Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Thoughts on education, the Pledge and movies

I just finished watching the movie Real Women Have Curves. It was better than I hoped. There's a scene where the father of the young heroine challenges the mother about the mother's desire to block the girl from going to Columbia on a full scholarship. (Side note: Something similar happened in El Paso a few years ago--a girl got a full scholarship to MIT and her parents forbade her from going because she would be abandoning her family.) The mother says that she wants the girl to work in the dress factory with her, because she herself had worked since 13 and it wasn't fair to have her daughter go on to college and not have to work herself.
It was a real "aha!" moment for me. I realized how this resentment towards younger generations, an unfortunate offshoot of progess, really framed the political debate about educating the young. It definitely helps explain that in the face of towering amounts of evidence that certain old-fashioned methods of education are unproductive or even counter-productive, people insist on them. Most people are familiar with the debates: new, more effective methods of teaching reading by diving in with the reading and writing as opposed to old-fashioned spelling and memorization, teaching math by explaining its mechanics instead of old-fashioned memorization, sex ed over leaving kids ignorant in hopes that they won't experiment, basically any kind of educational model built on teaching kids to think and reason instead of simply accept authority. Inevitably, supporters of older, less effective models of education fall back on, "That's how I was raised and that's how I want my kids raised!" A less offensive way of saying, "It's not fair!"
It seems to be the same factor working with this whole "under god" thing in the Pledge. Something outrageous like 90% of Americans support keeping the words in the Pledge, far more than go to church, and probably even more than actually believe in god, and definitely more than would like the government forcing religious beliefs on them now that they are in their adulthood. To keep the words in the Pledge, and in fact to keep the Pledge at all, is condemning a certain percentage of children to ridicule from classmates and, more often than not, teachers. Why do we want to do that to children? Well, I'm guessing the reasoning is something along the lines of, "When I was in school relentless teasing about being different was the way it was so why should it be any different for kids now?" Again, "It's not fair!"
Now I don't have kids, so I don't know what it's like necessarily, but it seems to me that the only adult, mature thing is to want better for the next generation than we have it. If for no other reason, they are the ones who will be looking after us when we're old and we shouldn't give them cause to hate us.

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