3 Responses to “was Sisyphus heroic?”

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There are so many things that I want to comment on here, that it’s hard to know where to start. I don’t think, for example, that schools have gotten worse in the past decade, at least not in the way that it’s usually implied. We didn’t have wonderful schools that suddenly became less and less stellar. I think the expectations for what schools are supposed to be “producing” has been changing. And more so than that, I think that the greatest challenge is that schools have stayed in one place, while everything around them has shifted. In that sense they have gotten “worse” because they are no longer doing what some would hope they could do. Secondly, it’s hard to improve something when you can’t even decide what the end goal should be. The focus is currently on test scores because that’s just an easier goal to keep track of, and mark every year, than anything else. It’s hard to hear people talk about test scores, without also debating on what the point and purpose of education and perfect test scores is really all about. And we tend to focus on those easier goals without really considering if they even line up with learning. Lastly, education is now compared globally, whereas in the past it was not. And being a global “winner” is the end all be all. We don’t cheer the fact that children around the world are receiving a better education, which is unfortunate, and says so much in and of itself. Because we live in a global economy we are afraid, not that our children will not learn, grow, etc., but that they will not compete. If we stopped for a moment and actually thought about it, we would know that if in fact every kid across the U.S and across the world all excelled to the point of being perfect, high scoring students there would be emotional and financial crisis. Our system, as it’s currently set up, wouldn’t be able to handle it.
We imagine that perfect schools=perfect society, but it definitely doesn’t work that way.

b.e. said in October 2nd, 2010 at 11:34

Well, i wish i could agree that they haven’t gotten worse. i think that this obsession with quantitative measures, a relatively recent phenomenon, is as about as dehumanizing as things can get and it has had a definite impact on my students over the years. They seem to be better at the mechanics of taking an exam, but MUCH less likely to understand why they are taking them, in other words, at thinking. But i certainly agree with you that there are other factors at play. In essence, i don’t want perfect schools, that’s a definite oxymoron. i don’t really want schooling at all. i want collaborative learning and for most all of the schools i have ever known or been part of, that doesn’t really exist. Learning together is what happens everywhere outside of schools, but not much inside.

radicalteacher said in October 3rd, 2010 at 13:32

I totally misunderstood your first post. When you said schools have steadily been getting worse in the past decade I thought you were referring to schools getting worse in the sense that “Education Nation” has implied it. (silly me) I haven’t heard them say, for example, there’s an education crisis, our kids are being overtested and we’re sick of it! So that’s my fault for jumping to that conclusion. If anything I’ve heard the opposite, that we aren’t testing kids enough or holding teachers accountable enough, or making the school day long enough or teaching enough mathandscience, or collecting enough data.

I think I was reacting more to education nation than to your actual post 🙂

b.e. said in October 4th, 2010 at 13:56

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