Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Constructive Criticism

In the comments to Why I Keep Marxadelphia Around, reader and sometimes critic juris_imprudent argued:
Back to Gramsci again Kevin? This fellow will surely go down in history as the most influential man in Western Culture in more than a 1000 years. To a small degree I agree with Markadelphia - this is one of many theories of education. It is a crackpot one no doubt - but then what leftist dogma isn't? But I don't see evidence of growth - hell sixteen (not particularly impressive) schools 40 years after the peak of leftism in the U.S., 20 some years after the fall of communism in the West?

I remember La Raza from when I was in HS in the 70s. It was just as stupid, out of place and non mainstream then. The old radicals carved out a little niche that they still hold onto - big whoop. That does NOT explain the overall decline in education that has taken place since the 50s/early-60s. Nor do I buy into any Gramsci-rooted plot to destroy Western Civ, any more than I buy into Truther, Birther or ChemTrailer folderol.

Everyone has a favorite bogeyman in education. Once it was New Math, then whole language followed by that self-esteem stupidity. A true conservative would argue for the tried and true (all the way back to teaching Latin), but the graduate system of our universities demand new and novel ideas or you just aren't a PhD. So a lot of bad ideas end up getting floated into a lot of areas; education is not immune, and may be more susceptible than others for a number of reasons.
Others rose to my defense, but let me say it myself: Yes, I'm aware that there are many other problems going on in the public education system besides the outright Marxist brainwashing that I illustrated in The George Orwell Daycare Center and Balkanization. I've never denied that, but I've never emphasized it either.

It has been my contention, however, that the root of the decline in America's education establishment does, in fact, go back to the influence of the thoughts that propagated from the Frankfurt School and its disciples. As Unix-Jedi noted one comment further down:
Literacy rates *dropped* after "professional education" took hold. Literacy rates were steady from colonial times up to the 1940s, when they started to drop.
Gee, what changed there?
We had a system that successfully taught literacy and numeracy, and starting sometime in the 1940's our public school system went off the rails. In the 1960's the booster rockets kicked in.


What influence caused the initial changes that have brought us to where we are today, and why do those in this system fight so hard to prevent fixing the obvious problems?

Continuing my habit of letting other people say things if they can do it better than I, here's Unix-Jedi again:
The educational system as it's currently constituted, with the CLAIMED GOALS IT HAS, has utterly failed. Which means that 1) The stated goals aren't the real goals or 2) it's incapable of meeting the goals. (Conceivably, 3) the goals are unreachable, despite the fact historically they have been met.)
I rule out #3. I'm utterly convinced that at this point #2 is the case, but I'm also convinced that we've reached #2 through decades of effort by a small and ever-changing group of people that embodied #1.

Reader Jason chimed in with this criticism:
I generally like what you have to say, Kevin. But "Gramsci's plan" sounds like fear mongering (almost like the "blood in the streets" fallacies that gun banners used against ccw). I wholeheartedly agree that CP is bad and we should fight against it, but let's not blame all of education's problems on it.
Fair point. It was not my intention to lay all the blame at Gramsci's - one man's - feet, though I acknowledge I can be read that way. I will say again, however, that I do lay the blame for the overwhelming majority of the destruction of America's public education system to the founders of the Frankfurt School and "Critical Theory." It began in the universities, and it has trickled down through them, the Schools of Education, and the state school boards until we have what we've got today.

I do not believe that the people involved think that what they're doing is the deliberate destruction of the public education system, leaving our children illiterate and innumerate. I think the overwhelming majority of them - like Markadelphia, and like Dr. Augustine Romero - believe that what they're doing is truly what's best for the kids in their care.

They're simply unable to recognize that they're wrong. By now, they're the products of their own systems, and in higher academia (as several others have noted) its a self-reinforcing system, continually producing more of the same.

These people end up in charge of the school systems and the systems in charge of the school systems. Teachers who actually teach are, as John Taylor Gatto illustrated, forced out of the system or neutered. Those who contribute to mediocrity (or worse) can't be forced out with high explosives. The rest, as one teacher and fellow blogger put it a while back, are just trying to "save the ones they can."

Markadelphia complains,
These EDU posts, Kevin, serve no purpose nor present any sort of concrete solution whatsoever.
The point of the Education pieces I write is to illustrate that the system is broken beyond repair. It CAN'T. BE. FIXED. It's too entrenched, it's occupied by people who cannot be changed and can't be fired. It's unionized. It's even federally-funded now, and there's an entire Cabinet-level department that since 1980 has spent over $995 billion supposedly to better educate our kids.

Well? Why aren't we getting what we pay for? Are the stated goals the real goals?

I don't think so. Do I think it's all one grand Gramscian conspiracy to destroy Western Civilization? I think at least in part it began that way, but it's taken on a life of its own. Let me rework a classic Demotivator:

How else do you explain, for example, New York's "Rubber Rooms"?

(John Stossel has more on the topic.)

The "concrete solution?" Take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

And start over from scratch with schools paid for directly by parents. Hell, there's lots of empty commercial office space available, let's take up Tom McClintock's idea! Disconnect school funding from property values, and make education spending tax-deductible. Close the Department of Education and shut down State involvement in education with the exception (grudgingly) of standards testing.

But for $Diety's sake, don't send your kids to public schools if you can help it. They deserve better.

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