Literacy, Democracy, Jefferson, and Wellstone

Sunday 10 November 2002 at 11:37

Linda Miller Cleary, my mother-in-law, has written an article entitled Literacy, Democracy, Jefferson, and Wellstone. This is a departure from my geekier interests, but I think it's important (and I'm not just trying to get in good with my new in-laws :-). It's a fairly long article and hits on a number of big issues. Here are a couple excerpts to give you a flavor.

I think that the very way we educate sucks our students into loss of integrity. Students stop adhering to a code of values because daring to be themselves, learning to voice their own beliefs, does not advantage them. ... Students learn to write and speak the ideas that they think they want us as teachers to hear. If there will be an audience of their peers, another screen in their audience sense must be added, so they can avoid derision. Perhaps the most insidious tyranny is the silence that occurs from caving in to the power of audience, the capitulation.
We have the great privilege, we think, of living in a democracy, but we are training our students to act in ways that may undermine that democracy....I think that helping our students develop into effective citizens lies straight in our laps as teachers of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. We need to help them to be discerning as they take in information about the world and to speak their own conscience as they act upon the world.

I've been wanting to write a more complete reaction to the article over the past week. But I'm falling into the trap of turning it into a big project that I might not finish. So I need to "release" what I have and work on some of my other reactions as they come.