18.6.06

SIMPLE IDEAS, HARD WORK. Others are recognizing the value of inculcating the habits of successful people in the young. Here's Joanne Jacobs.
The [No Child Left Behind] law has forced schools to focus on students who've been ignored and written off before, in some cases shifting resources from average and above-average students. I think the worst thing we could do is to give up on educating these [formerly throwaway?] kids. Yes, we need to find ways to motivate them to work much harder. We need to find ways to persuade parents to work harder to prepare students to succeed in school and support them as learners. We need to create school cultures that value responsibility, perseverance and learning. We should not give up.
She's reacting to an observation by LaShawn Barber.

This blogger doesn’t have the answers. My only quest is to urge people to look within before looking without. If your child is failing or under-achieving, why? What can you do that doesn’t involve blaming George Bush or your great-great-great grandfather’s white owner? Do you encourage achievement in the home? Is it filled with books and other learning materials, or is it filled with vapid DVDs and the sounds of vacuous TV shows? Is the TV on from the time your kids get home from school until they go to bed, or are they required to complete their homework and engage in activities that stimulate and develop the intellect?

It’s a shame that individuals often don’t realize how much power and control they have over their own life outcomes and those of their precious children! If they only had the courage to harness this power.

Who in turn is commenting on a Kevin Kosar essay at Education News that identifies the Original Sin of education policy.

In his book, The Unheavenly City: The Nature and Future of Our Urban Crisis (1970), [Edward C.] Banfield warned school reformers that their proposals to improve student learning were bound to run into a brute fact— large numbers of children in the United States were the product of “lower-class culture.”

To be clear, by “lower class” Banfield did not mean “poor.” Rather, Banfield argued, “a person who is poor, unschooled, and of low status may be upper class; indeed, he is upper class if he is psychologically capable of providing for the distant future.” While “upper class culture” imbues a long view of life and goal orientation, lower-class culture has a live-in-the-moment ethos. Thus, youths reared in lower class culture tend to find school difficult because their parents failed to help them develop the mindset that enables them to sit still and learn.

When Banfield's book came out, he was roasted by the Left, who denounced him as a hard-hearted bigot who did not care about the poor. Too bad. Whatever one might say about The Unheavenly City as a whole, it is clear that in the chapter on education and schooling, Banfield was on to something.

Professor Banfield had the misfortune to write Unheavenly City just in time to be mau-maued for "blaming the victim," one of the early manifestations of the therapeutic, victimization approach to learning. Logic and content will carry the day. Sometimes it takes a while for the implications of the content to sink in with the policymakers.

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