Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I've blogged before about the Academy-Award-nominated documentary Food, Inc.  Imagine my unbounded delight when today there comes this particular permission slip from middle school:

For those of you in other cultures (meaning, anywhere but here!!), yes, that's an excerpt from a permission slip and it's needed because teachers, the degreed professionals that they are, have been deemed to be un-fit judges of what movies gifted-and-talented twelve- and thirteen-year-olds should watch.  It's all part of the greater nanny state theme - nothing so consequential as a movie that has been already rated as appropriate for this age group by a respected independent organization can be left to individual professional judgment, because that's just too damned risky.  So parental consent is needed for each and every one of them.

Anyway, I was tickled by this; I think it's an important film and an appropriate choice in this educational context.  Given the prominent role that Texas has played in the industrialization of our food system, it's not necessarily the safest choice for a public school teacher to make, either.  In general, I am net-negative on the whole GT magnet school experience that Cayley is having right now.   As I mentioned in another recent entry, while the idea of this GT program is on the right track, the execution nullifies a lot of the value by simply going too far: too many performance demands and too much homework essentially turn the learning process into a soul-less assembly line (very much analogous to the soul-less assembly line that our food system has become under the current industrial regime... it's an eerie parallel now that I think of it).  In significant measure, I suspect that Cayley is going to remember not the depth and breadth of these educational years, but the stress and toil that overrode the quality of the content.  But every once in a while, the curriculum includes an original choice like this film, and I become a bit more hopeful about the potential for lasting value.

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