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Contents Introduction xix 1 Why We Must Disestablish School 1 2 Phenomenology of School 25 3 Ritualization of Progress 34
We live in an exciting and interesting time — one when some of our most commonly accepted ideas, traditions and principals are being challenged. This past week featured a fascinating read in the Wall Street Journal asking “Are Playgrounds Too Safe?”, making the case that “ decades of dumbed-down playgrounds, fueled by fears of litigation, concerns about injury and worrywart helicopter parents, have led to cookie-cutter equipment that offers little thrill.” The result being children less compelled to play outside, potentially stunting emotional and physical development and exacerbating a nationwide epidemic of childhood obesity. Recently Forbes featured an article smartly challenging things many of us grew up being taught and often adhere to still.
It’s one of the ironies of education reform that despite wave after wave, schools are seen by many as in worse shape as before all the changes. Here’s a look at why from Marion Brady, who was a classroom teacher for years, has written history and world culture textbooks (Prentice-Hall), professional books, numerous nationally distributed columns (many are available here ), and courses of study. His 2011 book “What’s Worth Learning” asks and answer this question: What knowledge is absolutely essential for every learner? His course of study for secondary-level students, called Connections: Investigating Reality, is free for downloading here . Brady’s website is www.marionbrady.com . By Marion Brady
The 7-Lesson Schoolteacher by John Taylor Gatto New Society Publishers, 1992 Call me Mr. Gatto, please. Twenty-six years ago, having nothing better to do at the time, I tried my hand at schoolteaching. The license I hold certifies that I am an instructor of English language and English literature, but that isn't what I do at all. I don't teach English, I teach school -- and I win awards doing it.
School doesn’t work very well, so let’s make kids do more of it! That seems to be the policy enthusiastically supported by President Obama, by his education secretary Arne Duncan, by many teachers’ unions (as long as the teachers are well paid for the extra time), and by many education policy makers in and out of academia. Kids aren’t learning much in school, so let’s make them start school when they are younger; let’s make them stay more hours in school each day and more days each year; and let’s not allow them to leave until they are at least 18 years old.
My dad hit me when I got bad grades. Particularly when I was young and got a bad grade in “Conduct”. Happiness was an “A”. Even better: an “A+”. Sadness was an “F”. It was almost like a joke.
For Levine’s latest book is, in fact, a cri de coeur from a clinician on the front lines of the battle between our better natures — parents’ deep and true love and concern for their kids — and our culture’s worst competitive and materialistic influences, all of which she sees played out, day after day, in her private psychology practice in affluent Marin County, Calif. Levine works with teenagers who are depleted, angry and sad as they compete for admission to a handful of big-name colleges, and with parents who can’t steady or guide them, so lost are they in the pursuit of goals that have drained their lives of pleasure, contentment and connection. “ Our current version of success is a failure, ” she writes. It’s a damning, and altogether accurate, clinical diagnosis.
In the last Table of Contents for The Case Against Education , chapter two is "Useless Studies with Big Payoffs: The Puzzle Is Real." After writing this chapter for three months, I realized I had to split the discussion. Now there will be a full chapter showing that students learn few job skills in school, followed by a separate chapter showing that the education premium, though sharply exaggerated my mainstream labor economists, is still quite high. Other big change: I got so many positive reactions to the dialog chapter in Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids that I decided to end my education book the same way. Here's my full revised Table of Contents. Comments welcome.
Poly Prep Country Day School Awaiting orders: Fenway, the headmaster’s dog, at Poly Prep Country Day School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Dr. Evil had his cat, Mr. Bigglesworth; President Obama has Bo; even Jabba the Hut had an interstellar critter named Salacious Crumb.
About Trade School How did it start? Where did you come up with the idea? It all started because three of the five co-founders of OurGoods (Louise Ma, Rich Watts, Caroline Woolard) were given an opportunity to work with GrandOpening, and we had a wild brainstorm session about many possible barter storefronts.
Personal Cinema: Matt Peterson 15 June 2012 - 8PM Millennium Film Workshop 66 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 A program of film and video by Matt Peterson, often made in collaboration. Produced along with the collective Red Channels (2009-2011), Dan Meyerson, and others, these works include actualities, assemblages, cinema engage, city portraits, direct cinema, documentaries, essays, screen tests, etc. This will be a multi-media presentation/live cinema event, with musical accompaniment and narration for select works, followed by an open discussion. --San Francisco Earthquake and Fire - Made with Red Channels, 1906/2009, Film/Video, 17 minutes [with live music] --Late Autumn - Made with Dan Meyerson, 2009, DV, 20 minutes [premiere screening] --As a Crowd Gathers [excerpt] - Made with Red Channels, 2011, Video, 7 minutes [with live narration]
In an Occupy-saturated New York, there's a push for education by the people for the people that calls for new structures of collaboration and new uses of resources. But two organizations, The Public School and Trade School , were in play well before the first tent ever popped up in Liberty Square. Designed by artists and organized without curriculums, classes range from philosophy and time travel to mushroom hunting and stilt walking. They won't be churning out bridge-building engineers, but illustrate a dream of collective education. Both schools have similar structures. They have websites where classes can be proposed by the general public and then approved, and they hold classes wherever they get space, often in public locations (Trade School is currently seeking a storefront space ).
As a teacher in a public high school, I am daily confronted with the lamentable realities of state-monopoly education. Student apathy, methodological stagnation, bureaucratic inefficiency, textbook-publishing cartels, obsessive preoccupation with grades, coercive relationships, and rigid, sanitized curricula are just a few of the more obvious problems, attended by the cold-shower disillusionment and gradual burnout among teachers to which they almost invariably lead. While outcomes such as these are certainly tragic, the process that produces them is not exactly the stuff of Greek theater. There is no climactic battle, no cathartic denouement, no salvific moral lesson to be taken home when the curtain falls, and seldom are there any readily identifiable heroes or villains.
Many parents and teachers struggle to engage the nebulous minds of teenagers. How does one teach a brain that’s constantly fluctuating? As Shannon Brownless, acting director of the New America Health Policy Program wrote in US News , a teenager’s pre-frontal cortex isn’t yet mature enough to handle certain judgments and dilemmas. “An unfinished prefrontal cortex also means that young teenagers may also have trouble organizing several tasks,” she wrote.
Democratic schooling may be the most radical experiment in education of the past 100 years. A.S. Neill in a Summerhill classroom.
WAR ON EDUCATION AND STUDENTS
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