Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The dystopian nature of Charbonneau's writing might make you glance over the poignant theme as you sink your teeth into the more meaty aspects ... crumbling society, small town love in the face of everything, and can the world be saved.

But it is the title of the first and second novel that lead me to believe we are dealing with a writer who has pondered education and what education should and should not be about.  And that was what I ended up paying attention to and why I made this book a Community Book Discussion book at our high school.  

How high stakes have we become in our methods to find the best of the best of the best?  Because it is definitely true that only people who know how to find the curvature of a certain line should become doctors or ... excuse me.  When did we leave, "Plays nice with others" behind for these more cognitive skills.  There needs to be a balanced caring human being behind the engineer.  Why exactly did we think that playing nice with others wasn't a baseline skill that all people should have.  Lawyers that can create rules for all people need to be understanding, compassionate people.  They might not understand homosexuality or be part of a minority, but they better be able to listen to folks that belong to those groups. Whether they believe in homosexuality or not, they should at least be able to listen to someone who is trying to communicate to them that homosexuality isn't a disease or a choice or whatever other crazy notion the Defense of Marriage Act people believe.  How can you make a law when you don't understand the people whose lives would be changed by the law?

It's not that I don't like school.  I was a kid that loved all the testing because I did really well on them.  But testing with the goal of finding the best of the best is wrong.  Testing should be designed to make all students achieve more and become more of the person they want to become.  Students should try to do their personal best.  Not some state accepted 'best'.  And certainly not the 'best' that asks a student to believe their best is acceptable at the cost of their classmates happiness, let alone their classmates' lives.   

Empathy is a trait that many have left behind through the trials and tribulations of our high testing society.  Charbonneau makes that loud and clear.  Independent Study is the title of the second in the series.  It's not a flashy title, but I like that she thinks this is where education should be headed.  My favorite teacher in my life was my fifth grade teacher who was all about independent study.  Self directed learning makes a lot of sense.  I am anxious to find out what the title of the third in the series is and where she hopes to push those who are listening to her narrative on education.

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