Zombie Invasion

Today I wish to get back to education issues. We seem to be in the midst of a Zombie invasion. And just like in the movies, we have to cut off their heads to destroy them. But they just keep coming.

It’s just a lot easier to test, test, test children. Our curriculum has narrowed in Chicago. If you look at the average day for an elementary school kid, it’s reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, math, math, math, reading, reading, reading, reading, math. I mean, kids are bored to tears. They’re hating school at an early age. There’s no joy. There’s no passion. And the results show that. ”  —Karen Lewis, Pres. Chicago Teacher Union, Democracy Now, 9/3/10

It came to my attention recently that the The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are championing the use of a new device in classrooms. They want to put biosensors on students to gauge whether they are attentive in class. The tool has been used to test monitor consumer response to advertising.

Hmmmm. Lesson Plans and advertising. Two things as interesting as moldy bread or farting hamsters…with advertising being the more interesting of the two.

Does it occur to anyone the absurdity of this? But because the “great” Bill Gates is behind it, it must be good. Right?

We should know that Bill never went to college. He barely finished high school. What is known about Mr. Gates is that from a young age, he was exposed to exclusive use of a computer lab, which was rare at the time. His interest was so intense, that he spent all his time working with the fledgling technology. By the time he turned 20, he had amassed thousands of hours working on computers and software. He became the Microsoft king because he had the opportunity to engage with his deepest interest. So why would someone with his experience think that it would be different for everyone else? Can we not see that children are bored with what is being thrown at them? But when left alone they form unique interests for which they are willing to give their time to. Whether it be skateboarding, computer games, reading or building stuff. These are the things that will bring about the future society.

IS AROUSAL A SIGN OF LEARNING? Skeptics aren’t so sure. They call the technology creepy and say good teachers already know when their students are engaged. Plus, they say it’s absurd to think spikes in teenagers’ emotional arousal necessarily correspond to learning.

I have said this before, but the more we seem to understand the problems that we face as a society, the deeper in the hole we seem to go. Rather than working on an effective bailout plan, we seem to be passing out pistols for a collective game of Russian Roulette.

I mentioned to my wife this morning, about a student at BFS who has been building cardboard houses all year. He is 14. He has already fixed his sights on Pratt Architectural School. “Leave them alone, and they will come home, wagging their tails behind them.”  In other words, left to his own devices, he has been able to nurture an interest, that would have been buried in a traditional classroom. Below is one of his creations.

Ken’s House

It may be that I advocate a certain form of schooling, mainly democratic, that not everyone feels comfortable with. But whatever educational philosophy you might subscribe to, what I support is a child focused model. This means paying attention to what is happening with the student body. Pay attention to what children are doing and stop trying to shovel a preconceived load of crap down their throats. They will just spit it back at you. And it will be done in a form that we will not appreciate at all. The results are all around us.

Does everything we do in a school have to show a result? I myself like to be left alone to think things through. It was not much different when I was a teenager. The problem was, there was no support for me. No one was looking out for me. My parents had no clue as to what I was doing and the teachers saw my disinterest in classroom activity as irritating. America was obsessed with being a world power. And in so doing, forgot what had made it the world leader that it became. Ingenuity. And we seem to have forgotten what creates this kind of creative originality.

In my childhood neighborhood, kids were always tooling around and being inventive. We built our first skateboards with the help of a neighbor who had a drill press. We built soap boxes or customized our bikes to make motorized sounds. We dug holes, climbed trees, ran through the streets, played tag, and slap ball. We read books, rode bikes, played games, formed gangs, had excursions (without our parents permission) and lived life in just about every way possible. When I became a teen, there were opportunities to be a paper boy, or work in a grocery store. Activities that built character. The America of today seems to have eliminated these explorative ventures. We seem to have missed the fact that the most effective learning tool is each other. Social interaction. Team work. Or having time to think about things.

Life is meant to be lived. My solution is to get kids away from those confining desks. Let them run loose in nature. If there is no nature, create it. There are many vacant lots in bad parts of town that are hungry to be converted to urban farms. Engage our children in rehabilitating our environment. Consumerism is dead. The writing is on the wall. If we want to salvage “education” we will have to discard what no longer works, and try to remember what did. America is in a massive hypnotic state of denial. It is time for a cold shower. It is time to kill the zombies.

There is a video that is going viral this morning of kids harassing a bus monitor, an older women who is there to help the bus driver. I would have posted it, but it makes me so angry to watch. It took place on a school bus in Greece, New York not far from Rochester. It is disturbing, because the lack of decency and respect for one’s elders, coupled with the fact that these children seem to be growing into utter morons, and will be in charge of the world sometime in the near future. I will not post it because watching it causes me to chew my lower lip off, and I do not want to evoke that in the reader. In addition, some of the comments on the YouTube page propose that the reason for this occurrence is a “lack of religious morality in the classroom.” I have not heard anything more retarded. Religious morality has been responsible for slavery, the destruction of indigenous cultures, repression of women, endorsement of capital punishment, the Inquisition, the Crusades, the repression of scientific discovery, mass murder, apartheid, Republicans and the list goes on and on. And this is the suggested solution? We think that we need religion to have human decency?

Zombies are coming!! Run for your lives!!

I have no more to say today. Maybe when the heat wave passes, I might be able to reflect a more positive vision. Today, I only see a zombie invasion. And I need to take cover.

“When you know better you do better.” ―Maya Angelou


3 Comments on “Zombie Invasion”

  1. Abe says:

    Good post, but please don’t use the word ‘retarded’ like that.

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