Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Class Struggle Asks: Is Recess Necessary?

At the Class Struggle blog, Jay Matthews asks Is Recess Necessary?

A survey said 70% of Americans believe recess is important. But Matthews thinks that KIPP founders Levin and Feinberg are right on to want to eliminate recess.

The notion that recess might be a detriment to learning is lost on many of the people surveyed by Robert Wood Johnson and Sports4Kids, as well as the people who wrote the survey news release. It says: "The new findings come at a time when many schools and school districts are making the difficult choice of cutting back on recess to make more time for standardized test preparation, as outlined on a report this fall by the Center for Public Education. Cutbacks to recess tend to be concentrated in schools serving the highest number of minority students or students in poverty, making underserved children the least likely to get this valuable playtime."

See that little dig about standardized tests? A less-biased writer would have acknowledged that conscientious educators like Levin and Feinberg might have good reason to cut back recess in order to give their students more time to learn.

Matthews will henceforth stop taking a lunch or bathroom break to increase his own productivity.

Thanks to AVITW


  1. KIPP, as the archetype of corporate incursions into the schools, is not about education: it's about training. This may seem like a mere semantic difference, but is significant.

    Education implies the development of the whole person, socially, intellectually and emotionally. Training, on the other hand, is about a narrow range of skills.

    Based on everything I've read about KIPP, their students are being trained to accept and be unable to envision anything but a a future of overwork (longer school day and year), stress (competition and stimatization regarding test scores), tedium (endess test prep), conformity (endless rote call-and-response chanting, a la Toyota or Walmart)and remote surveillance of output and productivity (ARIS and similar data mining mechanisms, which are also intended to surveil teachers).

    I'm sure KIPPsters and their apologists will respond with all their usual statements about college acceptance of KIPP alumni, but their protests are naive or deceptive: the statistical sample is too small, they cherry pick their students, and they wash out those who can or will not conform to their repressive model.

    When Levin of KIPP appeared on Stephen Colbert's show, Colbert referred to their endless, joyless school day and year, and in effect asked, "Why don't you just have them come to work in my textile mill?"

    As usual in our era, satire spoke more truthfully than "reality." These children are being trained, not educated, for at best a future in the middle management of a repressive corporate structure.

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