Friday, May 22, 2009

parasite lessons

This is from Trevor Eisler, a dad who has written "a parent to parent argument for Montessori education.":

"Parasite lessons constitute what John Taylor Gatto calls 'a national curriculum.' He lists, with anger and regret you can almost taste, the seven awful lessons he realized he was actually teaching, even as he was being praised as an award-winning English teacher:

1. Confusion...Everything I teach is out of context...Behind the patchwork quilt of school sequences and the school obsession with facts and theories, the age-old human search for meaning lies well concealed....

3.Indifference...I teach children not to care too much about anything, even though they want to make it appear that they do...I do it by demanding that they become totally involved in my lessons, jumping up and down in their seats with anticipation...But when the bell rings, I insist they drop whatever it is we have been doing and proceed quickly to the next work station...Nothing important is ever finished in my class not in any class I know of.

4. Emotional dependency...By stars and red checks, smiles and frowns, honors, and disgraces, I teach kids to surrender their will...Individuality is a contradiction of class theory, a curse to all systems of classification.

5. Intellectual dependency...I teach [that] good students wait for a teacher to tell them what to do. It is the most important lesson, that we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives.

6. Provisional self-esteem...I teach that a kid's self-respect should depend on expert opinion. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged...A monthly sent into a student's home...[indicating]down to a single percentage point, how dissatisfied with the child a parent should be...Self-evaluation is never considered a factor...People need to be told what they are worth.

7. One can't hide...I teach students they are always...under constant surveillance...Students are encouraged to tattle on each other or even to tattle on their own parents...I assign...homework so that the effect of surveillance...travels into private households, where students might otherwise use free time to learn something unauthorized from a father or mother, by exploration, or by apprenticing to some wise person in the neighborhood."

New York City teacher of the year three times. New York State teacher of the year. This is what he says he was really teaching...the unconscious we learn shapes who we become.

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