Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Faustian Bargain

All civilization comes through literature now, especially in our country.  A Greek got his civilization by talking and looking, and in some measure a Parisian may still do it.  But we, who live remote from history and monuments, we must read or we must barbarise.
William D. Howells (1913), American Writer and Critic

A literature-based education is the exact opposite to Standards-Based schooling, the public school reform movement that has defined the first decade of the 21st century.  Schools today work to collectively raise the standards, or scores, of American students.  The key word here is collectively.  The final end of American public education today is to raise collective scores. This is what administrators focus on and look to inspire teachers to accomplish:  higher standardized test scores.  To what end exactly?  According to educational consultant Ruby Payne , raising the real estate values of communities, is an important reason children should go to school and do well on standardized exams. 
Are we deliberately training a generation of under-educated, apathetic and literary ignorant people; that is, classic barbarians, so our homes will retain or increase in value?
That seems like a terrible trade, like nothing short of a Faustian bargain. 

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