Saturday, July 1, 2006

Publik edyoocashun

The drive to impose a comprehensive and compulsory tax-funded public education system in the 19th century was sponsored and assisted not only by the financial self-interests of educators and the economic socialist aspirations of trade unionists but as much again at least by the efforts of early communist utopians to engineer collectivist sentiment by exerting public proprietorship of children. To this day, public education in learning invites a sympathy to the kind of moral equivalence that helped bring its monopoly into being. A type of person is predisposed to become an educator or curriculum author by the advantages of social engineering that the system presents. Institutionalized values — as opposed to individualized values — receptive to progressive objectives or legislations of diversity, tolerance, citizenship, anti-bullying, health, the metric system, economic productivity, etc. are thus inculcated to the point where one wonders how educators find the time to teach arithmetic or basic literacy. I suppose that's why in Ontario students must be kept in school until the age of eighteen and still graduate without the ability to put together a proper written argument or to perform rudimentary math.

In at least in some British "citizenship classes," teachers are being given new course packs called 9/11: The Main Chance to suggest to their students an equivalence or sympathy with terrorism. "The Main Chance?" For what? From The Times:

A worksheet on the targets chosen on 9/11 asks pupils: “Are there any possible targets in your local area?” If that is not enough to get them boycotting public transport, it asks: “What weapons or methods could be used?” There follow helpful links: one to a story on “Food terrorism — the nightmare scenario” illustrated by a juicy burger (which seems an extreme way to get children off junk food), the other to a report “How safe is our water? The threat of terrorism”, which may help the water companies to cut consumption. When the Walthamstow Guardian asked if the 9/11 attacks should be used as a teaching tool, one educationist said the pack was not about “preaching” to children, but about providing “impartial and unbiased information” and “letting them make sense of it”.
And perhaps suggesting to them what methods to use to achieve good terrorism results…
That would be information such as: “The terrorists had shown that, despite America’s size and military power, careful planning and complete faith could defeat them.”

So al-Qaeda defeated America. Or did it? After all, according to this impartial pack, “it is not known whether Flight 93 was taken over by passengers or shot down by the military”. The only people to whom this should be “not known” are conspiracy theorists. You might as well tell kids it is not known whether men really landed on the Moon.

The outside sources of “impartial and unbiased information” include a news website that speculates about whether images of Satan appeared in smoke over the Twin Towers, and the mystic significance of the number 11. Another link, to explain the role of the US Vice-President, turns out to be an excerpt from a 9/11 conspiracy website that asks whether Dick Cheney “was directing the response to the attack. Or was he directing the attack?” The pack’s main attempt to situate 9/11 in some context is a lengthy list of “Osama’s grievances”. Raising the chestnut about terrorists and freedom fighters, the pack asks: “Which category do these people belong in: Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Gerry Adams, Martin Luther King?” A better question might be: what do any of them have to do with 9/11?

The orthodoxy today is that all education must be made “relevant” to pupils’ own experience. Thus the section on “Tolerance and 9/11” ends with a quiz about how you would react if your mum burnt your toast, or your brother lent your favourite DVD to his mate. The lesson on conflict resolution suggests that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is like a family dispute about sharing.
HT Quotulatiousness

Crossposted at Dust My Broom


Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

I wonder how many of your blogroll actually does something about what you've pointed out and actually pulls their kids OUT of public education, and does homeschooling, or pays for private schools?

Just wondering. Might be a fun poll to take.

MapMaster said...

I hate to say it, but probably only a few. Fortunately we live in a country where homeschooling is permitted, unlike many European nations, and private schools are allowed some leeway in the matter of curricula and standards. Unfortunately, homeschooling or not, private schools or not, everybody bears the financial and social burdens of public education.

Brent Gilliard said...

I can't say that I've met anyone who was homeschooled because their parents thought the very idea of public education was wrong.

Usually their parents were religious freaks (born-again stuff) who saw sin and satan everywhere. Those kids were always a little... strange. But maybe they turned out alright.

I know it's sacrilegious to question the wisdom of parents, but is it a good idea to let a parent - who is just an ordinary person with the same flaws as anyone else - control all aspects of their child's life for over a decade?

Maybe public schools have brainwashed me too, but I'm thinking checks and balances. If the father sexually abuses the child, the child can turn to the teacher. If the teacher abuses, the child can turn to the father.

At least school of some sort, private or public, is open and you can see what the kids are being tought.

MapMaster said...

The question is: who can see what the kids are being taught, and what gives them the right to do so? I can question what the public education system is teaching for the simple reason that I'm helping to pay for it.

Honey Pot said...

Public education can work, it is sort of stymied though, because it does not teach children to question. Private schools are not going to do that either. Every adult harbours one prejudice or another, and their influence is great over a child's mind. Prejudice restricts learning and developing of the human mind. That, and it is unnatural for children to sit at a desk to learn. The best thing you can do is lie to your children that there is a Santa Claus. When they find out you lied, it makes them question everything around them, their religion, their education, society in general. It was devastating to me when I found out that Santa was a myth, but out of that devastation came an awareness of life.