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Horrifying things are horrifying...

This blog entry is kind of horrifying. Makes me want to ask random kids how they were taught to read in school...

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( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
corwyn_ap
Mar. 12th, 2013 10:29 pm (UTC)

I couldn't get through it... Arg.
brynndragon
Mar. 13th, 2013 12:23 am (UTC)
Wow, that guy is a real asshole!
wispfox
Mar. 13th, 2013 12:38 am (UTC)
... Which guy? Other than the author's husband and the kids, I don't think males were mentioned...
brynndragon
Mar. 13th, 2013 12:40 am (UTC)
Yea, I misgendered the blogger. Apparently I assumed that sort of ridiculous asshattery would come from a guy? Sorry other half of the species!
wispfox
Mar. 13th, 2013 12:45 am (UTC)
Huh. I dunno, I think the school was the most ridiculous and scary, honestly.

Trying to force people to guess at how to say words rather than actually reading them? Punishing kids who can already read?

Yelling at their kids to not guess is also really bad, mind you. It's not what horrified me the most, though, perhaps worryingly.
brynndragon
Mar. 13th, 2013 01:07 am (UTC)
Her superiority complex is so staggeringly awful I actually don't consider her a reliable narrator. Take the hardcore Ayn-Randesque classism going on in that post, for example. Or her complete inability to show respect for pretty much anyone ever. I honestly don't think she lives in the same reality as me, which makes it almost impossible for me to interpret what she says.
squibbon
Mar. 13th, 2013 02:32 am (UTC)
I had some similar concerns to brynndragon. The social norms for commenting on a blog don't involve academic-level writing, and whether or not annoyed teenagers swear or use texting abbreviations or poor grammar in that context has little to do with whether or not they are functionally literate. It sounded to me like that was the incident that inspired the rant in the first place. The goal of the whole thing was to discredit some kids who didn't like her blog and may have been rude about it by arguing that they were illiterate and poorly educated.

Educational inequality is a very real problem in the U.S., and there are a lot of people who make it to adulthood without being able to read for one reason or another. I don't get the impression that educational inequality is really what she's concerned about, but let's say for a moment that it is. Her kids' school may have had some very real issues (I agree with brynndragon that the fact that she has a very, very, long list of people she deems to be incompetent or malicious increases the odds that she is could be a less than reliable source) but even if I take everything she said about the school as absolutely accurate and she genuinely wants to inspire useful activism, then why is this just coming up now in the context of complaining about some teenagers who didn't like her blog and wrote some mean things? Why are her suggestions for change focused on yelling at, undermining, or ignoring teachers?

If this problem has suddenly gotten a lot worse, is as universal as she's claiming, and has been impacting the well-off and privileged few who go to college, then why haven't any of the professors and TAs I know been complaining that none of their students can read and write at a 3rd grade level, as she claims? I mean, yes, there is some bitching and moaning about bad papers but I've been hearing that every year around mid term season from all of the academics I'm related to for more than 20 years now. And it's *always* been about how standards are lower, students write with bad grammar, etc. Some of it, frankly, is just a response to the way that the language has changed. And language is always changing.

I do believe that the problems with our educational system have been getting worse, but the data I've seen points at the problems hurting kids in poorer school districts the most, and unfortunately, few of those kids get a chance to go to colleges that aren't for-profit scams.

The stuff she's claiming doesn't seem to match the experiences of anyone I've met who is working with the group of students that she is claiming this stuff is true of. And thanks to my own privileged (and also weird) background, I can think of ten people off the top of my head who would be raising Hell and shouting from the rooftops if nobody in their classrooms could read or write at a 3rd grade level. Admittedly, that's not a huge sample, but she seems to be working with a sample of her son's friend who didn't learn to read, and some teenagers who, well, acted like immature angry teenagers, and swore at her instead of writing her beautiful essays.

This probably won't surprise anyone who knows I'm a social worker, but I also found her over-stereotyped and dehumanizing descriptions of the groups of people she went to highs school with be ableist, classist, and generally squicky.






Edited at 2013-03-13 02:36 am (UTC)
wispfox
Mar. 13th, 2013 02:40 am (UTC)
yeah. after brynn commented, i found myself fascinated by the fact that i didn't even notice the rest of the piece (ie, the contexts in which she was writing) for distraction by the points she was making.

it disturbs me to see my critical thinking having been entirely absent, so I'm thankful to both of you for pointing it out.
johnpalmer
Mar. 14th, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
I was worried about her tone as well. And it brought to mind a strange incident.

A woman was complaining about a teacher. The teacher said the woman's daughter was having problems. The teacher said that if her daughter had been having these troubles all year, she'd want the daughter tested for attention problems.

The mother insisted that this meant the teacher wanted her daughter put on Ritalin.

And I was like, *buh*? The teacher said *if*. If the daughter had had problems all year (she hadn't), *then* the teacher would think the daughter had attention problems. In short, the teacher was saying "your daughter's problems are so bad that I've referred kids for testing for similar problems - but they seem to have come on recently".

I couldn't understand it - the mother wasn't trying to fool people... if she had, why would she have quoted the teacher in a way that made her accusations seem senseless? But she was sure that the teacher had said something that she clearly hadn't.

In short - sometimes people *do* get irrational because they've been primed to expect certain things from the educational system.

I can't say anything about early education, though... I don't have any children, or friends who are parents who tell me about such things :-).
wispfox
Mar. 13th, 2013 02:42 am (UTC)
you make very good points, as does squibbon below, and i thank you both for making me aware that my critical thinking was apparently turned off.

she is, indeed, an unreliable and scary narrator!
dsrtao
Mar. 13th, 2013 11:09 am (UTC)
There is a reason that when James Nicoll refers to her, it usually carries the tag "memetic prophylactic recommended".
wispfox
Mar. 14th, 2013 11:40 pm (UTC)
So. The thing is that it feels, upon further reflection, like she's exaggerating, perhaps for effect. But at the same time, it feels like there's truth in there.

And even if only _some_ of what she says is true? That's still terrifying.

I also note that she mentioned that the particular behavior wherein the teacher got the psychologist to use a test that maxed out low was done every year to a minority student. Makes me wonder if exaggeration is the only way she feels like anyone ever listens to her.

Anyway. Thingy.
laurion
Mar. 14th, 2013 02:31 am (UTC)
Working at a college that reaches out to underserved students.... yeah. There's a fair bit of truth in this article. Some hyperbole and inflation too though.
wispfox
Mar. 14th, 2013 11:38 pm (UTC)
This is more what it felt like. Like she was reacting a bit strongly and probably exaggerating for effect. But that there was a kernel of truth in what she was saying.

I did notice she mentioned this being done by that specific teacher every year to a minority child, which makes me suspect that she and her family are of minority status. She may in fact - perhaps accurately - feel that she has to exaggerate for anyone to listen.
weegoddess
Jul. 26th, 2013 02:43 pm (UTC)
I have this habit of tabbing posts for later that look too important or interesting to let go by. This was one such post.

I found the article and the ensuing commentary fascinating. Disturbing, yes. I wonder what that school system (if we are to take the author at her word) would have done with many of us.

Thanks for posting this.
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