"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Schoolplace and the Workhouse

For years now I have been mystified when, otherwise, sane people talk about the need to keep the competition levels high in school because competition is the basis for workplace organization. Besides ignoring the fact that the workplace depends heavily on cooperation as well as competition, the promotion of the red-in-tooth-and-claw schoolhouse ignores the fact that learning environments have historically had much more inclusive goals than the workplace. One has focused on qualitative growth, as in persons' morality, cultures, sociality; the other has focused on quantitative growth, as in dollars.

Now that distinction seems in danger of being finally quashed, with test scores regarded as the only bottom line in schools and with quantifiable education research the only kind that is recognized as knowledge, and thus, the only kind that gets funded by policies aimed to foster the politically-sanctioned oppression.

With the chain gang regimentation that has been developed for urban schools where stated achievement goals mask the deeper motive of behavioral and cultural control, now comes the pay-per-day approach to bribing children to attend those straight-jacketed institutions that would be empty if the affected children had a choice in the matter.

Just as an empty hope of winning the lottery will sustain them during the interminable deadness of the adult jobs they will inherit, now they can fantasize about a new car that they will never drive away in on that last day of the school year. Here's the story from the Times.

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