Education: Schools for Sabotage

It’s a common scene in World War II movies: a captain maneuvers in close to a big ship and fires a spread of torpedoes.  None of them detonate.  Some submarine officers lost the will to fight and had nervous breakdowns.

In fact, German engineering was not always at fault.  Sabotage – sporadic, opportunistic, often a personal enterprise – was almost a second army arrayed against the Third Reich.

 Here are some revealing war stories:

U-505's fifth patrol, in July 1943, lasted less than two weeks--she was attacked by Allied airplanes and had to return to France for repair. The next four patrols also ended in failure, as conscripted French workers at the submarine base in Lorient, many of whom were members of the Resistance, systematically sabotaged the sub's equipment and instruments.”

[M]y grandmother…was a 17-year-old Polish girl taken by German soldiers in Poland and sent as slave labor to work in the Reich at a armaments factory. She told me they routinely tinkered with everything possible so it wouldn't function properly.”

There were some tricks like dropping a precision part so it would deform a tiny bit and malfunction down the line. In the end the Dutch worker was transferred to a quality control post because his work performance at the machine was not improving. His supervisor told him to watch out for sabotage because it was all too common.”

Any time you have a precisely made machine, it doesn’t take much to keep it from working optimally.  Certainly, this is also true of a child’s mind.

“Drop a precision part so it would deform a tiny bit and malfunction down the line.”  That’s practically an epitaph for the destructive results achieved by our elite educators throughout the 20th century.

Great cunning was displayed in educational sabotage.  Typically, there is an optimal sequence in learning something, no matter if it's tennis, driving a car, typing, speaking French, or American history.  Disrupt that ideal sequence, teach things in a confusing way, and you will have poor results.

Consider reading.  The ideal sequence is that the child memorizes the alphabet, learns the sounds represented by each letter, and then learns to blend those sounds.  At that point, the child is reading.  This extraordinary skill was once routinely mastered in the first grade.  That was before saboteurs got to work.

The essence of their technique was to hide the alphabet and the sounds.  The child was kept busy doing the worst possible thing: memorizing words as diagrams.  This is a slow task, and hopeless.  English has several hundred thousand words, and many are remarkably similar: life, light, flight, lite, lifer, lit, fife, fifth, fight, fright.  Also, consider Dolch lists for the fifth or sixth grade.  The student is still illiterate at the age of 11 or 12.  Clearly, that was the plan. 

In arithmetic, the sabotage technique was equally obvious.  Again, the Education Establishment used relentless praise of a lie – in this case, that children would learn math more quickly if, at the elementary level, they studied a mix of easy and advanced concepts.  This makes as much sense as taking novice skiers up on the black-diamond slopes...which would make perfect sense if you were trying to kill kids.

New Math came along in the 1960s, and children were expected to learn matrices, statistics, Boolean algebra, set theory, base-8.  Stuff that was once taught in college now had to be taught in the second grade.  Only a saboteur would say so.  Twenty years later, Reform Math used similar gimmicks.  Children today are still bedeviled by weird and unnecessary complexities, now often ridiculed as Common Core Math.

In the teaching of general knowledge, our saboteurs were particularly ingenious.  They created what military people call interlocking fire.  Nothing survives.

Multiculturalism says don’t bother learning anything about your own culture.  Relevance says don’t bother learning anything about faraway cultures.  Self-esteem says don’t teach anything that some children won't be able to handle.  No Memorization says don’t ask a child to remember anything.  In case any little wisp of knowledge might still get through, Constructivism says that teachers should not teach.  In a sick way, all of this is genius.  From K to 12, schools have an array of reasons why they need not bother teaching.

Finally, Cooperative Learning says that students should study and learn in groups.  In this way, everything proceeds at the speed of the slower students.  Given that they probably can’t read and don’t know elementary arithmetic, you can imagine how slow that is.

We hear so much criticism of “teaching to the test.”  Keep in mind, that’s often the only teaching that remains.  Get rid of the test, and the school will truly be an academic wasteland.  Now you know why we hear all that criticism: the saboteurs hate this last bit of resistance.  “Oh,” they wail, “if only we didn’t have to teach to the test."  The kids would have such fun doing nothing all day.

If you read enough stories about sabotage in World War II, you start to suspect that Hitler might have won without this clandestine effort.  Similarly, if the Education Establishment wasn’t so good at sabotage, we might have an educated country.

PS: Many people feel that the one best book about what happened to American education during the 20th century has this title: The Leipzig Connection: Sabotage of the US Educational System.  It chronicles the project, begun in the 1890s by European-educated intellectuals, to use the public schools as a way to remake this country.  That project continues today. 

Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories and methods on his site

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