Reading Nancie Atwell’s wonderful “In the Middle” again; she quotes John Dewey on p.85:
“From the standpoint of the child, the great waste in school comes from his inability to utilize the experiences he gets outside of school in any complete and free way; while, on the other hand, he is unable to apply to daily life what he is learning at school.”
“One reason schools have been able to absorb outside demands for change is that they have been steadily expanding during most of their history and could reform by accretion.Â This kind of incrementalism has made it possible to smother conflict by acquiesence-to say, yes we’ll have that too.”
David Tyack and Elizabeth Hansot, Managers of Virtue (NY: Basic, 1982.)Â Â
“The development of this historical field (the history of American education) took place, consequently, in a special atmosphere of professional purpose. It grew in almost total isolation from the major influences and shaping minds of twentieth century historiography; and its isolation proved to be self-intensifying: the more parochial the subject became, the less capable it was of attracting the kind of scholars who could it give it broad relevance and bring it back into the public domain. It soon displayed the exaggeration of weakness and extravagance of emphasis that are the typical results of sustained inbreeding.”
Bernard Bailyn. Education in the Forming of American Society (NY: Norton, 1960.) pp.8-9.
A number of all-stars are quoted in this essay.
It concludes with Deborah Maier, who makes a great point:
â€œWhy is the word â€˜empowermentâ€™ in proliferation when weâ€™re actually taking more power away from teachers?â€ she said. â€œMaybe weâ€™re talking so much about reflection because we have no time to reflect at all.â€
The folks who are up in arms ought to be aware that reflection is the last thing someone struggling to prepare children for a high stakes test has time for…
Great, great article on the impact of student debt in Dissent.
Of particular importance is his discussion of how student debt is slowly strangling career options for undergraduates. What fool would enter the non-profit world staring down 40k+ of debt?
Times article here.
Predicted response from every administrator who has ever cut an arts program:
“well, standardized tests are the only truly objective way to measure student improvement.”
John Mayer Rice’s 1893 expose on public school systems caused quite a stir. Here are some of his comments about Philadelphia:
The public schools of Philadelphia offer a striking example of the difficulties involved in advancing schools, when those in authority use their offices for selfish motives, whether political or other, instead of for the purpose of furthering the welfare of the children entrusted to their care. And these schools show again the evils consequent upon a school system conducted without a responsible head, a circumstance which gives rise to constant conflict among the hundreds of irresponsible heads, who, in struggling against each other for the purpose of preserving their own rights, forget that none of them has any rights; for all rights belong to the children for whom the schools exist.
This 2004 film documents the travails of a Native American basketball team. What was striking to me was the resemblance of these players to the African American students I taught at West Philadelphia High School.