FlanaganAnalysis - Caitlin Flanagan's review of school...

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1 Caitlin Flanagan’s review of school gardens in California in The Atlantic (“Cultivating Failure”) is an interesting piece of argument: on the one hand, she makes an impassioned plea for education to be accessible to all, particularly minority students; on the other, she clearly condemns one of the more popular and well-funded areas of the curriculum for many schools. Her argument centers on the conclusion that education should not focus on programs such as gardening but concentrate solely on teaching kids the basics they need to succeed in today’s society. I found this argument ultimately persuasive, given the points used to justify school gardening and the need for children to focus on subjects such as math and writing. But Flanagan’s presentation in this article is often inflammatory, using language and red herring fallacies clearly meant to manipulate the audience. This argument could turn many people “off” in its presentation, even if you agree with the author. Flanagan’s argument begins with Alice Waters, the pioneer of school gardening in Berkeley, California, and then concentrates on Waters’ philosophy and arguments for this program, the use of school gardens across California, and the impacts on school curriculum and student performance. Waters’ program is extremely popular with many schools in California, not just with teachers and students but also volunteers, celebrity sponsors, and agricultural groups (Flanagan 2010). This popularity is due to a combination of ideas including the need to show kids “useful work,” help them to understand where their food comes from, and give them access to fresh produce. According to Flanagan, roughly a third of California schools now include a school gardening program into the curriculum; in Berkeley, the garden is brought into other classes as well, such as writing recipes in English classes and measuring the beds in math (Flanagan 2010). But Flanagan questions the real utility of these programs in helping students
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FlanaganAnalysis - Caitlin Flanagan's review of school...

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