Friday, April 20, 2007

As the Worm Turners

As we have commented already, we feel that the Little Red School House's trip to Cuba, led by the intrepid Che Turner, was ill advised on a number of levels. Out biggest beef is not that the kids went and broke the law, although this fact in some profound way is emblematic of the Beacon School's entire mindset, but more importantly that the trip was led by an individual who appears to be more of a proselytizer than a teacher interested in getting kids to think critically.

Now we here that Congressman Fossela is reaching out to the school in order to see if it is wiling to have their students meet with a former political prisoner of Castro. This is all to the good. Young students do need to be exposed to a variety of different perspectives, but in a way that doesn't seek to impose any one of these views as sacrosanct. The key thing is to get the kids to think.

Which is where my biggest problem lies with the Turner affair. From everything that I've read, Mr. Turner has a particular point of view, one that appears to be highly critical of his own government and decidedly less so of the workings of the island paradise. For teachers like Turner, critical thinking is learning to be critical of the essence of the American political and economic systems. What's always missing with these kinds of folks is any real critical thought, the kind that involves some degree of self-criticism. The righteousness, and self-righteousness, drips from their pores. It is decidedly a poor mindset from which to really teach critical thinking.

All of which is underscored by a rather sad comment that was posted anonymously on this website by an apparent student of the Beacon School. Taking issue with my critical observations about Turner this student said:
"You know I dont give a rats ass what the new york post or sun say because I have Nat Turner as a taecher. I have learned a lot from him about the truths about America's digusting government and many other fact that many other teachers wouldn't have the balls to teach about so FUCK THE NEW YORK POST AND THE SUN"

What a sad commentary indeed. Is this student's comments representative of the "learning" that is taking place in the Beacon School? Nothing could do more to dramatize my earlier concerns about the pedagogy in play in Turner's classroom. A full investigation needs to be done about the intellectual fitness of Turner to teach, rather than propagandize, high school students.