Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another Back to School After School Special

If you want to be umb, you'll have to o it on your time and stay away from the Mount Olive School in New Jersey. Effective the start of this school year there will be only three passing gra es, "A", "B" and "C." The school has declared  eath to 's. They're  one tolerating  umbasses and  icks. I can stop deleting the d's now, right? You get the point of the joke. Thanks.

As someone whose report card grades often looked like I was crafting a ransom note out of the letters the teachers gave me, I think it's a great idea (especially since it doesn't apply to me). Actually it flies in the face of 21st Century American Education where we no longer care if children actually learn anything as long as they try 'really hard' and are well behaved. Attentions, shoppers: close counts ONLY in hand grenades and horse shoes. And the last time I checked they didn't give people medals for being good sports for finishing last (or the North Korean and French Soccer Associations would need to build bigger storage lockers). but it's a nice dream so keep at it.  

We ship children to facilities that resemble warehouses more than anything else in yellow boxes with wheels for as much of the day as we think we can get away with and then get pissed at their teachers when the kids  don't do well. That most of us can't identify our children's teachers because we've never met them at a parent-teacher conference (or even know where the kids go to school) is beside the point. 

The world in which you and I grew up, the post Eisenhower era which ended the Industrial Age (and for those who are post Jimmy Carter, I hate your youth) has been replaced by the Technology Age. We in the Land of the Round Doorknobs use a lot of tech-and have a voracious appetite for more of it, but we haven't let very much of it change how we educate our children unless you think of 'badly' as an educational philosophy.           

The superintendent of the school in Mount Olive, New Jersey, describes the new grades as "A, B, C or do it over" and I'm keeping my fingers crossed this mindset spreads across the country and not just in education. I'd like to see it in building design, traffic patterns, urban landscapes, our arts and crafts and let's enforce it as we do now with plumbers or doctors. When was the last time you let your oncologist get away with 'dude, sorry I missed that shadow on your lungs' or had your general contractor explain as the basement of your new house filled with water that "it's my bad." 

Education is designed to last, and to prepare, us for a lifetime. The Brave New World schoolhouse doesn't have a lot of vacant seats for vacant-headed people and if we don't work to improve our game real soon, we will have difficulty reading the writing on the wall that says our time for coming and going has come and gone. We complain a lot about the cost of education in America wait until we start paying for ignorance.
-bill kenny

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