Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pathologies of Enthusiasm: cheerleading is not engineering

Throughout their history, American schools have been expected to take on responsibilities for which they were often unsuited. Public schools have been enthusiastically, though not too wisely, promoted as a cure for most of society's ills. When they have failed, it was usually because their leaders and their public alike had forgotten their real limitations as well as their real strengths.

There is an enthusiasm for “raising expectations” which has captured a generation of would-be school reformers. For example, Paul Krouse, publisher of Who's Who Among American High School Students, finds those students "undermotivated." His assessment? "I think everyone needs to raise his expectations and standards for these students to perform better."

Unlike teachers, doctors are not advised that raising their expectations will decrease morbidity rates among their patients. Nor is raising their expectations a technique by which lawyers plan to win more trials; or soldiers, more battles. Yet schoolteachers are importuned, with a straight face, to “raise their expectations” so as to cause greater learning in their students.

To continue this train of thought see “Fat-Free” Foods and Schooling Options

Cordially,

-- EGR