How to make a top-performing school
From an NYT article on the ingredients for molding adolescent behavior in desirable ways at school:
There is no question that the Briarcliff school starts out with many advantages. It is part of a district in Westchester County that spends $24,738 per student, or more than one and a half times the New York State average, and can afford to buy extra sets of classroom textbooks so that students can leave their own copies at home. Its student body is relatively homogenous -- 91.8 percent are white -- and so well off that less than 1 percent qualify for free or reduced lunches. In contrast, in nearby New York City, 72 percent of the population qualifies.
You mean that's all it takes? Great, let's get started! Even if you threw a bunch of money at the problem, that wouldn't raise IQ. Wealth can be redistributed, brains can't.
So the school strives to develop critical thinking, teach organizational skills, and instill social and moral values.
Bullshit. Among the 6 or 7 high school students I knew who took the SAT in March (or maybe April), all but one wrote the exact same essay for the Writing test -- and not because they cheated. Rather, they are jaded enough to have realized that most essays like this are color-by-numbers assignments in which they drip platitudes into the allowed spaces. The goal was to write a persuasive essay on whether it was better to conform or stand out from the crowd, and damn near every student I talked to wrote an essay about "What if Martin Luther King had conformed?" Nothing wrong with the choice of evidence per se, but gimme a break, this is the real-life instantiation of the Chris Rock joke about how his answer to every question in African history class was "Martin Luther King" (watch here starting at 5:25).
So let's all embody the virtues of non-conformity by chanting identical, canned responses in unison. What a goddamn joke high school English classes are. It's also a shame that logic is taught in geometry class: almost none of the kids will ever study mathematics at a level where they'll need to rigorously prove anything, whereas they'll be making verbal arguments for as long as they're in school and perhaps beyond. So, you know, as long as you can tub-thump persuasively, who the hell cares if what you're saying makes any sense or not? I'm sure the little dears will make fine politicians or PR representatives some day.
Harry Zimmerman, 13, a seventh-grade student, said that managing his impulsivity during a social studies discussion stopped him from blurting out that he did not like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who lives in nearby Chappaqua. "I realized that there might be people in the room who might be offended by that, and I didn't say it," he said.
Harry, stop being such a royal pussy. Jesus, he wasn't even about to say anything profane, only that he didn't like her. There's "critical thinking" for you: "I've figured out that slightly upsetting these panicky pukes will result in my tar & feathering, so I'd better just keep my big yapper shut." If I went to Briarcliff, I'd graffitti-tag the hell out the sterile hallways with portraits of Dead White Males and whistle Beethoven at the top of my lungs while they carted me away. Liven the joint up a little bit.
"This town needs an enema!" -- The Joker, Batman.