Education Has to Be Great Fun

Betsy DeVos hates education unless it brings in dollars. She does not know the beauty of schools which help students wander into the great unknown. Dollar signs block her vision so that is what she sees. Her family makes money from collecting student debt.They all have the “Scrooge Disease.”

In Detroit, poor children hate what DeVos has done to their public schools, too few for too many and most of them widely scattered so that the children have to travel a great distance from their front door. Their teachers are frequently ill-trained newcomers who are transferred from school to school so that you do not know if the math teacher will complete the term or even be there the next. Detroit kids often are “taught” by the smarter ones since there is no teacher present. Frightened teachers “teach to the test” which kills the spirit of learning. Obama had something to do with this. Who put the muzzle and blinkers on him?  No money for art and music and drama and poetry and gym and trips. No money for creative freedom. These ill-taught children do not do well on County or State tests so do not get into college. Those with money label the poorly taught stupid. This shows the arrogance of class.

I had a dream about it. A young girl was in a bland and boring class in which she did poorly. Her parents had died in a recent automobile accident and she was growing thin. She lived on what remained in the family cupboard, on things like pretzels and pickles. Her parents had been well-known actors who did not frequent the kitchen and had taught her nothing about cooking. They lived the life of words.

Her English teacher knew nothing of her background and did not think her very bright until one day, the teacher surprised herself by asking students to recite a Shakespearean sonnet. This increasingly skinny girl got up and declaimed some verses by heart. Her volume, intonation, beautiful notes of speech electrified the class who applauded and cheered and asked for more. Thinking that the eloquent child was starving, the teacher was inspired. She dug up poetry about the kitchen, about the lowly potato, the explosive tomato, about making and eating cabbage soup. Everyone joined in. They read and declaimed and wrote about the meaning of “soul food.” They spoke of cooking as revealing the spirit of growing things, went home and cooked the food they had discussed, infused it with their spirit and next day brought it to the classroom to be eaten by all.

The classroom was having great fun. Pretty soon the principal heard about it and arrived one day she said, to evaluate what was going on. Actually, she wanted to join in. The beauty of vegetables was her forte. Other classrooms and other schools heard about it and started doing their own reading and improvising. The school system lost its lifeless rule of “memorize this” in order to pass a test. The skinny girl achieved a normal weight, and eventually went to cooking school on a scholarship. She is famous today for inventing dishes as well as for writing verses about them.

I woke up.

That was my dream. It reminded me of my greatest learning experiences when there was nothing to memorize, no clear path to follow and everything to discover. How can we bring this experience to public school, even if the room is overcrowded and the teacher naive? How can we make it a place for all to learn? We need to get rid of the DeVos types who are only there to make more money by giving the children less. These people are like horses wearing blinders so as to not be frightened by coming traffic. They do not know that they are seeing and feeling and thinking less because they have always worn them. They use words of sympathy devoid of intention to hide behind. They cannot guide education because they do not understand it.

Please read my book Unloved Again. email me directly to get a signed copy at elangolomb@gmail.com or send for a Paperback ($16Squareup.com/store/elangolomb

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