In "Over-Schooled but Under-Educated" accomplished British educator John Abbott writes with passion and with eloquence the crisis in Western education. Rather than as a form of empowerment and liberation Western education -- especially in Britain -- is now primarily a means to perpetuate the rigid class system. Another major criticism that Abbott lobs at the Western education status quo is the ineffectualness of its curriculum. Before the cultural revolution, Abbott argues, children were considered an important part of the community, and in apprenticeships they mastered the necessary skills to contribute effectively to the growth of the community. Today, however, adolescents are considered a burden, and are put in schools to prevent them from causing trouble. And the way that the school is structured -- reading books, discussing theory, taking tests -- runs counter to how humans were meant to learn, and thus school performance is less a measure of intellectual curiosity and achievement, and really just a measure if students can keep still, shut up, and do their homework.
Abbott argues effectively that the solution must be in a radical re-imagining of education as a community effort, and seeing school as a continuation of the community. There are some great ideas in this book for school administrators, such as combining work with study so as to permit the students to best absorb, assimilate, and internalize the theory taught in school.
As an education theorist Abbott does suffer from being vague and abstract too many times. But it's clear that there is now a crisis in Western education, and this book is a clarion call to do something about it.