The trend of Public education seems to be yet another modern day battle of “David and Goliath”. On one hand there is a grassroots movement for “progressive education” and on the other the Capitalist push for privatization, standardized; test and evaluation methods.
The following excerpt from a UVM article on John Dewey illustrates what I mean by progressive education)
During most of the twentieth century, the term “progressive education” has been used to describe ideas and practices that aim to make schools more effective agencies of a democratic society. Although there are numerous differences of style and emphasis among progressive educators, they share the conviction that democracy means active participation by all citizens in social, political and economic decisions that will affect their lives. The education of engaged citizens, according to this perspective, involves two essential elements: (1). Respect for diversity, meaning that each individual should be recognized for his or her own abilities, interests, ideas, needs, and cultural identity, and (2). the development of critical, socially engaged intelligence, which enables individuals to understand and participate effectively in the affairs of their community in a collaborative effort to achieve a common good. These elements of progressive education have been termed “child-centered” and “social reconstructionist” approaches, and while in extreme forms they have sometimes been separated, in the thought of John Dewey and other major theorists they are seen as being necessarily related to each other.
Corporations don’t want to have, graduate class after graduate class, of open minded, problem solving, civic savvy, capable individuals that can enter into society and bring about systemic change. This would compromise their choke hold on public interest. There is another schooling approach sweeping the Globe “The Continuous School Year” Here is a an excerpt from a VPR article. 08/26/11
(Host) As the new school year begins in many parts of Vermont, Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca questions why the state continues to maintain “an outdated school calendar.”
As VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, the commissioner thinks doing away with a long summer vacation would be good for many students.
(Kinzel) It’s an idea that’s being tried out in several parts of the country. Instead of having a ten week summer vacation, students would attend school on a year round basis with several smaller breaks.
Education commissioner Armando Vilaseca thinks this approach makes a lot of sense.
To say that, the only reason we still have a long summer break is because of our agrarian past and it holds no relevance today, is a joke. Most people I know say, they have learned more outside of the classroom than in it. For many people, these years of schooling are the most traumatic years of their life. Summer provides time for the youth to experience different dynamics of social interaction, like camp, family outings, staying with friend’s families, traveling to other countries and being exposed to completely different cultures. The list is infinite, for me it was the one time of the year I got to travel to the other side of the country to spend a solid 2 months with my father. To take away Summer Vacation would be one of the worst structural changes we could make.
School is good and there are many ways we can improve the system for future generations, this is NOT one of them.
But, if you wanted an android work force, who is callous and indifferent because they have no experience of freedom or self-will, than this would be your best move. ”8 weeks on 2 weeks off”. This would be a crisis for the future generations, there is no doubt in my mind. Get involved and voice you opinion, Public Schools are one of the most important shaping force of our Society.
We need; Bright, Inquisitive, Curious, Self Confident, Self Directing, Expressive, Inspired, Liberated, Fearless youth, if we want a brighter future.
Update: 8/28 I just saw Democracy Now did an piece on this issue.