Saturday, July 7, 2012

Educating or Harming Boys...

Educating Boys

Imagine how challenging it would be to educate Henry V in our US public schools today. At least that is what David Brooks, columnist with the NY Times is suggesting in his offering today entitled "Honor Code".

I can see it now, a ten year old Henry V playing with his friends on the school playground rallying his friends in an imaginary battle against the French army near the jungle gym. Little Henry is encouraging his army of friends carrying their imaginary swords made up of tree branches and the like, while screaming at the top of his lungs "Once more to breach!"

As the armies of kids are about to clash, elderly playground monitors run in, and stop the violent play,though imaginary, and haul off little Henry to the principal's office for violating the NYS Project Safe Schools zero tolerance laws for encouraging armed conflict with sticks, and is suspended for 5days.

Upon returning to school he is assigned to a special education evaluation where they confuse his desire to create, be passionate, and energy as ADHD, and he is medicated with amphetamines to calm that restless spirit. This way he will be able to sit still in class, and be lulled into boredom and dreary sleep listening to lectures and test preparation exercises. The medication dulls his personality causing him to fall asleep. Another elderly classroom aide drags him to the principal's office to be reprimanded for sleeping in the class,a sign of insubordination. He is kept in from recess for three days and must eat lunch in the principals office.

Little Henry is already gaining a sterling reputation in the faculty lunch room. This is the professional forum where teachers sit around a table with their sustenance, where they discuss, at times unprofessionally, how little Henry is a trouble maker, nuisance, and comes from an arrogant broken family.

Two years later he is caught calling his friends "a band of brothers" and talks about fighting together in the MS lunch room, when another elderly lunch monitor hauls him into the principals office and he is suspended for organizing gangs in the school.

By the end of his senior year in high school he is disaffected and not interested in encouraging loyalty and competition because the system has frustrated his creativity, imagination and desire to compete and excel. He drops out of school and is labeled a renegade, troublemaker, instigator.

Like Mr. Brooks, I agree that schools today do not wish to foster the excitement for learning when teachers are faced with career ending evaluations based on one dimensional assessments that force all students into a box of perceptions that are restricted, stringent, and narrow, much like Andrew Cuomo's personality!

"Schools have to engage people as they are. That requires leaders who insist on more cultural diversity in school: not just teachers who celebrate cooperation, but other teachers who celebrate competition; not just teachers who honor environmental virtues, but teachers who honor military virtues; not just curriculums that teach how to share, but curriculums that teach how to win and how to lose; not just programs that work like friendship circles, but programs that work like boot camp. "
Brooks, D. (July 5, 2012). Honor Code. New York Times. Retrieved at

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