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学校没开“快乐”课  

2016-11-17 22:05:26|  分类: 翻译写作 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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快乐:学校缺少的一门课 (paths

接受教育不需要放弃快乐

 

乔纳森· 斯威夫特曾在1729年建议爱尔兰人吃掉他们的孩子,他强调说这样就立马解决了三个问题:给饥民提供了食物,经济严重萧条时期减少了人口,还刺激饭店的生意。这说法只是个讽刺,可仍然让美国人感到厌恶、震惊,因为美国文化是以孩子为中心的。然而,出乎你意料的是,美国的情形实际上更接近乔纳森的建议。

你要是和教育者、决策者呆一段时间(哪怕你读读教育社论) ,你就会听到很多这类词语:标准结果技能自我控制责任等等。我参观过一些新的所谓成效显著的学校,那里的学生为学习自我控制高喊口号;做完作业就得到一粒糖豆;要是在座位上不安静,就得站起来。

参观这些学校时,我脑海里浮现的全是查理斯·狄更斯的《艰难时世》。书中有所学校的校长瓦克福德·斯桂尔斯说得很干脆:注意,我要的是事实。这些孩子,什么也别教,只教事实。生活中只需要事实。只种事实,其它的全都根除。你只能用事实去塑造理性动物的大脑:其它的一点用没有??

在这部小说里,斯桂尔斯决意要让学生学到那些在成人世界有用的知识。现在这情形并没有多少改变。每个人都担心孩子们是否正在学习必要知识使得他们能上大学、找到好工作、在大公司工作、学习新技能。国家整个教育体制似乎是为了解决大规模经济困难,培养未来的工人。不是为了孩子,这是毫无疑问的。事实上,人们普遍认为,教师若是过于关注学生是否快乐,会在某种程度上鼓励肆意的自我放纵,鼓励危险的享乐主义。

只要看看当今大多数课堂,就能清楚地看到,人们考虑教育时,并未考虑孩子如何感受,也没考虑童年为何能成为人生中重要而珍贵的阶段。这或许能解释为何我所参观的学校很多都特别像是狄更斯的小说里描写的。

我是一位妈妈,养育着三个孩子,我还是老师,发展心理学家,所以我观察过很多孩子——看他们交谈、玩耍、争论、吃饭、学习,还有,做孩子。以下是我逐渐明白的道理。孩子不同于成人之处,不是他们无知,也不是他们缺乏技能,而是他们有感受快乐的巨大能力。想像一下,一个3岁的孩子在澡盆里发现东西有沉有浮时他多么愉快地陶醉其中,或者想像一个5岁的孩子和好朋友一起把一连串无意义的词串在一起时多么激动忘形,或者想像一个11岁的孩子阅读迷人的连环画时怎样沉浸其中。孩子能全神贯注于一个东西,从中得到强烈的快感,这种能力是成年人倾其余生都想恢复的。

一个朋友给我讲了下面这个故事。有一天,他7岁的儿子上完足球训练课,他去接儿子,儿子和他打招呼,脸色消沉,声音沮丧。他因不注意听讲,不专注足球练习,受到教练批评。小男孩低垂着脑袋,耷拉着肩膀走出校门,拖着步子向汽车走去。他好像笼罩在悲伤里。但是,快走到车门时,他突然停住了,蹲下来盯着人行道上的什么东西。他的脸越来越低,接着他热情奔放地大叫起来:爸爸,快来。这是我见过的最了不起的虫子。它好像有一百万条腿。你看。太厉害了。他抬头看着爸爸,脸上洋溢着活力和喜悦。我们能不能在这里多待一会?我想看看它用那么多腿干什么。从没有比这更酷的了。

传统的观点认为,这种时刻是青年时代副产品,令人愉快却毫无意义——应当推到一边,腾出空间给更重要的品质,比如坚韧、责任和务实等。然而,这样的时刻正是成年人倾其生要追求的那种极度专注与快乐。西格蒙德· 弗洛伊德在他的杰作《文明及其不满》中把童年描述成努力平衡两种欲求的时期:一种是寻求快乐、避免痛苦的原始欲望,另一种是日渐强烈的融入集体的需求。此后的每一项研究都表明,弗洛伊德是正确的。人类生活就是由体验快乐的欲望所支配。受教育不应要求放弃快乐,而应使人在新事物中找到快乐:比如说,阅读小说而不是玩小玩偶,做实验而不是让杯子在澡盆里沉浮,讨论严肃的问题而不是把没有意义的词串起来。创作艺术品,交朋友,作决定,这些都是快乐的永恒源泉,同样是做这些事情,学校应帮孩子找新的更加成熟的方式。

培养孩子感受快乐的能力,而不是忽视这种能力,没有那么难。只是要转变教育界的思维习惯。为什么要努力让孩子循规蹈矩呢?为什么不把注意力放在让孩子得到快乐上呢?比如制作东西、与人合作、探讨观点、解决问题等有意义、有成效的活动,孩子都可从中得到快乐。这些事与他们喜欢做的事情没有多大区别。

请好好想想,你会认为这种主张是情绪化的梦呓,应当置之不理吗?还是觉得在一个极度贫困、学业成绩差和辍学率高的国家,快乐是一种奢侈品,人们消费不起?学校条件越差,快乐在取得教育成功上的作用就越重要。

教师布置的许多作业、制定的许多规矩,往往是因为他们受到行政压力,结果都把快乐和喜悦当作能力和责任的大敌。他们认定,孩子不应在教室里聊天,因为聊天会妨碍用功学习;相反,孩子应学会把快乐延后,来追求考大学这类抽象的目标。他们不应动手,该当忍受无聊,这样他们以后就善于应对无聊了。

这种对待孩子的方式不但讨厌、糟糕,而且毫无教育意义。几十年的研究已经表明,孩子要在学校学到技能,学到真正的知识,就得自己愿意学。你能强迫孩子坐在座位上,强迫他们做作业、练除法,但你不能强迫他们认真思考、享受读书、消化复杂的信息、培养学习兴趣。要做到这些,就得帮助孩子找到学习的乐趣——把学校当作快乐的源泉。

谈到学习,成年人往往把学习比作药:苦口,但必要,而且对身体有益。为何不把学习比作食物呢?食物对人类如此重要,人类已经进化到把进食看作是一种快乐了。一个人越喜欢新鲜健康的食物,这个人饮食良好的可能性就越大。学习为何不能是同样的道理呢?让孩子因为爱学而学——只要想一下两岁的孩子多么想说话,就能明白人类对知识的渴求是与生俱来的。那么,在学校,就请帮助孩子发展他们对学习的天生兴趣吧

培养孩子不应没有快乐,也不应把快乐留给课后项目。孩子的生活环境越艰苦,对孩子来说在课堂上找到快乐就越重要。快乐不是个肮脏的字眼,与幼儿园到12年级公共基础教育的目标也没有背道而驰。事实上,快乐是必要条件。

Joy: A Subject Schools Lack

Becoming educated should not require giving up pleasure.

 

When Jonathan Swift proposed, in 1729, that the people of Ireland eat their children, he insisted it would solve three problems at once: feed the hungry masses, reduce the population during a severe depression, and stimulate restaurant business. Even as a satire, it seems repulsive and shocking in America with its child-centered culture. But actually, the country is closer to his proposal than you might think.

 

If you spend much time with educators and policy makers (even if you just read editorials about education), you’ll hear a lot of the following words: "standards," "results," "skills," "self-control," "accountability," and so on. I have visited some of the newer supposedly "effective" schools, where children chant slogans in order to learn self-control, are given a jelly bean when they do their worksheet, or must stand behind their desk when they can’t sit still. When I go to these schools, all I can think of is Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, in which Wackford Squeers, the headmaster of a school, says with great certainty, "Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them …"

 

In the novel, Squeers is hell-bent on making sure that his students leave school with the knowledge they need to be "serviceable" in the adult world. It’s not so different today. Everyone is worried about whether kids are "learning what they need" to get into college, finding good jobs, getting along in a big company, and learning new trades. The country's whole school system seems geared toward solving large-scale economic woes and producing future workers. It’s most definitely not geared toward children. In fact, the prevailing view is that if teachers focus too much on students’ pleasure they will somehow be encouraging wanton self-indulgence and dangerous hedonism.

 

A look at what goes on in most classrooms these days makes it abundantly clear that when people think about education, they are not thinking about what it feels like to be a child, or what makes childhood an important and valuable stage of life in its own right. This may explain why so many schools that I visit seem more like something out of a Dickens novel than anything else.

 

I’m a mother of three, a teacher, and a developmental psychologist. So I’ve watched a lot of children—talking, playing, arguing, eating, studying, and being, well, young. Here’s what I’ve come to understand. The thing that sets children apart from adults is not their ignorance, nor their lack of skills. It’s their enormous capacity for joy. Think of a 3-year-old lost in the pleasures of finding out what he can and cannot sink in the bathtub, a 5-year-old beside herself with the thrill of putting together strings of nonsensical words with her best friends, or an 11-year-old completely immersed in a riveting comic strip. A child's ability to become deeply absorbed in something, and derive intense pleasure from that absorption, is something adults spend the rest of their lives trying to return to.

Many teachers are pressured to treat pleasure and joy as the enemies of competence and responsibility.

 

A friend told me the following story. One day, when he went to get his 7-year-old son from soccer practice, his kid greeted him with a downcast face and a despondent voice. The coach had chastised him for not paying attention and not focusing on his soccer drills. The little boy walked out of the school with his head drooping downwards, shoulders slumped, dragging his way towards the car. He seemed wrapped in sadness. But just before he reached the car door, he suddenly stopped, crouching down to peer at something on the sidewalk. His face went down lower and lower, and then, with complete ebullience he called out, "Dad. C’mere. This is the most amazing bug I’ve ever seen. It has, like, a million legs. Look at this. It’s awesome." He looked up at his father, his features brimming with energy and delight. "Can’t we stay here for just a minute? I want to find out what he does with all those legs. This is the coolest ever."

 

The traditional view of such moments is that they constitute a charming but irrelevant byproduct of youth—something to be pushed aside to make room for more important qualities, like perseverance, obligation, and practicality. Yet moments like this one are just the kind of intense absorption and pleasure adults spend the rest of their lives seeking. In his masterpiece essay, Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud described childhood as a period of trying to balance primal urges to find pleasure and avoid pain with the growing need to be part of a group. Every piece of research since that essay has shown that Freud was right. Human lives are governed by the desire to experience joy. Becoming educated should not require giving up joy but rather lead to finding joy in new kinds of things: reading novels instead of playing with small figures, conducting experiments instead of sinking cups in the bathtub, and debating serious issues rather than stringing together nonsense words, for example. In some cases, schools should help children find new, more grown-up ways of doing the same things that are perennial sources of joy: making art, making friends, making decisions.

 

Building on a child’s ability to feel joy, rather than pushing it aside, wouldn’t be that hard. It would just require a shift in the education world’s mindset. Instead of trying to get children to buckle down, why not focus on getting them to take pleasure in meaningful, productive activity, like making things, working with others, exploring ideas, and solving problems? These focuses are not so different from the things to which they already gravitate and in which they delight.

Before you brush this argument aside as sentimental fluff, or think of joy as an unaffordable luxury in a nation where there is dire poverty, low academic achievement, and high dropout rates, think again. The more dire the school circumstances, the more important pleasure is to achieving any educational success.

 

Many of the assignments and rules teachers come up with, often because they are pressured by their administrators, treat pleasure and joy as the enemies of competence and responsibility. The assumption is that children shouldn’t chat in the classroom because it disrupts hard work; instead, they should learn to delay gratification so that they can pursue abstract goals, like going to college. They should keep their hands to themselves and tolerate boredom so that they become good at being bored later on.

 

Not only is this a dreary and awful way to treat children, it makes no sense educationally. Decades of research have shown that in order to acquire skills and real knowledge in school, kids need to want to learn. You can force a child to stay in his or her seat, fill out a worksheet, or practice division. But you can’t force a person to think carefully, enjoy books, digest complex information, or develop a taste for learning. To make that happen, you have to help the child find pleasure in learning—to see school as a source of joy.

 

Adults tend to talk about learning as if it were medicine: unpleasant, but necessary and good for you. Why not instead think of learning as if it were food—something so valuable to humans that they have evolved to experience it as a pleasure? The more a person likes fresh, healthy food, the more likely that individual is to have a good diet. Why can’t it be the same with learning? Let children learn because they love to—think only of a 2-year-old trying to talk to see how natural humans’ thirst for knowledge is. Then, in school, help children build on their natural joy in learning.

 

Joy should not be trained out of children or left for after-school programs. The more difficult a child’s life circumstances, the more important it is for that child to find joy in his or her classroom. "Pleasure" is not a dirty word. And it’s not antithetical to the goals of K-12 public education. It is, in fact, the sine qua non.

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