Like a Roach Upon Its Back

I dislike huge wood roaches; had never seen such things until I moved here; would prefer not to see another one; but won’t bet on being that lucky!

My cat, however, handles these revolting creatures with finesse. When he notices one, he approaches it in a pro-active manner, exuding self-esteem, quietly confident that he has perfected the art of roach-reform. He neither begs for food nor funding to support his “No Roach Left Behind” plan. He neither brags nor expects paybacks despite the fact that his methods are result-driven and measurable. He never stops to construct knowledge; participate in integrated thematic learning; or work within social constructs. He never tries to form cooperative roach learning groups and cares nothing about data-driven planning or accountability. He is not concerned with gender bias or social justice education, and can’t even tally the dead left in his wake. (Of course that is because he was never exposed to traditional math.)

Standards/smandards; benchmarks/smenchmarks. The cat ignores the current jargon and just effectively goes about his job.


My cat simply approaches the roach; deftly flips it over on its back; then nonchalantly walks away. There the roach stays, feet flailing in the air, as helpless as the proverbial turtle on its back. The bug is not included in any dropout rates. There is no attempt made to resuscitate or remediate the ugly thing; no laws passed to hide the failure rate of any existing roach laws; no funeral; no rewriting of history to gloss over the fact that an unwelcome, unproductive intruder was made helpless then left, unmercifully, to die alone; to be irreverently swept into the dustbin of failure.

Obviously, my cat believes in the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) philosophy for he has noticed, time and time again, that it is the key to solving so many problems. There is no doubt about it — his handling of the roach issue brings about a win-win situation for both of us. Each dead roach, left to stiffened and dry, provides authentic assessment of the cat’s core competencies. It is rewarding to note the strategic fit in this paradigm as cat vs. roach comes to closure within established parameters!

But as I observe my cat’s battle strategy against these invaders, I have been thinking…wondering…might there be lessons to be learned from these low-keyed dramas that play out so smoothly and so successfully?

I find myself wishing that progressive education, whether in public or private schools, with all of its inherent wickedness and failure, could come under the paw of my cat — just long enough for him to adroitly flip the entire system with its defective mindset, onto its back to die, then dry.

Of course, we cannot expect a cat to handle the beast that generations of legislators and citizens have allowed to grow into the dangerous, destructive force that undermines families, the culture, and freedoms that were once the lifeblood of this nation.

What we can do, though, is to Flip the System with all of its foolish jargon, and complex methods of assuring further failure, by removing the children, its lifeblood. By doing this, we can put the beast on its back, helpless, feet waving frantically in the air, vainly hoping to right itself. The creature would thrash and flail, even as it understood full well that any last resources were being wasted and thus hurrying its inevitable death.

If we will modify and put into use my cat’s tried and true “flip and leave” strategy, we will be able to incapacitate this enemy of free people, knowing that the winds of time will blow away the dried and exposed shell game of progressive education; plus any remaining dreams of, or dung left by, Dewey.

Some books to help parents and grandparents develop strategies:

June 27, 2005