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Public schools resemble fairy tale

Kevin Palmer Martinez

Kevin Palmer Martinez

Public schools resemble fairy tale

By Kevin Palmer

The Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and the public school demonstrate how a self-absorbed leader causes dysfunction in an empire and school.

The fairy tale is about an Emperor who cares more about his appearance than the welfare of his empire. One day two swindlers came to town claiming to be weavers. The swindlers convinced the Emperor they could make for him magnificent clothes out of invisible cloth. They boasted anyone who could not see the new clothes were either stupid or unfit for office. Therefore, not wanting to appear unfit for office, the empire officials pretended to see the naked Emperor’s new clothes by offering compliments and praise. Likewise, the town’s people, not wanting to appear stupid, pretended to see the naked Emperor’s new clothes by offering compliments and praise. Even the Emperor lied to himself by acknowledging the compliments and praise for his new clothes.

One day as the naked Emperor was leading a procession, an honest child exclaimed, “He hasn’t got anything on.” Then, inspired by the child’s honesty, the town’s people said the Emperor is not wearing any clothes. However, the Emperor and his officials kept on pretending. The same behavior happens in the public school.

Like the Emperor, there are leaders in public schools who are more concerned with style over substance. Like the Emperor, they too are taken in by swindlers who promote all types of magnificent educational strategies and programs which promise to raise student achievement. However, in practice, they only raise the stress level of the classroom teacher and confuse the students. Moreover, like the spineless officials who pretended to see the naked Emperor’s new clothes, weak-kneed faculty members are afraid to push back against misguided decisions which pressure teachers into expedient administrative practices. Furthermore, unlike the child who inspired honesty among the town’s people, candid teachers are ostracized, marginalized, and devalued; especially, Physical Education teachers who are treated like second-class citizens.

In short, public schools with self-absorbed leaders are dysfunctional and produce suspect results.



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