Friday, May 29, 2009

Welcome To My World II

Two pieces for your consideration today. Please read each one entirely, they will make up 50% of your next exam.

1) Pedagogy of the Oppressor by Sol Stern, City Journal Spring 2009, discussing the Marxist (Maoist) roots of some aspects of student-centered learning. I'm not dissing the need to engage students, but I have seen the extremes and the extremes are rapidly becoming the norm, especially in public schools and education departments. Even Mrs. Mojo had to read this sort of stuff before she could teach at a private school. Stern makes a huge point near the end, where he talks about the irony of places like China and Cuba (I'd add Soviet-era Russia as well) not using this approach:

There’s no evidence that Freirian pedagogy has had much success anywhere in the Third World. Nor have Freire’s favorite revolutionary regimes, like China and Cuba, reformed their own “banking” approaches to education, in which the brightest students are controlled, disciplined, and stuffed with content knowledge for the sake of national goals—and the production of more industrial managers, engineers, and scientists. How perverse is it, then, that only in America’s inner cities have Freirian educators been empowered to “liberate” poor children from an entirely imagined “oppression” and recruit them for a revolution that will never come?

2) "Texans Are Stupid" and Other Lessons from the Public Schools. NAS, May 28, 2009 by Elena Callas. No, that's not the main point of the article (and I'd refute it THUS!). Students can be very bright and self-motivated ("actuated" is the current jargon, IIRC), but the majority are almost entirely rewards-motivated and hyper-rational to a fault when it comes down to behavior. Any behavior that might upset that person holding The Red Grading Pen of Doom is naturally avoided, and adopting more pleasing postures becomes the norm.

I will leave it to the actuated among you to appreciate today's juxtapositioning of selections.

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