May 24, 2006

modern and multicultural...

This was very interesting to me, especially as an illustration of how utterly stupid and racist it is to think we are "helping" minority students by giving them a dumbed-down multi-culti education. Cultural literacy and familiarity with great books are tools for success in life (besides being good in themselves).

DANTE AND CAFÉ. Mission High School in San Francisco, said the March San Francisco Chronicle, "is composed of mostly low-income, minority students, many of them new immigrants learning English." To interest students in reading, most of the school's literature offerings are modern and multicultural. "While Mission students do read a couple of Shakespeare's plays and a smattering of other classics before graduation," said the Chronicle, "much of the Western canon never crosses their desks."

But 30-year-old Callen Taylor, a social studies teacher at the school, said she noticed that her students lacked "cultural currency" -- that is, they have little or no classical or Western European cultural knowledge. The students had attended summer programs with wealthier students and had felt intimidated by their peers' cultural understanding. To help her students, Taylor formed the Dante Club. Taylor and 12 students from Mexico, Central America, and Asia meet Saturday mornings for two hours at the Morning Due Café to read and study Dante Alghieri's L'Inferno. And they earn no credits for it. "It's a hard poem, and I can't believe they come," said Taylor. "Every weekend, I'm shocked that they come and want to read it. And they like it! It gives them confidence academically and when they get that, they want more." "I used to just sleep until noon (on Saturdays) and then watch TV," said 18-year-old Khiem Vo, one of the Dante Club. "This isn't actually school. It's hanging out with my friends and talking about books. It's just getting more knowledge over a cup of coffee on a nice, sunny day. It's not that bad."....
Posted by John Weidner at May 24, 2006 4:26 PM
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