Sunday, September 13, 2009

Indoctrination in School

" can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new.
- Barack O'Bama on Education

The first week of school has come and gone. As I expected I wasn't working much (at all) but it was kind of nice because it afforded me some time to listen to what people were saying about going back to school. One source was O'bama's Back to School Speech,  which was surprisingly controversial. I thought it was interesting that the President would address the youth of his nation and acknowledge that they play a role in the future, -how they want their world to develop. To be perfectly honest it never crossed my mind that this speech, which I read before reading about the controversy, could be construed as political indoctrination.  What's above is what I thought to be right on the money. 

  Back to the controversial part, whats ironic is that just before reading about it I was reminded of the idea that "What we learn in school isn’t nearly as important as how we learn, because how to learn is the lesson of school,” - basically stating that, messages from the president aside, there is political indoctrination happening by way of the structure and system of wide spread education. Over the weekend I acknowledged to my neighbour that by as early as fourth grade kids in school normally have a pretty good read of the what schools/teachers expect of them and have either decide to power through it or are beginning to disengage.  It seems to come back to question the reasons we are educating... whether it is to train people to obey, listen and produce or to think, problem solve and learn.

1 comment:

  1. i thought the president's speech was beautiful (also the parallel one given by his Irish cousin). You are so right though about the difference between training people primarily to last through the process itself-- and training them to genuinely take over!