Monday, December 5, 2011

Schooling: from the trifling to the trivial

It is one of the maladies of our age to profess a frenzied allegiance to truth in unimportant matters, to refuse consistently to face her where graver issues are at stake. -- Janos Arany
C'mon, let's be honest. How many taxpayers really care whether no child is left behind in the quest for the intersection of east- and westbound trains? How many administrators really care what percentage of your students understand the deep significance of Brother Lawrence's character in Romeo and Juliet? How many presidential candidates really care whether the kids from the hood or the barrio or the trailer park can list the steps in meiosis?

Education, alas, is of interest only to the educated, and in Georgia, that limits our constituency (and in your state too, in case you hadn't noticed) — but everybody is interested in success, and the first step in achieving success is avoiding failure. And since NCLB, all schools are obsessed with avoiding failure.

For many years I've told my teacher education students that the primary letters in teaching are not A, B, and C, but C,Y, and A. That has never been more true. Avoiding unfavorable publicity and unpleasant litigation is the principal worry of every principal, and a smart principal will make sure you are correspondingly principled.

We all want our statistics and portfolios and accreditation reports to be flattering, or at least not shameful. That in itself is human, but nowadays, I hear about little else, and that is anything but humane.

To examine these issues further, see The Public School's Sorest Need: ToTransfigure the Trivial

-- WAC