Is Alice Waters Merely Cultivating Failure? Is Alice Waters Merely Cultivating Failure?

Is Alice Waters Merely Cultivating Failure?

by Patrick James

January 14, 2010
The Atlantic
is the latest to serve a dish of Alice Waters backlash. Prepared by Caitlin Flanagan, "Cultivating Failure" asks whether Waters's Edible Schoolyard program-which Flanagan sees as unproven, under-studied, and unquestioned-is not only failing to improve the education the students it serves, but also robbing them of vital hours which could be spent on more focused (and in her estimation) vital curricula, such as math, English, and history.Worse yet, Flanagan laments, it's riddled with murky class-based, racially charged undertones; the author imagines a migrant farm worker who sees his son or daughter's education as a vehicle for progress, not for picking lettuce.
If this patronizing agenda were promulgated in the Jim Crow South by a white man who was espousing a sharecropping curriculum for African American students, we would see it for what it is: a way of bestowing field work and low expectations on a giant population of students who might become troublesome if they actually got an education.
Her primary concern is that the Edible Schoolyard makes us feel good without actually offering opportunity (in the form of knowledge) to a generation of young students, all of whom deserve an education. Without putting education reforms through proper scrutiny, Flanagan writes, "we become complicit-through our best intentions-in an act of theft that will not only contribute to the creation of a permanent, uneducated underclass but will rob that group of the very force necessary to change its fate."Photo via Grubstreet.
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Is Alice Waters Merely Cultivating Failure?