Knowing your place

by Henry on May 5, 2009

I really, _really_ liked “this insight”: from a post by Jo Walton on Ishiguro’s _Never Let Me Go._

Some critics have suggested it’s implausible that a whole class of people could be created to donate and die and yet been permitted to drive around from centre to centre and go into shops and service stations. I have no problem with it. The worst tortures are the ones you do to yourself. They are a class, they know their place.

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I’ve been invited to give a talk — and was asked to provide a reading — on educational equity, by an equity team in a local high school. I couldn’t find anything short enough and comprehensive enough, so I rewrote this post. The person who asked me had already read it and knows I’m a philosopher, so she knows what she’s getting. What follows is a slightly longer version of what I’ve written for teachers’ consumption (my wife told me to cut out the long Rothstein quote, but I like it, so it’s back in for CT; she also told me to remove a list of promising reforms, which I haven’t reinserted). It is different enough from the original post that I thought I’d post the revised version here:

The draft of Madison Metropolitan School District’s Strategic Plan Statement of Beliefs says “We believe that academic achievement is not predicted by race, class, disability, sexual orientation, gender or home language.” The draft of the strategic priorities contains the related comment that “we will eliminate the achievement gap by ensuring that all students reach their highest potential.” These comments might suggest a full-fledged commitment to educational equality. But in fact the word “equality” never occurs in the drafts – instead, the beliefs draft says that “resources are critical to education and we are responsible for their equitable and effective use.” Why equity, rather than equality? What does it mean to close the achievement gap? And how responsible are schools for doing it?

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So I clicked over to Pharyngula to see whether PZ had blown his top about the Fish thing (see previous post). Yes! In a manner of speaking.

I feel the need to cheer poor PZ up. So: the coolest thing on Flickr is this set of scans from a 1972 biology textbook that so desperately wanted to be a prog rock concept album. You should also read the tart commentary by the guy who posted it.

I thought about posting a few of the images here but I think, for full effect, you just need to view the whole set. (Just like you can’t really explain to someone why a particular Yes album is great by playing only 10 seconds of it.)

Think Again

by John Holbo on May 5, 2009

Oh, I suppose Stanley Fish’s latest, “God Talk”, can do with its own CT comment thread.

There’s this bit, for example: [click to continue…]