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Obama's Speech and the 'Idea of School'


Will Richardson argues that the controversy over President Obama's back-to-school speech says a lot about how we as a nation have conceptually narrowed the role of schools:

If schools are the fully functioning learning communities that we hope they are, they should be the place where our kids learn to make sense of ideas, not to fear them. ...


School is the place kids go to learn the stuff they need to pass all of the tests, not the place that they go to engage the diversity and complexity and beauty of the world. If we cannot offer our students wide ranging opportunities to examine the world from many sides and teach them how to do that with rigor and respect, then we subvert the very idea of school.

Richardson suggests, in sum, that the fact that idea of the president's speech gave rise to such consternation is yet another rebuke to teachers' professionalism and autonomy.


It is indeed a sad week for education. The parents declared a literal war on education declaring boldly that we cannot determine what the students are exposed to in a learning enviroment. It is a vote of no confidence in our proffessionalism. The danger is that the kids knows that parents do not think much of teachers and they will readily exploit the situation to the detriment of all of us. I think the time has come when teacher/administrator-parent relation ship should be spelt out.

florence--I don't know that this one should be laid at the feet of parents, as much as a few right-wing alarmists who make their livings spreading fear and telling folks what they can do about it. Several of our local districts banned the address, only to rethink that decision when many more parents called in to support the speech. This one was not about teachers. It was about a president, a particular president. The same folks who invented "death panels" and the "birther" mythology attached to this speech some assumed variation of vulcan mind-meld and convinced their audiences that they should call and demand protection of their children. I am disappointed in schools who caved, not because parents should not be listened to, but because irrationality should be calmed with rationality whenever possible.

Yes It was a sad week for our youth. Parents want the most from the educational system yet, they want to place restrictions on what they are taught.
Education should teach the students to think and weigh the information received and have the ability to comment and talk about their own learnings from the information. If we do not teach our youth and just pass on what we want them to do and think then our educational system will remain strained.
They are the future, So let us teach them as such.

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Recent Comments

  • R.Bruce Laudermilk: Yes It was a sad week for our youth. Parents read more
  • Margo/Mom: florence--I don't know that this one should be laid at read more
  • florence oni: It is indeed a sad week for education. The parents read more




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