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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