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No Room for Volunteers

Ohanian Comment: I have been in close contact with longtime teacher, community innovator, and creative artist Georgia Hedrick for years. The talent and energy she brings to helping people is enormous.

I would note that Georgia left teaching over a matter of conscience: she could not bring herself stick to the Success for All script when she saw that children needed something more.

by Georgia Hedrick

I quit volunteering at the local school. Why? That school is so programmed minute by minute, and the march of day is so precise, I simply don't fit in. In short, there is no room for the volunteer.

No one wrote an addenda to NCLB, ie: NVLB. So, we volunteers have no place in the lockstep.

I tried to jump into it; sorry, I didn't fit. No one wrote a program for the volunteer.
(I don't think we volunteers are 'scientifically-research-based.')

So, are there really any kids who need help? Maybe so, but not in the 'order of the day.' I think the way these little ones 'catch up' is via retention. Everything just keeps moving along and those who don't get 'it' just pretend that they do. I think that is how it works.

I think the hidden agenda motto is: 'act the way you want to be, and you will be the way you act.' In short: pretend you get it.

I have to compare this situation to the way religious communities used to be long ago when I was once part. We were very lock-step, order of the day, 'we've always done it this way' sort of people in the 50's and 60's and 70's.

We did all those thingees told to us to do that would make us 'good.' We walked the walk. We talked the talk. And then, along came a little fat guy named John XXIII who said: 'let's look at this and let in some sunshine and fresh air and justify how all this works together for good.' It was simple: ask yourself 'Who are you? where are you going? Is what you are doing getting you there?' Then, throw away the extra stuff, get down to the real deal, and move forward.

What happened? People started to think for themselves, take nothing on face value, and ask questions--mainly, why? Over time, there was a 50% dropout rate. Those left behind began to talk to each other and make the group situation work for the greater good.

How does all this fit with schools? I see that same 'order of the day' again. I see that patterned way of acting. I see 'programs' running the way things go all day. Even the announcements over the P.A. have a pattern to them: word of the day, math fact of the day, child-writing of the day. (Plus, it is so quietly said that no one can hear it--not in the room I am in, at least.)

Then children sit on the rug, chant the a, ah, ah, ah--apple, b, bah, bah, bah, ball...and so on to the end of the alphabet. (The teacher points to the letter.) I often wonder what would happen if she went out of order...

Then the kids get these packets with little bags with booklets made in them entitled, each one, differently, as in:
I SEE..., I LIKE..., I CAN... all pictures are pre-drawn by some company. All the kids have to do is color in the pictures...and on it goes. Oh, testing every Friday for every class on what is presented. Charts and graphs made.

Over the years, if programmed education keeps on like this, the inevitable happens: drop out. We in Nevada have a 56% dropout rate at High School. That's where the pretend ends and the Why begins.

I am amazed that kids last that long. I didn't (as a volunteer at least).

— Georgia Hedrick




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