“The kids will never become who you want them to be. They will become who you are.”
I don’t entirely agree with that quote. The kids, if all goes well, will become who they are. But to the extent that schools and teachers and parents do have an effect on them, I think this quote probably gets it right more often than not.
Bogush’s insight seems to have entirely escaped today’s educational policymakers. There is an ends-justifies-the-means ethic to No Child Left Behind: just do whatever you have to do to get those scores up, or else. Is anyone surprised that, at the Washington D.C. schools that were held up as success stories because of their increased test scores, the tests turned out to have a suspiciously high number of erasures by which wrong answers were changed to right ones?
Closer to home, when I complained about our school’s elaborate behavioral rewards program (PBIS), I was concerned not only about the behavior it rewarded -- docility, unquestioning obedience, and mindless compliance with rules -- but also about the behavior it modeled: using bribes, rather than reasoning and persuasion, to get other people to do what you want them to do; devaluing language (“Stellar Job!”) to get your way; treating other people like objects to be manipulated rather than human beings to be engaged.
If the kids are going to become who we are, we need to worry more about who we are.