Now before we get started with today's Rant, Part Two, again, my hat is off to those good teachers in the system who know how bad and far gone the system is, and who, in spite of the glittering mediocrities for colleagues that they suffer with, in spite of the mandates and dictates of government eddubabblers and computerized tests, somehow manage to impart an appreciation for history, literature, grammar, science, music, art, or mathematics to their knowledge-starved students. My hat is off even more to those parents who confront the edubabblers, the nutty principals and dumbed and numbed-down idiots that overpopulate the system, and who support the good teachers, principals and superintendents... and there are good people. The problem is, there are too few such parents, and too few such principals and teachers.
Now with that in mind let's get started.
First: a personal story, and while I normally don't indulge in personal stories on this site, here I think it is relevant, and highly so. Many years ago, on my way to doing my master's degree, I had the privilege to be taught mediaeval history in a small seminary by a French lady whose doctorate was in paleography from the Sorbonne. She was eminently qualified, and a brilliant and inspiring professor. She made us think. We'll call her Nicole, and that indeed was her first name. Nicole had grown up in France during World War Two, under the German occupation, in a little village. Nicole never ceased to enforce the idea to us to learn as much as we could about our heritage and culture, and to think for ourselves, no matter what the bureaucrats said. In that vein, one day she related how one morning, at the beginning of the school day, her normal teacher did not appear, and in his place, stepped a German captain, who proceeded to inform her class that he was their new teacher, and that under the terms of the local Nazi Kulturminister, the local French children were forbidden to learn anything about their country's history, literature, or contributions to science.
Then the captain informed the class that he objected to this mandate, and that he would teach them about their history and literature, and that it would have to be a secret between him and the class.
He was an educational subversive, and he did so at peril to himself, to preserve and transmit to French children their heritage in the wider western culture. Bear that in mind, as backdrop to what you are about to read, and to what you read above about similar teachers facing similar prospects in this country.
Yesterday I ranted (and rambled) a bit about the so-called "referencing" methods in modern Amairicun edgykayshun, and in particular about the "standard" MLA method. Previously on this site, and in numerous interviews, I have aired my complaints against the Amairicun system of standardized computerized tests with pre-selected answers that students are expected to fill in with their number two lead pencils, after learning them from an Amairicun textbook that contains no primary texts.
The edubabblers have finally received the message, and are now making moves away from those tests.
Yes, you read that correctly.
But don't head for the punchbowl in celebration just yet, because as always with the edubabblers (especially those in the goobernment), there is a sizable pile of taurus cacas floating in the punchbowl(with apologies to male bovines of all species for associating them or their doo with these people).
The pile of taurus cacas is the latest edubabble fad to come from the federal goobernment in its never ending quest to fulfill Mr. Rockefailure's dream of not having people that can think, but people that can take orders and work. If you think your school is failing now, just wait for this one to be implemented across the board. And wait until you hear what the implications are.
The newest fad is something called "Smarter Balanced Assessments," and I am just hearing about it from various people involved professionally in education. As I am only just now learning about this, bear with me. The essence of it is a uniform federal standard across all states. Now here's the kicker:
"Based on student responses, the computer program adjusts the difficulty of questions throughout the assessment. For example, a student who answers a question correctly will receive a more challenging item, while an incorrect answer generates an easier question. By adapting to the student as the assessment is taking place, these assessments present an individually tailored set of questions to each student and can quickly identify which skills students have mastered. This approach represents a significant improvement over traditional paper-and-pencil assessments used in many states today, providing more accurate scores for all students across the full range of the achievement continuum.
- "Better information for teachers: Optional computer adaptive interim assessments will provide a more detailed picture of where students excel or need additional support, helping teachers to differentiate instruction. The interim assessments will be reported on the same scale as the summative assessment, and schools will have the flexibility to assess small elements of content or the full breadth of the Common Core State Standards at locally-determined times throughout the year.
- "More efficient and more secure: Computer adaptive tests are typically shorter than paper-and-pencil assessments because fewer questions are required to accurately determine each student’s achievement level. The assessments draw from a large bank of questions, and since students receive different questions based on their responses, test items are more secure and can be used for a longer period of time.
- "More accurate: CAT offers teachers and schools a more accurate way to evaluate student achievement, readiness for college and careers, and to measure growth over time.
"Computerized assessments allow teachers, principals, and parents to receive results in weeks, not months. Faster results mean that teachers can use the information from optional interim assessments throughout the school year to differentiate instruction and better meet the unique needs of their students."(See http://www.smarterbalanced.org/smarter-balanced-assessments/computer-adaptive-testing/)
Sounds neat, doesn't it?
But after talking with a couple of teachers in language arts around the country in areas where this new system is being field tested, I'm being told that most of the emphasis in schools is now on reading and comprehension of mundane tasks, such as alphabetization and so on. One teacher informed me that the mix of "practical" reading skills versus actual study of literature in the classroom under the new standards will be about 80% to 20%.
In other words, gone are Shakespeare, Dickens... you name it. Gone with them are the ability to think critically, to reflect on a text or an image and its meanings.
It's all about "career-readiness." Universities and schools will be - even more than now - licensing bureaus for narrowly defined "competencies" to have a "career" as a compliant worker.
Now plug all this computer-adaptive testing into emergent computerized federal databanks - we already know they track everything about us, even though they protest they're not really invading anyone's privacy, right? - and perhaps possibly the real hidden goal becomes evident: test scores will be fed into federal computers, and federal bureaucrats will lay down "career guidelines" for people with certain scores, and student loans will only be available for those who follow federal "guidelines" for career choices.
Or to put it into yesterday's context: why bother referencing anything in detail, or properly? It's all about simply pointing people in the general direction. Want to know where that quotation of Paul R. Hill comes from? Go read his 430 page book... it's from there. Maybe you'll find it. Besides, it doesn't really matter. It's all about learning the "correct" Pavlovian response, and pushing the "correct" button on your computer to indicate the pre-determined officially "correct" answer:
Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
9/11 was a bunch of Arab Muslim fundamentalists.
The burning airplane fuel brought down the Twin Towers.
....and in some cases, the "correct" answers will lead to career choices that will be a matter of national security, and you'll simply be compelled to do it.
Then, for kicks, imagine plugging it all into the transhumanist context that my co-author Dr Scott de Hart and I surveyed in our book on the subject: "We're sorry sir/madam, your test scores indicate mental and emotional deficiencies. In order to qualify for (insert: car loan, federal grant, student loan, food stamps, medical care) you're going to have to be implanted with an "emotion stabilizer chip" and you're going to have to receive federal approval of your genetically compatible spouse to have well-adjusted children (or face permanent sterilization)..." Well, you get the idea. It's the ultimate final touch for the eugenicist.
And don't forget, not following "federal guidelines" in the classroom - teaching too much Euclid or Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Payne or Lawrence Sterne or Shakespeare - might become a federal offense. Remember that German captain, for rest assured, this new program will inevitably bring with it the customary federal laws and intrusions, instantly transforming the genuine teachers into outlaws and subversives. Imagine the traffic camera in the classroom, monitoring how much time the teacher spends on "competencies" and how much on genuine language arts, grammar, and literature.
While you're contemplating these Orwellian prospects, think about this statement of Terrence McKenna: “The syntactical nature of reality, the real secret of magic, is that the world is made of words. And if you know the words that the world is made of, you can make of it whatever you wish.”
When one no longer is able to think critically about words, about the symbols of our culture, then the ability of oligarchs to work their magic grows exponentially. Only the individual, critical mind, is the last hedge against this black magic.
See you on the flip side.