I’m listening to National Public Radio as I type now. Its the background of much of my life. I was about to begin this post with a link to the story about the “three fingered salute” from the blockbuster novel/movie trilogy Hunger Games. It seems that the heroine’s salute to her fellow rebels fighting a corrupt regime in a dystopian future has been sweeping the world. As a result police have been arresting students who have flashed the salute to show their distaste for autocratic leaders. If you have read my blog for long enough you can guess where I was going with this.
When I looked for the story on the NPR webpage I noticed a lot of other interesting stories but jumped to this one first. Its about how it might make sense to run schools for older children like good preschools. The day-dreamy, eclectic in me couldn’t agree more with this premise:
the best tack is to hold entire schools accountable for creating atmospheres that instill or support these qualities. This can be done using tools like school climate surveys and sharing the information publicly.
So, for seven years Duluth has been engaged in an experiment with our children. The theory has been that by building the best school buildings we can improve our children’s education. This blog has to a large extent been hijacked by this program as have our schools.
You can see the long list to the right of issues I’ve devoted blog posts to over the past eight and a half years on Lincolndemocrat. I’m also an eclectic a word I fell in love with back in junior high. I’m interested in everything and that means I’m interested in education whereby everything is dealt with. Sadly, for the past six months of the Art Johnston “investigation” I felt more like offering a three fingered salute to our school board. That certainly helps explain the gratification my fellow board members are feeling to have a reason to tsk over my front page story on the Trib today. I’m just getting a three fingered salute back, one I clearly deserve.
But that doesn’t address our classrooms with 35 and more kids in them. Art Johnston can’t get that off his mind and I believe it led one administrator to exact revenge on him by tormenting his partner of 14 years. That made Art angry and we now are considering what to do about it. Educating our children. Heck, who has time to talk about that?
I like pre schools cuz I’m still a little kid at heart. I am looking forward to next week when I will be the narrator at my youngest grandson’s pre school’s holiday extravaganza. The originally scheduled narrator had a conflict so I got a worried call from the school asking if I could fill in. You betcha I can. I’ll probably get to perform my duties in front of ISD 709’s new breath of fresh air, Dr. Mike Kary. He is having to rebuild the Curriculum Dept which was scrapped to pay for the Red Plan. I bumped into him at Jake’s school when he was picking up his child after work just as I was picking up Jake.
I quote Mark Twain’s idiot story ad nauseum. Long before I heard it, however, I vividly recall his depiction of a one room school with an imperious teacher. Its been fifty years since I read this so forgive me if I’ve got the details wrong. As I recall Tom Sawyer got some measure of revenge when he climbed above the ceiling and looked down at the pedant’s toupee. He lowered a fishing line and managed to hook it and slowly reeled it off the teacher’s head. As with Mary’s little lamb it made the children laugh and play and probably led to a good hiding for Sawyer.
That was one of many three fingered salutes to education from Twain.
I had a lot of other posts lined up in my head to greet my new readers. (Thank you DNT. In my world bad news is better than no news and this is the first time my blog has been mentioned in the Trib since its inception – at least by the Trib’s staff. (The funny thing is that the reporter felt this was a legitimate news piece that she was ready to file an information request to get. Ironically I disagreed with her – for just this once) Having my blog mentioned is a coup even if its name wasn’t written out. That’s OK. My stats page tells me that one of the most common ways my blog is Googled is simply as “Harry Welty blog.”) I just don’t have time for other posts however. I need to spend the day and days ahead reviewing all the nonsense in the Mary Rice report for our meeting Tuesday. It should be fun.
Before I leave you I will point once again to something that ties into the NPR story. Reading it reminded me of a story that I think I read in one of the the People’s Almanacs published in the 1970’s. It was about a German noblemen who decided to teach his child as though the boy was a machine from toddler hood on. The child was expected to behave from morning noon and night as though he was a computer being programmed. As you might imagine the result was a very messed up young man. I tried googling for it but came up empty. I just hope that our teachers who are trying to teach with ten extra kids in our classrooms don’t have to resort to such mechanistic methods to get through their days. Can you imagine trying to be an English teacher and having to read 5 times 35 essays in a sitting?
What I found instead was a PDF by some fellow who turns out to be an education guru who leads the New American Academy. Here’s a summary of his thesis. It was about how the American education system was modeled after the rigid Prussian Educational system which was designed to make children good little citizens for labor and industry. Here’s a thoughtful eight-minute video about Horace Mann and the industrial model. Its meant to scare the living daylights out of you. It begins with a great quote by Twain, â€œI have never let my schooling interfere with my education.â€
Amen to that!