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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Doing Right - Coming Full Circle?

I watched King (Tom Brokaw's documentary on MLK) on the History Channel. I'm watching it again as I write this.

I am also reading through my feeder. Serendipity, it's called. David Warlick is returning to the basics, and Vicki Davis reminds us too. Here are their quotes:

Warlick - In response to "What is the purpose of education?"

Today, I have a new answer. My old one is still good. I’ll continue to use it. But if you ask me, “What is the purpose of education?” today, I’ll say,

The purpose of education is to make the world a better place!"
Davis - In a personal "crisis" is inspired by a quote from Tom Brokaw (yep, same one in King) on a Starbuck's cup.
It will do us little good to wire the world if we short-circuit our souls.
There is no delete button for racism, poverty or sectarian violence.
No keystroke can ever clear the air, save a river, preserve a forest.
This transformational new technology must be an extension of our hearts as well as of our minds.
The old rules still apply..."
-Tom Brokaw, American Journalist
Vicki won't mind, not sure about David, positive that King would agree...But what education needs is a revival of religious proportion.

I'm not saying teach the Bible in the schools, although I'm not saying don't. To quote King in his Letter From A Birmingham Jail:
As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."
Traditionally, revivals are about encouraging people to get back to the basics, the "first love," the foundational reason for existing. Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing.

We (meaning tech-savvy teachers) have had so many distractions since the Internet entered the conversation, and especially Web 2.0 tools. We have said, "It's not about the tools; it's what the tools allow you to do." But, really, what do they truly allow us to do? We haven't answered that question except to say that we can publish, collaborate, and have others respond to our work to make us "feel good."

But what difference are we really making with these tools?

Have we influenced the minds of the Palestinians and Israelis that their 4000-year hatred of each other is affecting the world in ways that are no longer acceptable?

Have we really changed the underlying racism, poverty, and discrimination still infecting our own nation? Yes, we have an African-American inaugurated tomorrow, and statistically it is now true that a Black man is nearly as likely to become President (1 in 44 - 2.2%) than to become a Head Coach in college football (3.3%). My point, there is still a systemic discrimination.

In my own school, I have students whose families live on less than $15,000 a year with students whose families make $15,000 a month. Will these kids grow up understanding that people in our community really want it to stay that way?

Global Warming, rainforest destruction, desertification, and the like do not really concern me in the face of "Man's inhumanity to Man." It seems to me that to focus on these "environmental" issues are a way to deflect attention from the real problem of the human condition.

In order to "make the world a better place" it must be done by changing the hearts of people, and how they treat each other. Remember, we do not teach subjects - we teach children.

From MLK's speech after the "Mississippi Burning" deaths of three young men trying to register Blacks to vote:
It is not WHO killed them, but WHAT. And in a strange sense, when we discover that, we find that it affects all of us in a deep way.
It still does affect us all. It is not who is killing whom. It is not who is keeping opportunities from our students (by "standardizing," "testing," and "dictating" curriculum), but WHAT is it behind the decisions made to require this standardization. Is it to maintain a permanent underclass by taking away the dreams of the young and making everyone who goes through public education "equally" unprepared?

Sir Ken Robinson has said that public education systematically removes the creativity of the children.

I say public schools are in the business of stealing dreams.

Until we have enough teachers (the overwhelming majority of whom were educated in the public schools and colleges) who realize that they have been duped into becoming dream-stealers we may not truly Overcome.

I have a Dream - that we shall Overcome - That we shall overcome the tyranny of public education - That we shall overcome the hesitancy to do right for the right reason - That we shall overcome the fear that we could be dismissed for low test scores - that we develop the courage it takes to be a real teacher for our students. Yes, I have a Dream today.

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The views expressed here are my own and reflect only my opinion.
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