Saturday, August 21, 2004

Stupidity Strikes Again

Apparently, a Mexican flag hung in a Denver-area high school sparked a torrent of complaints. The school district responded that any display of foreign banners must be temporary and related to the curriculum. Since, you know, we shouldn't be teaching kids about the existence of countries other than the United States.

It's people like this who ensure the suckage of our school system.


Mike said...

95% of parents ensure the suckage of our school system by failing to a) grasp their role in the education process, b) understand the concept of education as necessarily a free market of ideas which children can listen to, interpret, form their own opinions about etc., and c) restrain from bitching about every little thing they think might "corrupt" their child, forgetting that a certain degree of "corruption" is actually very necessary to the development of a healthy human being. (Also, "It's a school, for God's sake" has gotta be the greatest retort to this idiocy).

Anonymous said...

Now wait, I'm not entirely clear how the removal of this flag increased the suckage of our school system at all. From what little information was presented in the article, it doesn't seem like the flag was being displayed in the context of learning about Mexico, but rather as a tribute to Mexico to make the classroom more inviting to students of Mexican descent. And while I admire any idea that is intended to make school a more positive and welcoming environment, I do think that that use of the flag was inappropriate.

I don't think it makes sense to promote loyalty to another country using taxpayer funds from this one. America paid for this school (I'm assuming it's public), and if any nationalistic tendencies are going to be promoted in the first place, then they should be American tendencies.

Moreover, the new policy (that flags can only be displayed temporarily and in the context of what is being taught) fully addresses your complaint about "teaching kids about the existence of other countries", Jeff. I think your beef should be with the people who complained to the superintendent that no other countries' flags should be displayed, rather than with the (apparently) far more reasonable school district.

Mike: I'm with you on the role of parents in education; a lot of people need a serious reality check about how their vision of their childrens' education differs from the rest of civilized society. But on the other hand, that obviously doesn't mean that all schools should be above reproach for their actions and policies.

Anonymous said...

That was me, by the way.

- Pierce

Jeff said...

My argument is with the school policy (which, fortunately, is easily circumvented by any teacher of average intelligence) is the message that it sends to children. Nationalism may or may not be a good thing, but exclusionism is definitely a bad thing. To say that no foreign flags are worthy of being posted is to say that the U.S. is the only country worth knowing about and achieving familiarity with, whether this is the goal of the policy or not.

Furthermore, I disagree that the school - at least, the high school - is the place to promote patriotism or nationalism at the expense of learning. Truth is, when that happens, both objectives fail. Read James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me for a better analysis of this phenomenon.

Frankly, I don't understand what the problem with the flag would be in the first place. Looking at a Mexican flag doesn't disturb my patriotism, and wouldn't have when I was 14, either...

Mike said...

My beef was not with the exclusion of the flag so much as what people choose to nitpick about. Did we have flags in our classrooms at TJ? I'm sure we did, but I never took any notice of them. Granted, I'm an unobservant bastard. But still, it strikes me as funny how people can get so offended over a Mexican flag in a classroom and demand to have it removed, yet (for example) they don't seem to mind all the teenage pregnancies and continue to promote abstinence-only education and deplore condom distribution in schools. (Probably a bad example even, but it popped into my head.) Anyway, my point is there are far more serious issues facing schools than a piece of cloth (pretty though it may be) hanging on a wall.

However, Pierce (and how's it going, btw?), I will admit that the district's new policy is perfectly reasonable. My complaint is not with the district but rather with the people who see one picture and get all in a huff. (I still love, "It's a school, for God's sake" though.)