Friday, October 19, 2012

The Status Quo is Not Okay

In this month's Atlantic, you can find a clever set of graphics. In the special report on schools, there is a list of several groups working on education "reform." The description of each organization (such as Students First and Democrats for Education Reform) has a scale to tell the reader where the group falls between "status quo" and "radical." The page does not explain what these terms mean.

Can you be a teacher and accept the status quo? If you want a child to grow up in a place where his or her natural curiosity is encouraged at every turn, are you supporting the status quo? Is it supporting the status quo to come early and stay late to make sure a student can graduate?

To be a teacher is to encourage change. It would be really nice if the popular media realized that. That realization might also spark a real debate about what is and isn't working in our public schools.

These sorts of simplistic understandings of what actually goes on in schools and what we should do about educating fifty million kids in the US reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, which is often attributed to Aboriginal activist Lilla Watson, "If you've come here to help me, you're wasting your time. But if you've come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."

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