Education

Eat the Fire: Paul Goodman is 100

One hundred years ago Friday—September 9, 1911—a boy was born in upper Manhattan, the “Sugar Hill” area between Washington Heights and Harlem, into a family freshly torn apart.

The Society I Live In Is Mine

Paul Goodman was a public figure who did not shrink from taking action in support of his beliefs. In the biopic PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE you'll see him alongside draft resisters; speaking out at peace rallies; going before the Board of Ed with radical reform proposals for New York City schools; advocating the banning of cars from Manhattan; and telling elite defense contractors they're the world's most dangerous men. Goodman's formal career in politics advanced no further than a school board position on Manhattan's west side.

Where do the children play?

There's a moment midway through PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE that really struck home for me. We see a series of photographs of him as a teenager, as a young man, with a striking, unusually beaming grin.

They’re Unteachable, Thank God

One of the virtues of the documentary PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE is that it offers an answer to the question, how do you make a movie about an intellectual that isn't boring? Or even better, one that's neither boring nor shallow?

The Error of Their Ideas

Diane Ravitch's change of heart is reason to take heart. A prestigious policy voice in education, she served in the Poppy Bush administration and for many years was a top supporter of the whole right-wing vision of school reform—charter schools, free markets, demanding "accountability" from teachers and principals, No Child Left Behind, and testing, testing, one, two, three. Now she's done a nearly-complete turnaround. She deliberately chose the title of her newest book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, to sound like Jane Jacobs.

Education and The System

I confess, one subset of the national political discourse I have largely tuned out lately is the education debate. I find it kind of inane and depressing. Apparently some mainstream media people are speculating that education could be one area where the incoming Congress might be able to work constructively—that is, if the GOP is willing to allow anything to pass in the next two years. Hurry up and wait.

As far as I can see, the intervention of the politicians in education mostly makes things worse. It's all about standards and tests to them.

funschooling

My 8-year-old daughter has begun her fall session of classes. Her curriculum includes the following: Mask Improvisation and Theatre Production; Backyard Astronomy; Crochet Circle; Movement, Music and Math; Art in the Woods; a series of tours of local institutions (the water treatment plant, the bus depot, a chocolatier, etc.); an American history class taught through historical fiction (with girl heroines); another class called Strong Female Characters Book Club; and Dragon Book Club.

Needless to say, we are homeschoolers; unschoolers; funschoolers.