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

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Responding to Joanne Jacobs on Her KIPP "Character" Defense

Joanne Jacobs applies her own distinct brand of mild mommish corporate apologia to defend against the insightful essay last week by Jeff Snyder on KIPP's "value-free" character indoctrination program developed by Dr. Martin Seligman and Dave Levin.  In fact, Joanne would be entirely on board if Dave and Marty would add "citizenship" to grit, zest, self-control, optimism, gratitude, social intelligence, and curiosity.  

I post this response at Joanne's blog:
I wish I could be as sanguine as Joanne about the behavioral brutality inside the KIPPs and the segregated knock-offs they have spawned, but having spent time listening to those who have experienced the KIPP crucible firsthand, it is clear that for all the KIPP's success in grinding out higher test scores for the half of their students who survive the no excuses gauntlet, there is a price to pay for those who are taught to label themselves as failures for not working hard enough or being nice enough to survive KIPP's cultural sterilization intervention.  But the losers in this case may, in fact, be the fortunate ones.
For having dismissed poverty or any other "excuse" as being irrelevant to academic success, the relentless KIPP maw gobbles up and stamps out both students and teachers without the vulgar ethical compunctions that some still embrace as central to the educational enterprise: honesty, empathy, integrity, compassion. 

As long as KIPP's corporate machine is afforded tax money to promote the values that are consistent with an economic system that shuns any moral stance that could limit capital accumulation, we are sure to see an intensification of efforts to alter the neurological pathways of children to make their "character" tough enough to ignore entirely the conditions of their captivity.

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