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The best thing in 2006

Posted on 2006.12.29 at 02:11
Tags: , , , ,
Horrible day. Dealing with my mother getting a new car she can't afford, plus my brother not being able to pay for her old one and my father refusing to commit to just fucking help one of his children for once reminded me of exactly why I am in the doctors' offices. However...

This really cool thing happened. I was at TGIF's with a coworker of mine and we were talking about typical issues with school, society, etc. Just things we normally talk about. This guy came up to us and said (paraphrased) Not that I meant to overhear, but thank you guys for having an intelligent conversation about religion and politics and such. So let me buy you some drinks, on me. He smiled and left us $20. It was absolutely awesome! Probably one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. It's the first time I've been "rewarded" for actually having a brain instead of boobs. I should have asked if he was single, but that might have ruined it. Maybe I'll see him again. Whoever you are, Thank You!! (You really have no idea...)

In other news, I was reading that in buddhism we all have seeds in our consciousness. What matters is which seeds we cultivate. Here I find my reason for the arts. In buddhism they say if we cultivate the mind in beauty and peace that will be the world that mind will try to keep. If we do not water those seeds, they become impoverished and even though the person may feel guilty for some actions, they will not see the beauty and peace that is around them and within themselves. The whole point of education is to water the right seeds to produce productive members in society. What type of mind is cultivated only by calculating logic and cold figures?

The arts are not just a reflection of ourselves, it is who we are. Without the arts the rest of our education has no meaning. Geometry and area mean very little if you cannot visualize it. New vocabulary such as majestic or red has little meaning if you do not see the world through those eyes. The arts bring us the experience, the application of the rest of our education. Without it the world simply lacks meaning and humanity, leaving little reason to respect life much less continue to live it save for your own selfish purposes.


ankh_f_n_khonsu at 2006-12-30 14:13 (UTC) (Link)
You might try

Be careful of those sweeping generalizations. "The whole point of education is to water the right seeds to produce productive members in society." This runs antithetical to the original intentions of education. Remember that the root of school, sköle, meant leisure. Society had nothing to do with education. Schooling, or indoctrination, focus on productive members of society; not education. The semantics make a big difference. ;)

A fine arts class seems like a wonderful place to interject semantics. I prioritize it in my classes, but my students don't speak English enough to really internalize the false dichotomies.

That bloke sounds pretty keen. What a wonderful idea of practicing spontaneous beauty! Should I find myself in a similar position, I think I'll try to do the same.

akiko_kalla at 2006-12-30 20:50 (UTC) (Link)
Actually, that is what I have learned through classes and my own research. The schools were created, and especially the arts placement in schools, to produce a society that was literate, educated, aware, and moral. Things have changed, but the original intent is the same.

The whole reason music was even considered being placed in a school was because people couldn't sing, not even their national anthem. Things grew from there. Maybe education is different or your experiences have been different. And when I say productive members, I mean people who have varied experiences, think critically, and who can form their own opinions and support them. Someone who just follow all s/he has been taught is not a productive member of society in my opinion.

Or maybe I'm missing something...
ankh_f_n_khonsu at 2006-12-31 02:45 (UTC) (Link)
Schools weren't created to produce a literate, educated, aware or moral society.

Compare literacy rates prior to enforced schooling to after. WWII and the Korean War provide great examples, because they show the decline within a single generation.

Schools certainly wouldn't prioritize educated or aware product, because those types don't have the same amount of predictability. The goal was to produce cattle that could be shaped to conform to social hierarchies. The entire concept of modern schools roots from India, where it was used to preserve the class divide. It was imported to the West for exactly the same purpose.

Moral people don't make good consumers. Schools certainly don't want to make people competent enough to make individual moral criticisms.

When it comes to education people often get lost in the propaganda. How much Gatto have you read? Specifically, have you read this?

You can find the online text, free, here.

You might also see Classrooms of Heart and his interview with Lennart Mogren (both Google Video links).

And I'm fairly militant that every person responsible for students should read his Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. Iserbyt's The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America has some major faults, but it also has some very good content.

Gatto has plenty of content online. I often use guerilla tactics and leave essays/chapters in the teachers room in the hope that someone might read it. I seldom succeed. :(


akiko_kalla at 2006-12-31 04:33 (UTC) (Link)
I had very different teachers and courses than you. I agree that that is part of the reason and has become much of the reason for schools' continuded existence, but there is more to it than that.

I haven't read that, but I am quite familiar with the dumbing down of expectations. Of course if we used valid assessments we would easily see just how dumbed down things have become. The problem is that the government refuses to fund changes that need to be made, many parents rebel against any change seeking to blame the teachers, and the teachers worth a damn are already overworked, underpaid, and frustrated with yet more work and new techniques with no one to teach it to them. I will have to read that and share it with my colleagues.

In my education, most of my teachers fought strongly for students to think for themselves, form their own opinions and experience life and the world from many perspectives. It is because of them that I started teaching; because not everyone does have such an experience. At the university, especially in the arts at my school, they taught the importance of nonconformity and keeping high standards. Of course that was not how it was worded.

I cannot speak for every district, every school, or even every teacher. What I can say is that where I teach, and most of those I teach with, do not teach for conformity. In fact those who come to our district and try to teach that often end up leaving withing the first year or so.
ankh_f_n_khonsu at 2006-12-31 04:46 (UTC) (Link)
We don't need more funding - we need less.

More funding = more control. More control = less education and more conformity.

Try We Need Less School, Not More.

It sounds like you work in a class district! B.C. has several alternative schools like Montessori, and they also compensate in-home teachers. Apparently B.C. has quite the reputation for these 'revolutionary' education centers (I don't buy the hype). This decentralization seems groovy to me, so I may look into additional certification when I get there in a few months.

akiko_kalla at 2006-12-31 04:55 (UTC) (Link)
By funding I don't exactly mean money. I mean giving teachers the education they need to educate the students. Particularly where I teach.

I guess you consider my whole district alternative. It's inner city. Our kids aren't doctrinated to site quitely and respect authority, and as difficult as that can be at times, I don't think I'd be happy teaching in a place where kids followed what I said simply because I was a teacher.

Don't get me wrong, we've got a lot of work to do. We've been working on getting kids to just be able to read and write for years. And the teachers are the ones who have been complaining that the standards were starting to drop to appease the government and parents. Now the parents and government are unhappy because students aren't passing the tests. I hate the government's involvement in education. I would say it's useless except it actually damages an already flawed system.

At least the majority of teachers here are more interested in educating the person, not appeasing other parties. We do have an actual alternative school, in fact one of my students starts there next week. I don't know much about it however. As it is, the "normal" schools would be considered alternative elsewhere so perhaps that is why so many of us have the perspective that we do.

I've been really upset so if I'm not making sense just let me know so I can explain. Sometimes frayed emotions do not equal coherent thought. :P
akiko_kalla at 2006-12-31 04:57 (UTC) (Link)
Like I said coherent thought...

*You could consider
*doctrinated to sit
ankh_f_n_khonsu at 2006-12-31 05:11 (UTC) (Link)
Do they use a version of Whole Word or phonics? A lot of the literacy problem goes back to the networking/community problem mentioned in that essay.

If you disagree with the government's involvement, you should really enjoy the Iserbyrt book. She was on the inside for many years and she provides a wealth of references to specific enactments and legislations.

Gatto goes back further to explain the foundational principles. Iserbyt talks about how modern efforts have compounded the problem.

akiko_kalla at 2006-12-31 06:32 (UTC) (Link)
A combination from what I can tell, but I honestly am not exactly sure as I don't directly teach reading. It also seems to vary a little from school to school as the different populations tend to need different support strategies. I know much more about the ESL side.

I will definitely check out those books. Thank you for recommending them.
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