Culturally cohesive education system only encourages one identity; shuts others out

Published: Monday, July 9 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

David Brooks is a New York Times Op-Ed columnist.

Our take: What would it be like if characters from Shakespeare's plays, like Henry V, attended American schools? Would they be able to gain an education? In this article, David Brooks examines trends on the failure of many male students to be able to gain a proper education and the failure of schools to cater to students who do not fit a certain academic mold.

The education system has become culturally cohesive, rewarding and encouraging a certain sort of person: one who is nurturing, collaborative, disciplined, neat, studious, industrious and ambitious. People who donít fit this cultural ideal respond by disengaging and rebelling.

If schools want to re-engage Henry, they canít pretend they can turn him into a reflective Hamlet just by feeding him his meds and hoping heíll sit quietly at story time. If schools want to educate a fiercely rambunctious girl, they canít pretend they will successfully tame her by assigning some of those exquisitely sensitive Newbery award-winning novellas. Social engineering is just not that easy.

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