Monday, October 18, 2010

Twitter Book Club: Neil Postman (1996) The End of Education - Chapter 8

The Law Of Diversity

I have to admit, I found this chapter the least riveting for me, not because I disagree with what Postman says about teaching about diversity in school but because I found the ideas fairly un-sensational. Perhaps it is because I taught art for ten years and, as he points out, diversity is an integral part of any study in aesthetics, art philosophy, or art history. Or, perhaps it is because I work in an integration district charged carrying out the provisions of Brown vs. the Board of Education. Or, perhaps it is because I have been so obsessed with the idea of diversity since early in my career I have forgot that for many this is radical thinking.

The point that this idea of teaching diversity or even having diversity in schools is a radical concept for some has been brought home for me the last few days. I usually switch back and forth between NPR and conservative talk radio in the morning on my excessively long commute into work. I listen to talk radio because I feel it is important to hear the talking points and the ideas that are being spread to those who listen religiously. In the Twin Cities that is the Chris Baker Radio Show. These last few days Chris has been all worked up over his school district (Eden Prairie) considering changing the district boundary. One of the reasons they state for this is diversity. Now I am not sure what the real reason is, probably has something to do with money, but what I hear from Mr. Baker and many of his callers in reaction to this stated reason indicates to me that we have a long long way to go in this country on the issue of diversity.

At first I thought this was an issue of changing the boundary of the actual district, which would mean that some homes would become part of another district. If this were the case it would be a much bigger issue than it is because it would mean changing property taxes (Eden Prairie has one of the highest school district levies in the state) and that people who moved there specifically to send their kids to Eden Prairie schools might be out of luck. After closer inspection this isn't the case at all, it appears the district is only redrawing internal lines to make room for a new elementary school. What has them upset is an curious pocket on the map where students will be bussed to another school in order to try to even out district socioeconomic and racial demographics in each of their schools (an issue extremely important for a district of mostly privileged students). When I hear Chis Baker, a guy who calls mixed-race people "Sex-Crazed Mocha People," and his callers scream that diversity is not a good reason because it is not their fault other kids are poor or not white it is clear we still have a long long way to go.

"Whereas ethnic pride wants one to turn inward, toward the talents and accomplishments of one's own group, (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The name is not important, the inquiry is." Postmanless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"any subject can be taught in an intellectually respectable way to children of almost any age." Postmanless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"There is no group that ever came to America, or was here before anyone came, that has not contributed (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"It is, therefore, quite impossible (impossible by definition) for anyone to claim to be educated who has (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"To get seriously into the subject of diversity of custom is, therefore, to forgo the pleasures of (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"in studying the creative arts, one inevitably learns the value of diversity" Postmanless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Art, it has been said, is the language of the heart, and if we teach about music, painting, architecture, (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"I'd be tender, I'd be gentle
And awful sentimental
Regarding love and art
I'd be friends with the sparrows
And the boy that shoots the arrows
If I only had a heart"

-The Tin Man

"There is, in short, something missing from the aesthetic experience of our young." Postmanless than a minute ago via Twittelator

I would and I should write more about what Postman has to say about diversity and the arts but I fear I would begin to sound redundant and wouldn't be able to write about anything readers of my blog have not heard before.

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