Tuesday, June 1

What Is Education For?

I haven't been paying as much as attention to the soon-to-be-released Common Core State Standards as I probably ought to be, given my profession. I just took a glimpse at the Web site, which today includes nothing more than the logo and the statement, "The Common Core State Standards will be available at this link Wednesday, June 2 at 10 a.m. Please check back at that time." Taking a closer look at the logo, I saw the motto, "Preparing America's students for college & career." I realize that I occupy a place of great privilege; for me, for example, going to college was a near certainty that I should not take for granted. Nevertheless, though I recognize that for far too many children, going to college or preparing for a challenging career may be extremely ambitious and daunting goals, I cannot believe that preparation for "college & career" is really all that a good K–12 education is for.

The mindset that this motto reflects brings to mind (as a counter-argument) these lines from the diary of Etty Hillesum (about whom I should admit I know little; I've read only a small excerpt of her writings):
Before, I always lived in anticipation, I had the feeling that nothing I did was the "real" thing, that it was all a preparation for something else, something "greater," more "genuine." But that feeling has dropped away from me completely. I live here and now, this minute, this day, to the full, and life is worth living.
The Critter is already living here and now, this minute, this day, to the full. Why shouldn't he (and all other children) receive an education that meets him just as he is now, rather than narrowing his vision by setting it on some vague, unknowable future of "college & career"? After all, you are in the real world every moment of every day of your life. It isn't something you encounter for the first time upon graduation....

1 comment:

Elisabeth said...

Holy crap. Watching Season 4 of The Wire right now...it's killing me!