Tuesday, April 12, 2011


The message and impact of the title of this post tends to be what echos in my head when I hear people complain about how our education system is a failure.  What is it that makes everyone see failure?  As far as I can tell, most of such conclusions are the resulting stew of this recipe:

Perception of S****y Education
Prep time: 18-40 years.

2 cups imperfect memory
1 cup nostalgia
1 carcass of media criticism
1/2 tablespoon observation of current trends
(optional) A dash of self-importance
(optional) Children

Boil water and the carcass of media criticism in a large pot.  Place imperfect memory in a bowl and slowly stir in nostalgia.  When properly mixed, this combination will taste bitterly of "kids have it easy these days."  Add this mixture to the stew and spice with observation of current trends.  For an extra kick, add self-importance and...wait...don't eat the children.  But I'm told that if you have some, people will take your stew more seriously.  Simmer until done.

(I should elaborate on "media criticism."  I mean criticism by the media of education, not criticism of the media from anywhere.  Reports on education are overwhelmingly negative because that is the material that newspeople can best use to get attention.  The effect of this is demonstrated by the results of the PDK/Gallup poll which support the conclusion that, "Differences between how Americans view their local schools versus the nation’s schools suggests that Americans like the schools they know but are much less positive about public education in general.")

The difficult part of having the distaste for this stew that I do is that I tend to agree with the conclusion — just virtually none of the premises.  Education should be improved and thus requires reform.  My road to that conclusion is based first on the never-ending desire to improve learning and thereby society, second on the idea that everyone is capable of great achievement, and third on observation that an inadequate number of people gain contribution toward achievement by current schooling.

If you've read old posts of mine, you are likely familiar with my struggle about how students are marched through schooling (see 9/17, 10/1311/24, and especially 12/2).  I don't have all the answers, but I do know a couple of things:

1) The U.S. education system is not in a dire state of apocalyptic failure relative to other countries.  This article defends against such alarmism quite well.
2) Raising standards and standardly testing standards with standardized tests is an abominable excuse for "reform."  Legitimate ideas truly cut down to the core.  A friend just shared with me this video featuring Sir Ken Robinson (and if you click that link you'll know exactly as much about him as I do now), and I think it's a fantastic example of what real reform means.  He says a lot of the same things that I would, so I'll let him do the talking:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wisconsin Fail

One of the first jobs I applied for was in Wisconsin, and I had applied just days before the battle over union rights (read the latest) became national news.

Since the day Governor Walker's legislation "passed" (in quotes because Republican actions were illegal and are being challenged), there has been a flood of job opportunities for me in that state. Quite simply, teachers are leaving left and right. But guess what? I have absolutely no interest in teaching in Wisconsin unless this bill is removed.

Flippin' idiots.