On the day before Christmas Eve author and educator Marion Brady contributed what can be characterized as a confused and joyless blog to the Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet.” Among his assertions:
- Stop expecting—and paying for–students older than 10 to attend class each day.
- Gather students in groups of 25 and teach them in homes instead of schools.
- Eliminate not just grade and age levels but school buses and athletic fields, too.
Most of all, Brady argued that we should blame the weaknesses of our public schools on the decision in 1893 to adopt a core curriculum in history, math, science, English, etc. because it “pulled [the young] out of apprenticeships and other real-world learning experiences, [and] put [them] in rooms insulated from the real world.” For those who think that all children deserve to possess knowledge beyond the most practical and applied of experiences, and that there is a world beyond their neighborhood and family, Brady’s ideas are no less than maddening.
CC board co-chair Diane Ravitch had these additional insights:
Marion Brady’s article is really misleading. On the one hand, the author says the schools have gone wrong since 1893, when they adopted the idea of a core curriculum for all, but on the other hand Brady wants to save the universal public schools (that have had a core curriculum since 1893).
If Brady doesn’t like the idea of a core curriculum (history, science, literature, the arts, civics, geography, mathematics, foreign languages for all), perhaps Brady might be willing to tell us which children should be excluded from the study of these subjects. Would it be Brady’s grandchildren? Certainly not mine! Would it be the children of the poor? Children of color? Since our schools prepare students to participate in and lead our democracy, I don’t see why any of them should be denied access to the study of science or history or civics or literature or the arts.
This is a very confused article, which is right to criticize the so-called “Race to the Top,” but which advocates an alternative that has never existed.
Lynne Munson and Diane Ravitch