The rise of "no excuses" assumptions and practices are creating charter and public schools that provide for "other people's children" a culture of shame, but we often fail to recognize as well that the last thirty years of accountability have created schooling as an endless series of scripts for children to follow.
Consider this scenario shared with me just yesterday by email from a teacher in an urban charter school:
Favorite student story of the day:
I assigned their first writing project today -- a personal literacy narrative because we just finished reading the narrative of Frederick Douglass (our class mantra is “literacy is liberating”). On my rubric/guidelines I wrote, "Don't forget to give your narrative a unique title -- this is the first thing a reader will see!"
This is the conversation that followed:This mindlessness is what the accountability era has wrought.
An honors student: You mean we have to title the paper ourselves?
Me (with a snarky tone): Yes. who else would title it?
All students in unison: The teacher!
Me: Are you serious?
All students: Yes
Me (took a deep breath): If I catch anyone titling their paper "My Literacy Narrative," you will lose points, and I will make you wear a name tag that says, "Hi, my name is boring."
Multiple students began frantically erasing the top of their papers.
Apparently, every paper their freshman year was titled for them. [emphasis added]
If the teacher is the most important factor (or in-school factor) in a student's learning, then the scripted classroom bent on test-prep is guaranteed to produce only one thing: Mindlessly obedient and incapable young people.
That may benefit our two major political parties filled with Clowns and offering us endless Circuses, that may benefit Corporate America seeking a cheap and inter-changeable workforce, but that doesn't serve our hopes of Democracy and Equity...