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Support for scripted curric etc? - was ediron....



Re: Edron, er, Edison in NY TimesI think in the thread about "ediron" was an important point that has been raised but not sufficiently: why is it that many people, esp. but by no means only, support scripted and rigid curriculum, militaristic discipline, etc -- the appalling things in the Edison school that were described in the Times article. I agree with the critiques of this sort of education that have been made on the list, and with the point that the choice need not be between two forms of bad schooling. I agree that where these appear to be the only actually existing choices at the moment, Edison may be the desired choice -- but certainly need not be, as the refusal of Edison by organized parents in NY show, and the partial halting of Edison in Philadelphia. Indeed, we must be part of ensuring that there are real alternatives, which is thus all about how to ensure real high quality education for people who have often been denied it.

All that said, I am reminded that in NY City in the aftermath of the community control of schools battle, in the few schools created with some real community control, a "back to basics" curriculum was often implemented. More widely, in Chicago in the first (genuine) stage of school reform, many of the parent councils wanted a "back to basics" and possibly would have warmed to the Edison approach. Interestingly, in many councils, as time went on, the parents became aware of the dangerous limitations of this approach. They had to confront questions such as, what will my child have to learn to get into college or succeed in other important areas of life? Back to basics could not provide a satisfactory answer, so in many schools, the shift toward expecting something much richer began to develop. Or so my understanding of one aspect of the Chicago story. (It may well be, of course, that a lot of selling to parents of the direct instruction/mastery learning approaches was being done -- but selling does not always explain buying.)

The more general point here is that there exists real support for the kinds of school pretty much everyone on this list agrees is bad news. It is mind and spirit crushing, guarantees the reproduction of race and class structures, and still gets some (and I think significant) support from those who we would say are its victims.

A discussion of why this is the case - or illumination on why this is not the case if you think my claim is wrong -- could help us understand better how to combat the problem. In the face of the massive barrage of direct instruction phonics programs, I think we should try to figure it out. Bemoaning it won't help, but understanding its appeal might.

I have some ideas, but will close this post for now.

Monty