The words that brought this article to my news reader’s robotic attention were, “… people who home school their children are opposed to the legislation, but Clark-Coleman said she would wave (sic) the requirements for home-schoolers.” If that’s the case, then the article shouldn’t be of interest to us. After all, ‘we’ are outta that picture.
Still, the article niggles at me.
A Call For All-Day Kindergarten, 21 April 2008, WWJ news radio, Detroit, Michigan
Senate Bill 162 would “help maximize learning opportunities for the next generation, Michigan’s 21st century workers,” according to Clark-Coleman, who is a former Detroit School Board member.
Yuck. The kiddos should be out playing stick-ball or laying under trees, but instead, they’ll have their “learning opportunities” maximized for their dismal-sounding destiny as “Michigan’s 21st century workers.” That puts me in mind of the communist art of the late Soviet Union. Especially in reference to Kindergarten, which in the original German means “children’s garden.”
In addition to my objections to the grey-sounding grind of a whole century of hamster-wheel hurrying that today’s children theoretically could see, is the question of the purpose of education for children. I understand that economic stability is necessary to keep things puttering along — economics can’t be tossed in a trash bag just because it’s the dismal science — but is shaping a child as a cog in the state’s economic engine the end-all and be-all of schooling? Shouldn’t the focus of a child’s education be the child, and not just his future worth, but also his ‘right now?’
Either I echo Alfie Kohn’s ideas, or he echoes mine (chicken and egg, from my point of view) in his book Education, Inc.:
The question is what vision of schooling — and even of children — lies behind such suggestions [that business's interests drive education]. While a proper discussion of this issue lies outside the scope of this book, it is immediately evident that seeing education as a means for bolstering our economic system (and the interests of the major players in that system) is very different from seeing education as a means for strengthening democracy, for promotic social justice, or simply for fostering the well-being and development of the students themselves.
Michigan homeschooling parents don’t have to worry about being roped into mandatory Kindergarten (yet) (online references to infant education go back to the 1970s), but the characterization of children as an economic widget of the 21st century to be manufactured by schools requires comment.