Education by Lottery – right or wrong?

Last week I watched this 60 minutes episode about “lucky” kids winning paid boarding school education. Education by lottery.

I don’t know why but I found it deeply disturbing. So disturbing, I just couldn’t even write about it. So I let it fester and digest until I could better grasp what it really was that hit me so hard.

On the face of it, seems like a wonderful thing. Wow! A whole high school education paid for and not just any high school education – a private school education! A chance to get out of the ghetto and learn unplagued of social problems and the pressures of inner city urban teen culture. A chance to be valued for who and what you are and not your “rep” or your “image”.

Or is this so?

I really think we should be fixing the problem at the roots, not creating more “educational ghettos”. That’s what bothered me.

Call me a dinosaur but I’m a big believer in public education. A “good” public education for all — and how it really creates a society and allows through knowledge and learning, a democracy to survive. Call me a believer in civilization – not power.

I’ve spent a lot of time around boarding schools and the children of very rich kids. I value a liberal education and the opportunities these students have – opportunities to think, be challenged and grow intellectually. The trouble is, I don’t want that to be on the backs of a population that doesn’t get the same advantages. And that is what disturbs me – that this sort of thing, this education “by lottery” will further create haves and have nots. I’d much rather these gentlemen take their time and money (and don’t think for a moment this is all “charity” – but that’s another blog post) and work in the communities/neighborhoods of the inner cities. Work there to build an equitable and possible better tomorrow. We don’t need charity in education and we don’t need educational ghettos.

This week, I watched the following video of Chomsky answering a question about education. He outlines so well the problem of institutionalization and conformity in education. That those who succeed, those like the kids of the rich, are those most able to conform, obey and follow. They are smart enough to know that they just have to go through the “nonsense” of education to get where they can enjoy life. Many or most inner city kids don’t conform, and for very good reasons. They don’t need more schooling, they need more education. Let’s give them that, more freedom to be who they are and how they are – instead of keeping them in educational ghettos – be they Ivy league prep school or Washington Heights Public H.S. That’s the problem as I see and I thank Chomsky for reminded me about it (even if he did so way back in 1990).

How do you see it? How did this episode and “lottery” effect you?

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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