Thursday, February 02, 2006

Progressive "Education"

From a paper on alternative schools, this passage was striking:
Semel (1999) wonders whether “progressive education can work for all children, or whether it will continue to be the province of the upper middle class, or whether it, in fact, disadvantages African American, Latino, and working class students” (p. 20). Semel is referring to Delpit’s (1995) compilation of her own and other teachers’ experiences with “progressive” educators since the Sixties. These experiences occurred during workshops on “writing as a process”.

Delpit observed that “writing process projects initially attracted a few blacks or minority teachers but soon they dropped out of the program” (p. 16). Delpit believed this happened because of a fundamental cultural conflict. Delpit reminisces that she and other black teachers experienced “a certain paternalism [that] creeps into the speech of some of our liberal colleagues as they explain that our children must be ‘given voice’” (p. 19). Delpit argues that many African-American teachers “have been able to conquer the educational system because they received the kind of instruction that their white progressive colleagues are denouncing” (p. 19). For example, when a black teacher asked her white workshop leader when the “technical skills of writing standard prose” were to be taught, the workshop leader “began to lecture [the black teacher] on the dangers of a skills orientation in teaching literacy.” The black teacher never returned to the workshop (p. 16).
It's amazing to me that some "educators" evidently don't believe that children should be taught the basics of reading and writing.



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