- Capitalism and Alternatives -

No one does.

Posted by: Garloo on March 05, 19100 at 11:44:37:

In Reply to: I don't belong to the school of armchair criticism posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on March 04, 19100 at 12:27:46:

: : : SDF: Ah yes, the "Horatio Alger" myth applied to education. Nobody really has "self reliance," we are all in this society together, all labor is social labor, people are groomed to fit into social classes. The folks who once claimed the mantle of "self reliance" were actually beneficiaries of community and government benefits.

: : Garloo: I'm not. Go blow yourself.

: SDF: So do you really make everything you need for a living, without anybody's help? Where did you get the raw materials (esp. the gallium arsenide) to manufacture the computer you use to post to McSpotlight?

: How about that private school you went to? Did you pay all the tuition bills yourself, no scholarship, no parental support, with money you generated from your own business? Self reliance. Yeah right. Spare us the Robinsonades. Everyone depends upon someone else. I went to a private school too, for grades 7-12, but at least I'll admit that other people helped push me through.

Garloo: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it takes a village, I know. But scholarships, loans, two jobs and a loving, supportive family helped the most.

I understand your a Phd. What would have prepared you for that more thoroughly, the private schools you say you attended, or the public school you teach in?

: : :The students today are slowly learning that how they feel is far more important than what they know.

: : : SDF: Um, where I come from, the main thing that students are learning in public schools is that schooling is irrelevant to their lives, and so they tune it out.

: : Garloo: Is that ANY different than what I just said smartguy?

: SDF: Yes. You're repeating the standard right-wing attack against educational discussions of "self-esteem". My observation is that students don't care about academics because the way it's taught is BORING and IRRELEVANT. And it IS boring and irrelevant, I've observed, because the presupposed goal of the standard curriculum of the public schools, seven hours a day, 180 days a year, is the standardized test that the teachers teach the students to pass.

Garloo: You realize by now that you and I are attacking the same thing from two different angles, don't you? In this same debate I've criticized the standardized tests (profiles) and the way the kids get coached through them, as well as the profiles general "irrelevance."

: No, classes on "self-esteem" won't solve the problem. But attacking them is a red herring. If you were to hire a plumber and he were to tell you that your problem was not your (observably) stopped-up toilet, but your heating fixtures which weren't broken, would you pay the plumbing bill?

Garloo: Your a funny guy SDF. I didn't know that about you. Every time I read something from an admitted socialist, I picture a spindly little poindexter wearing one of those funny looking, furry Russian hats, sitting in the darkest corner of an internet cafe, typing away furiously. That last bit from you makes you seem a little more human.

: Do we pay for a system of public education so as to provide IBM with entry-level staff? If it's so damn important for IBM to have entry-level staff, then, why can't IBM pay for all this education? Why does the public have to pay tax monies to support a system of education whose basic goal is to subsidize IBM's training costs?

Garloo: Gee whiz, your anti-corporate hatred is blinding isn't it? Are their eyes on the bottom line, or is the rich, white board of directors at IBM really wringing it's collective hands and scheming of a way to infiltrate the public schools to produce future company drones? Wouldn't it be in their best interest to have the best and most educated staff possible? Your a funny guy SDF, but your mind wanders to some scary places. My only point on this matter is that the schools should prepare kids for whatever career they want. The kid could go to work for IBM if they chose to, I suppose. I mean, if they wanted to, they'd at least be ready for it. The choice would still be theirs.

: See, I come from a different school of education, one that argues that the task of a school is to produce not corporate drones (as corporate welfare) but CITIZENS. Defining the ultimate goal of student learning, the mastery of the standard curriculum, as the passage of a bunch of fill-in-the-bubbles tests, is not going to produce the sort of people we need to militate for social and institutional change. So I don't buy this "test scores" obsession. Use the schools to teach kids to do something real. Passing tests isn't real.

Garloo: Agreed again. Have you somehow got the impression that I was EVER in support of fill-in-the-bubbles testing? I'm against pouring more money into the system so they can do more of what is already not working! Is that so different from you SDF? The shit is broke. I wish to fix it every bit as much as you. Periferally you attack corporations and I attack liberalism. This is indicative of our respective party affiliations but I think our goal is the same. Except I don't like the term "citizens," I'd prefer a society of Individuals.

: And, as I pointed out, students DO drop out, in large numbers in some places. Non-possession of a high school diploma is often a prerequisite for these low-level job opportunities that are expanding so rapidly these days, {Cashiers maybe, not at IBM} since the non-possessors are not likely to switch jobs or be deemed overqualified. {speculation} School districts can "educate everyone for success" in some places, thus preserving the reputations of the school administrators, by pushing people off of the rolls,{I've seen that happen} by convincing large numbers of kids that it is in their best interest to drop out{never seen that}. And that's what strict retention policies do -- they convince kids who are bored by the standard teach-to-the-test product that it is in their best interest to drop out, since their other choice is repeating a grade and sitting in classrooms with significantly younger students while they are bored to death with the SAME curriculum they hated last year. So if stripping students of their dignity is what it takes to push out enough students to make the school look like a success, the administrators will be all for it. {Mine}

Garloo: I'm not sure why but this puts me in mind of the recent scandal the U of M men's basketball team faced. "Tutors," it would seem, were paid to write all of the term papers and homework for many of the players. Players who rarely even attended class yet were passed on so they could stay with the team.

My thought was that the people who were really doing the cheating were the administrators who allowed this to happen (and recommended it in some cases) therefore denying these kids the opportunity for an education they truly deserved. A star player can bring in huge revenue for a school, they owe these kids an education in turn. I'm willing to accept that practice, training, tournaments and road games keep the players too busy to get an education at the same time, but after the b-ball days are over the school should help them get the education they deserve. Even if it takes ten years. They owe them that much.

And I guess my thought is the same for public schools. Yeah, ten extra years of an education that only qualified you to be a cashier at Target would suck, your right. But if the education would make the kids qualified for the college or career of their choice...that'd be aces with me. Am I nuts? Sure, it might have a short-term, adverse effect on some kids dignity. But nothing fixes that like gainful, satisfying employment.

: I'm responding in this sort of detail because I'm tired of reading stuff that criticizes the public schools by people who beat to death the same old tired stereotypes, from the same old perspectives of ignorance, from folks who would only make them worse while basking in the warmth of their armchairs.

Do you really think that about me? You think I'm ignorant about the public schools? Personally, I don't think anybody's perspective comes from the armchair when the topic is public schools. Additionally, your proposed solution has not been proven any more, or less, effective than the ones you criticize, and they are just as apt to be called stereotypical.

: SDF: Stoller has plenty of fantasies, but job rotation isn't one of them. The fact that you dismiss something out of hand doesn't make it automatically bad.

Garloo: I've thought about job rotation more than you would imagine. It just wouldn't work for me as Barry defines it and he and I have discussed this before. I shouldn't make fun though, simply because I know it's something he really believes in. But seeing as how it doesn't exist anywhere, how should I dismiss it if not out of hand? All I really need to do is think..."Hmmm, rotating jobs...Nope, wouldn't work for me, I've done my time in the trenches and now I'd like to concentrate on this job exclusively. What's that you say? Off to the gulag with me?!! Off with my head?!!!" No thanks. Sorry.

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