Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bill Ayers talks education and people listen

Bill Ayers speaks Wednesday at the UniWyo Sports Complex in Laramie. Photo by Meg Lanker.

Not everyone in the UniWyo Sports Complex at UW Wednesday evening ventured through a spring snowstorm to hear Dr. Bill Ayers talk about education reform. Some were just curious and wanted to see the subject of a month-long wrangle over freedom of speech. Others came to lodge a protest.

No matter. More than a thousand people heard about the state of education in the U.S. Dr. Ayers has written many books on the subject -- and is still a practicing teacher.

Some boos erupted with the cheers with Ayers was introduced by UW Dept. of Education Professor Steve Bialistock.

That didn't seem to faze Ayers. He acknowledged that the struggle over freedom of speech and academic freedom had taken precedence over the speech itself.

"Students and faculty wanted to enageg in a dialogue with me and they couldn't," he said.

But they could on Wednesday night. Ayers spoke for about 50 minutes, using a stopwatch to time himself.

He offered no magic solution to education in the U.S.A. That's just the problem -- we're stuck in a "sterile debate on education."

On the one hand are the "free-market reformers" who believe in "charter schools and punishment." Then there are the "liberal traditionalists" who think that "the status quo is just great."

He reminded the audience that during the 2008 election, Republican John McCain said "we need to get all those lazy incompetent teachers out of the classroom."

"Didn't we all nod just a little at that?"

Punishing teachers and schools is not the answer -- but neither is just doing nothing.

"We have certain boundaries and barriers of thinking we have to imagine ourselves out of," Ayers said.

He advocates a "curriculum of questioning." Remember those bumper stickers, "Question Authority?" Like that, but apply it to all things.

I grow tired of the topic. I'm taking the reporter route on this piece but others have done it far better than me.

This one I have to mull over....

1 comment:

bigfrank said...

Damn Global warming! Al Gore should have followed up Killer Bill.