Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Not Sure I Follow....

The claims here cover a lot of ground. The Japanese system created an alienated generation, but a crisis has awakened that generation to hope for a new transformation. We might be creating such an alienated generation because of our emphasis on testing, but we might forestall this if we create enough 'engaging' experiences in the world for students.

The Japanese alienation is all ascribed to the testing-focused education. The solution to avoid that here, get rid of testing.

A bit too over-determined? Political culture drops out of the story. None of the Japanese alienation derives from the strain of living an intensely materialist life in an amazingly group-oriented culture...a problem more lately arrived in Japan?

All of the American solution is civic participation programs (if I might reduce it down to that)? Or 'rituals of transformation'?

Just what are such rituals? And how do they compare to ad hoc response to a real, not ritualized, disaster?

I'd say the story is that people want a sense of purpose, which is increasingly hard to find in a society that gorges itself on the kinds of infantile distractions that both American and Japanese youngsters have available to them.

Doubly difficult for education when it has been made so instrumental in America. Prepare for a job, get a better job, get a raise...get 'more rounded,' more better for yourself.

Testing is nothing if not a symbol of that instrumentalism. Listen to the rhetoric...somehow annual testing ensures students get the skills they need to compete in the world economy. Fine enough, perhaps, but as education becomes increasingly just that--competitiveness preparation--we're in real trouble.

By the way, last I checked, the US is still awfully competitive (economists measure that as labor productivity) in the world.

It's going to take a lot of participatory programs to change that instrumentalist mindset...fight the good fight.

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