Obama’s Speech and the ‘Idea of School’

By Anthony Rebora — September 08, 2009 1 min read
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Will Richardson argues that the controversy over President Obama’s back-to-school speech says a lot about how we as a nation have conceptually narrowed the role of schools:

If schools are the fully functioning learning communities that we hope they are, they should be the place where our kids learn to make sense of ideas, not to fear them. ...


School is the place kids go to learn the stuff they need to pass all of the tests, not the place that they go to engage the diversity and complexity and beauty of the world. If we cannot offer our students wide ranging opportunities to examine the world from many sides and teach them how to do that with rigor and respect, then we subvert the very idea of school.

Richardson suggests, in sum, that the fact that idea of the president’s speech gave rise to such consternation is yet another rebuke to teachers’ professionalism and autonomy.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.