Monday, September 21, 2009

What's So Funny About Peace, Love, and Education?

Paul Freundlich and I are long suffering fellow Knick fans as well as observers of the education process in America. Paul has contributed work in this space before.

He has just re-released a film called Questions Not Answers on YouTube. He introduces the work:
If you have some time and want a real blast from the past, I've posted my 1969 film, "Questions Instead of Answers," on YouTube. It tells the story of an extraordinary black education program developed by the folks who launched Upward Bound in the '60s - a team of black educators who realized that African American youth had been badly prepared for the educational opportunities that were opening. In the process they rewrote the curriculum and redefined the relationship between teachers and students in a program that changed the lives of thousands of students attending thirteen, mostly southern black colleges.

It has been a matter of both amazement and sadness that the brilliant methodology they developed didn't rewrite public and private education in this country - not only for people of color, as the fully realized program applies to anyone with a spark of curiosity. And it's not that the program was a secret. The Institute for Services to Education,was funded by the US Department of Education, Ford and Carnegie. Elias Blake, who was President of ISE, went on to be President of Clark College, then headed a national task force out of Howard University.

The film was originally over an hour and is now in seven sections, each 8-10 minutes long.

I just finished watching it and found it to illuminate the seeds of an alternative educational universe that was snuffed out by a society that made a wrong turn and have continued a descent into educational malfeasance.

Paul and I and a few others aren't done yet. Part of saving education is not the dysfunctional "reform" that's marketed today but a return to sanity - that every child is unique and has a right to be without being judged by their deviation from the norm. In a society dumbed down by test-taking idiots, we need critical thinkers, geniuses, rebels, and malcontents.

Paul's film reminds us how to get there.

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