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Of Course Children Need To Be Taught Norms

Rachel Levy is not so thrilled with my contention that poor kids living in high poverty neighborhoods and attending high poverty schools benefit from explicit instruction in bourgeois norms:

Poor kids and their parents don’t need to be schooled in the way of bourgeois values; they need jobs, healthcare, housing, and, yes, a rich and meaningful education. If KIPP offers that kind of education, then uniforms or not, kudos to them, but if KIPP doesn’t offer this, then they need to re-think their approach. All kids, even poor kids, should learn in an orderly but not rigid, developmentally appropriate, content-rich environment that fosters exploration, critical thinking, and creativity. All kids are worthy of the best practices and great curricula–that’s not bourgeois, that’s good education.

For a diplomatic response, see Erik Kain. As for my part, I’ll just say: Seriously?

Look. Children are children. They’re kids. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re irresponsible, they’re impulsive. They need to be taught. They learn from their parents and their peers and their peers’ parents. And if they’re parents have low levels of education and labor force success and so do all their friends’ parents and all their parents’ friends well then of course they’ll benefit from certain kinds of explicit instruction that middle class children don’t need.

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