Monday, January 17, 2011

The New York Times is Schizophrenic on Education

Sunday there was an amazing case of the New York Times not even reading their own newspaper and drawing the obvious conclusions about education. Kristof was writing his usual nonsense of how the Chinese education system is better than ours and why. (They score higher than the US does on tests and we should all worry, is now the mantra of New York Times apparently.)

But, in a different section there was an article about Amy Chua, the so-called “tiger mother” who wrote a book about how Chinese parents get their kids to do well at tests. As she is an American, a Yale graduate, and she mothers like her parents did, which means she forced her kids to do well in school. Americans are officially horrified by this book, while at the same time extolling the Chinese for doing so well on tests. Do we want nice parenting or parents who are into test prep? The Times is on both sides of this one.

In yet another section of Sunday's Times there is an Op-Ed piece on how Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, which uses a very bad word (one which wasn’t so bad in 1880) should now be taught in college as opposed to teaching it in high school and deleting the bad word. The idea that it should be taught at all is never discussed. Why shouldn’t it be taught at all? Because of the bad word? No, because novels shouldn’t be taught. What is the reason for teaching novels? Are we trying to create a culture of literary critics? I love Mark Twain but hated him in high school. I hated any book I was forced to read. Why do we force kids to read books that don’t interest them?

Maybe it is because they will be on the tests? How about if only Chinese students were to read them since they like tests so much?