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Cultivating Failure
Posted by: manu_s 11:53am, Monday, 8 February 2010
It’s rare for an im­mi­grant ex­pe­ri­ence to go the whole 360 in a sin­gle gen­er­a­tion—one imag­ines the novel of as­sim­i­la­tion, The White Man Calls It Ro­maine. The cruel trick has been pulled on this be­night­ed child by an ag­glom­er­a­tion of food­ies and ed­u­ca­tion­al re­form­ers who are pro­pelled by a vac­u­ous if well-mean­ing ide­ol­o­gy that is re­spon­si­ble for rob­bing an in­creas­ing num­ber of Amer­i­can schoolchil­dren of hours they might other wise have spent read­ing im­por­tant books or learn­ing high­er math (at­tain­ing the cul­tur­al achieve­ments, in other words, that have lift­ed un­count­ed gen­er­a­tions of human be­ings out of the des­per­ate daily scrab­ble to wrest sus­te­nance from dirt). The gal­va­niz­ing force be­hind this ide­ol­o­gy is Alice Wa­ters, the dowa­ger queen of the grown-lo­cal­ly move­ment. Her goal is that chil­dren might be­come “eco-gas­tronomes” and dis­cov­er “how food grows”—a les­son, if ever there was one, that our farm work­er’s son might have learned at his fa­ther’s knee—leav­ing the Emer­son and Eu­clid to the pro­fes­sion­als over at the school­house. Wa­ters’s enor­mous celebri­ty, com­bined with her de­ci­sion in the 1990s to ex­pand her hori­zons into the field of pub­lic-school ed­u­ca­tion, has helped thrust thou­sands of schoolchil­dren into the grip of a giant ex­per­i­ment, one that is pred­i­cat­ed on a set of as­sump­tions that are large­ly un­proved, even un­ex­am­ined. That no one is call­ing foul on this is only one man­i­fes­ta­tion of the way the new Food Hys­te­ria has come to dom­i­nate and di­min­ish our shared cul­tur­al life, and to make an ed­u­ca­tion­al re­former out of some­one whose bril­liant cook­ery and laud­able goals may not be the best qual­i­fi­ca­tions for de­sign­ing aca­dem­ic cur­ric­u­la for the pub­lic schools.
manu_s says: Thought the NewsDog crowd (is there still a NewsDog crowd?) would like this one.

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really nice
Posted by: stephentyrone 10:37am, Wednesday, 10 February 2010
I'm not prepared to get quite so worked up as the author seems to be about all this, but it certainly is well written an interesting.

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