Where Modern Schools Fail: Two Views

Following are two interesting articles I've been sitting on for a week. I can't figure out how to relate them to each other, and they come dangerously close to breaking my Lenten vow, but they are both very well-written and thought-provoking (and technically not *my* words, so I can skate by on a technicality.)

First, a lament to which I can relate very closely, published anonymously on Daily Kos: although I haven't had to deal much with the results-oriented, tests-driven attitude in a private school, thank God, I know it's prevalent in the public sector and I've encountered it quite a bit in my graduate work.
So again, I'm compelled to revisit the idea I posted some time ago in a diary - the people attempting to "reform" education are not focusing on what truly matters: the students, as human beings learning to reach their potential, and teachers as educated, professional human beings capable of making appropriate judgments in their own classrooms. They're focused instead on the "Return on Investment" testing potential in a kid that, according to Teach 4 Success and other companies that attempt to "fix" education, learns the same way as every other kid in the room, and teachers who are supposed to teach them as if that were the case.

Second, an op-ed from the Mormon Times, which is not normally at the top of my reading list, but lands there when one of my favorite authors needs a forum to sound off.  He begins with a chilling anecdote about an awards assembly at which the sports prizes are accompanied by long speeches and the academic honors are read off in a hurry at the very end.  Then he thinks seriously about the effects of such a system on the kids who have chosen to succeed in school -- and the church that has effectively refused them sanctuary:
The kids who slide into drugs or sex or drinking or petty crime — we do a good job of keeping doors open for them because all these sins have consequences and sooner or later they realize their mistake and want to repent and return.

But you can't repent of being studious and smart and skeptical and questioning and unconcerned with style because these are all strengths. It's no surprise that middle- and high-school culture usually treats young people with these virtues as if there is something wrong with them for not being like the "normal" kids — but LDS culture should be a haven for them.

Instead, it's at college where many of them are first treated as if being studious and thoughtful is actually cool. When they finally have peers who respect them and the eye-rolling is replaced with rapt attention, it's so flattering that too many are seduced into abandoning the gospel in favor of the contradictory and unfounded ideas that pass for "intellectual opinion" in the world today.

"LDS" could be "church," or even "school," really.  This attitude is disturbingly prevalent -- so many extracurriculars seem to get promoted ahead of academics, and the consequences are real and dire.

Happy Monday, everyone!