Thursday, April 16, 2015

Stop Pretending Challenge

Stop Pretending

Many other educators have already written on the topic of what people pretend about education. I have only read a few from people I follow on Twitter. They have covered the gamut of education topics. One teacher even posted responses from some of her students. As so many educators have already discussed this, what more could I possibly add? I am so glad you asked—lucky for you, I only have two ideas to add.

1. We need to stop pretending special needs students need “fixing.” There is nothing wrong with physical disabilities or learning disabilities. All students should be educated to the best of their abilities. No one can claim to know a child’s limit—not even the medical profession. Look what Anne Sullivan did with Helen Keller, a child everyone deemed uneducable. If you want another epiphanous scenario (although it is fiction) read Terry Trueman’s Stuck in Neutral. Trueman’s narrator is a teen with cerebral palsy, stuck in his own body with no way to communicate; however, there is nothing wrong with his mind. As my teen quipped, “It’s not what they can’t do—it’s what they can do.” Stop limiting children.

2. America needs to stop pretending it truly cares about equality and equitable education. Those in power and places of privilege do not want everyone to be educated for several reasons:
A.   Education gives people power over their lives and situations. There is a reason slave owners denied their slaves an education—and made it illegal for slaves to read and write. Reading opens doors to the world. Readers learn about other countries, other races, other ideas. This is dangerous when trying to keep certain groups subjugated. If everyone could read, everyone might question the status quo; everyone might realize life can be different; everyone might yearn for a better life and future…and some people would not be able to maintain their positions and hold on to their power.
B.    It is much easier to create stereotypes and further subjugate certain groups. All Mexicans (because some Americans do not realize there are other Hispanic countries) are lazy and dirty and have too many children. All Blacks are loud and join gangs and have absentee-fathers and do drugs. All Asians are smart. All Muslims hate Americans and Christians. All gays have an agenda to spread their gayness. And when a member of those oppressed groups dares not act like a stereotype, the individual is vilified: You aren’t acting Black, etc. Those in power revel in shaming those who aim for equality rather than remaining in the shackles created by stereotype. This happens in education too: when we see a predominantly “minority” school succeed, those in power scratch their heads and scramble for explanations…and rush to shame other predominantly “minority” schools. Sadly, their own groups sometimes further shame those minorities when they simply reach out and claim what is rightfully theirs: education, freedom, equality.
C.    Until the American voters actively decide to “fire” the status quo running our country, we can never hope to achieve truly equitable education, and by extension, an equitable nation. Stop pretending it will happen in our current climate.