Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lunch Scholars: Scathing Indictment?

I recently saw this video posted on Facebook. Read on, as it's not the video but its reactions that bother me:

Now, this video is absolutely ridiculous- no doubt. But consider this response to it:

"This is a scathing indictment of our nation's primary and secondary schools. Our colleges and universities struggle to makeup for the gaps in our tax payer funded public schools. Our public school systems put teachers (unions) before students, rigid curricula before results, dumbing down in order to compensate for lack of students' desire to learn and for teachers' motivation to teach. All the while, wicked people seek to force their agendas upon moldable young minds by politicizing and sexualizing the curricula, all in the name of being politically correct. Worse than this is there are idiots which think that throwing money into this very same school system will fix it, when in fact money cannot fix the real problem, which is in the homes of the students: their parents aren't parenting. I am surprised the interviewer could keep a straight face and that the camera man didn't drop the camera and roll all over the floor laughing."

This response assumes that the students answering questions in this video are an accurate representation of the majority of public school students. I argue that they are probably not even an accurate representation of the majority of students in this particular school. Roughly 10-15 students appear in the video, yet the evidence of the school in the background suggests that it is a mid to large-sized school. I'll be generous and estimate 800 students. I would guess that the video shows at most 2% of the school. And we haven't even taken into consideration other factors, such as social anxieties, IEPs, etc. What the person commenting has also failed to acknowledge is that the students conducting the interviews, hosting, and editing this video are also students of this very same public school. Perhaps only the two extremes of achievement are represented, omitting the 80-95% of students that comprise the gradations of the *average student.

Moving away from this particular school, the person commenting has also suggested that colleges and universities struggle to makeup gaps left by public schools. This statement in context seems to imply that this is an emergent problem, or one that has recently developed in contemporary generations. However, research shows that proficiency levels in most content areas have stayed consistent through most of the 20th and 21st centuries. I will consent that staying consistent is not a positive and we should be striving for growth, but we are not degenerating. Two things lead to the public perception of American society getting dumber: 1) once hidden public intellectual deficiencies being exposed through more comprehensive media and political propagandizing, and 2) exponential growth of enrollment in post-secondary education. The latter, to me, is proof that the focus on education and life-long learning has blossomed in America. Sure, colleges and universities are probably having more trouble closing intellectual gaps but that's because a higher percentage of the population is attending, not getting dumber. As a side note, if you want to complain about taxpayer money and education, you should know that if you attend a state school you are a MAJOR beneficiary of that. If you don't believe me, compare the out-of-state tuition to what you paid for tuition.

In the commenter's list of problems, he/she lists, "rigid curricula before results, dumbing down in order to compensate for lack of students' desire to learn and for teachers' motivation to teach." Which is it? Is it too rigid, or is it too dumbed down? Can it be both? What are you even referring to? The notion of "teaching to the test"? Who's fault is that? The teachers' or the government's? Or can you somehow blame that on the lack of parenting, too? After all, you did say that "parents not parenting" is the "real problem." I can't remember the last time I saw so many inconsistencies in one paragraph.

I have a lot more to say, specifically on the topics of parental involvement, money for schools, and curriculum (all topics with which I disagree with the commenter, based on actual research), but this rebuttal shall suffice for the time being. The only reason I was bothered by this is because I have seen and heard similar sentiments in many settings. There are NO legitimate implications in this video. Have a laugh and move on.

1 comment:

  1. "have a laugh and move on"
    ha! every bit of this is right on.