Thursday, January 10, 2013

Education in Hudson

Dan Grandinetti continues to critique Hudson from afar--this time provoked by a letter from a graduate student in California, working on a master's degree in social work, who chose Hudson as the subject for a research project: "Who cares about Hudson's children?" Together they make interesting reading: the grad student's letter asks "members of Hudson and the surrounding communities to . . . help educate and implement programs to get our children to his or her graduation"; Grandinetti's response, which seems to confuse sleep apnea with narcolepsy, explains why this will never happen. 

Meanwhile, down by the river, at Basilica Hudson, Kite's Nest, which seems to be striving to develop a new model for how communities educate their children, began its workshops for kids this week.


  1. No offense to the creators of Kites Nest, but their approach to education is anything but new. In fact, the notion that "children learn not through being filled by the knowledge of adults" has been the dominant belief of American educators -- including those in Hudson -- for the last 50 years. It is called dumbing down. The idea that kids will stumble their way to Dickens and Shakespeare, the periodic table, the seven continents, or the parts of speech is nonsense. But the heartfelt prevalence of this luddite view of learning explains why so many of our kids can barely read or write, let alone find Africa on a map!!!

    peter meyer

    1. Don't know anything about Kite's Nest, but agree with the dumbing down, as evidenced by the poor writing of the girl going for her Master's Degree. Wonder were dat gurl went 2 skool?

    2. The thesis that "children learn not through being filled by the knowledge of adults" is simply the latest re-warmed Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 - 1788). It's inevitable that each generation must rediscover him whether or not they know his name, but the results are always the same: dumbing down.

      The belief that Rousseau's alleged wisdom (or its latest derivative) is each visionary's own unprecedented contribution is as predictable as the sunrise. The fixation is particularly an American phenomenon; the laugh is that Europeans don't even bother with this nonsense anymore!

      It's Kite's Nest's money and time though, and they can do whatever they want to with it. Good luck with the 250-year old project!

  2. Peter & Tim: I can't decipher who is the bigger Troll here. If you could continue wowing us with your fits of pedagogical insight, we might be able to determine a winner.

  3. Dave, meaningful discourse is often uncomfortably challenging, but what you've added above is both unpleasant and unedifying. Your self-expressive ad hominem is a sad substitute for a reasoned reply, but it is somehow allowable here, coming as it does from an official perhaps.

    For the current generation being weaned on applause for each individual[-ized] act with no regard for quality, no one is ever challenged unless and until someone comes along and points out what a suicidal farce the whole project is - and has been for 250 years, but I won't bore you with history.

    It goes without saying that critics of the magic circle may be permissibly shunned, their characters ridiculed, end of discussion.

    I've seen that same thing before: "four legs good; two legs bad."

    I read the following headline a week ago and asked it to tell me something I didn't already know: "We are raising a generation of deluded narcissists."

    (That's not a crack at you, but it may very well describe your pedagogical approach.)

    Best, T

  4. No, I don't find your pithy dismissiveness as challenging, meaningful, or edifying. Which is exactly why I answered the cheaply dressed snark, with a dollop of the same. The comments here could be more aptly described as hyperbolic, arrogant, & cynical, but I digress.

    The First Ward unabashedly welcomes new efforts to make this a better place for our children, especially when they've asked nothing of our City, except for a modicum of good will. I wonder, is your frame of generosity so tightly bound you confuse being rude with being reasoned?

  5. Wow.

    You know you could have just said, "Hey guys, it's only an after school program. Does it really have to become a turning point in the philosophy of education?"

    I'd have agreed with that, and said so.

    But aside from your solicitousness for the First Ward, which I really do appreciate, why don't ideas have a life anymore? Why do you say that they cannot here?

    Kite's Nest did put forth an idea which happens to come straight out of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Whether you want to hear it or not, that's going to be problematic for plenty of people.

    If Kite's Nest had dropped that one sentence I wouldn't have had any problem with the rest of it, but they didn't. They put forth an idea, and whether they know it or not that idea has a big history.

    But please indulge me for a moment and take Kite's Nest completely out of the picture.

    In my comments I offered historical context. I provided enough clues for anyone with a familiarity with French philosophy, the French Revolution and Romanticism to follow up, either to corroborate or to contest.

    It may be stupid of me to comment at all on a small, after-school program (that did occur to me, but only too late), yet you've trampled on a legitimate difference of opinion without once giving a reason why (other than your laudable support of activities in the First Ward).

    By properly contextualizing a statement within its own history and tracing it to its origins, I think that I've gone a long way to being reasonable.

    It genuinely pains me to say this because I like and support you, but how could any of your replies above be described as "reasonable"? Precisely where did you engage a single idea? You attacked me, and not the ideas.

    I hope that you will not be so dismissive in future. I also hope that you and others will keep your minds open to new ideas in education.

    I wish Kite's Nest all the luck in the world.

  6. D - since nobody else could possibly be reading this post anymore, I'll proffer a direction that's less "modernist" than the one we've been discussing here, and which moves away from making self-expression our constant point of departure.

    Easier said than done I know, but evoking Rousseau can only perpetuate the centuries-old harm of the subjectivist tradition. That tradition is what we should be scrutinizing, but it's so much easier to indulge in the latest form self-congratulation (which naturally requires subjects on whom to project).

    Subjectivism is the problem; working to perpetuate it is incomprehensible to me.

    Should I have said all that from the first? Maybe. But I'll wager that any idea that contradicted the program would have been rejected and ridiculed out of sheer anti-intellectualism - the latter being the greatest area of commonality between the old Hudson and the "new."

    Thus: "four legs good; two legs bad."

    Best, T