2006-04-27 - 11:30 a.m.
Theres a new form of censorship in AMERICA which I believe is threatening our Educational system.
I just returned from visiting a preschool with Alexy, Raitlin and Katie.
I was interested in the school as they have a kindergarden class and I thought might be a good place for Katie who has some issues with CHANGE, TRANSITIONS and might benefit from an enviornment with awareness and skills for kids with "special needs"
The school we visited offers an INCLUSIVE, MULTIAGE PROGRAM, as well as one kindergarden class and another class for younger preschoolers. Westley had volunteered there for MANY HOURS during graduate school and thought it was a great place.
It turns out that the kindergarden class has only 4 students and it really is designed for students NOT YET READY for the regular kindergarden, which clearly doesn't meet our needs for KATIE who doesn't have needs as overt or disruptive to her ability to learn as that class is designed for. She also has social skills that I think will be fine for her in the regular local kindergarden (despite at times being uncooperative when it time for transition! I think her behavior won't be too challenging in a regular classroom and that she do OK with expectations after initially TESTING a bit!) I wanted to check out this school though since the school is inclusive as if it offered eqivalent ACADEMICS I thought the awareness of other needs might be a plus. HOWEVER the academics were not strong, and it REALLY isn't comparable to the kindergarden in which Sadie learned to read this year (in the public school).
I think the whole CLIMATE of schools or should I say PHILOSOPHY of schools has changed a bit since Westley volunteered. There is a REALLY COMMON TREND in the past few years, that in the interest of cultural SENSITIVITY schools are MORE CAREFUL about possibly offending anyone.
MY Objection to what I observed today is that there is a MISUNDERSTANDING of what separation of church and state means which is becoming PERVASIVE in even EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS, that rather than TEACH ABOUT ALL BELIEFS AND DIFFERENCES WHICH REALLY FOSTERS OPENNESS AND GROWTH, SCHOOLS HAVE TAKEN THE STANCE OF BEING AFRAID TO MAKE ANY MENTION AT ALL OF ANYTHING THAT COULD BE CONSIDERED A "BELIEF" of any sort.
When I heard the song "THIS OLD MAN" sung to a class of PRESCHOOLERS and watched the TEACHER at a loss when she hit
"THis old man, he played seven"
and then watched her IGNORE the child who sang out "HE PLAYED SEVEN UP TO HEAVEN"
And watched her LOOK TO THE OTHER TEACHER FOR GUIDANCE WHO JUMPED IN "he played seven up to eleven",
it really didn't impress me.
I thought that schools now ARE NOT EVEN TEACHING TRADITIONAL NURSERY RHYMES!
If they ALL ANALYZE EVERYTHING THERE WILL BE NOTHING LEFT IN THE CANON OF ACCEPTABLE TRADITIONAL TUNES, STORIES etc...
THINK ABOUT IT... Rock a bye baby IS JUST A HORRIBLE SONG IF YOU REALLY LITERALLY INTERPERT THE LYRICS.
So I judged that school to be a POOR PLACE TO REALLY TEACH MUCH.
I think that kids who go to such places will end up with LITTLE CULTURAL LITERACY.
I hope to find a place that ISN"T AFRAID OF INTRODUCING IDEAS--- AND LOTS OF THEM!
An enviornmnent which DOESN'T AVOID ANY CONFLICT BY NEVER Including subject matter in the curriculum which could possible elicit questions or debate.
I think that the other model in fact THWARTS learning and in fact DOES NOT FACILITATE OPENNESS. It's hard to learn to be OPEN with people of different faiths and beliefs if those very notions are never encoutered or introduced!
AND HOW DOES IT MAKE ANY OF THE KIDS MORE COMFORTABLE IF THEY WANT TO COME INTO SCHOOL AND MENTION THEIR FAMILY TRADITIONS TO ONLY THEN BE IGNORED AND GIVEN THE MESSAGE THAT IT IS NOT SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE? I mean a kid SHOULD be able to freely mention CHRISTMAS, or HANAKA , or RAMADAN without the teachers looking uncomfortable! IS IT REALLY SO THREATENING???
TO ME THAT ATTITUDE IS THE OPPOSITE OF TEACHING TOLERENCE!
To me it is the ANTITHESIS of a GOOD EDUCATION TO NOT EVER INTRODUCE ANY IDEAS REGARDING RELIGION!
TO ME THE MESSAGE SENT IS CLEARLY ONE OF NOT ACCEPTING THE PARTICULAR CHILD's VANTAGE POINT AND VIEWS THAT THEY ARE BEING TAUGHT IN THEIR HOME. TO ME ITS AN ENVIORNMENT WHICH IS NOT SUPPORTING EACH INDIVIDUAL BUT THWARTING AND SENDING A MESSAGE THAT WHATEVER IT IS AS FAR AS A FAITH TRADITION THAT IS BEING TAUGHT IN THE HOME IS NOT ACCEPTABLE IN PUBLIC. ITs basically denying a part of each individual and not allowing each child to ACKNOWLEDGE any sense of spirituality in themself. I just fail to see how this is PROGRESS in any way!
IT indeed WAS PROGRESS when there was a REAL seperation of church and state in the SENSE INTENDED which is that THE STATE CAN NOT ADVOCATE AND INDOCRINATE IN ANY PARTICULAR RELICIOUS BELIEF.
That tenant however has been so grossly misunderstood that it is indeed contributing to further EROSION of education!
Where is the cutoff between RELIGION and HISTORY? WHERE IS THE CUTTOFF between RELIGION and LEARNING ABOUT REGIONAL CULTURES? WHERE IS THE CUTTOFF BETWEEN RELIGION AND SCIENCE (which is less of a blurred line that the courts are currently hearing- but even there I think it a shame that OTHER VIEWS are being left out of the scientific discussion of how things all began. REGARDLESS of what I believe - and I of course basical taught the THEORY of the big bang in our study of the stars, I DON'T THINK IT SO THREATENING to acknowledge that some have different views. SOME SCIENTISTS HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS as ALL OF THEM ARE BASED ON HYPOTHESES. THIS PRETENDED THAT ONE THEORY IS MORE GROUNDED IN REALITY THAN ANOTHER IS REALLY A MANIPULATION AND MISUNDERSTANDING OF WHAT SCIENCE IS! I MEAN NONE OF US WERE THERE AND THEREFORE WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO IT NO ONE CAN REALLY KNOW WHICH CAME FIRST THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG??? SO in the end to have a big debate over it all is just silly to me. ITs a similar question really, could a DEITY have CREATED the world or did MAN create the notion of DEITY? IN the end I just think it shouldn't be SO DARN THREATENING to introduce that SOME THINK ONE WAS FIRST AND SOME THINK THE OTHER....Some call one a BELIEF and FAITH and some call another SCIENCE....
BOTH ARE THEORYS AND SINCE NO ONE CAN HAVE HAD THE EMPIRICAL EXPERIENCE BOTH ARE OUR BEST HUMAN JUDGEMENTS BASED ON WHAT WE DO SEE.
THAT BEING the actual EGG
AND THE ACTUAL MATTER OF THIS WORLD THAT IS HERE AS WELL AS THE BODY OF IDEAS AND BELIEFS AND INTUITIVE KNOWLEDGE AND THEORY THAT WE HAVE COLLECTIVELY ALL COME UP WITH.
I think it a SCARY THING when any school is SO AFRAID of a plethera of ideas.
BUT I FIND IT PARTICULARLLY DISTURBING THAT OUR SOCIETY IS SO FEARFUL OF CONTROVERSY that they have to edit THIS OLD MAN.
I hardly think that song would have elicited any controversy or discomfort amoung the mostly three year old and few four year olds singing it. HOWEVER I DO THINK that to ignore the ONE CHILD who sang out "UP TO HEAVEN" did in fact make at least ONE CHILD uncomfortable, as well as one adult.
That's two of us upset.
And I wonder HOW OFTEN a similar situation occurs in the classrooms of today, making individual children feel uncomfortable and ignores as THEY ARE NOT ACCEPTED FOR WHO THEY ARE AND FOR THE IDEAS THEY WOULD LIKE TO CONVEY.
I am willing to bet in the aggregate it is MORE OFTEN than ANY WOULD HAVE EVER BEEN OFFENDED by the actual presentation of the traditional canons of literature and songs which we all grew up with.