Could the bright and shining beacon of world socialism be showing cracks by borrowing a page from the play book of the …… American anti-education movement?
It seems that in one of the last places on Earth you would expect it to happen, school choice has latched on …. of course for the most part these are not religious schools, these are mostly schools set up by corporations, whose job it is is to run schools. School companies would be one way to look at it.
There’s a particular quote that I find troubling, though I am sure it is not indicative:
For some pupils, private and public schools have become wholly interchangeable.
In the Vittra school, a 10-year-old boy named Oliver has an assignment to write a crime novel, but he says, “I don’t have the patience to become a crime novelist.” He is leaving Vittra in the fall for a public school specializing in music because, he says, “music really is my life.”
I have nothing against music … I love many different genres …. used to try my best to play myself. The fact is, while I think writing a novel seems a little over the top for a 10-year-old’s homework assignment, I’m not sure I would like the idea of any child specializing so soon in life.
One of the things I genuinely like about the school where I teach is that there is an emphasis on exploration: try things: see what you like, what you think you like but don’t ….. where your talent lies. The idea of specialty schools has never appealed to me much, especially for younger kids because invariably elements of their basic education get left behind.
There is a religious school not far from where I teach. I have spoken to students and teachers and parents who have sent their kids there. They spend a lot of time on religious studies. I have no problem with that. I have a problem when you set X% of the schedule aside for religious learning/events, and then as the year progresses regularly usurping the other courses for that. In the end, the students non-religious education is short changed, and that can have a negative impact down the road. I suspect specialty schools operate in a similar manner, except don’t pretend to set a schedule that accommodates the regular education classes the time they need.
Once again, it smacks of the business model being applied to education: that a well rounded education is really all about a few courses that you like, and the rest are hoops to jump through. come to our school, and we either make the hoops really easy to walk through, or eliminate them altogether. Plus, we’ll throw in a brand new iPod for registering today (this is in fact happening at some of the schools in Sweden). It is a situation where more and more education decisions are being taken out of the hands of educators, and handed over to business people.
Of course, not all private school are specialty schools, and not all private schools are bad (I thought I got a great education at the private high school I attended), just like not all public schools are as repulsive as the media/government would make you think.
Of course, this begs to wonder: Sweden has in the past always scored very high on those international tests that have made certain conservative elements in our country claim “The sky is falling: our public schools are terrible”. This change makes me wonder that there must be a pretty healthy percentage in Sweden that think otherwise. It makes me wonder how good those standardized tests (or any test) are at measuring how good a nation’s schools are.