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Organizing the Obama Youth Brigades

Posted by Richard on September 2, 2009

On Sept. 8, President Obama will address America's schoolchildren and urge them to work toward personal and civic goals. Educators in all 57 states will assemble their K-12 students to hear Dear Leader instruct them on what it means to be a good, productive, obedient citizen.

(I can't help but wonder: if Pres. Bush had scheduled an unprecedented address like this, how many teachers and principles would have eagerly participated?)

The Dept. of Education is providing schools with teaching materials to support the students'  indoctrination learning. One of the teaching materials is a PreK-6 Menu of Classroom Activities (PDF), which includes suggested questions to ask students, such as: 

Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?

TeaPartyPatriots.org doesn't care for that question: 

Shouldn't it be the other way around?
"Why is it important that the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor listens to the people? Why is what the people say important?"

The teaching guide includes lots of other questions for students, exercises for students, and activities to reinforce their indoctrination learning. For instance, it suggests that teachers can "extend learning by having students" (emphasis added):

  • Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants or puzzle pieces or trails marked with the labels: personal, academic, community, country. Each area could be labeled with three steps for achieving goals in those areas. It might make sense to focus on personal and academic so community and country goals come more readily.
  • Write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short‐term and long‐term education goals. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.

Yes, teachers, focus on personal and academic goals first, and once the kids are hooked, reel them into the community and country goals — but only after asking them questions like "What do you think the President wants us to do?"

Need it be said explicitly that teachers should make students accountable for the community and country goals, too? Does ACORN have a youth brigade? If not, I'm sure that will soon be remedied (using some of their stimulus billions).

This entire endeavor strikes me as an exercise in "critical pedagogy," chief tenets of which include:

  • all education is inherently political and all pedagogy must be aware of this condition
  • a social and educational vision of justice and equality should ground all education
  • issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, and physical ability are all important domains of oppression and critical anti-hegemonic action.
  • the alleviation of oppression and human suffering is a key dimension of educational purpose

Many contemporary critical pedagogues have embraced postmodern, anti-essentialist perspectives of the individual, of language, and of power, "while at the same time retaining the Freirean emphasis on critique, disrupting oppressive regimes of power/knowledge, and social change." …

… Much of the work draws on anarchism, feminism, marxism, Lukács, Wilhelm Reich, Khen Lampert, postcolonialism, and the discourse theories of Edward Said, Antonio Gramsci and Michel Foucault. Radical Teacher is a magazine dedicated to critical pedagogy and issues of interest to critical educators. The Rouge Forum is an online organization led by people involved with critical pedagogy.

Saul Alinsky would be so proud of his fellow Chicagoan, community organizer, and disciple.

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One Response to “Organizing the Obama Youth Brigades”

  1. Hathor said

    Youth brigades? Is it … envy?

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