Thursday, August 05, 2004
GAMES AND GIMMICKS IN THE GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS
Periodically, one reads of a “teacher shortage” -- a need for more dedicated, enthusiastic educators. Many aspiring teachers find this puzzling. After expending considerable time, money, and effort jumping through the bureaucratic hoops of government monopoly education, teachers often find their talents unneeded by an institution that values lip service to gimmicks over expertise in academic disciplines. So it is that many teachers leave or never even begin a profession that they sincerely wished to contribute their talents to.
The standards espoused by those who dominate the government’s social engineering monopoly easily override an appreciation for a teacher’s knowledge and passion for a field of inquiry or their desire to share this enthusiasm with youth.
Perennially, the cries from Ed world to rectify the errors of their own making have been, “we need more money, we need more ‘certification’ for teachers, more ‘expert’ councilors and social workers,” and now, “more technology.” The truth is that all of these factors have increased dramatically over the past few decades and actually correlate with declines in quality and performance. The response: “Parents aren’t doing their part. ”
If parents are told, “your kids must go to our schools, you must pay for the programs and standards we decide upon, and your children will be taught the values and curriculum that we choose,” those parents are entitled to ask for something more than warehouses of politically correct sophistry. As bureaucratic institutions, it’s inevitable that schools have become, as any other government body, chaotic overpriced stockades which fail to accomplish their most basic purpose.
It is no wonder that the Ed establishment’s brigade of unions, college Ed Schools, and government bureaucracies is so consistently opposed to charter schools, vouchers, and home schooling. A system in which parents and their children freely choose their path to knowledge will inevitably stray from the government and it’s “expert’s” rules and standards. The government schools are a virtual monopoly, financed by force and demanding allegiance to philosophies most parents and students are sick of. Contrary to the Norman Rockwell-esque image they attempt to conjure, the government schools are not “community” centers, but factories for stamping out compliance to social theorists’ illusions of smiley-faced communes with compulsory membership.
…“Slavery was bad,… Aids is a bad disease,… The polar ice caps are melting…” Such pervasive lukewarm scholastic inquiry is called “critical thinking” by those in the industry. These lockstep rap sessions of “expressing yourself” have nothing to do with the enhancing of knowledge. The irony in all of this is that a student well versed in facts and substantive knowledge may someday cure aids, improve the enviroment, or prevent another low point in humanity’s moral condition. Of course such future scholars would be an “elite” in the schools of today. Superior individual achievement is seen as elitist by the drones of Ed school philosophy (“what about the kids left behind?”). The Ed-factory ideal is a mass of cooperative comrades, leveled to the vapid cartoonish simplicity of a Soviet peasant poster.
Unfortunately, even students and their parents have bought into much of the psycho-social nonsense proselytized by the Ed schools. “Josie’s a visual learner,” (she likes to watch TV), “Bobby’s a hands on learner,” (he masters abstract intellectual concepts best with a piece of clay). Seldom does one hear of “styles of learning” which involve reading, writing, taking notes, or mastering information. Something for everyone, and nothing for all.
Each year a brigade of educrat clones march into their classrooms telling themselves and their students that they are there to make learning “fun.” (To expect school to be work, to focus and engage the mind to the acquisition of new knowledge, wouldn’t be “fun.”) Conditioned students now arrive in classes expecting to be entertained, to pass the time quickly in an array of contrived games and gimmicks, disconnected and superficial. “Today we’re going to learn about the civil war, here’s a lump of clay, some popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue.” How “fun!” The model classroom of today is an MTV video of fragmented sensation gimmicks (“hands on learning.”), where kids are expected to “teach themselves,” and “learn how to learn.”
Today, the Ed bureaucracy’s ideal curriculum is one which dispenses fragments of disconnected sensation void of conceptual continuity; an Internet project here, a cut and paste poster project there, and of course the classic journal of one’s feelings. A smorgasbord of crumbs in a bland government cafeteria where no one is fed. Anyone who has ever truly mastered new knowledge knows it wasn’t “fun” by the same standards as play and leisure. Enjoyable, stimulating, and enriching yes, but ultimately the product of focused application and work.
Each year, new crusaders are sent into schools convinced that their Ed school nurtured philosophy is a radical departure from some imagined status quo of boring lectures and “mere facts.” Swamped in the mud of post-modern philosophies, many deny the very existence of knowledge or facts. “Let the kids teach the class.” “Learn how to learn.” So it is that bureaucrats with the passion of clipboards continue to perpetuate the real status quo of the “Progressive” tradition. From its beginnings, over eighty years ago, promoters and followers of Progressive Education have made no secret that their goal is not the transmission of knowledge but the modeling of “cooperative citizens,” and an elimination of “elitist” individualism and meritocracy (which they fear may be used toward the student’s own non-collective ends). Ironically, “elite” students will reach an elite end regardless of the system’s attempts at leveling, either through the efforts of educated parents, or their own passion, curiosity and application. The kids that are most hurt by the government mind factories are the very ones they claim to be most concerned about, minorities and the poor. Numbed by meaningless curriculums of games, gimmicks, and patronizing gestures of “multicultural awareness,” they leave schools robbed of the intellectual capital required to succeed in the real world.
When critics of government monopoly education state their case, they are not doing so out of some misguided sway from nobility. They are merely concerned that the next generation’s reservoir of knowledge is being horribly corrupted by a government bureaucracy whose only goal is socialization (and, lets face it, they’ve failed miserably on that account as well).
When interviewing for a career in teaching, one must explain “methods” in which one has made learning “fun,” “alternative techniques” to address “individual learning styles,” and awareness of a host of politically correct dogma to proselytize to students who often can barely write an effective paragraph. (This is called “basics plus more” amongst Ed-world’s drones).
Yes, there is a shortage of quality educators, but it’s not due to “selfish taxpayers,” “low pay,” or attempts to provide competitive alternatives to the government’s mandated social schemes. It’s the system itself, an entrenched clique of bland, bureaucratic Ed School clones whose goals as social workers overrides any desire or ability to guide young people through a substantive mastery of knowledge.
There are still many excellent teachers well versed in their fields. Their degrees are in Art, History, Biology, Mathematics, etc., not public administration, sociology, and “education.” They do not go to their classes as bull session moderators, “facilitators,” or crusaders of egalitarian justice. They merely take to their classrooms a passion for knowledge and a desire to share it with a youthful audience. They do this in spite of the system, not because of it, and they will have the opportunity to share their expertise when parents and students are afforded a genuine choice in what they can gain from schooling.
...(If you can’t read this, thank college Ed schools, teacher unions, and the government)