Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Did I Do Wrong This Time?

I think Hippocrates was a genius for formulating the principle: "First, do no harm."  I try to avoid harming my students, but like all mortals,"the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do."

That fact makes this Jessica Hagy post on Forbes so disconcerting; she lists nine dangerous things schools teach, one hopes unwittingly.  I'm guilty of two of the sins.  Hagy writes and graphs,
The people in charge have all the answers.That’s why they are so wealthy and happy and healthy and powerful—ask any teacher.

I try to avoid this one, but I continually fight the urge answer students' questions.  I know it's a dangerous vanity, but I have an uncontrollable desire to show that I know more than Wikipedia.

I modify the second sin:
There is a very clear, single path to success. It’s called college. Everyone can join the top 1% if they do well enough in school and ignore the basic math problem inherent in that idea.

I urge most of my students to go to college and get out of South Dakota.  I have no illusions about their joining the 1%, but I do tell them the good paying jobs are elsewhere.  Given that a sense of place may be an essential part of human fulfillment, I may be doing them a disservice. 

Finally, I disagree that schools are alone in perpetuating this lie; in fact,I fight against this attitude daily,  but I lose.
The purpose of your education is your future career.  And so you will be taught to be a good worker. You have to teach yourself how to be something more.

Today was the last workday of the school year.  I need to take some naps and start thinking about next year.  What did I do wrong this time and how much harm did I cause seems to be a good place to start.

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