Sunday, April 27, 2014

N.Y. Kindergarten Play Cancelled Because We Have To Train Kids To Be Brain Dead Cubicle Dwellers Early

The big news this week out of Elwood, New York is that the Harley Avenue Primary School kindegarten class will not be putting on its annual show like it's done in past years.  
The letter announcing no kindergarten
show in a New York school district
because students were too busy being
fed rote lessons to pass standardized tests 

According to the Washington Post, the kindergarteners have no time for such frivolity as learning to work together, collaborate, or heaven forbid, do anything that smacks of art.

The letter sent home to parents is pretty breathtaking. It reads in part:

"The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers. 

Please do not fault us for making professional decisions that we know will never please everyone. But know that we are making these decisions with the interests of all children in mind."

Um, excuse me, but I AM going to fault you. Putting on a show mimics real life work experience. You have to read, write, work with others and solve problems that are not predictable like in a classroom setting.

One person who commented on the Washington Post article said it best: "Since when is reading a script, interpreting a part, following directions, coordinating activities with others and presenting in front of an audience NOT age-appropriate career readiness training for Kindergarteners?

I guess the problem is you also have to be creative to put on a show. Yes, creativity is important in the world of work, but that doesn't seem to be the goal of the U.S. educational system anymore.  Plus, the students might find it interesting, and want to learn more about this. Or it might inspire them to ask questions about any other topic.

We can't have that.

It seems whenever a school becomes embroiled in some controversy, administrators at this school did not respond to the Washington Post for comment. There seems to be a culture in public education of being wimpy and just hiding when someone has the audacity to ask about the reasoning behind the way our children are taught.

There's good reason to question the way they're taught.

As the Washington Post article notes: "This didn't come out of the blue. Kindergarten (and even preschool) has increasingly become academic - at the expense of things such as recess and the arts - in this ear of standardized test based school reform. 

In most states, educators are evaluated in large part on test scores of students (sometimes students they don't have) and on showing that their students are 'college and career ready,' the mantra of the Obama administration's education initiatives." 

In an earlier Washington Post article on Feb. 6 reporter Valerie Strauss wrote:

"This doesn't leave much time for play. But even to the extent we want to promote meaningful learning in young children, the methods are likely to be counterproductive, featuring an emphasis on direct instruction of skill and rote rehearsal of facts. 

This is the legacy of behavioralism: Children are treated as passive receptacles of knowledge, with few opportunities to investigate topics and pose questions that they find intriguing. In place of discovery and exploration, tots are trained to sit still and listen, to memorize lists of letters, numbers and colors. 

Their success or failure is relentlessly monitored and quantified, and they're 'reinforced' with stickers or praise for producing right answers and being compliant."

By conspiratorial mind believes this is the point of teaching children this way--so they're not the type of person who grow up to be the type that ask questions and agitage for answers.

No, educators and industry and politicians don't meet behind closed doors and dungeons to make kids docile. But our current society, with its so called one percent, with the concentration of power and wealth among a few oligarchs, really, don't want people asking questions about this state of affairs.

So they encourage the kind of climate that ended the Harley Avenue Public School Kindergarten show.

As a side note, notice how the letter kind of asked the parents not to question the judgement of the administrators who canceled the show. ("Please don't fault us making professional decisions.") They're trying to teach the parents, as well as the kids not to rock the boat, not to question, not to probe.

If we don't teach children to think on their own, to ask questions, to pursue their passions, if we don't teach them to be creative, to gather strings of information into a cohesive theory or conclusion, they won't rock the boat as adults.

Our society needs boat rockers, really. But those in power, some of whom have way too much power, don't want that.  They don't want us to ask questions, criticize, analyze.

If they create a world of humorless, robots and minions disguised as people, they can continue to take advantage of all of us.  

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