Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Why Restore Our Schools?

This post is from the facebook page Schools Re-Imagined and Restored

Why Schools Restored? 
As many of you may know, this page is a collection of thoughts and materials that are appearing as I gather and organize a book on education and our schools.
Why Restoring- Because our Education system has lost it’s way. There are individual teachers, and local schools who still know what they are doing, and some principals, and even some superintendents, but many of the decision makers have lost vision and direction, not just of how to educate people, but of why. -- a hint, it’s not just to be better citizens, or to be better employees.
Education is integral to who we are as human beings. Learning is our default. From the first time we look with wonder at the lamp or the moon to point and say “light,” for the duration of our lives, we find joy and a sense of belonging, every time we experience a new piece of knowledge or perform a new skill, every time we learn something new-- whether it be seeing a planet in the sky, or understanding the shape of a column in mathematical language,  hitting a ball, or discovering the exponential number of meanings created by a metaphor, each new understanding, each new awareness or skill brings a sense of where we fit and how we belong in the world. Learning is connected inextricably to who we are and what makes us unique and special as a species on this planet and in the universe.
It is our wonder and awe at mystery, our longing for understanding, and our desire for connection both to the world and others that drives our species. It is not acquisition of commodities or obtaining products which gives us satisfaction. It is not even status or power that connects us to who we are in a deeper and more meaningful way. It is the meaning and purpose we discover as we embrace understanding our world and connecting to it and one another which helps us find who we are individually and collectively.
Without the connection and belonging learning brings us, we are a shadow of what we might be. Our common curiosity, appreciation of our discoveries about the world, our learning serves as the basis for our friendships and communal relationships. Learning not only connects us to the world, it connects us to one another.
Now is the time for those who understand the depth of importance of Learning to speak out, about it’s importance, it’s purpose in our lives and society, and Learning’s value to us all as human beings.
It is time to Restore our schools to their deeper value for us as our societal centers for Learning because we need them-- as individuals, families, communities, and as a society. By restoring our schools, we will be restored, finding the sense of belonging that we all long for-- belonging in the world, and belonging to one another as fellow travelers. By restoring schools to their rightful place in our world, we will restore ourselves to our more meaningful lives.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Education Policy and Fatherhood, the Obama Disconnect

How Can President Obama Simultaneously be such a kindly father, concerned about his daughter not having to transfer in high school, and yet appoint John King to carry forward the draconian Education policies the administration has prosecuted for the last 7 years that are so damaging to so many similarly aged students across the country?
I've wondered about this for a long time, and seen many friends consider that same question. Here's one take on that question.
Everything in President Obama’s background, from his grandmother’s job as Vice-President of a bank, to his childhood education in the best private schools and adolescent attendance at his family’s Unitarian Universalist church (one of the top 3 US religions for advanced education, along with Jews and Episcopalians) to his ivy league college experiences and being editor of Harvard Law Review has guided him to trust the views of those who are part of the Educated Elites. Those are the people who have surrounded him as friends, family, and advisors his whole life.
Little in his background prepared him to hear and understand the views of public high school graduates or even those who graduated from less elite public colleges. Unfortunately, the people whom he trusts are those who come from similarly rarified and privileged backgrounds or those who seek entry to that clan-- people like Bill Gates, Wendy Kopp, and Arne Duncan.
Like a person of a closed culture or religion who cannot reach past the limits of their immediate environment, the elite higher classes, the haute monde, in this country are trapped in the mirror of themselves as the superior and worthy standard makers, and Obama is like his friends, trapped in that view of himself and the world. This personal identity surpasses party affiliations and other ideological differences one might expect to create a divide among them.
Hence, they are simultaneously able to be kind, moral family members, friends, and neighbors to those like themselves, and yet hold the rest of the world as slightly less and needing supervision and guidance to be more like them and their friends.
The question for the rest of us is how to reclaim our nation and society sufficiently to counter-act this narrow clique's negative effects on our American Dream.