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It Took a Village

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An article on the seemingly forgotten reciprocal relationship beween the public and public schools prompts Renee Moore to reflect on a time when the phrase "it takes a whole village to raise a child" was more than just a political punchline. During her youth, she writes:

The entire community took the raising and teaching of children as a collective responsibility. I could as much expect Mr. Alexander across the street to quiz me on my times tables as I could my teacher. Mrs. Duncan at the corner store was well within her rights to chastise me for acting "unladylike" in public, and would make sure my mother heard of it before I made it home. I, and thousands of other children in our communities, first learned the art of public speaking not at school, but in church.
It was the neighborhood little league team (before the ascendancy of Hummer-driving "soccer moms" and overly-aggressive fans and Dads) where we learned what it meant to work together, never quit, be gracious in loss, and thankful in victory. The local public librarian knew all of us and our favorite books. In its better days, my hometown Detroit Public Schools made sure every pupil attended at least one concert of the Detroit Symphony and visited at least one of the local museums each school year. The deterioration and fragmenting of neighborhoods, along with the dispersion of families (among many other factors) has resulted in the weakening or loss of these community interactions which so richly supplemented children's formal education.

We usually try not to quote at such length, but that passage seemed just too significant—and in a way too touching—to break up. And there's more where that came from.

Hat tip: John Norton (via e-mail).

2 Comments

I hope we move back to this kind of balance between school, the "Whole Child", and home/community. However, until schools learn to trust test scores to best practice, time will never be "freed up" to reconnect to the community and get back to the "Whole Child". Teachers and the masses need to speak up and let district administration and politicians understand there is no silver bullet and trying to invent one damages students. Getting back to a community/home and school partnership will allow schools to do what Renee Moore presents...provide students with an education which lasts a life time.

Well said, Renee--all of it.

What's scary to me is the continuous movement away from schools as centers for democratic equality toward schools as job-training factories. Or worse-- defending well-funded suburban public schools and crumbling urban schools as somehow fair, and what students "deserve."

Whose village, and whose child, indeed?

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  • Nancy Flanagan: Well said, Renee--all of it. What's scary to me is read more
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