Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Culture Ignorance & Education Reform

"Art is another thing that is not needed in schools. Parents can color, draw, and make things with their kids at home. Kids also run around and play enough after school, they don't need to do it in school in gym. School is for learning." Josie1 (Source: Morning Call online comment forum)

Really? I guess Josie isn't aware of extensive research that shows the arts help increase test scores in the core subjects, or that the arts teach critical thinking skills, or that subjects like Math, Social Studies, and Science, can be taught through art to make learning more meaningful to students. And I could go on and on about the educational value of the arts. But why do I have to? Wow. Are people really so ignorant that they cannot see a connection between art and learning? What's really frightening is that Josie will pass on her stupidity to her children. And chances are her kids will never get the opportunity to learn about Leonardo DaVinci, or Picasso, or any other artist since art has probably been cut from
the curriculum at their school. So, the cycle of stupid continues. This kind of culture ignorance coupled with the current corporate ed reform movement, ( which focuses on standardized testing while narrowing curricula), go together like peanut butter and jelly. A standards aligned sandwich (SAS). The policy makers are counting on people like Josie because an uneducated citizenry is less likely to question authority and more likely to conform.

Does the average American see any value in public education other than it being essential to securing a job? Is making money the only goal? The current test driven education policy, mandated by politicians, will only prepare students for minimum wage or low paying service jobs. Why should the arts and higher order thinking be reserved only for those children who can afford to attend private school?

Chris Hedges has written a must read piece about the current state of education :

He makes the case that we are a nation that is destroying its systems of education and demonizing teachers.
He writes:

"Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations. They don’t want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts—those who march to the beat of their own drum—are weeded out.

I completely agree with him, but I think there is something else that is part of the whole picture- our current American values have had an impact on student learning. These fine values include computer and social media addictions, self absorption, impact of 24 hr. fake news, elevation of mediocrity, reality T.V., lack of empathy, celebrity obsession and worship, extreme consumerism, extreme income disparity, greed, lying and cheating, no interest in history or community, and general meanness. The dumbing down of America compliments the cold corporate takeover of our education system. The minions of Josies are ready and willing to obey.

1 comment:

Mrs. Dottie said...

Allentown teachers are being told from administration that they are not allowed to voice any dissent about school district programs or they will face disciplinary action. Administrators are trying to stifle the teachers who are speaking out against changes and programs that could be harmful to the children. This is a violation of free speech rights. Only the teachers who interact with students on a daily basis know how to meet the developmental needs of their students, and the administrators and school board should be listening when teachers oppose curriculum changes. Their voices should not be silenced. I will continue to speak out against the current plans to cut important programs for kids, and I will continue to speak out against teaching to the test and test driven curricula.