Thursday, June 30, 2011

Flattening the Mind

From a comment to an op-ed by David Brooks in the NYTimes (as usual, the comments are more interesting than the original article!):

As someone who has spent several decades in education, I wonder how much you really know about what happens in the schools that are billed as success stories. I had the opportunity to work with students in such a school (one that has gotten national press and $$ from the Gates Foundation because it's seen as a success). I saw kids there who hated to read, and whose answer to every question about why they were doing what they were doing was the school mantra, So I can get into college. A perfectly fine mantra -- except that I had to look far and wide to find a kid who showed a passion for the learning they were currently doing, and who hadn't forgotten how to relish text. ("I hate reading," I heard, again and again.) The kid who still loved reading? He'd just transferred there from a "low-achieving" neighboring school.

The teachers at the "successful" school focused heavily on teaching to the test, and were pretty successful at that. They were caring, committed, smart people, by and large. But there was no room for them to notice or honor their student's intellectual curiosity. I'd home school my kid before I'd send her to a place that deadened the mind like that. I can point to a number of other schools that are lauded for test scores and test improvement where this flattening of the mind is customary.


  1. It's all gonna get worse when the schools are for profit businesses ...think Oliver Twist with tests ... You'll call this time the good old days.

  2. The assault on public education in America

    The ruling class in the United States is intensifying its campaign to dismantle public education.

    With the new fiscal year that began yesterday, states throughout the country are slashing education funding, leading to the layoff of tens of thousands of teachers and the closure of hundreds of schools.

    Both the Democratic and Republican parties are using the fiscal crisis—the outcome of decades of tax cuts to the rich, the bailout of the banks, and an economic crash caused by rampant speculation—as an opportunity to undermine and eliminate public education.

    In 2010 alone, 151,000 state and local education workers were laid off. In the coming school year, a further 227,000 layoffs are planned.......

    starting a discussion about the post public school era would seem to be useful

  3. Anne, you could sign your posts "the Voice of Doom"! ... not that I disagree with you.

  4. Oliver Twist with tests... wow. But not that I disagree, either!