Monday, January 07, 2013

education as a commercial enterprise?

My own, students are following close behind.
Reuben sent this article... A Model T Education: Public Schooling on the Assembly Line. It seems that commercial interests and some major foundations are hoping to do public schooling one better by making a profit from it. While we would prefer not to visualize the job of schooling as being that of putting students together and torquing each and every bolt, it can feel that way. Even successful students feel torqued by the experience. Remember Bob Dylan's line that described being "bent out of shape by society's pliers," in a song he titled, "It's all right Ma, I'm only bleeding" ? One of the problems with schools as assembly lines is that unlike car parts, merging into a finished car, students have the mobility and independence to become incorrigible, take offense and jump off the line. According to a paper, Charter School Success or Out-Migration of Low Achievers in
Boston’s Commonwealth charter schools have significantly weak “promoting power,” that is, the number of seniors is routinely below 60 percent of the freshmen enrolled four years earlier. Looking at it another way, for every five freshmen enrolled in Boston’s charter high schools in the fall of 2008 there were only two seniors: Senior enrollment was 42 percent of freshmen enrollment. in contrast, for every five freshmen enrolled in the Boston Public Schools that fall there were four seniors: Senior enrollment was 81 percent of freshmen enrollment.
In other words, in the hunger to get statistical evidence of success, Charter schools are dumping those students who don't provide the evidence of success necessary to prove the concept. The results of much of the push to standardize and industrialize and commercialize learning deserves the grade D. In charter schools, just as in public schools, kids are Depressed, Disinterested, Disengaged from learning, and they Drop out. Can you imagine? You take learning, which is the child's most natural inclination, and you make it difficult for them to the point of refusal? In the article referenced above, Cognitive Linguist George Lakoff argues:
“Education is about more than making money. It is about coming to know the world, about learning to think critically, and about developing the capacity to create new knowledge, new social institutions, and new kinds of businesses.” Of course, education serves a critical economic function, but it also serves to enrich culture, our morals, our quality of life, and our democracy – and to view education as a business, as a private service rather than a public good, is to strip it of these critical values.
Schools having forgotten these other important functions did away with school wood shops. Perhaps they never fully understood that craftsmanship offers the clearest possible instruction in moral values and non-sectarian advancement of human culture.

Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, 4th 5th and 6th grade students will be making rock and mineral  collection boxes, and the high school students will be working on their box guitars.
As you can see in the photo above, we are making progress...

Make, fix and create...


  1. Doug-

    I'm diggin' the cigar box guitars. I have a student doing one now in one of my science classes. It is a fantastic way to combine woodworking, science and music. Attendance has improved in my classes since kids have started doing projects like this. In addition, like your mineral boxes, my 7th and 8th graders are building nature boxes that will hold natural objects they collected from the forest behind our school. Being able to use woodworking to support my science lessons has opened the door for some very interesting "handymind" work.


  2. People really have to be weary of is so easy to manipulate the numbers.