle royal” regarding a public charter school TiZA where the enrollment is mainly Somali.
We can suppose — because TiZA is a taxpayer supported public school — students will go through preparations for and taking required standards tests. But it is hard to assume that the students would not learn a lot of the material they study from the perspective of Islam. After all, their Somali parents would see that as a benefit — as a chief reason for sending their children to TiZA. The StarTribune columnist writes: “During her tenure, [a witness] says in an affidavit, she saw ‘no real distinction’ between the operations of TiZA and the Muslim American Society, with which the school shares a building.”
Schooling has always involved culture and nurture. To what extent that is good or bad is not the subject of this blog and website. Visualizing schooling as a pizza focuses thinking about the knowledge-acquiring aspect of schooling. Until recently the level where the issue of knowledge biases and slants was struggled with was among the pepperoni and onions in the above illustration: curriculum, textbooks, and what is in the library.
Handschooling is a brand-new doable step that absolutely equalizes and vastly expands the knowledge available for students — worldwide, no less — to study and learn literally from the same webpage.
To add the olives layer by providing each TiZA student with his and her own mobile web browser would not need to change any of the other layers. It would add, for each individual student, a connection to the new layer that no other generation has ever had: the global knowledge commons that emerges in the intertwingularity.
It is false to justify not letting kids have handschooling because it would be substituting the olives for the pepperoni and onions. But forbidding the olives is increasingly less possible. The world has changed for school people who would limit to their own biases what children learn. The new intertwingularity layer hovers above every school, and increasingly the new generation is connecting on its own.