By now, if you're a regular reader here, you know I have to occasionally rant about the state of Amairikuhn Edgykayshun. But today I'm not going to rant, because the article that V.T. sent along (and my thanks!) is more properly greeted with tears than anger. The statistics it cites are sobering reading:
Amairikuhn edgykayshun is a microcosm of the country as a (w)hole: nothing works; the system is not designed to reflect the vast majority of people, or for that matter, any sort of traditional culture as might have thus far survived. The progressive movement that began first in education in the nineteenth century, and then later captured large swaths of both political parties, is triumphant. It has completed its march through the institutions, and captured the academy. And the result, in the latter, is abject failure, and Amairikuh is completely "enstupidated"; consider just these entries from the article:
#1 One recent survey found that 74 percent of Americans don’t even know how many amendments are in the Bill of Rights.
#2 An earlier survey discovered that 37 percent of Americans cannot name a single right protected by the First Amendment.
#3 Shockingly, only 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government.
#4 During the 2016 election, more than 40 percent of Americans did not know who was running for vice-president from either of the major parties.
#5 North Carolina is considering passing a law which would “mean only scores lower than 39 percent would qualify for an F grade” in North Carolina public schools.
#6 30 years ago, the United States awarded more high school diplomas than anyone in the world. Today, we have fallen to 36th place.
#7 According to the Pentagon, 71 percent of our young adults are ineligible to serve in the U.S. military because they are either too dumb, too fat or have a criminal background.
#18 Today, the average college freshman in the United States reads at a 7th grade level.
I can attest to similar experiences. And forgive me if I've mentioned these personal experiences before in my "edykayshunal rants," but they bear repeating. Back when I was teaching college in the late 1990s, I once began a Modern European History examination with a question that ran something like this: "Name five provisions of the Treaty of Versailles and discuss their implications." One student - an "edgykayshun" student incidentally - answered that question by beginning "The treaty of Versigh..." Yes. It's that bad, and students are that stupid and oblivious. And that was the 1990s, so I can readily believe the points in this article. And it's worth mentioning that during my time teaching in college, I learned many things from my students, namely, that Ulysses Grant commanded the Army of Northern Virginia, that Germany won World War One (in 1914, no less!), and that, as one snowflake put it on her examination, "Hitler had some personal issues," and with that bit of pop psychology, all the crimes of the Nazi regime were "explained."
Perhaps I was simply a bad professor, but I don't think so.
One reason I don't think so is that as an adjunct, I was not allowed to pick my own textbooks in some cases. This was done by the tenured faculty at the main campuses of the institutions I taught for. In one case, the textbook I was required to use for Russian History actually referred to Stalin as a "great statesman," with but passing glosses on the Stalinist purges, and an almost total mangling of the effects of collectivization. More recently, Diana West, in her important book The Red Thread: A Search for Ideological Drivers Inside the Anti-Trump Conspiracy, noted that Nellie Ohr, when reviewing a book about Stalin, wrote the following:
The opening of Ohr's review of the ... book, written while she was teaching Russian history at Vassar in 1995, is worth quoting, not for what it tells us about the book, but what it tells us about the reviewer. Ohr writes:
"To introduce students to the Stalin era can be a frustrating task. To convey the terror and excitement of the period, one can assign a memoir of a prison camp victim or an observer such as John Scott or Maurice Hindus." (West, op. cit., p. 9)
There it is... it was exciting, a ride on the Stalinroller coaster at Six Flags Over Novosibirsk.
So what's to be done? If you're a parent, and have children being victimized by this abominable system - and there are no other words for it than those - one place to start would be to research your local colleges of education, read their texts, find out how much time future teachers spend in education classes versus learning the actual subjects they want to teach. Attend a few of those teacher "continuing education" seminars, or a few education classes, and find out for yourself just how looney and loopy those classes really are. Talk with teachers who think that all that claptrap is... well, claptrap, and have brainstorming and strategy sessions in what to do about it.
And if you're a teacher who is fed up with the childish games being played in methodology or pedagogy courses, or have an anecdote on the latest silliness you had to undergo at your last "continuing education" seminars, please share them in the comments, or if you have a mind, write a guest blog about it.
See you on the flip side...