Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!

20.9.06

Some good reasons why I don't want to go back into education

You know, I enjoy being a stay-at-home dad. It's neat. But sometimes I think I should go back into the job market and start teaching again. The world thirsts for my knowledge and what I can bring to them!!!! And then I read shit like this:

Embraced by PE programs sport stacking combines concentration, dexterity. That's "sport stacking" as in stacking cups. Very quickly.

I'm not going to linger on this story very long, because once cup stacking becomes a "sport," can thumb twiddling be far behind? Read the article. I saw a few kids stacking cups on ESPN a few months ago. Yes, they're fast. Yes, it might improve dexterity. But why don't these PE teachers teach the kids how to tie their shoelaces? I used to teach plenty of kids who didn't know how to tell time, and the day is coming - mock at your peril! - when high school kids won't know how to tie their shoelaces. Mia's speech therapist told me she hated PE, because she was lousy at it and the teacher - the teacher! - would laugh at her. Instead of making the kids who are lousy at sports stack cups, wouldn't it be better if PE teachers taught them some, you know, physical activity? How is cup stacking going to solve the obesity problem in our country? I'm just asking.

Anyway, that's a minor annoyance compared to this story. Schools in Arizona are beginning to offer a teaching model used around the world that "pushes students to become proficient in two languages, think critically instead of regurgitating memorized answers and learn from a global perspective by studying other cultures." So far, there are 11 such schools in Arizona. Beyond this, elementary students are awarded for picking up litter at a school near the Grand Canyon, community service is required for older students, teachers receive extensive training from the International Baccalaureate organization, from which the program is devised, with common planning periods. The IB organization, which is based in Geneva, started in 1968 for the children of diplomats, and they built a curriculum that would be accepted by universities worldwide.

Sounds groovy, doesn't it? Children should learn more than their native language, and they shouldn't have to simply memorize things by rote. When I taught World History, I told the students that I wouldn't make them memorize dates, because you can always look dates up. I wanted them to understand the forces that shape history and why groups act like they do. I did want them to have a general understanding of when things happened, but if they knew that the Hundred Years' War was fought in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, did I really care if they knew that the Battle of Agincourt was in 1415? I did not. As for other languages, that's just common sense. Spanish is the most obvious important one for people here in the Southwest, but any number of European languages are important, as is Arabic, as is Chinese. So it's all good, right?

Well, shit, of course not. Can anyone guess why someone would be opposed to this kind of teaching? If you said "isolationist, xenophobic bullshit," step to the head of the line! Parents and lawmakers are apparently troubled that a Swiss organization is influencing good old-fashioned American education. In the Upper St. Clair School District in Pennsylvania, the board voted to remove the program from schools, which prompted a backlash from parents and students. Students! Gee, who knew students could be passionate about learning when they weren't just sitting around listening to boring lectures? One board member reportedly said the program went against "Judeo-Christian values." WTF? Since when are schools where we learn Judeo-Christian values? Isn't that what church is for? Jesus Christ, I hate being an American sometimes. In Texas, the Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative group organized by Phyllis Schlafly (yes, it's a Phyllis Schlafly mention!) warned legislators that the program has an international focus and philosophy.

Jesus Christ again. It's shit like this that make me glad I'm not in education currently. If my daughter came home and told me that they were stacking cups in PE, I'd go to school and tell them I would much rather she do something that, you know, raises her heart rate. If my daughter came home and told me that they were stopping her language program and going back to memorizing a long list of U.S. presidents instead of, you know, learning anything about those presidents, I'd be pretty pissed. I do like how American education is in the toilet, but anything that might get it out that has a hint of "internationalism" has to be strangled at birth. Why won't these mouth-breathers die off and let someone else try something? If you want your child to be Bible-thumping, narrow-minded, English-only-speaking, foreigner-hating, jingoistic Bush-lovers, then just home school them. Pump into them whatever ideology you want and leave the rest of us alone. Jesus.

Sorry, I get a little bitter when I think about the state of education in this country. And then I think that the only ones I have to care about now are Mia and Norah. So that makes it a little better.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Kait said...

And get this: you can buy the speed stacking cup kit to play at home, for a mere $39.99. Look it up on Amazon.com if you don't believe me.

22/9/06 7:37 AM  
Blogger shrimplate said...

Right on, dude.

Once a friend and I opted out of dodgeball or whatever and were playing chess in gym class.

The bemused P.E. teacher came over and wryly insisted that we "do something to get our heart rates up."

We ran stairs for the next half-an-hour.

After that I ran stairs independently in just about every gym class and eventually won an Empire State Games gold medal in the 10,000 meters.

23/9/06 9:47 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

That's very cool. I understand that some kids hate PE and aren't very good at it, but that's why we have teachers. If someone hates math and isn't very good at it, we don't bring in cups for them to stack. Running stairs is better than cup stacking!

23/9/06 10:49 AM  

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