The metaphor of "Superman" as the model for school reform strikes me as inappropriate and particularly dangerous to the future of our schools. Yes, I do believe that the education system needs some serious fixing but I think the idea of a school reform "Superman" is not the way to go about it. School change and school reform takes time, it must come from the people, it must address the needs of all students, and it must be equitable. The "Waiting for Superman" metaphor suggests that these are problems not fixable or addressable by us the common people, the common teachers, parents, and community members but requires someone powerful from the outside to come in and fix it for us. In the context of education this is a dangerous notion, it goes against what we know about learning, it removes agency from the learner, and reinforces a concept of external imposition of curriculum, pedagogy, standards, and control as what is needed to improve schools.
Last night when this notion occurred to me I set out on Twitter to flush this thought out. What follows is an archive of those Tweets:
Thinking about how awfully poor a choice Superman is as the metaphor for school reform. Shall we deconstruct? We shall...
Superman was born from ruling class parents on a dying planet therefore this metaphor suggests that our Ed Superman must have silver spoons.
Superman views the world in terms of good and evil, little room for grey areas. Our Ed Superman then will view things on these simple terms.
@anderscj You going to make a good and evil list?
Superman is a champion for the ruling class, doesn't stick up 4 the little guy or those oppressed in the world. In fact, he finds them evil.
check out @anderscj tweets about the symbolism of superman re: waiting for superman the movie about the crisis in education
Superman, being from another planet, is an outsider. Use of this metaphor suggests poor are incapable of helping themselves & need outsider.
Superman was raised on a farm with "good Midwestern values" suggests we need to impose those values on urban communities.
@anderscj Alright, you might be stretching it now... I was with you for a while!
@coryroush really? I thought that was one of the more spot-on comparisons.
Superman lives among us in disguise, presenting a false facade as Clark Kent Superman is a liar and deceives people about who he really is.
What flaws in the Superman metaphor am I missing?
@anderscj He lives in the Fortress of Solitude.
@michellek107 good one!
@anderscj flaws in the Superman metaphor - there aren't any phone booths anymore to change into suit and cape.
@sabier Ha! I do know of one though. It is actually around the corner from the Ed Dept. offices at Hamline University.
Here is a picture of it:
The booth is there but there is no phone in it.
@anderscj It's too late for me to take that one where I might g'nite!
@anderscj Got to be something about kryptonite in your deconstruction
@weblearning I was thinking that too, how do we work it in?
@anderscj Something 'bout kryptonite is the only threat to his strategic plans while the real world deals with budget cuts, inefficiency etc
@weblearning like it, so what is Superman the Ed Reformer's kryptonite?
@weblearning I was thinking this morning that kryptonite might refer to something in Superman's past, an Inconvenient Truth.
Moniker of "caped crusader" suggests the use of aggression & violence to impose an ideology.
@anderscj Batman is the Caped Crusader!
@coryroush oh right, my mistake, Superman is the man of steel. Suggests he is inflexible.
@anderscj Okay, that was a good one.
Membership in a group called the "Justice League" suggests Superman passes his own judgement on others and in doing so is above the law.
Superman acts on the behalf of those who never ask him to act on their behalf.
So, what else would you add to this list? Is the Superman metaphor appropriate?