Re-form

There seems to be some education reform about to happen if President Obama has anything to say about it, and I think he does. That furrows my brow, because Obama seems to stick to the experts like, oh, everybody he’s talked to so far, and so he may not hear much from the fringe, the ones who haven’t participated in any massive failures yet.

Taking the same old advice from the usual suspects with the necessary credentials and point of view is gonna get us the same old soup warmed over. I think the rise in unified, universal, uncontestable school standards culminating eventually in Let No Child Escape actually inspired the large number of escapees in some areas, especially black and Latino, to whom Obama refers as “dropouts.”

Recognizing “dropouts” as escapees from an industrial school system designed to prepare them to be wage slaves to business is crucial to any fresh discussion about public school. If public education were truly about helping people fulfill their potential or some such thing, school wouldn’t have to be compulsory. If it were really good for children, they wouldn’t have to be coerced into sitting at a desk in rows and all learning the same thing at the same time.

If public education were really all about the children, they could decide what to learn themselves, each day. And if high schools were really geared to teenagers, for instance, they would start much later in the day. Mostly educators seem to do what they were taught to do, and many have written that it is good so it must be because the people who ought to know said so.

And so it makes perfect sense that we, as represented by the federal government, give billions to Bear-Stearns, AIG, CitiBank, and the rest, not to mention Ford, G.M., and, god help us, Chrysler (which had the sound judgment and business acumen to hire the guy who broke Home Depot, Bob Nardelli). If everybody with anything to say thinks essentially the same way—else they wouldn’t be certified or licensed or invited to participate—then all the people qualified to be on television will talk the same language and frame the issues in the same terms, no matter what side they seem to be on this week. All of the big players and most of the pundits are in the club—different tie, same decoder ring.

Obama has said, “If we would out-compete the world tomorrow, we must out-educate the world today,” a conventional us-against-them view of the world. Let’s actually change something basic and let children decide what they learn. Either that or hire a dream team to design a compelling video game for each subject area and let it go at that.
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2 comments

  1. Oliver Steinberg says:

    I have long suspected that there is a flaw in the way our schools are set up. You describe it as the industrial or factory model. We have few factories left; therefore few convincing models for such a system. What, I would like to know, are the schools like in those fearsome “other” countries with whom we are supposed to be competing? If it works for them, maybe we should do the same here. As with health care reform . . . the administration pledged to “change” is not willing to be radical. Not willing to get to the root of the problem. Maybe a good part of the root of the problem with education is the distraction of video games and television and other electronic narcotics. So, if those detriments could be designed to teach instead of to distract (a hypothesis which ought to be tested), then you are on to something!

  2. Anthony Peyton Porter says:

    I’ve listened to the stories that go along with Gears of War and Halo 3 and others, and video games do teach, and clearly. That’s why the military uses them for training.

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