Once again, Tim at Random Observations has provided post which I must pass on.  (Warning:  Yes, it's depressing, but worth reading, really.)  First, read his commentary, You're Just Another (Lego) Brick in the Wall... about an after-school program in Seattle, where teachers took over the children's imaginative Lego play and turned it into a chance for socialist indoctrination.  For a more direct view of the teachers' perspective, read their original article, Why We Banned Legos.

To Tim's insightful post I will only add this:  What about the parents?  Where were they when all this was going on?  Were they expecting childcare and maybe some help with math and reading from this afterschool program?  Did they know their children were getting a heavy dose of politics and indoctrination in values—politics and values possibly in direct opposition to the parents' own?  Certainly most parents would have a few issues with this part of the lesson:

[W]e explored questions about how rules are made and enforced, and when they ought to be followed or broken. We aimed to help children see that all rules (including social structures and systems) are made by people with particular perspectives, interests, and experiences that shape their rule-making. And we wanted to encourage them to consider that there are times when rules ought to be questioned or even broken....

The children were between the ages of five and nine, perhaps not the best ages at which to tell them that obeying their parents' rules is optional.  On the other hand, perhaps the teachers will eventually receive due retribution in the form of students who have decided that the school's rules are not worth following.  Alas, it's probably the high school teachers who will bear that cost.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 7:52 am | Edit
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Wow. Haven't they read A Wrinkle in Time? All houses the same, all children bounce the ball and jump the rope exactly the same. How can they possibly think that their point system trading game is a reflection of or the same as a capitalist society or even the original "Legotown" play? I have thoughts reeling, but not time to express them. Insane!

Posted by joyful on Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 11:43 am
Hullo SursumCorda (and kind friends)! Regarding the parents, I'd assumed -- (a) since Queen Anne (where Hilltop is located) is an wealthy near-urban neighborhood in a notoriously "progressive" city (Seattle), and (b) since Hilltop Children's Center website reeks of "we're progressive" ("children are valued for their ability to do meaningful work... and ability to play") that the parents probably generally accept or even endorse these political tenets. I just think it's sad the church wasn't offering a similar program, but from a more JudeoChristian-value-oriented point of view. But, alas, many urban churches aren't that different values-wise. joyful: YES, great point! A bit like Camazotz, L'Engle's dystopian opposite of Kennedy's Camelot. (Wrinkle in Time was written around 1962.)

Posted by Tim (Random Observations) on Friday, March 30, 2007 at 12:06 pm
Many thanks for your comment, Tim. Checking out the Hilltop Children's Center site, I can see that the parents may well have known what they were getting in for. Nonetheless, even I -- who would have been utterly dismayed to the point of removing my children immediately had this happened to us -- even I find many things attractive about the school's approach. I'm willing to bet at least one family got more than it bargained for. They might have been fooled, for example, by the following statements, taken from the school's philosophy as delineated on their website:

Teachers observe children’s play and listen carefully to children’s questions so they may support emergent projects and creations that come directly from the children instead of the teachers. [The Lego project came directly from the teachers' interference in the children's play]

You’ll seldom (if ever) see us involved in didactic teaching with the children [Certainly not never: see especially the moral dimension of "didactic"]

As we undertake in-depth project work with children, we foster investigation, building relationships, and appreciation of diversity and divergent thinking. [Except that the teachers did not appreciate the children's thinking when it showed itself to be diverse and divergent in a direction they did not like]

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, March 30, 2007 at 2:20 pm