Thursday, February 24, 2005

Give me a single idea...

Eduwonk rightly points out the irony of progressives championing the actions of the Utah Legislature. In so doing, he links to an article of The New Republic's Martin Peretz (go to for login). It's a rambling, disjointed diatribe imploring liberals to rethink everything, to awaken from their slouch towards extinction. Peretz's arguments are often illogical, but I was struck by this comment:

[We need] a wholesale revamping of teaching and learning. The conservatives have their ideas, and many of them are good, such as charter schools and even vouchers. But give me a single liberal idea with some currency, even a structural notion, for transforming the elucidation of knowledge and thinking to the young. You can't.

I can. There are many. But they don't reduce well to soundbites and nobody's paying PR firms to promote them. Still, those are excuses. We -- progressives, that is -- need to do the work of clearly articulating a vision. This is the challenge.

I propose that progressives pick up the cause of democracy in schools. Really, think about it. We teach about ideals like freedom, liberty, self-governance, equality-- in a word, democracy. But schools are structured so that students are subject to the dictates of their teachers and administrators. Why not have a school system where children and adolescents are intimately involved in making decisions, where they learn -- experientially -- about the responsibility that comes with freedoms.

It wouldn't cost anything but it has the potential to transform education into something infinitely more meaningful, enjoyable, and effective than it currently is.


Anonymous elisa said...


11:53 AM  

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