September 10, 2010

The Continuing Irony of Alfie Kohn

In a long post criticizing value-added teacher evaluation, Alfie Kohn unwittingly hits us with this ironic gem.

I don't expect the founder of a computer empire like Bill Gates, or a lawyer like Joel Klein, or a newspaper editor to understand the art of helping children to understand ideas, or of constructing tasks to assess that process. I just expect them to have the humility, the simple decency, not to impose their ignorance on the rest of us with the force of law.
The irony of this statement is so dense it threatens to collapse upon itself into a sort-of black hole of irony.

I'm guessing Alfie favors his own ignorance based reforms instead of the current crop of ignorance based reforms.  But since the underlying purpose of government-run public education is to impose the will (or ignorance if you will) of those in charge politically, by definition politicians, on the rest of us with the force of law, only those politicians in charge get to pick the brand of ignorance being imposed. Those not in charge get to lament their fate and beg for humility and forbearance from those in charge.

It's the Progressive way of running things.  And, Alfie is a Progressive.  But, so is the current Administration.  Which should give you an idea of how long Alfie's brand of progressive education will be out of favor.

And, by the way, Alfie is right about the current crop of reforms being no good.  He just gets the reasons why (mostly) wrong.


Unknown said...

I didn't realize Gates and his band of ignoramus brothers had been elected.

KDeRosa said...

Aapparently, they have Obama's ear.

Unknown said...

Apparently? Explicitly!

And that's how it should be? You favor the rich and powerful having undue political influence? Or is that just reality, and like Coach Knight told Connie Chung, we might as well just lay back and enjoy it?

KDeRosa said...

I recall we fought a war to gain our liberty and know you would like to take some of liberty back from some of our citizens. Dealing with the problem of special interests is a difficult and complex issue, but taking liberty away citizens is certainly not the solution. You might want to take a look at Federalist Paper No.10.

Although, I suspect taking away the ability of the rich in the political arena might be a good first step on the road to confiscating their wealth via, say, a highly progressive taxation plan.

Unknown said...

The Gates Fndtn report this week says they have spent $19 million so far and plan to spend another $250 million on these so-called "reforms".

If you take all the reforms, include the appendices that CCSSO has out there on implementation that are not widely distributed, the nature of the planned assessments, especially SBAC, if you read their apps, and finally, what LDH said explicitly she had planned for the federal govt in her 2008 report "Democracy at Risk" and the end result is actually pretty clear.

Chosen insiders get millions and billions in contracts related to all this spending.

We move to an activity oriented, inclusive classroom that will produce future voters who feel aggrieved about a number of social and political issues. They will not, however, have received much actual knowledge or analytical training in K-12 and will have been told repeatedly that observing and recording data constitutes "higher order thinking skills".

And most public colleges and universities have now promised to enroll them in credit bearing classes with no remedial work.

Between these new assessments and that promise, we are systematically turning off all the alarm bells in advance.

Unknown said...

I think the concern expressed for merit pay and value-added assessments for teachers is a red herring. It might be a concern if we were sticking with objective, nationally replicated, tests of knowledge and academic skills but that is not the plan.

The tie-in under RTT, however, gives teachers every incentive possible to move away from academic content to a learning tasks, exploratory, authentic learning classroom because that's what students will now be tested on.

Mr. McNamar said...

Okay, we have had our disagreements, but if my students had any idea who Alfie is, I would use this to teach them that all important literary element of irony. Thanks for the laugh out loud moment.

KDeRosa said...


Yet another reason why content knowledge is important.