New York City’s public school system is among the most racially segregated in America. It is also one of the few school systems that uses standardized tests to sort incoming kindergarteners into separate “gifted” and non-gifted educational tracks.
This week, Bill de Blasio’s school-integration advisory group suggested that these two facts are related. In fact, the mayor’s advisers argued that gifted programs are a leading driver of segregation in the city’s schools, and should therefore be phased out. Much of the city’s (famously liberal) public responded with incredulous outrage.
“Too many teachers are constantly thinking that if they had more time, resources and space they could make a difference. For some teachers that could be true, but for most the last thing they need is more. They need different, and that’s what they struggle with. It’s simple: if your teaching practice is not having an effect on your students’ performance, you must change.”
What Are You Changing?
There is something to this idea of less is more. For a teacher who can’t prioritize, organize, or integrate, more isn’t helpful or supportive, but rather an endless, wide-open and formless space.
Everyone needs structure–some kind of framework or pushback that offers form. 350 separate reading comprehension apps only help if, for whatever reason, you needed 350 separate reading comprehension apps. Otherwise, you’re choking separating the wheat from the chaff while taking time away from the critical integration.
In 2010, Fry was interviewed by “14-year-old Eden Parris in an interview for a Radio Times feature that enabled young readers to meet their TV heroes.” During the course of the interview, he “warned Parris that language could shape and limit people’s ambitions”:
Oscar Wilde said that if you know what you want to be, then you inevitably become it – that is your punishment, but if you never know, then you can be anything. There is a truth to that. We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.
Of course, this would’ve been perfect for the book, but that is one of the universal laws of writing books: once you finish them, you find all the stuff you should’ve included but left out based on your ignorance.