Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Just In: Gardens Attack School-Age Children... has often taken on tough topics related to the big bad food industry, our broken agricultural system, and the environmental side-effects of it all. But this week in my weekly Grist update, I received a deluge of articles on gardens - more specifically school gardens and their place in our education system.

The most recent edition of Atlantic Magazine ran an article by a decidedly anti-feminist, middle-class-elitist homemaker/writer, entitled "Cultivating Failure." It incorrectly depicts the highly-acclaimed and successful school garden program in the Berkeley Unified School District as counterproductive in carrying out the real purpose of education - to lift the underprivileged out of their dire situations and migrant-labor backgrounds and educate them in preparation for jobs in a capitalist society. While, I agree that every student should be given the opportunity to learn, improve their writing, math, and reading skills, and have a chance at higher education, I don't think that incorporating garden-based hands-on curriculum into the school day is hindering this.

A vast and well-reviewed literature base on education extols the use of techniques that engage a student's interest, mind and body, in the subject at hand. Garden classrooms help develop curiosity, a passion for learning, and an ability to think, not just solve text-book problems. What we don't need is another crop of drone graduates that can add numbers and quote Shakespeare, but people who can critically analyse the world around. The added bonus of gardens is that they also introduce children to the joys and benefits of eating well, one that our country and especially schools are sorely lacking at this time.

Grist has some great responses to Flanagan's article - both on what is wrong with her argument and what is wrong with our school lunches (and also very reflective on what's wrong with out food culture).

Finally, after getting all riled up and in a tizzy over this woman, I watched a Colbert Report interview with her from a few years ago. I felt better. The woman is clearly a nut and should just stick to the house that she advocates as a woman's proper place.

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Caitlin Flanagan
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1 comment:

Alana said...

Oh wow. I knew I disagreed with her article, but this Colbert Report clip is just priceless. Holy cow. Even Colbert doesn't know what to say! He keeps trying to push his point further and she keeps agreeing! Wtf?