July cures illusions.
I am reading both Alfie Kohn and Lewis Mumford this week--Kohn's The School Our Children Deserve and Mumford's The Myth of the Machine. Kohn paints a lovely picture of what is possible, Mumford explains why we do it wrong anyway:
Once automatic control is installed one cannot refuse to accept its instructions...for theoretically the machine cannot allow anyone to deviate from its own perfect standards. And this brings us at once to the most radical defect in every automated system: for its smooth operation this under-dimensioned system requires equally under-dimensioned men, whose values are needed for the operation and continued expansion of the system itself.
Human autonomy has become a quaint idea.
Arne Duncan, the quintessential Organizational Man, was predicted by Lewis Mumford--he does what he does to keep the machinery humming.
The sad thing is that a lot of folks, culturally accepted sociopaths, do as Arne does. Joyce Irvine, an effective principal by all accounts, was fired this week to keep the machine humming.
“Her students made so much progress.
What’s happened to her is not at all connected to reality.”Jeanne Collins, Superintendent of district
The good news is this--if you treat children as "humans now" instead of as "workers later" they do as well on the standardized tests as those who get the drill-to-kill treatment, perhaps even better.
I'm busy constructing a constructivist classroom. I'm risking my career on Kohn's words and research. I'm hoping my children become happy, thinking adults.
And I pray I never have an Arne Duncan clone give me credit years later as the driving force in his education.