September 13, 2013: The singlemost persistent roadblock in any discussion or analysis of education is that it is the one experience in American life in which each of us believes ourself to be an expert. In one form or another, we've all been there -- and, if we're still here, writing and talking about it, we've succeeded, or at least survived, in spite or because of it.
Add to this certainty that we have lifetimes insights, the issues of creativity, individuality, emotional intelligence, and intellectual discipline -- and we can analyze ourselves, our parents, our teachers, and our children deliciously and forever.
Eduwonk provocatively takes on Elizabeth Weil's (above, with her daughter, who she describes as a "wild child") September 2 article in The New Republic, "American Schools Are Failing Non-Conformist Kids. Here's How: Educating the 'Wild Child'." From Weil's piece:
... I began to realize we’d crossed some weird Foucaultian threshold into a world in which authority figures pathologize children instead of punishing them. “Self-regulation,” “self- discipline,” and “emotional regulation” are big buzz words in schools right now. All are aimed at producing “appropriate” behavior, at bringing children’s personal styles in line with an implicit emotional orthodoxy...
Andrew Rotherham at Eduwonk, at left, postulates that the debate about "wild" children highlights the divide between middle- and upper-class kids and at-risk, low-income kids; he also admits his "bugaboo" regarding self-regulation, "wildness," ADHD, etc. is:
...young people don’t spend enough time outside – which is one place kids can genuinely be kids in addition to learning about the world around them. But programs to do that – especially ones with more perceived risk, for instance Outward Bound or summer programs offering kids backcountry adventure – are struggling these days. The reason is not budget cuts, reform, or liability issues. It’s parents. They’re not choosing these experiences for their kids anymore. It’s obviously a larger issue than just that piece of it but the trend is illustrative: Don’t blame the schools for responding to some clear signals from parents...
And Eduwonk commenter Jeffrey Miller adds:
...So parents are to blame with outdoor education but schools and teachers are to blame for EVERYTHING ELSE that is going wrong with our students and that is why we need teacher accountability measurements. Got it.
Good reading: No one has any definitive answers to the many questions raised -- which is appropriate: as we were taught, the answer is in the struggle, not in the solution.