Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for September 16th, 2021

Paper wasps at nest hanging from a dry cattail leaf

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On September 14th at the Riata Trace Pond I found some paper wasps (Polistes sp.) building their nest on a dry cattail leaf. They kept on with their work and I with mine, which included photographing them.

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I recently came across Shane Trotter’s good article “Remedial Education for All,” which I recommend to you. Here are a couple of passages from the article:

The unfortunate reality is that ability and upbringing really do matter. Even the best teachers usually won’t make a dent against a home environment that does not value education. This is not to suggest that schools should ignore the needs of students who are less talented, have harder home lives, or come from less academic pedigrees. Indeed, it is necessary and wonderful that teachers are passionate about trying to reach such students. But we can’t expect teachers to reliably compensate for large voids. Even more, we can’t stunt the development of all students in the name of this naive pursuit.

As calls for equality of outcome gain steam and schools make plans to reduce educational gaps that have been exacerbated by 18 months of virtual learning, we’d do well to remember the predictable costs of pretending we can make everything fair. Mass education will never be a perfect fit for everyone. Schools have to identify the competencies and attitudes that are most valuable and optimize in a way that brings the most possible students to high, yet reachable standards. When high school students fall too far behind and decide they aren’t interested in catching up, they should be able to pursue a vocational track that pushes them to develop other meaningful skills. These students will be far more likely to apply themselves if we give them relevant options like work apprenticeships, trade programs, and so on.

At its core, this is about maintaining the integrity of the learning environment. Too many in education today have no sense of the value that certain skills and habits of mind can have in people’s lives (or that these are the skills of which a high school diploma is supposed to indicate mastery). Education, to them, is just a prop to be given out in hopes of advancing a person’s social positioning. They are willing to compromise standards at every turn in order to manufacture achievements that society has predetermined as “good.” But in the process, they devalue those outcomes and the surrounding educational culture.

I’ve been pointing out many of the same problems with education for years, even decades, as you’ve also heard in the last two posts.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 16, 2021 at 4:36 AM

Posted in nature photography

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