EDUCATION NATION Tuesday: Different Memes for Different Dreams

28 09 2010

Gen. Colin Powell and his wife Alma are the morning’s featured guests. Part of it really is inspiring, how education begins the moment a child connects the sound of his/her mother’s voice to the face, about the big answers to our education crisis being commitment and caring and whole communities helping to “keep each child in play” — good power of story.

Powell power of story. 😉

They head up America’s Promise Alliance. He says it’s not all schools but about 2,000 schools are drop-out factories, mainly in “doughnut holes” where a community got left out of everything, and that in only one more American generation when minorities become the majority, we’d better have already changed those school settings and educated those future adults, so they can step up and lead the nation. She says that high school dropouts aren’t just economically locked in but are most likely literally headed for prison. They are saying too many kids from the schools they’re working to change, can’t even get into the military.

So it’s both a moral imperative but also practical self-interest in our own defense.

Here’s the downside of what I heard: their prescriptions for relentless parent pushing and militaristic boot camp examples — teachers breaking teens down to build them back up as a well-trained credit to the uniform, parents teaching unquestioned obedience and “minding the adults” even before kindergarten as the key education skill, all left me cold.

Obedience to authority on pain of righteous punishment types will reject this, no doubt, but they are reasoning like little kids. As adults, the reasoning stage our majority politics seems obsessed with is the fourth, Authority and Social Order Maintenance.

OTOH they want schools developing physical health (so kids can get into the military, sigh, but at least it’s not just the three Rs) and they see Ravel’s Bolero and classical painting as all part of the larger world education offers such children, important to their development regardless of whether it affects grades and test scores.

Surely these two very impressive individuals learned from their own authentic life experiences, and I shouldn’t reject their experience just because it wasn’t mine — at least not if they stick to schools and kids and parents who want/need/believe what they do.

“The young cadets looked sharp in their dark brown shirts and ties and gleaming brass buckles. Compared to his solitary, stumbling progress through college, they seemed to belong to something and to know where they were going.”

The young Colin Powell seems to have been a character in search of a role, who sensed that it would be easier to play if it came with a costume.

Different strokes for different folks — or in this case, different memes for different dreams?

Do you have a serious hat-wearer in your circle of menfolk? Quite unexpectedly (to me) Young Son is such a fellow.

Although he does love literary and theatrical costumes, he also has a serious workaday hat, a medium-brown fedora, that became part of his real-life persona before the Mad Men craze brought serious hats back to serious television.

. . .Now, as a general rule schools do not like hats. . . .



2 responses

28 09 2010

More leadership lessons, about respecting oneself and one’s responsibilities, and how to reflect that to the public:

Did George W. Bush always wear a coat and tie? Sure. Good for him. But while he was wearing nice clothes and demanding that his staff do the same, he also oversaw a scandal-plagued White House that trashed constitutional norms and routinely ignored the laws that the president twice swore to faithfully execute.

One respects the office by honoring its place in a constitutional system, not by wearing a suit.

More Dress Message Stories, From Stupid to Dead Serious This Time:

His public message is that Education will avoid the controversy of thinking altogether, if that’s what it takes to “move forward” as School . . .What does all this “education authority” say to the students?

. . . Poor kid. So what he’s learning in band has nothing to do with making music. All he can make out is that he’d better be wary of thinking or believing anything at all. Shame on anyone who dares call THAT educated.

So School fails worst as real education for life imo, at its most conformist:

So where does that leave us in practical everyday school terms, with real kids living our principles?

“We the diverse and contentious student body of a recently desegregated public high school, couldn’t agree on which band would play what kind of dance music. . . The one thing it turned out our schooling gave us in common then, was learning that lesson the hard way.”

10 12 2010
Does Michelle RHEE-ly Put Students First? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] wrote pretty kindly about Colin Powell and his wife, coming at school reform from their own subculture’s education power…. I can’t and won’t do that with Rhee’s hard-driving Asian-defined school-as-work […]

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