Today I was discussing with a fellow educator and friend the differences between an inner-city school district that we know and other districts we've worked in. I ended up making an analogy that I think works incredibly well, and I want to make sure I've recorded it for reference and remembrance.
Foundational to the philosophy of the United States' government is the idea that the legitimacy of the government is derived from the consent of the governed. Instead of power being seized and enforced by force or inheritance, it is granted only voluntarily by the people as a group. This bottom-up idea was, while not entirely new, revolutionary when applied.
Education is not much different. The value of education can only be transferred to those who consent to be educated. People have tried, and most of our educational system is built around this old method, to educate by force. Yes, knowledge can be gained when it is forced, but such a case is analogous to order gained by force; it isn't nearly as legitimate and valuable as that gained by consent.
I experienced the success of a class that consented to be educated today. I worked with a choir that, while done with their performances for the year, was so receptive that they let me "experiment" with vocal warmups, which we did for 30+ minutes! I taught them a few vowel symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet, about some vowel modification, about diphthongs, and more, because they consented to be educated. It was awesome.