Saturday, January 26, 2013

A cautionary tale

 This originally was written in January, 2009--nothing has changed.
Got a little help from Clay Burrell, too.

Prince Arne declared himself the Learner. He decreed all children shall become learners, too.

And the people rejoiced!

"We must incentivize schools to learn them everything!"

So the children were taught this and the children were taught that, then that, and some more of this. This and that and that and this.

And the children took the Pearson and Gates National This and That Learner test and...gasp...most of them failed!

Prince Arne thought and thought--why he knew a "this." And he knew a "that." He thought and thought and thought some more.

Towers fell, and poppies grew, but Prince Arne continued his thinking of this and of that.

"We shall teach them more this and thats! We will raise this this bar and that that bar, and they will pass!"

And the people rejoiced.

And now the children did double this and double that. They called a this a triple this that, and a that a triple that this! Oh, they learned and learned and learned some more!

The children then took the International National This and That Learner Exam, upgraded and revised and validated at much expense and stamped with the Official Seal of Pearson.

And they failed again--except in the district of Here and There.

"Oh, Super Supers of the Here and There, how did you do it?"
the people asked.

We dipped them in lard, had them stand on their heads,
Made them study real hard, fed them bennies and reds,
We stapled and folded and creased without end
Our methods are valid, we've got proof can defend

The key to success is to put Thissing First
And now our children are no longer the worst.
We are the Miracle in Houston, the success in Chicago
We even topped scores of some school in Wells Fargo.

(But hear's the real sekrit, come listen and learn
We gave them the answers, left no test unturned
If the test is the point, why bother with facts
We gave them the keys, our students relaxed

We give each a scantron, the dots clearly bubbled
Then they filled out another, completely untroubled
Using authentic skills learned in the finest of schools
Now the students are ready to be corporate tools.)

So each district bought the Thissing First program, a billion dollars was spent. The kids were drugged and dipped in lard and forced to study without end the thisses and thats and the thats and the thisses.

A month before the Interplanetary Universal This and That Plus Learner Exam, upgraded and revised and validated at great expense and stamped with the Official Seal of the Universe, each child meticulously bubbled their own individualized scantron--some used crayons, some Play Doh, some used ink, and a few traditionalists still fumbled with Dixon Oriole Number 2 pencils. The people were pleased to see that the new education recognized different learning styles.

And every child passed (except a few in Gotham who refused to play) but that's OK, because "all" means 97%.

And the people rejoiced.
The End

Scantron image from Greene County Public Library.


John Spencer said...

Brilliant. You've captured what I've been feeling about policy.

Mike Thayer said...

Excellently done, sir. You know that I'm visualizing this with Seussian illustrations to boot, right? Too bad I'm not an artist, otherwise....

doyle said...

Dear John and Mike, was fun, and the material, alas, is too easy these days.

(Nothing, NOTHING, has changed at the Fed level.)