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Monday, December 18, 2006

Episode 4

"Cover Your behind"

FADE IN:

EXT. – DAY Briarpatch

Eddie is ducking a brushing his way through the thorny plants. Cuts and welts appearing on his arms as if by magic. He stops suddenly when he sees a rabbit kicked back against a rock smoking a pipe and drinking sweet water from a jug.

Br’er rabbit
Nice to meet ya. Br’er Rabbit’s the name. Born and raised in the briar patch.

Eddie
Nice to meet you Mr. Rabbit.

Br’er Rabbit
Br’er

Eddie
Excuse Me?

Br’er Rabbit
Br’er. The names Br’er Rabbit. You said mister.

Eddie
Sorry.

Br’er Rabbit
Just don’t let it happen again. Now, you’se obviously not from round here. Why you strollin’ through my patch?

Eddie produces the pamphlet he had received from Jack and Jill.

Eddie
I’m looking for this cult.

Br’Er Rabbit
Let me see that

He snatches the pamphlet

(continuing)
Ah, the Cult of NCLB. Crazy bunch. I had run in with dem a few months back. Woulda been rabbit stew if I hadn’ convinced dem that dey should throw me into the briar patch.

Eddie
How’d you do that?

Br’er rabbit
I reversed the psychology on dem. Dey a few carats short of the gold standard if you catch my meaning. Seriously, they kept on trying to make me take these tests.

Eddie
What kind of test?

Br’er Rabbit
I’m not sure. They kept on talking about annual yearly progress and I’se says to them ain’t annual and yearly synonyms?

Flashback of Br’er Rabbit pointing to words in the dictionary

(cont.)
Well that made dem all fired up so dey says dey was gonna double dip me.

Flashback to teacher holding rabbit by ears and dipping him into boiling cauldron

(cont.)
I tried to tell dem that double dippin’ is unsanitary den all alarms started goin’ off cuz I fell to far behind. I says fine but whatever you do don’t you throw me in dat ol’ briar patch. And you know what dey did?

Eddie
Let me guess. They threw you into the briar patch.

Br’er Rabbit
They threw me right into dat briar patch. Dey said it was another test. If I could find my way outta here then I would be demonstatin’ proficiency. But, I said to mahself I ain’t gonna pass dis test. And all dese thorns gonna keep them from comin’ in after me.

Eddie
I know that you don’t like them, but do you think that they can help me get back home?

Br’er Rabbit
They kept sayin’ dat dey had a whole mess a HQTs. If anyone could help ya it’d be dem.

Eddie
What is an HQT?

Br’er Rabbit
A highly qualified teacher.

Eddie
Aren’t you either qualified or not?

Br’er Rabbit
I tried pointin’ that out to’em but dey jus got mad ‘gain. Dey say I was either wid’em or agin’em, and you can see where I ended up. Whatever, de case I knowse dey was talkin’ bout der bein’ a road map for implementation. Maybe dat map can show you the way out.

Eddie
Thanks for the help.

Br’er Rabbit
No sweat. Good luck br’er Eddie.

Eddie continues his journey to find the NCLB cult, brushing and ducking his way through the briar patch.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

David Brook's "Teaching The Elephant"

We take a quick break from my riveting satire of the educational system to discuss a column by David Brooks.

Mr. Brooks has been reading a lot of books including "The Happiness Hypothesis" and "Blink." Now I will admit that I have not read these books and am familiar with them only from accounts in the media.

For the most part I accept that there is a split between the concious and subconcious. It is this split that subliminal advertising attempts to exploits. However, studies have not shown any significant change in concious behavior caused by subconcious stimuli. I also believe that you can train the mind like any muscle. Even though the heart is not conciously controlled by us we can condition it to be more effective.

My problem with Mr. Brooks' column comes from the example that he chooses to use. It was obviously chosen to attack the "gods" of education and their assumption that creativity, freedom of thought, and novel approaches to problem solving were a part of academic rigor. Apparently if we drill middle-class skills into the impoverished (black) students of our urban centers then they will be smarter. If we can only get them to sit up straight and and nod their heads in agreement, then achievement scores will go up.

The problem with many schools that teach urban youth is that they are too concerned with teaching the affectations of education or going back to basics. Mr. Brooks wants the schools to drive the elephant instead of teaching the students to control it themselves. Every student requires different environments in order to best condition their minds. A school should do its best to provide as many of those environments as possible. A faculty with a wide variety of teaching styles is ideal for a successful school. Students should sample many styles and find the ones that work for them, and adapt to the ones that don't.

Too much time is spent on teaching working-class students how to behave, follow the rules, and act docile. If they would only act more like us then everything would be fine.