Whitney really came up with a humdinger of an idea his email today;
One important analogy is the U.S. military, which I think has a lot of lessons for our schools – both are enormously large, sprawling bureaucracies, but one is, by far, the best in the world, while the other is, at best, middle of the pack. And the U.S. military wasn't always this way – after Vietnam, it was a broken, demoralized institution, just like our schools today. How did it turn itself around? What are the lessons we can apply to our schools? If someone reading this wants to research this and write up something on it, I'll fund it!Debunking this blabbering is like child's play. It is not fair and it is too easy. To make it a challenge I should find a one cell life form that just might have a 1% chance in not being able to simply state the fallacy of Whitney.
The irony of Whitney using the military is laughable. This coming from someone who if he ever did join the service would be immediately fragged by his troops (look, I'm not stupid, no way Whitney goes in as an enlisted man) the first night in country. Him also lauding the military is ironic considering how some liberal family member of his snagged his way out of the draft and Vietnam and instead "served" in the Peace Corps. This family member should have at least had some backbone like Muhammad Ali, or been a conscientious objector. Not a little pansy that runs to the Peace Corps.
But one can see how Whitney's military analogy is correct, at least in his mind.
KIPP is run like a boot camp somewhat. All students conform to a a proscribed behavior delivered in a drill instructor manner. Students use cadences in the classroom, sit with backs straight, heads held high, and walk in lock step with one another in silence through the halls. If students can't cut muster they are quietly encouraged to leave, or just told to. The same method as in boot camp or Office Candidate School. Anyone recall An Officer and a Gentleman and the DOR( Drop on Request)?
Students in KIPP, and let us not forget other thoughts of education, ***COUGH*** Success Academy schools, ***COUGH*** in which students as young as Kindergartners are forced to assume punitive drills to correct non-conforming behavior.
Now, I am too young to remember much of Vietnam. I was in 3rd grade when the war ended. But do recall wearing a POW bracelet during all of 3rd grade. But I think I am more school on history than Whitney.
The reason Vietnam was such a mess was not because of the military, but the same reason education is screwed up now. Politicians and the outsiders. The generals should run the military and education should be run by teachers. Now there is an analogy.
But as Whitney's ilk likes to say, just throwing money at a problem is no solution. If we use Whitney's analogy about the military one of the things that got us out of our post-Vietnam funk was the lavish spending of the Reagan administration on the military. See, money can solve problems.
But what really got us out of that funk was Desert Storm, which the politicians steered clear of. It was not until the last ten years, especially from 2001-2009, in which the politicians needed to make up for the Freudian shortcomings and fucked up the military again.
But think, is it possible, even probable, that a graduate of the Naval Academy would command a aircraft carrier let alone a ship? NO WAY! Yet in Whitney's mind a young one from an elite college (and I'll take Annapolis over any Ivy League school) that just graduate and had 50 hours of training is good enough to be a teacher. Yes Whitney, let's use that military analogy.
But let's fast forward to the cold war. I recall reading that even though the Soviets had vast military superiority, that the US and its allies would win the battles and the war. Why? Because the Soviet military drilled their troops in a rote style, that there was no use for individualism. Not the US military, in which the troops were taught to think for themselves on the bsattlefield, or as the Marines likes to say, "Improvise, adapt, overcome." Think we are teaching students this with all this test prep? NO!!! Yeppers, let's use the military as an analogy!
What about these school leaders and central administrators that always demean teachers? Do they follow the military principle that the grunts are the backbone of the service? I don't think so. Ask any admiral, general, colonel, major, etc... You find the brass the men go through a horde of gunfire for are the officers that respect their men, work with the ones that need improvement, and leave the ones that can do it alone. They eat, shit, shower, and don't ask the men of anything that they won't do themselves. And more importantly, not counting Abu Grahib, and other dumb ass stuff the last ten years, take responsibility for their actions. Give me a boss like Gunny Highway! Yep, there is another military analogy that can be used at the DOE.
Hey, I, and other like minded smart people always say that as teachers each day is different, each child is different, therefore since we as teachers can not control what comes into our classroom we should not be judged for matters that are not in our hands. Same as the military. They leave base to go on patrol the troops have no idea if they will come back alive. Hell, when they leave home and kiss the wife good-bye they have no idea if that is the last kiss ever. See, teachers and the military can't control outside forces. Yes, you guessed it. Another good use of a military analogy in education.
I wish to thank Whitney Tilson for sharing his thought on this first day of 2012. Again, he shows what happens when one does not think before putting fingers to keypad. And also what happens when one is so full of himself.