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

Monday, March 30, 2015

Parent Offers Good Reasons for Opting Out

A clip from here:

. . . .Our students’ independence is slowly but surely being crushed by an endless scholastic bombardment of carrots and sticks, reminders to stay on the state-mandated track and learn the state-mandated information. No zig, no zag, no time to stop and enjoy the view. Students are to be compliant and obedient. They are not to question the authority of leaders in the system. Students are inculcated, from a very early age, with the sense that they do not own their education.

At the same time, their sense of community is being damaged by the very system designed to educate them. Grouped according to age, students are relentlessly rewarded (with treats, good grades, smiley faces, extra recess minutes) or punished (with bad grades, class rankings, less recess) based on slight differences in development and abilities. Everything possible is given a score. Those who score well learn a sense of superiority and condescension, while those who score poorly learn self-hatred. At the same time, this ranking system makes it very clear that one student’s climbing rank is tied to another’s falling one.

Together, these strategies and others are silencing the exhilarated yawps and hoorahs, woohoos and booyahs of our nation’s students. Meek and fearful, they have forgotten how to seek out challenging and exciting tasks. A generation of children are growing up with an “Is it going to be on the test?” mentality. All that is left is to try to make education palatable by adding silly rewards, candy, pep rallies, and in-classroom movies.

I’m opting my children out of standardized testing because sometimes when you’re a prisoner on a ship, you need to glimpse a flag on a hill—to see someone, somewhere, reaffirming your almost forgotten sense of independence and community.

I want my children to value independence. I want them to look at systems of state control with a wary eye, to demand and revere control over their own lives as their birthright. The joy and mystery of living, learning, growing, and loving is theirs for the taking. . . .

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