Most of this long post is exerpted from a post on Minding The Campus blog, a US blog site for dissident educators. The article is written from the perspective of an educator: It is reproduced here under ‘fair use terms’ in the public interest. The article exposes some misconceptions about the nature and purpose of modern education . The author opens by bemoaning the standard of education found in young people.
My students are know-nothings. They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.
He’s complimentary to the children:
[T]hey rarely allow themselves to become passionate and invested in any one subject); they build superb resumes. They are respectful and cordial to their elders, though easy-going if crude with their peers. They respect diversity (without having the slightest clue what diversity is) and they are experts in the arts of non-judgmentalism (at least publically). They are the cream of their generation, the masters of the universe, a generation-in-waiting to run America and the world.
Some students, due most often to serendipitous class choices or a quirky old-fashioned teacher, might know a few of these answers. But most students have not been educated to know them. At best, they possess accidental knowledge, but otherwise are masters of systematic ignorance. It is not their “fault” for pervasive ignorance of western and American history, civilization, politics, art and literature. Science fares somewhat better but it is learned by rote and theories are passed off as fact; mathematics is all important though most of us will never use any branch but arithmetic after leaving school.
Modern pupils however have learned exactly what we have asked of them – to be like mayflies, alive by happenstance in a fleeting present.
This can’t be stressed enough. In my last decade in work the constant mantra was that new is good, therefore right and I was nothing to do with education. But old mavericks like me, men and women who had benefitted from that education system known as “The Renaissance Education” which taught us to question, were being phased out. When I left the last corporate job I had in the early 1980s to become a freelance Information Technology consultant, the management services director (another Renaisance Education type) stormed into Human Resources demanding to know why I was being allowed to take a redundancy package and go when a number of notorious plodders would be staying.
“This company needs people who can implement corporate policy, not people who question it,” he was told.
Mordern teachers are, on the whole, open to new developments coming out of the curriculum branch, but when something bad comes along (such as Common Core in the USA, and britain’s National Curriculum, few are prepared to stand up say, ‘Hang on, since when did education take a one-size-fits-all approach, what about diversity?’
New! New! New! That’s the mantra.
And of course new policy is backed up by new teaching materials, innit, which comprise texts and exam books, extension work – anything to get the school to buy three texts per child, not one. Let alone the teacher texts. And inside those books are a complete political system based on the assumption that all pupils conform to a standard model and thus have identical educational needs. So who are the drivers of the new ideas? They are bureaucrats working for central government, people who have rarely if ever taught a class or, since they left school themselves, interacted with people from different educational classes or social backgrounds. but they will all have obtained a PhD ‘education’ which qualifies them as much greater experts that teacher who have spent years working at ‘the chalk face.’
Everyone below the ‘educationalists’, through the teachers, classroom assistants and down to the pupils, is expected to fall into line behind the currently fashionable theory of education.. Teachers are afraid to appear reactionary, racist, sexist, homophobic and even the moist trivial dissent from the official line will see one branded thus. Those who doubt the message may gently and quietly mock but teachers have mortgages and bills and need to eat and they know it’s more than their job’s worth to voice criticisms or point out that the system is failing.
Of late, people have started to wake up to the fact that the BBC is in effect the broadcating arm of The Ministry Of Truth and that the leftie luvvies and ‘speshul snowflakes’ it employs seem to be so brainwashed they cannot distinguish between facts and their personal beliefs and prejudices. The damage was done a generation ago it was done, to Generation X and Generation Y who were taught never to question authority and to accept the assumptions of the politically correct left as facts.
And voila, the culture of the 40s, 50s and 60s is not only gone, it’s mocked. A lady who was in a blog group I was in, in 2006/7, wrote to me that I sounded as if I were from the 60s. That was meant to be bad, that was meant to cut. It didn’t, because all I had been doing was questioning the assumptions of the left.
The immense power of the people controlling the media is incalculable. And yet those people are always hidden and are always at work, advancing the agenda. Any topic, say demonstrating a relative pronoun, can be loaded with embedded values, (e.g. (1) the boy who bullied immigrant children (2) we gave to a charity that drills wells in Africa) Every single excerpt, every single example, reinforcing the message.
Back to Minding the Campus which gets down to the nitty gritty here (BTW nitty gritty is a racist phrase because it refers to the gravel that was used as ballast on slave ships according to American educators. In fact the term originally referred to the ballast on all ships, but hey, never miss an opportunity to reinforce the message):
Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system – it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide. The end of history for our students signals the End of History for the West.
This is not an overreaction at the end – it really is the end of history. Being a sad case, I’ve always liked history books and when I was staying at a mate’s place, his son’s old history book was in the bookshelf. Took it out and it had the leather bound, hardback look which spelt gravitas.
Good, the old history, I thought. Several pages in and I was already muttering, then expostulating – the guff included as given truths were off the planet. Usually it’s the bias of selection and omission but this one included total porkies. I looked at the date – mid-90s.
Oh my goodness – who was going to correct these things? Well obviously people such as I. And just how was I going to do this? Track down the authors when I had a dozen things to do that day? And the son was now grown, out in the world. You see the impossibility of the task. And who’s to say he’d even listen or see it as relevant to his own world these days?
Back to the teachers and how far can they be blamed? Those in charge are Gen X, the new teachers are Millennials – the process has already been done on them.
Some saw it and tried to fight back by producing alternative materials:
E.D. Hirsch even worked up a self-help curriculum, a do-it yourself guide on how to become culturally literate, imbued with the can-do American spirit that cultural defenestration could be reversed by a good reading list in the appendix. Broadly missing is sufficient appreciation that this ignorance is the intended consequence of our educational system, a sign of its robust health and success.
Heads would look at it – hmmmm, interesting angles but reactionary, racist, every other -ist. And that was that. Those values were never going to be reintroduced by us. The only real chance is that some bright kids start to see something’s wrong, something’s missing and start exploring.
It’s not unlike The Who’s song 905:
In suspended animation
My childhood passed me by
If I speak without emotion
Then you know the reason why
Knowledge of the universe
Was fed into my mind
As my adolescent body
Left its puberty behind
And everything I know is what I need to know
And everything I do’s been done before
Every sentence in my head
Someone else has said
At each end of my life is an open door/a>
I have a feeling deep inside
That somethin’ is missing
It’s a feeling in my soul
And I can’t help wishing
That one day I’ll discover
That we’re living a lie
And I’ll tell the whole world
The reason why.
Chilling, yes? The point made over and over is that none of this is random, the rising and falling wave of civilization – this is quite deliberately introduced and it has succeeded. These are very patient people.
The earliest confirmed example was long ago, called the Lincoln School in America, Rockefeller funded and embracing what’s known as Wundtian philosophy. I’ll leave you to explore Wilhelm Wundt who might have died an obscure experimenter, were it not for his inclusion in the genesis of the new education.
There are just too many articles on education but one good one, on research methods, was reprinted here on my former blog:
The theme of deliberate intervention in order to suppress the very natural human instinct to question and rebel was, when I started blogging in 2005, seen as tinfoil hat conspirascy stuff, despite senior teachers and lecturers writing many essays and books critical of the way education was heading. Today, it’s seen as part of the fightback against dumbing-down which most of us (everyone who has used Facebook or Twitter for example) have observed in all its ingloriousness.
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