1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Hubris of Low Expectations

I recall a Catholic retreat I attended in the early '90s while attending Metro State. The theme was "Peace, Peanut Butter and Cooking with Jesus." I'm not even kidding. One can well imagine the content and spirit of such a retreat!

Nevertheless, the retreat was useful in this sense: I met two people who had a benevolent influence on me (Ann Brna and Mike McManus). The latter had this to say: God, we're surrounded by theological midgets! This brief aphorism captured my feelings perfectly. I remember it often when I think of education reform.

Generally one thinks of the hubristic in terms of over-reaching or some form of presumption in the extreme: Hitler waging war on two fronts, Gary Hart daring reporters to follow him around, Bernie Madoff creating his elaborate Ponzi scheme, etc.

But when it comes to public education, we seem to suffer from chronic under-reach: we have no vision but the technical and all of these various techniques (often manipulative of the students) are not related to any other greater meaning. I groan inwardly when I hear teachers emphasizing college for their charges. "Alas," methinks, "Do you think deferring questions of life's meaning is useful for anyone?"

Somewhere Scripture has it: My people die for lack of vision. There's the education crisis in a nutshell: not what and how, but why. Finding the missing why is the key to education reform.

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