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Tomorrow’s Child

I will change my routine week and post less often. I need to work on my dissertation topic. I want to enroll in the proposal seminar in June. If not, it will be next fall. I need to begin to set the table for the next part of life’s journey.

Today, I commented in an online forum about the state of public education. Another commentator asked, “Is there no hope for real change in the schools of America?” I am not American and cannot answer that specific question from where I sit. Instead, I answered, “I do have hope and, more importantly, I have faith that we can make the necessary changes despite the obstacles. What do we want for our children and grandchildren? This seems like the question we need to ask. Does change offer a sustainable future, not for me, but for future generations in an unimaginable, complex, and chaotic world? This need for real, flexible, and sustainable change reminded me of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

I found this beautiful poem by Brazilian poet Rubin Alves. He spoke of hope, but not hope as a soft and gentle aspect of life, but hope matched with suffering and resiliency which gives rise change and the hoped. I particularly enjoyed: “So let us plant dates/even though we who plant them will never eat them./We must live by the love of what we will never see.”

What is hope?
It is the pre-sentiment that imagination
is more real and reality is less real than it looks.
It is the hunch that the overwhelming brutality
of facts that oppress and repress us
is not the last word.
It is the suspicion that reality is more complex
than the realists want us to believe.
That the frontiers of the possible are not
determined by the limits of the actual;
and in a miraculous and unexplained way
life is opening up creative events
which will open the way to freedom and resurrection –
but the two – suffering and hope
must live from each other.
Suffering without hope produces resentment and despair.
But, hope without suffering creates illusions, naïveté
and drunkenness.
So let us plant dates
even though we who plant them will never eat them.
We must live by the love of what we will never see.
That is the secret discipline.
It is the refusal to let our creative act
be dissolved away by our need for immediate sense experience
and is a struggled commitment to the future of our grandchildren.
Such disciplined hope is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints,
the courage to die for the future they envisage.
They make their own bodies the seed of their highest hopes.

Why School by Mike Rose

Why School: Reclaiming Education for All of Us by Mike Rose was a follow-up read to his earlier book Lives on the Boundaries. The latter book explored, in an autobiographical way, Mike Rose’s ascent from growing up in a working class neighbourhood with little support for education at home. He found support from educators along the way and became an educator himself. Professor Rose used a similar biographical method in the current book and explored the purpose of education, different views of intelligence, learning, and knowledge, and the humbling, yet hopeful work, that results from learning.

The general thesis examined a need for a new conversation about the role of public education, one “not dominated by a language of test scores and competitiveness” (p. 4). Professor Rose presented a case for a good education being designed to help us make sense of the world. He argued that parents historically “sent their kids to school for many reasons: intellectual, social, civic, ethical, and aesthetic. Historically, these justifications for schooling have held more importance. Not today” (p. 4). If these reasons no longer hold a time-honoured place in educating our children, then it begs, “What is the purpose of school?”

Questions: What purpose does school serve in a democratic society? I find the object of school reform is not to change school or its purpose, but to simply layer one more fad on an already overloaded system which is ill-equipped to handle it. The result is we are failing many, serving few, and leaving a huge hole in the middle. What should school reformation or transformation look like? I believe this requires a conversation about purpose of school and its structure. Is the present hierarchical, industrial-age model a suitable mechanism to deliver education in the early 21st Century?

Recommendation: I enjoyed the book. It is short and easy to read. Professor Rose provides a view which is different from the mainstream educational reformer and challenges the reader with questions and not answers. I would recommend it to anyone searching for a different view of educational reform.

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