Civility subdues Revolt at Stress in American Schools

The discussion after this evening’s showing of Vicki Abeles’ documentary, RACE TO NOWHERE, at the Winston Churchill Senior High was marked by a surprising restraint.

Given the accusations that the film level at the education system and the society, the outcry was far too subdued to bet on, what Peter Senge recently described as, a “Necessary Revolution” and Mortimer J. Adler in the late 1970’s identified as the “Wednesday Revolution.”

Despite the heart-wrenching accounts of adolescents and families in emotional peril, a sense of being squeezed by a “race-to-the-top” American mantra, and despite the true accounts of tragedies involving sickness and suicide as it relates to the strains and stresses current schooling places on young people, parents were rather placid in displaying horror at this flawed reality.

Admittedly, there were short stabs at the origin of the pressure, suggestions about special interest groups and hints at teachers who push ruthlessly for commitment to the race to nowhere, but these were not convincing enough to believe that something will, could or must be done. In fact, at the outset of the dialogue, parents were cautioned to avoid finger-pointing and paralyzed by the injunction that there will be no easy answers. Also, the expression “counter intuitive” was mentioned a couple of times, clearly pointing toward the exasperation that awareness of this cyst in American education will not lead anywhere.

Simply put, the dialogue was too civil for action and one wonders where the edge is. In fact, one wonders what civility is.

Sadly, as the South African ambassador to the US recently suggested when commenting on Xenophobia in the country, our sadistic obsession with that one incident that could push us over the edge make us blind to the plethora of promptings and warnings leading up to it – could this pseudo civility be one step closer to the edge?

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