Thursday, February 22, 2007

Look, If God Wanted You To Think He'd...Uh...I Lost My Train Of Thought

We remember, back in the day, as inmates of the educorporate pre-employment training system we would often be confronted with situations in which we were asked to "discuss," or "explain," or the one we hated most, "give reasons why." Look, if it didn't have something to do with the possibility of one or more of the buttons on Elizabeth Arden's blouse coming off, we just weren't that interested, OK? Besides, everyone knows that teaching students there are simple answers to complex problems is the best way to ensure a bright and prosperous future for us all.

Right Arizona?

Classrooms should not be forums for schoolteachers and college professors to lead discussions that might result in critical thinking, a group of lawmakers concluded. A proposed law would prohibit any instructor in a public school or college from advocating or opposing a political candidate or one side of a social, political or cultural issue that is not approved by the legislature. "We feel there's far too much discussion and stuff going on in schools," said said Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor, R-Cementhead, who wrote the bill. "That takes away from time the units should spend getting ready for tests."

When asked how teachers in classes like Social Studies, English, history and the like could teach if they weren't able to lead discussions of "social, political, or cultural" issues Verschoor responded that his office was working on a hand book to be given to teachers with "all the opinions already in it."

Supporters said the measure would let students disagree with instructors without fearing retribution, but college students and education advocates explained to legislators that if teachers weren't allowed to take positions, there would be nothing for students to agree or disagree with.

Legislators disagreed and approved the bill in a House committee, saying students should not receive an actual education. "No education is better than one that teaches kids things we don't agree with, and that's what we're going for," Verschoor told reporters.

"In any class, any issue could be discussed as long as the instructor is neutral on the issue and not telling you what your conclusion should be," Verschoor said. "Take civil rights for example. You can still talk about it as long as the teachers don't advocate for equality."

When asked how students could be taught to navigate through complex social issues without the guidance of trained and experienced adults, Verschoor responded that was "the whole point. Kids just need someone to tell then what to think. I didn't get to where I am today by thinking," he added.

As an example of the type of behavior he is targeting, Verschoor said one of his granddaughters' elementary teachers required the class to write letters to a lawmaker opposing a certain bill. "Now, it's true the bill was to cut more funding from public education, but that's not the point. That teacher should have brought someone into the class to tell the kids why they didn't need new textbooks, or subsidized lunch programs. It's also only a coincidence that bill was introduced by me."

Senator Linda Gray, R-Spineless, said she has concerns about Verschoor's proposal, but she voted for it so it could move out of committee and to the full Senate for consideration. "Anything I can do to avoid making a decision is fine by me," she said. "I believe it's what my constituents want from me."

Senator Charlene Pesquiera, D-Oro Valley, said she has been to 17 schools in the past two months, and she has not seen a teacher lead a debate. "They're all to busy getting units ready for the next test," she said. "Who has time for debate?"

The Senate K-12 Committee voted to kill bill, 5-3. Verschoor then sought approval in the Government Committee where bill was approved 4-3 with Republicans voting for the measure and Democrats voting against. When asked why he took the education bill out of the education committee, he replied he had to find someplace "where they don't actually read the bill before voting on it."


George said...

"I didn't get to where I am today by thinking."

Isn't that a motto for our stunted age?

Ironicus Maximus said...

Um...we (wait for it) "think" so?

(We crack us up)