working note

Richard Mills, former Commissioner of Education for the State of New York, is receiving a medal at graduation at TC this year. The description of the event features a quote from him:

“It’s not fair to graduate children without the knowledge and skills to make it in the world — we are setting them up for failure.”

This is a pretty common position in the debates on education reform. How do we unpack this, if we believe all enculturation is educational?

Will need to come back to this.

Comments 1

  1. Roger wrote:

    The blog lives! Apologies if the following is treading on your notes rather than adding to the question you’re asking.

    Doesn’t that line roughly translate to “in my ideal school system, everyone will end up bourgeois”? That is, isn’t the most relevant critique not that even those who don’t “succeed” are still learning all kinds of things (I take it this is what you mean by “enculturation”?), but rather that their “failure” is a structurally necessary product of a school system whose basic social function is to sort “successes” from “failures” in a reproduction of the existing power relations? The idea that everyone should be able to “make it” just reads like one of the usual comfortably empty meliorist social nostrums, like the kind where you say you want to “fight poverty” without analyzing, or acknowledging the existence of, class. To me at least this seems too similar to be a coincidence.

    Posted 05 May 2010 at 12:56 pm

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