Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mr. Pink: Sounds of Silence vs. Bratz Culture

From the files of Mr. Pink:

My daughter spent the night with a friend. They are both 12.

This friend has a TV in her room. She watches TV until 11:30pm.

They went shopping at the local thrift store. Her friend does this every day (because it's a cheap 'high').

In between and during the shopping and TV time is snack time.

There's no reading; no reflection time; no conversation.

Just day after day after day filled with mindless distractions and
consumption. (And, not needy consumption, but 'whore-iffic' consumption). This is surprising to me given the religious background of the parents, and the desire to keep their daughter chaste until married. BUT, the MOTHERS want to keep their daughters competitive, and they think Bratz™ -wear is the way to go.

Frankly, I don't see how all the 'expert' teachers public schools hire and policy changes public schools implement will make us competitive in the global markets. Public schools can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit. Kids who attend private schools have parents who value education (which is why they work).

I've come to the conclusion that many (most?) parents don't
really care if their children get an 'education.' They might care about crappy grades, but they aren't interested in raising enlightened, curious. scholars. They WANT babysitters instead of teachers at school. And, that's exactly why we have them. Because a real teacher would say, "Turn off the TV; take your kid to library instead of shopping; talk to your kid; read a newspaper with your kid, etc." And, that's NOT what parents want to do. They don't consider that their 'job description.' They don't think of education and learning as something which can be found EVERYwhere and ANYwhere. They view it as an 8:00 to 3:00 minimum wage job. You clock out at 3:00pm, and you're done for the day.

The best teachers in the world can't compete with that. We keep talking about 'improving education,' but without parents truly valuing education, it's meaningless. The advertisers have won. "And, the people bowed and prayed... to the neon god they made."

"And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

"Fools", said I, "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls"
And whispered in the sounds of silence."

--Paul Simon, The Sound of Silence, written in the aftermath of the assassination of JFK in 1963.