When I went on the Times website to the article that was the subject of yesterday’s entry, it had received 439 comments from on line readers. My curiosity piqued, I read through them all. (Thankfully many of them were short!) Out of the 439 comments, only my own and two others pointed out that compulsory schooling might have more to do with kids’ inattention than the technology they are using. Not one other person mentioned Vishal Singh’s trailer about unschooling, although quite a few mentioned the videos taken at Woodside by the Times reporters. There were a few that sarcastically pointed out that they were reading the article on their iPads, and one woman got really upset about the Times promoting Facebook. She went on and on about how they should have said, ‘social networking sites’ because Facebook is not the only one. (True, but let’s get real, it’s the only one that counts.) And there was the obligatory ‘this is what happens when a country turns away from God’ comment. But most of the comments went something like this (these are actual excerpts):
“The principal and “techno-savy” teachers at the high school presented are a disgrace. Their approach to “teach” what the kids want is nothing but a blatant desire to be liked and admired by adolescents, the same approach as letting your kid choose junk food at every meal.
These are the people who should be removed from the teaching profession.
As for the parents who find it too hard to ensure that kids do homework? Perhaps they should realize that they are actively removing their progeny from the economic gene pool!”
Ok. First of all, ‘techno-savy’? Savvy is spelled with two v’s, so right away this person loses credibility. Apparently they are so opposed to the use of technology that they can’t be bothered to hit the ‘spell check’ button. And yes, boo to teachers who dare to teach something students want to learn, thus inducing said students to like them! Much, much better to be loathed and teach things in which no one is interested. Don’t you find it stimulating to be forced to sit in a room with someone you can’t stand and have them talk about a subject you despise? Then this person ends with, ‘….removing their progeny from the economic gene pool’. Wow, that’s a really intimidating string of words. But truly, even if their kid is the biggest slacker on the planet, they’ll still be part of the ‘economic gene pool’. Some of those slackers go into business for themselves and do really well. Others work at Wal-Mart. The only way to really be removed from the economic gene pool is to die or go to prison… (yeah, yeah, I know. “what about those kids who never move out of their parents’ house?” “what about all the people on welfare?” Hush. I’m making a point here.)
“Parents need the courage to shut off the internet and take away the phones during homework time. If not, then their children will not get into the ranked colleges. Ironically, this crisis dramatically improves the odds of college admission for those students that can manage their time.”
I love this one! Can you guess which part thrills me the most? Yep, it’s, “…their children will not get into the ranked colleges.” Oh, I know this person. This is the Type A parent who very aggressively networks to make sure their kid gets in to the best pre-school, and then uses Kumon math and workbooks and is constantly quizzing the kid to make sure he or she doesn’t fall behind thus hurting their chances of getting in to the best grade school. And so on. Do you remember the movie “Parenthood”? Rick Moranis played the part of the parent who wrote this comment…
“This is the difference. Over the years, a sarcastic view of our public education has grown in our American consciousness—even though we value education, some students and parents are suspicious and even annoyed. Think “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Breakfast Club” or any high school film where the teacher(s) has to save the students from their “dangerous” lives, subtext: “we don’t like school.”
If parents devalue the public education or an education in general, how do you think the kids will react?”
Why would anyone be sarcastic about our public education system? You mean there are kids who don’t like school, and films about those kids are hugely popular? I wonder why that is?
“School is becoming irrelevant. Let kids go for what they’re interested in and immerse themselves in it. Why does everybody have to march in lockstep through a set curriculum? Some people love and are better at some skills than others. Let them go for it.”
Obviously I get what this person was saying – just wish they’d said a little more of it. Unschooler? Maybe, although they made no comment about the “Schooling Yourself” trailer.
Why go through all the comments? All kidding aside, I did it to see where we stand. A lot of people said they are discouraged, but then, so am I. Just not for the same reasons. No matter how much kids flounder and rebel and try to tell everyone around them that school, the way it is set up, isn’t working for them, no one listens. Joshua always says that when there is a problem, you can either find someone to blame for it or you can learn from it, improve the situation and move on.
It seems we are a long way from moving on.