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Malcolm London: A Poet Performs

The Chicago-based poet Malcolm London performs an excerpt of his poem, “High School Training Ground.” It begins, “At 7:45 a.m., I open the doors of a building dedicated to building, yet only breaks me down.”
  • Harold Braunstein

    Tonight, at 10pm, Bill Gates and other concerned people will speak on a program devoted to our deplorable education problem in this country. The problem is not just about
    “education and learning” in our country. I’m sure there are pockets of success here and there in our country but I’m also sure, and that’s why they are meeting, that the serious problem is wherever the small pockets do not exist. In other words, yes, our country is in trouble with the education of our youth.

    I’m also sure they will come up with the same ol’ same ol’ solutions and I don’t mean to be disrespectful to the speakers. But the real problem is never addressed. That problem is the poor use of our media, specifically, television and the
    computer. It is more than just the media (although Marshall
    McLuhan was on target in his thinking). It is also in the content itself and how our students misuse it. Better yet, they don’t use the content for real learning.

    Regarding McLuhan, yes, we have become an entertainment society; our kids are addicted to being entertained. Now who is going to tell the truth on the subject of entertainment when much of our economy is dependent upon the entertainment industry? Even some of the best on television: operas, concerts, discussion groups (like you will hold this evening) is in someway a form of entertainment. That entertainment might not be so bad were the youth to be tuned in to it.

    But that’s not the case; they are tuned into garbage. Even our major news stations are gradually becoming talk shows where the anchor people, people we should have high regard for, are kidding with each other, making the news itself an excuse for them to be on TV. Where are the likes of Walter Cronkite, and even he, maybe one of the best, could have and probably today would be, another form of entertainment. The industry has a way of forcing the participants into that mold; how else will the industry sell detergents etc.?

    Who has the courage (politicians, educators, government people, industry leaders) to tell the public to throw out the TV sets (I misuse the set too) and substitute a shelf of books? How will reading again become a main source of entertainment? Who is going to say to the public, “Get your kids away from
    television because they (and possibly your too, Mr./Mrs. Parent) are not using it properly.”

    And with regards to the computer, as excellent as it is as a source of information, where so much learning is possible, many, maybe most, of our youth are using it for other reasons: for games, for social communications with all the misuses of
    proper English, for pornography which is rampant … making the parents responsible for monitoring the use of the computers, which in the long run is not easy or even possible.

    So who is going to shout out to the public that our media, again, mostly the television and the computer, are the main source or our education problems? This is where in practice, it is more important to sell cars, detergents, and all the thousands of products advertised on both television and the computer, than
    it is to educate our children. American children want to be entertained. You will find less of this with children coming here from other countries … until those children become assimilated into our society. Then they become all-American and say, “Entertain me”. And the media is all to happy to pander
    (that’s the word, “pander”) to their requests. And these requests are unfortunately becoming needs.

    We can say that these media are becoming drugs, and the sellers have the attitude that our children be damned, we are going to sell. And nobody has the courage (that’s a polite word) to change that thinking.

  • One word

    My sons were repeatedly left unsupervised at school and attacked, various times resulting in injury. One is now suffering from PTSD and went from the top of the class to the bottom. Not one lawyer will represent us in dealing with this gross negligence. When will justice be for all in this country?! Isn’t two years of suffering enough for one family?

providing support for thirteen.org

About TED Talks Education

Hosted by musician and education advocate John Legend, TED Talks Education features teachers and education advocates delivering short, high-impact talks on the theme of teaching and learning. Speakers include Bill Gates, Geoffrey Canada of Harlem Children’s Zone, and Sir Ken Robinson, creativity expert and the most-watched TED Talk speaker on TED.com.
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