Friday, September 26, 2008

getting it back

Okay. So I thought I’d end the week out with some ideas about how we, as teachers and parents, can help boys get back to where they should be, in terms of closing the achievement gap in literacy with girls.

The tough part is going to be changing the schools. When we see programs, whether they are high school football or high school language arts, that are destroying our kids, we have to force them to change so that they can help foster the qualities in our boys that we expect, and on which our society’s future depends.

The problem with pedagogy is that (and I can say this is especially true in the state of California) schools have a habit of adopting any new trend that comes along, adhering to a kind of religious dogma that traditional ways are bad. In sports, this is the refusal to equate playing, youth, and fun with the idea of the game. In reading and writing this is (brace yourself) abandonment of READING and WRITING in the classroom.


Classes have become little multimedia playgrounds where kids move through a variety of rapid-fire fun but meaningless activities: let’s draw a picture, let’s walk around through a human statuary of our favorite characters, let’s make a movie poster of what we’re pretending we’re reading, and on and on until the bell rings and the kids hurry out of a class that was supposed to teach them how to be effective READERS and WRITERS.


That really makes me sick.

Oh… and the reading? They’re supposed to be doing that at home.

Yeah, right.

Well, God knows they don’t do it in school. They’re too busy with that other “stuff.” I don’t know if it’s really as bad as Richard Hofstadter claims in Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, that American schools have been waging a war on intellectual development. 

Wait. Maybe I do. 

It is that bad.

“English,” what we used to think of as those first two Rs, has somehow transformed into a kind of watery cartoon world of vague “communication.” It’s hard to even understand why schools call English “English” anymore.

You know why my kids read? Because their mother and I are there reading with them. Heck, someone’s got to be the teacher. But I’ll get back to what parents and schools can do in future posts.

Really. I think I just have to say a couple more things on this topic.

Remember, I've got something special planned for October, and that's just a week away.


-- A. S.