Monday, October 31, 2005

"High Expectations" and Comfortable Prisons --

This one come from Elisa at Two Feet In, by way of a reccomendation at the New Advovate, which is out by the way. This is scary. I do not know what else to say, it is almost unbelievable. I am left, almost, speechless.

...So anyway, I was sitting in this classroom watching a teacher implement the Open Court curriculum for the mandated 90 minutes a day. Since teachers and students don't have much choice in the matter, I could hear the same sentences coming out of both adult and student mouths from other classrooms up and down the school hallway. The teacher I was watching was running a few minutes behind, so I'd hear stuff coming from other classrooms, and sure enough, several minutes later nearly the same words would be replayed in the room where I was sitting.

I thought I might be mishearing things when the kids down the hall started chanting, "It was a comfortable prison! It was a comfortable prison!" But no... Moments later the kids in my room were directed to chant the same sentence. Nobody blinked an eye -- these beautiful, vibrant children who had not moved or been asked, pushed, prompted, or inspired to think an original thought for the entire hour that I'd been sitting there, were chanting "It was a comfortable prison." Direct from the teacher's manual. These are high expectations, NCLB-style.

I've been thinking about the many levels at which this little classroom vignette illustrates injustice and inequity in education and society, but for tonight I'll just ask you to think about it the next time you hear rhetoric of high expectations.

By the way, the last time I heard Open Court classroom chanting, the sentences were:
"The boycott destroyed the toy company."
"The loyal employee enjoyed her bonus."

Add in "It was a comfortable prison." and then consider whose agenda is being satisfied with this so-called education.

On those on the right will always tell you that cries of "class warfare" are ridiculous. How can we continue to believe this? It is time to wake up America.


1citizen said...


NO said...

Yes I am. And you?

Joe Thomas said...

Jack, you were good to re-post this one. Elisa's post was chilling. What is weird is that elementary teachers-- some of the most dynamic and energetic teachers we have-- are bowing down to these scripted lessons. I cannot see any of my old elementary teachers doing that.

1citizen said...

OMG, this is horrible!
If this kind of thinking spreads, music teachers will require their students to go over fingerings and scales again and again and again. Football coaches will demand that players run the same routes time and time again in practice and won't allow them to run wherever they please!!
And math teachers won't allow their 1st and 2nd grade students to work collaboratively with their peers to develop their own math strategies.
Truly, the sky is falling.

Btw, your fabricated reference to the toystore boycott pales in comparison to "my daddies boyfriend slept over last night"....something you would likely not have a problem with.


NO said...

I'm shocked! Your father has a boyfriend! Now I think I understand your need to blather senselessly off topic. You are distraught, and what with your current unemployment I think I understand.

1citizen said...

Distraught? Unemployed? Off topic? Are you in lala land?

But seriously, those Open Court quotes gave me some good ideas for some more truths to help our children. This could be fun..Repeat after me kiddies!

"60% of public school teachers in Milwaukee and Chicago send their kids to private schools"

"The union my teacher works for doesn't think my folks should be able to send me to a school of their choice"

"The reason I don't get new books and enough remdiation is because teacher pay takes up 85-90% of all the money"

"Because of what I'm taught, by the time I graduate high school my reading and math skills will be the lowest in the industrialized world"

Well that's enough drill-and-kill scripted lessons in truth for the day.


NO said...

That stuffs on there too! You are kidding me! I don't believe it! Now I'm really confused. Good to know though.