1.07.2010

All Done Being Angry

The Common Room is always a great place to go for fantastic discussions of philosophy of education.

The Deputy Headmistress is mad, mad, mad about Berkeley High School's proposal to try to address the racial achievement gap by cutting science labs.

I can see how one might be angry about this. Why, yes... it's quite maddening, isn't it? I can also see how the school might want to do this, though. Not because science is too "white," but because other resources might be more immediately beneficial to students who can't even read. First things first. Who shall we throw under the bus first? The struggling students or the students who are starting to get somewhere?

Round and round and round it goes, and never any answers, never any answers. And I'm tired of it. Tired of it being that way, but also just plain too tired to keep caring about it.

The post delves into lots of great discussion of Hirsch and Mason and Russeau.... good stuff, excellent stuff, marvelous food for thought. But round and round and round it goes, round and round some more. Shall we teach kids things, or shall we teach them how to learn? Hirsch is absolutely right--kids can never learn how to learn without things on which to learn. Children need the core knowledge which is the basis of cultural literacy.

So he went on to carefully devise a curriculum on that basis.

I have no doubt that it's a very fine curriculum indeed. (Really. I've heard fantastic things about it.)

But, oh, the years of high quality work put into adapting the great works of western civilization, making their important ideas compatible with the school setting.

Round and round and round it goes.

These questions and dilemmas are fascinating, and I'm sure I'll revisit them over and over again, like crosswords and sudoku puzzles, and probably I'll also revisit them to slightly more purpose as thinker, as a writer, as helpmate to a professional educator. But in my capacity as a mom... there's only one way out of this Gordian knot. I'm done with the endless puzzles, the endless dilemmas, round and round and round.

And I'm going downstairs, to read to my kids. Real books, books that matter, books that haven't been edited down to their level... or mine, for that matter. Books that challenge and change me, even as they challenge and change my little ones. Funny books, too, that delight and entertain me, even as they delight and entertain my little ones. And yes, the dull grunt-work of endless word-lists and dictation. But even that, we're doing straight-up, unadorned but for the promise that at the library downtown, they have more history books than would fit in our whole house, and if you'll just get through these few dull lessons, my child, you can read them all.

1 comment:

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Elena, I'm vastly curious: how are you going about homeschooling your kids? I'm working on my own plan for Jonathan right now, so it is all very much on my mind!