Blame the Educational System?

Robert Weissberg, from American Thinker, reviews the new documentary on the need for education reform, Waiting for “Superman,”. Here’s one helpful quote:

Moreover, it is as if the evil, bad public schools were initially constructed with graffiti, had architecture inadvertently conducive to mayhem, and were staffed by teachers disdaining innocent, knowledge-craving students. But inoperable equipment, tattered or missing textbooks, overflowing toilets, and similar “bad school” conditions do not mysteriously appear: students, bad students, are responsible. Truth be told, talented teachers rationally flee perilous settings, and to insist that schools underperform because they have “bad teachers” is but a duplicitous way of admitting that rambunctious students can drive out frustrated skilled teachers enjoying flight options. Allegedly dedicated students are not “victimized” by lifeless objects. It is no wonder that teachers reasonably object to Superman — they are being convicted sans a trial.

Weissberg continues:

Guggenheim and the sundry movie critic “experts” praising Superman are undoubtedly well-intentioned. Yet without altering the underlying bad academic habits, without encouraging traits like tenacity in the face of repeated failure and an ability to sit quietly, Superman ensures an educational catastrophe.

Finally, he concludes with these two powerful paragraphs:

Lastly, and most critically, Superman helps reinforce a jumbled blend of Marxist environmental determinism with a healthy dollop of airhead Rousseau that currently subverts American education. The film portrays youngsters as naturally inclined toward schooling and, per Marxism, as malleable clay in enlightened state hands. That millions steadfastly refuse to learn and jump ship as early as possible is thus society’s fault, to be remediated by government intervention. In fact, the “Superman” reference comes from one charter school operator’s quip about Superman rescuing troubled students.

This is a toxic vision, celebrating personal irresponsibility, and it profoundly misreads human nature. Its current pervasiveness undoubtedly explains more of our educational travails than teacher unions, “bad schools,” and all else that Guggenheim finds deplorable. Perhaps the film should have been called Who will please, please put knowledge in my head?

As a teacher who’s been in his share of difficult schools, I can say “Amen” to all of that.


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

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