After reading the recent posts in the play and recess campaign on the Coop I began to notice the common denominator in every argument agreeing that play is crucial to a suitable public education system. We, the American public, have slowly become a society that praises and emphasizes conformity and standardization in the ultimate goal of being the “best and brightest” and that praise and emphasis has spilled over into our education system. We have so heavily praised and emphasized conformity and standardization with our nation’s children over the past few decades that they have essentially moved to remove every vehicle that inhibits a sense of altruism and individualism within their developing minds. In retrospect, it seems that society and the socially sensitive education system has started to move toward creating a second “Silent Generation”, but this time by different means.
If one were to look at the downward path that the American public and its education system has taken they would see the developing and furthering of today’s “Silent Generation” that has everything to do with our twisted idea of being a smarter nation at a reduced price. Once we moved toward creating a sense of uniformity in schools that went beyond just dressing alike, we started limiting the very things that instilled the value of self expression within the education system. The downward path started with Music and Art, because it was realized that it wasn’t wise or practical to tell students about these great artistically talented geniuses who were completely unique and nonconforming. We figured we couldn’t tell children about these great geniuses who refused to conform to societies expectations and then expect children to do the exact opposite without great resistance. Aside from that, it was just more cost efficient to cut the subjects to free up more nonexistent dollars for the testing regime, but if anything it was a solution that killed two birds with one stone. Nevertheless, you can only reduce something so much until there is no more to reduce and that is what was done with Art and Music. So, with Art and Music out of the way of the twisted goal of standardized proficiency, play was the only thing left that was stealing time and attention away from the redundant “drill baby drill” standardized test culture. And there went Play, the one and only thing left that was stealing the already limited attention of children away from the bubbles and test prep they had to endure for 8 to 10 hours a day. The only thing left that children had to express their inner selves with that wasn’t controlled by a lesson plan that dictated the course of events.
It seems that through all of this, we have allowed for the abusive erosion of sense of self that children possess within the American education system in the name of standardization. We have allowed for a sense of oppressiveness to exist that has vehicle by vehicle, eliminated the chance for students to be unique in a system that identifies them as one in a kind. We have moved toward a system where children are denied the right to be themselves and to express who and what they are for nothing more than a test and for nothing less than the politics of public education. And then we want to complain when children can’t think straight or pay attention long enough to learn the basic steps of a lesson as if it is natural to be locked away for 8 to 10 hours without any release of anxiety and frustration. We must demand that children have their time to unwind and be themselves if we truly want a nation of able children who are not silent and expressionless because a few sheets of paper with bubbles on it isn’t worth the damage that being done to this upcoming generation of children.