Bruce Deitrick Price has been writing about education for 25 years. He is the founder of [url=http://Improve-Education.org]Improve-Education.org[/url]. His fifth book is “THE EDUCATION ENIGMA—What Happened To American Education.” More aggressively than most, Price argues that America’s elite educators have deliberately aimed for mediocrity—low standards in public schools prove this.
Bruce can be reached at: [[email protected][email protected]][email protected][/email].
(For information about his novels, see his literary site [url=http://www.lit4u.com/]Lit4u.com[/url].)
Local newspapers in the US don’t cover education in any depth. Maybe they’ll tell you superficial and trivial stuff (for example, that a superintendent was hired or fired, that there will be a meeting next month of the school board). But you won’t find anything about the nuts and bolts that determine whether you child learns to read, or learns anything at all.
At first glance, this non-coverage can seem to be a mystery.
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”
The date is 1900. Professor John Dewey and his cadre of “Progressives” launch an ambitious scheme to transform the country. They want a more collectivist society. For convenience, let’s call their goal European Socialism.
However, the United States is hostile to Socialism and Communism for another hundred years. Beatrice Webb, founder of the Fabian Society in London, decrees that the word Socialism shouldn’t be used in America. The recommended euphemism is “Progressive” and, later on, Liberal.
Socialism, as that term is generally understood, is what Dewey plans for us but he can’t say it. He and his gang must dissemble at every turn. They have to lie and, little by little, work outside the law.
Reflect for a few minutes on your experience in school, especially if you went to a public school.
Were you taught as much as you could have been taught? Were your schools set up to increase your learning and your mastery of basic skills? When you were in elementary school, did the school teach you to read right away? If a store was selling something for $10 and now there is a 15% discount, do you know what the new price is? If you read in a book that the Civil War occurred in the middle of the 19th century, do you know what years that is, even roughly?
In all reading theories, there is a fundamental concept known as automaticity. This means you know or can do something instantly, automatically. Reading happens fast. If you don’t know something with automaticity, you might as well not know it at all.
So the question quickly becomes: what exactly are children supposed to learn—that is, memorize—with automaticity? On this question hangs the fate of our school system, and perhaps our civilization.
Traditionally, children memorized 26 English letters. Virtually the entire population can do this in a month or two, even at a young age. At the end of the process, people can look at a large group of letters and instantly identify each one, no matter the size, color, or typeface, no matter whether it’s uppercase or lowercase, no matter whether it’s tilted or slightly defaced, And humans can do this at a quite extraordinary speed (about 2 per second) and with no errors and no guessing. That’s automaticity in action.
Perhaps not entirely. Any method, no matter how silly, can be used as a change of pace. Let’s stipulate that variety is often a stimulus.
Here’s the chief, if ironic, benefit of this bad method. Make kids wallow for half-an-hour in something unpleasant (for example, how to prepare taxes) and many will beg for anything half-way interesting. Please, teacher, let us read a novel. Please!
Otherwise, Close Reading is almost a perfect fraud. At least, that’s my conclusion.
Thanks to Bernie and Hillary, Socialism is on everyone’s mind. These politicians, like so many in our media and universities, claim it’s a glorious idea.
Usually thought of as an economic philosophy, Socialism is more sweeping than that. It dictates how all of society must be organized. It claims to be fairer; it claims to deliver happiness. Socialism is a philosophy of life that, I’ll argue, steals the life right out of you.
The central vision, indeed the central requirement, is that everyone be equal and cooperative. Competition is evil. Striving for success is scorned. In order to obtain the promised benefits, you agree to be a cog in the machine.
The last 80 years have seen one of the weirdest intellectual debates you can imagine. The Education Establishment constantly argues that phonics is wrong or unnecessary, that phonics is something you can throw away and nobody will be hurt.
From John Dewey circa 1915 to Bill Ayers a century later, we hear the same progressive spiel. There must be drastic change, and perhaps much destruction and death, in order to create a more just society. A dubious trade if you stop and think about it. Lenin gave the same deal to the hapless Russians.
The traditional view is simply stated: the purpose of public education is to take each child as far as each child can be taken. Who can disagree with that?
If a school is aiming for less, that school would seem to me to be guilty of malpractice or false advertising. Doesn’t the word “education” imply a striving for excellence? At the end of each school year, children are presumed to know more than at the start. Isn’t that a reasonable presumption?
Somewhat bizarrely, given what’s going on in our public schools, the Education Establishment might claim they agree. Oh yes, of course, that’s exactly what we want to do.
During the past decade, I wrote mainly about education. I decided it would be good strategy to stay away from peripheral issues, especially politics. I didn’t want to confuse my readers. I wanted them to think, oh yeah, this is that guy that writes about education.
So, Al Capone lives in your city. Do you talk about it? Do you mention that this Mafia guy got his mansion by breaking the law, blackmailing people, buying and selling politicians, not to mention killing people?
Seriously, do you ever talk about Al Capone? Or do you look the other way and pretend that nothing is going on where you live, nothing journalistically interesting, nothing criminally interesting.
Some sites I write for want a lot of links and the appearance of journalism. Why is that a plus? Journalists lie every day.
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