Confessions of a Reluctant Teacher

February 27, 2010

Another “Wake-Up Call” for Education?

Nicolette over at Richer Dialogue has posted the trailer for a new movie called “We are the People We’ve Been Waiting For.” She also wrote up a synopsis of the film. Go ahead, check it out– I’ll wait. 🙂

Now, when I watched the trailer, I thought that it seems like a lot of the same old rhetoric: we need to spend more on computers, because that’s the only way they’ll be able to compete with developing nations (to be followed shortly by articles in the Times proclaiming, “If you kid is awake, he’s probably online! They’ll probably be stupider for it! ZOMG!”)! kids are the future! be all you can be! More of a snooze-fest than a wake-up call, really.

I found it especially ironic that Sir Richard Branson was up there saying “There are only two ways to learn entrepreneurial skills…either get out there in the jungle and get them, or (pause for dramatic effect) teach it to them in schools.” As massively successful as he is, which method did he use? Considering that he was a notoriously poor student in school and only holds honorary university degrees, I think it’s safe to say that he didn’t waste any time sitting around in a classroom.

Higher, better education for all is an admirable goal in theory. However, education was never designed to be the great equalizer. Why else would we have professors who only give out a certain number of As, regardless of the quality of the students’ work? The way we rank students, from A to F, is competitive by design. Grades are inherently meaningless: they only have value if there are “winners” and “losers.”

And I also found it really funny that they were showing footage of deforestation and global warming while talking about the need for more education to conquer these terrible things. Do they not realize that the CEO of the company who has hired the lumberjack to cut down those trees is probably college educated, several times over? As well as all the CEOs and managers of companies whose factories and/or products CAUSE global warming. Whereas we didn’t have wholesale destruction of the planet before the institutionalization of education. To quote an old friend, “I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.”

However, Nicolette told me that the film uses a lot of the resources and arguments that she used to write her thesis on deschooling for ecoliteracy, which sounds a lot more radical. Maybe whoever put the trailer together for them just didn’t “get it.” She hasn’t seen it either, so I guess we’ll reserve judgment until the movie comes out.  What did you think of the trailer?  Or if you’ve seen it, do you think it proposes some new, exciting solutions?  Or is it just a rehash of the same old rhetoric?

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  1. Now I really want to watch this….I love watching stuff that I’ve decided not to like.
    It was the thesis title that got me!

    Comment by I am tutor — March 2, 2010 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

    • I know exactly what you mean…like Mystery Science Theater! I do want to give them the benefit of the doubt, though, so I’ll wait until I see it to give a full review. If you watch it, come back and let us all know what you thought!


      Comment by christinag503 — March 2, 2010 @ 8:37 pm | Reply

  2. hello,
    i discovered your blog from a link at Art of Non-Conformity and really like what you are writing about here! i work for a non-profit in the after-school program for low-income children, that also has internal charter schools and i’m not convinced that going the traditional route for education (ie, college) is the only option…
    do you have an e-mail to begin a discussion? just wondering…thanks for writing about alternative options in higher education!! i’m really looking forward to seeing more info here =-)

    Comment by Monica — March 11, 2010 @ 12:58 am | Reply

    • Hi Monica,

      Thanks for coming by! I’m glad my posts have resonated with you. Given your work with low-income children at schools, you might also really enjoy John Holt’s book, Freedom & Beyond. There are two chapters that might be of particular interest to you: “Schooling and Poverty” and “Deschooling and the Poor.” Holt addresses the common argument (slash myth) that poor kids NEED school to escape poverty and better their situation. I am actually trying to work up a few blog posts around these chapters, but what he writes is so powerful, I’m having some trouble getting all my ideas organized, keeping things concise, etc…not exactly my strength when it comes to this subject!

      You can email me at christinag503(AT)gmail(DOT)com. And if you’re on Twitter, you can follow me there. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

      The Reluctant Teacher

      Comment by christinag503 — March 11, 2010 @ 1:18 am | Reply

  3. Make sure you let us know when that film “We are the People We Have Been Waiting For” comes out.

    Comment by Sue — March 26, 2010 @ 7:02 am | Reply

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