Thursday, January 23, 2014
My Op-Ed review of Friedman's Op-Ed
I just read Thomas Friedman's article entitled Obama's Homework Assignment from Sunday's NY Times and didn't agree with most of it. It may hold some truth in districts where kids are highly underprivileged and parents need to care a bit more about their kid's education, but in middle to upper income school districts I feel that kind of article would exacerbate many of the problems I see here in the Tri-Valley every day. Friedman's type of logic keeps kids on the Race to Nowhere, spinning their wheels to get into colleges that only a small % will get into anyway, and following traditional definitions of success.
We have to redefine success. Friedmann seems to believe success is about high achieving kids, high test scores, and comparing ourselves to other countries - all of which can be accomplished by super-hero teachers and super involved, demanding parents. Those performance-driven definitions of success lead to many of the problems he speaks of in the first place.
The irony is that if kids were taught differently (by teachers and parents), where intrinsic motivation, creativity, problem-solving, and cooperation ruled, then all the other stuff would fall into place and test scores and high performance probably WOULD go up. But demanding more of our already over-scheduled kids, or, expecting all teachers to be uber-incredible, or, yelling at our kids about how much time they spend on screens is not where our energies should lie. Let's embrace their new tools and interests, let's look at them as people and not just as performers and work together with them (asking their advice) about how to improve education, one small, unique idea at a time. Teachers and parents should be the supportive Guide on the Side, not the Sage on the Stage, as Alfie Kohn so aptly puts it.