How pub­lic schools cope with fail­ure: Y is for Yoga

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Michelle Malkin

The sur­geon gen­eral re­ally needs to slap a health warn­ing on The New York Times. My blood pres­sure in­creases a few points ev­ery time I read it. Last week, the news­pa­per of record pimped the Next Great Amer­i­can Ed­u­ca­tion Fad: In-school yoga classes.

Ac­cord­ing to the piece, “Less Home­work, More Yoga, From a Prin­ci­pal Who Hates Stress,” the head of Need­ham High School in the Bos­ton sub­urbs is push­ing “stress re­duc­tion” through bet­ter stretch­ing and breath­ing. Prin­ci­pal Paul Richards, who last earned na­tion­wide mock­ery when he ditched pub­lish­ing the honor roll, is part-Oprah, partDeepak Cho­pra, part-Richard Sim­mons and all edu-bab­ble.

“It’s not that I’m try­ing to turn the cul­ture up­side down,” he’s quoted telling the Times. “It’s very im­por­tant to pro­tect the part of the cul­ture that leads to all the achieve­ment,” he said. “It’s more about bring­ing the cul­ture to a health­ier place.”

And here I thought high school prin­ci­pals should make school­ing, not “bring­ing the cul­ture to a health­ier place,” their top pri­or­ity. Silly me. Wel­come to your new Nanny State night­mare.

Yoga classes are now a re­quire­ment for Need­ham high school se­niors. To fur­ther ease the sup­posed bur­den on over- worked stu­dents, Mr. Richards has “asked teach­ers to sched­ule home­work-free week­ends and hol­i­days.” Just what we need to turn around those one in 10 schools that are now con­sid­ered “dropout fac­to­ries,” huh? Can’t cut it in the class­room? Bend like a bridge, take five deep, slow breaths, and all will be dandy.

Why stop at yoga? Tantric chant­ing, here we come. And, hey, Kab­balah has done won­ders for Madonna. Let’s add hyp­no­tism and acupuncture classes while we’re at it. Hot stone mas­sages? Bon­sai treeclip­ping? No Re­lax­ation Tech­nique Left Be­hind!

Some point to a num­ber of tragic stu­dent sui­cides to jus­tify lard­ing up the school day with Tree Poses and Sun Salu­ta­tions. But the school of­fi­cials them­selves ad­mit the deaths were not re­lated to stress. No mat­ter. Mr. Richards is us­ing them to forge ahead with “a move­ment to push back against an ethos of su­per­achieve­ment at af­flu­ent sub­ur­ban high schools amid the ex­treme com­pe­ti­tion over col­lege ad­mis­sions.” It ap­pears there are now more than 40 other high schools and mid­dle schools that em­brace the “Stressed Out Stu­dents” agenda. There’s an­other yoga cur­ricu­lum pop­u­lar in Cal­i­for­nia, Yoga Ed., that has trained 10,000 teach­ers in more than 100 schools na­tion­wide.

And guess what else I dis­cov­ered af­ter try­ing to find out whether yoga was com­ing to a school near me? We are pay­ing for this non­sense. The Yoga Ed. pro­gram, cre­ated by Hol­ly­wood spouse/so­cialite Tara Gu­ber, was funded with tax­payer grants from the U.S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and the fed­eral Carol M. White Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gram.

Bit by bit, the dumbed-down cult of medi­ocrity, sec­u­lar ex­trem­ism and mul­ti­cul­tural mad­ness has in­fected Amer­i­can pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion. In­stead of con­cen­trat­ing on the ba­sics and then teach­ing chil­dren to man­age and con­quer their “stress” through in­ter­nal dis­ci­pline, we’re re­mov­ing ev­ery last source of pos­si­ble dam­age to their egos.

Math test scores have plum­meted. So­lu­tion: Re­move the U.S. from in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions.

Stu­dents are fail­ing. So­lu­tion: Hide the honor rolls so the un­der-achiev­ers don’t feel bad.

El­e­men­tary pupils don’t like drills and spell­ing tests. So­lu­tion: Fuzzy math and in­ven­tive spell­ing.

Fam­i­lies can’t man­age their time. So­lu­tion: Less home­work, more yoga.

“A lot of th­ese kids,” lec­tures Prin­ci­pal Richards, “are be­ing held hostage to the cul­ture.” No kid­ding. When The New York Times in­vited one of Mr. Richards’ stu­dents to rec­om­mend stress-re­duc­tion tech­niques, he ended with this sug­ges­tion:

“Watch a short clip on YouTube (as long as you are not ad­dicted). The amaz­ing and of­ten funny feats on the site are in­spir­ing and of­ten leave you feel­ing, ‘Hey I want to do that!’ This is a great at­ti­tude to have to­wards your work.”

Watch feats of stu­pid­ity on YouTube. Yeah, that’ll do won­ders for Amer­i­can stu­dent achieve­ment.

The only ones who need stress re­duc­tion right now are par­ents fed up with this run­away id­iocy. If you think edu­crats are go­ing to re­cover their senses any time soon, well, you know, don’t hold your breath.

Michelle Malkin is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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