Sunday, February 7, 2010

What it means to be human

Begin rant:

There are books about humans having a language instinct and a math instinct. It's been argued that science is part of human nature. But more than anything, art and music define what it means to be human.

A lot of words have been written about the purpose of school. Some would argue we're here for economic reasons. Others want to help create citizens. Some people just want a better future. I think the purpose of school has little do with society and everything to do with the students. It's not what future students will do for us. It's what we are doing for them.

To paraphrase Pindar, schools exist to help us "become what we are." At the end of every year, I hope that each of my students has a better sense of Self.

My school district has decided that to be human is less important than to be a good test score. Next year, we're cutting art, music, and ALL other electives.

As of now, the plan is to have our students attend five periods: math, science, language arts, social studies, and PE. Each class will be slightly longer than an hour and then they'll go home. That's it. No more art. No more band. No more choir. No leadership or AVID.

The district cries budget problems. But every cut communicates what is important and what is not. Our art teacher lamented, "I've always hoped California would institute an art test. Then we'd be safe."

We argue that students MUST learn to read or know their times tables to be productive in society. How will they get a job? What will they do?

We are asking the wrong questions. We should be asking, "Do they know who they are?" Our kids leave our schools with facts and figures, but without a sense of meaning.

End rant.

post scripts:
  1. This is not an "I'm fed up and leaving" blog post. I'll stay and fight the fight. But I had to vent to someone. It just gets tiring telling kids that they are valuable, just not in any way that schools think is important.
  2. Looks like organized chaos is having some problems as well.

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