If you wanted to trick someone into eating poop, you would not just hand them a bowl of poop unless you also had a gun to point at the person's head.
No, it would be easier to trick them by hiding the poop inside something yummy like soup or a casserole. Or you could make a poop sandwich. Just hide the poop between two perfectly good slices of tasty bread (white, rye, pumpernickel-- for purposes of this metaphor you can use whatever bread you like, as I have no idea which bread would go best with poop).
Recently I wrote about (and by "wrote about," I mean "made fun of") the burgeoning science of grittology. In that piece, I used a quote from Dr. Robert A. Martinez, a guy who seems to be trying to make a go out of something he calls "transformational resiliency." Dr. Martinez dropped by my comments section to convey that he's a sincere guy (actually, he appears online as "resiliencyguy") who wants to make the world and education a little better for people. And I'm inclined to believe him; I've seen his three-minute video which has an earnest shot-in-his-office production value combined with reading-from-a-script-setting-next-to-the-camera delivery. I believe Dr. Martinez is sincere.
Because here's the thing-- grit is not entirely a bad concept. I think many of my students could use a little more toughness, a little more faith in their own strength, a little more willingness to bounce back from disappointments and failures.
But grit as it is being presented these days is a big poop sandwich. The perfectly good bread of personal toughness and resiliency is being used to hide a bunch of poop about how schools and employers and corporations and government don't have to show any sensitivity or support to human beings-- if people can't handle being abused and mistreated, then it's their fault for not being gritty enough. Grit as it is currently being presented in the world of Reformy Stuff is just a big poop sandwich.
Standards are not an innately bad thing. But the CCSS are using the value of standards to mask some terrible one-size-fits-all badly-framed poorly-written poop. Having high standards? Also a good thing, but that value is used to hide the crazypants untested wrongheaded standards of CCSS. Having smart young people spend some time helping strengthen schools is not a terrible thought and teaching really is a noble profession, but TFA is using those values to hide an agenda of destroying the profession and aiding profiteering. Assessment is a necessary part of teaching students, but the values of assessment are being used to justify the most wretchedly awful program of high-stakes testing ever seen in human history. Teachers should be accountable to the taxpayers who pay our salaries, but that value is being used to mask an abusive anti-teacher evaluation program that is about destroying teaching as a career.
Those of us who argue against Reformy Stuff often find ourselves in some variation of the same conversation; we are pointing out the evils of some aspect of the whole wretched mess to someone who keeps saying, "But this part of it right here is totally okay!" It's just a variation on this conversation:
Pro-public school advocate: Do not eat that poop sandwich! It's a poop sandwich!!"
Other guy: But the bread looks totally okay.
People are coming around, slowly. They are lifting up the bread and declaring, "Hey! This is poop in here!" And reformers, getting greedy and sloppy, keep putting less and less bread with more and more poop, making their poopiness more and more obvious.
Of course, the next hard part comes later, because when you make a poop sandwich, you end up ruining a lot of perfectly good bread.