ZombieX: Kelly Gallagher Says Stop Readicide Now (Part 1 of an Interview)
According to “The Zombie Survival Guide,” there is no known way to cure an infected human. Since the creation of the “No Child Left Behind Act,” (NCLB) in 2002 the education system has been producing young mindless zombies. An entire country of zombies might be okay, even preferable, if we were in a communist country or even a monarchy.
But last time I checked, America is a democracy. In most states, when a person turns eighteen they are given the right to vote. So if our generation becomes a horde of slobbering zombies guess what that means? It means that we will likely have more crappy presidents who are controlled and bought off by greedy, self-righteous billionaires. Luckily, there are teachers who are trying to turn us kids into critical-thinkers. Critical thinking is the best vaccine for protecting ourselves from being turned into zombies. The future of America can still be saved from an invasion of the undead. And the heroes will be the teachers, people like Kelly Gallagher, author of four books including Readicide, and one of the best English teachers in the state of California.
I was fortunate enough to interview Kelly at Magnolia High School and I would like to share some of his profound wisdom. Kelly believes that the purpose of education is to turn kids on to the love of learning and thinking. Despite the fact that his students are not honors level, they do well on the standardized tests yet he doesn’t teach to the test. He teaches to the student. What does that mean? Kelly tries to get kids to become very curious about the world around them and to be willing to pursue their interests in the world, then he gets them to write about their thoughts.
“I want my kids to be lifelong learners long after high school.” Kelly happens to be involved in an old geezer discussion group made up of 80 to 90 year-old doctors, lawyers, musicians, and other astounding people. Once a month, they sit down together to talk about a specific topic-it could be anything. One thing he said that impacted me was, “What’s more important, the love of learning as an adult or your CST score in 7th grade?” This is much better than some of the cliché crap my teachers are forced to say like, “Do your best on the test!” Or, “If you do well we will give you a pizza party.” Do they honestly think that we don’t know what a bribe is?
An example of my love of learning is science, especially global warming. I have recently learned that massive dead zones are appearing more and more worldwide in our oceans. Many scientists are concerned that we may experience a marine mass extinction. Something of this scale has not happened for tens of millions of years! This is just one of many issues that is not taught in the classroom to us students. Think about it, if we are not educated on these things then we won’t be prepared to face them in our adult lives. We might just as well be standing around waiting for the planet and our civilization to collapse in on itself.
Hopefully, that will not occur if we have teachers and educators like Kelly running the show. But, “There is a silent curriculum of conformity.” Conformity means to be the same and not to stand out. I find this quote to be very true. After all, the system is making all students the same by testing them on the same material in the same method in the same time frame with the same extrinsic “rewards,” (a.k.a. bribery). However, Kelly mentioned that the kids who are different and are willing to question the system or think out of the box are the people that will succeed in the world. He told me a story about a business executive he met who said there are a lot of booksmart young people but very few who could think and who were creative. I think that you should stick to your ideas and beliefs even if others reject them and they all view things in another way. Standardized tests don’t help us develop these skills. “Conformity means for everyone to be pressured to be the same.” The kids who resist conformity, who are creative, who are different are the ones that will succeed and lead us forward. When he mentioned this I realized that he was talking about how conformity in the system creates zombies.
“There is a quiet pedagogy of drilling conformity into kids which in the long run is against their best interests; and there is an unwritten rule that schools are designed to keep you in your place.” To me and many other people, Kelly Gallagher is a true hero because he says what needs to be said about education. As I write this, our government leaders are debating the modifications and fate of education without asking us kids. Right now, they are funding two pointless wars and giving tax breaks to the rich. Do they expect us to just keep in our place?
Recently my parents took me to see the play Les Miserables which is about how the poor are being screwed by those in power. This play made me think about how America is today. Just like in the play, the students need to rebel against the education system (not using violence of course). The young people need to take control of their future. I don’t want to be like Fantine in the play who sang “I Dream A Dream.” She wasn’t able to entirely fufill her goals and pursuits. I want to fulfill my dreams and live a life worth living. Doesn’t everybody deserve that? Don’t you?
ZombieX is a 12-year old 7th grader in public school who obviously enjoys reading. He is a contributing writer to K12NN. Read his other posts, “No Zombie Left Behind,” and “The Return of ZombieX: Rob Gaudette Teaches Beyond the Test.”