Archive for February, 2004

Georgia Education Resources

I’ll highlight other topics soon, but the Georgia education controversies have been drawing quite a few readers to my blog. For those readers who are interested in the topic, here are a couple of useful links:

And as Jason reminded me, proposed changes to Georgia’s US history curriculum have been largely ignored. In their 11th grade US history courses, students will study the Exploration era for three weeks before focusing on events from 1876 to the present, essentially ignoring the Civil War, the Trail of Tears, Lewis and Clark, and other important historical events.

In the changes to both the history and the science curriculum, two motivations seem to be at play. First, the new curriculum seems designed to prepare Georgia students for statewide tests used to measure school performance. As Joseph Jarrell points out:

States are facing new federal mandates to improve test scores. Interestingly, states can devise many of the tests used to measure this improvement. While mandating that we teach less, Georgia will prepare assessments that test less. Interesting formula: teach less, test less, brag more.

Second, the curriculum also seems designed to avoid any form of controversy, whether the “controversial” theory of evolution, which Cox describes as a “negative buzzword” or the more controversial aspects of American history.

In both cases, the implication is that we need to protect our students from any ideas or concepts that might be threatening. This approach understimates the ability of students to think critically about their values and about culture more generally. Avoiding controversial material also assumes that students are merely passive recipients of the material they are taught rather than independent thinkers capable of sorting through the ideas, concepts, and theories raised in the classroom.


Value-Added Cinema

Via Boing Boing: Steve Seid and Peter Conheim present Value-Added Cinema, a 47-minute montage of “egregious product placement shots, drawing on 70 films—removing the gratuitous and unnecessary plots and leaving behind just the exhilarating core of consumerism.” Now playing at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival.