Roy Turrentine on the Long-term Effects of a Good Education and One of the Many Things That Ed Deformers Don’t Understand

I was very busy yesterday . . . . One of the things I was doing was having coffee with a friend who is retired. Then we worked up our music for Easter Sunday when we will play together for congregational hymns and other liturgical music. He is reading Hamlet.

It got me to thinking about our different paths to life. He was educated in a public school near Memphis. I went to a public school for elementary and a private school for high school. Our paths crossed mostly over traditional music, a thing neither of us got from school.

Here is what the deform advocates do not understand: we get the good things out of a good education long after we leave school. Often these thing do not even relate to our specific course of study. The only true indication of whether we get a good education or not lies wholly in the degree to which we value its broad goals years after we pass on to our lives. School is the soil from which a good society grows, and counting the corn kernels from a crop may say something broadly, but the real question is whether there is continued fertility.

If I expect my students to instantly enjoy history, I will be disappointed. There are many people who never come to understand history. If, on the other hand, I can plant a seed that will grow into reading about some subject and reflecting on it later in life, I have succeeded. Not even the agricultural statistics guy, Bill Sanders, can figure out how to “measure” that one. Educational success cannot be quantified.

Because of this, the business model, which crept into education about the time I hired on, is the intellectually bankrupt idea leading us into the mess we are mired in. You can count money. You can count stock prices. You can count corn, cars, and dead armadillos. But you know education has succeeded when your friend tells you he is really enjoying reading Hamlet.

For pieces by Bob Shepherd on the teaching of literature and writing, go here:

For more pieces by Bob Shepherd on Education “Reform,” go here:


About Bob Shepherd

interests: curriculum design, educational technology, learning, linguistics, hermeneutics, rhetoric, philosophy (Continental philosophy, Existentialism, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, ethics), classical and jazz guitar, poetry, the short story, archaeology and cultural anthropology, history of religion, prehistory, veganism, sustainability, Anglo-Saxon literature and language, systems for emergent quality control, heuristics for innovation
This entry was posted in Ed Reform, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s