SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: More Of Whitney Tilson's Ignorance

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

More Of Whitney Tilson's Ignorance

Whitney has yet another issue with Diane Ravitch. He quotes Diane from an interview in which commenting on good schools said,
"I'd say that for a school to be good, it must have a full and balanced curriculum. It must have a full program in the arts. . . . I half-jokingly say that the one federal mandate I'd like to see would be for every child to have the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument. The reason I say this is because I think that's the perfect antidote to almost everything. When you play a musical instrument, you have to learn the value of practice, practice, practice. Nobody else can do it for you. You can't download it from the Internet. You learn self-discipline. You have to do it alone. You have to do it in groups."
Whitney's reaction is typical:
"How, exactly, does Ravitch plan to introduce a full and balanced curriculum? Is she in favor of extending the school day to accommodate an extra period for the arts or learning an instrument (like KIPP and similar schools), or does she want to cut back on time children are spending learning math or reading?" And this little diddy, "In short, for all of her degrees and books, Diane Ravitch has NO USEFUL IDEAS for how to address the vexing, chronic problems of our educational system."
So shall we show the holes in your argument Whitney? I find this very unfair. I compare it to shooting fish in a barrel.

You will notice that Diane said, "I half-jokingly say that the one federal mandate I'd like to see would be for every child to have the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument." See the key word? "Half-jokingly." Yes this is a stretch, but if you bothered to read further on you will see her point. That playing an instrument, or in your case Whitney, playing with someone else's instrument, can teach you discipline, how to work in a group, hard work, etc...

Which brings me to this. This past Sunday myself, and several teachers from my school took students to play in a soccer tournament. Before April 29th none of these students had ever played soccer. Our school was runner-up in the tournament only losing in a 0-0 draw decided on penalties.

Never before in all my years of teaching have I seen students so excited. These students learned to work as a team, to support one another, to learn from one another, to learn something new, to accomplish something. In our semi-final game, which also ended in a 0-0 draw, we won in penalties. The kid who kicked the winning goal was mobbed. The parents want to get their kids in soccer programs. What happened will carry over. I know it.

Therein lies the problem. If we had your way, students will be in school everyday until 6 PM and half the day Saturdays. Yes, I can see the point in wanting to keep them off the streets, but where is the time for athletics?

Why can't the hedgefund managers, bankers, politicians invest their money in building baseball fields, soccer fields, hockey rinks, football fields? Of course the answer is they won't make money on such endeavors. Come on Whitney, do the right thing.

But you won't. You are not a team player. Never were. You are about yourself. Besides, I doubt you ever played or coached.

Team sports is what is missing from these kids lives. With team sports they will learn what isn't or can't be taught in a classroom. In sports students will learn to improvise, adapt and overcome (apologies to the USMC), which will transfer readily into life skills and academic skills.

Want to incentivize? What better way for a student to stay on a team than to have to keep grades, attendance, and behavior up? Read this article about the recently deceased John Wooden and see the impact he had on Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Bill Walton. Not to mention all his players.

Whitney, get off your high horse. Look around. There is no I in team.


ed notes online said...

I had a kid in my 6th grade class become a major player in NYC and I did some support work for his high school team. I read Wooden's book and was so impressed I gave it to the kid before he graduated high school but I don't think he ever cracked it open.

Anonymous said...

Wait, you did something with students on a Sunday? Aren't you a lazy union teacher?

Haven't there been studies done that show improved performance in math as a result of music instruction?

BTW, when did Whitney get his PhD in education, since he seems to know SOOOO much more than Diane Ravitch? I'd love to see them have a real debate. He's the Sarah Palin of the education world- all flash, no substance, and in love with himself.

Pete Zucker said...

There were also three other teachers there on Sunday. Our day began at 10 AM and we didn't get home until 7 30 PM. All veteran teachers.