Saturday, March 6, 2010

RttT antithetical to public education

[W]hen we talk about “Race to the Top,” we’re talking about a principle that is antithetical to the fundamental idea of American education. The fundamental idea, which has been enshrined at least since the Brown decision of 1954, was equal educational opportunity. “Race to the Top” is not equal educational opportunity. It is a race in which one or two or three states race to the top to have more privatized schools, more test-based accountability, more basic skills, no emphasis on a broad curriculum for all kids, and no equal educational opportunity.


lucychili said...

I think this is about capacity for our societies to manage complexity.

Our education systems need mono-dimensional, soundbite ready attributes about which its managers/leaders can orient themselves.

The administration requires simple statistics which can be aggregated across swathes of diverse people and communities.

A mono-dimensional value system inherently suggests competitive rankings. Those rankings can only be won by a few.

This inherently requires that many of the dimensions of learning enabled by the systems of education are ignored and not valued.

Aptitudes which may be valuable in work contexts such as; good gardener, good with animals, compassionate, empathic, constructive collaborator, careful craftsmanship are messier to value, but are also useful to society.

I think mono-dimensional value systems tend to favour rote learning and unthinking obedience.

This might be useful training for mechanistic industrial or administrative contexts, but many industries are talking about more adaptive and experimental practices which require a more grounded(?) understanding of materials and possibilities and a more flexible approach to what a correct outcome might be.

I also think that the 'winners' of these kinds of simple value systems tend to be adopted to lead those kinds of systems.

Perhaps this is what the crue have in common? Experience in systems of value which are mono-dimensional, win/lose contexts? Sport and militaristic contexts tend to favour unthinking obedience and simplified competitive
value systems?

It also feels as though mono-dimensional thinking is an aspect of economic perspectives about growth, profit, multinational approaches to management at scale tend to exploit complex environments for mono-value outcomes and to move on when the context does not serve that value.

Nomadic corporate entities tend to cost societies and ecologies and to extract value rather than to enrich within a given context.

It feels as though this is an immature kind of economics because it needs to be hit and run to sustain growth.

Perhaps as we develop more contextually responsible companies we will see society develop ways to function at scale which do not lose sight of the value of diverse ecologies and communities. Perhaps this will also be recognised about educational contexts.

I think it is powerful that you celebrate thinking, difficult questions, local coastal habitats, the experimentation and rewards of gardening, pond life. I suspect that kind of broad spectrum messy success is important for future approaches to sustainable economics and society.

doyle said...

Dear lucychili,

Well said--and it gets down to your opening line--our capacity to manage complexity.

A big part of managing complexity is recognizing hubris, difficult to do in culture that no longer recognizes gods.

In the meantime, I'll keep brewing, sowing, and clamming. =)