K-12: Patterns of Deception
Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman, both famous literary left-wingers, had a famous feud. McCarthy dared to proclaim that Hellman was a Truly Big Liar.
When Dick Cavett asked (in 1979) what was so "dishonest" about Hellman, McCarthy snapped, "Everything. I once said in an interview that every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'"
These entertaining charges make more sense when we consider that Lillian Hellman was "an ardent leftist," according to leftist PBS.
Hellman was a pure expression of the agitprop personality. She instinctively engaged in meddling and propaganda. It was almost official doctrine that communists could and should lie. The ends justify the means. Do anything for the cause. Hellman really tried. For example, she claimed that Stalin had created "the ideal democratic state."
The famous playwright helps us understand left-wing politics. She also helps us understand our Education Establishment. I believe they are the same crowd. Falsehoods, cool and calculated, are their native language. Study K-12 for any amount of time, and you will begin to suspect that every word these deceivers utter is a lie, including "and" and "the."
Samuel Blumenfeld concluded that "K-12 education is a criminal enterprise from top to bottom," which tends to confirm my less dramatic formulation that K-12 education is a swamp of fog and deception. Our self-appointed experts have to be dishonest. How else can they keep their cons and sophistries going?
The Education Establishment lie when they say children can learn more quickly with Constructivism even though this dubious theory prevents teachers from teaching and leaves students to scrounge for knowledge by themselves. The total flow of information in the average classroom will obviously be cut in half, at the least.
The Education Establishment lie when they say elaborate gimmicks like New Math, Reform Math, and Common Core Math are somehow superior, when these programs leave children in tears and parents mystified. The central gimmick is to teach difficult math to young kids. Instead of learning to add and subtract, they supposedly learn the meaning of math, although no one is sure what that is.
The Education Establishment lie when they say the children can learn to read with sight-words. There have been about 35 major studies, and all but one or two said phonics is superior. The idea that a child can memorize many thousands of word-designs with instant recall is simply preposterous. On the other hand, phonics is logical and easy. (See what the experts say.)
The Education Establishment lie when they say they're helping a child's self-esteem whenever they pretend not to notice poor performance. Children, when they make mistakes, need to know it. In today's classroom, anything that diminishes a child's self-esteem is deemed unacceptable. In practice, this means fast students must be slowed down so they don't make slow students feel bad.
The Education Establishment lie when they say it's good for children that they can express violence, be abusive to teachers, break rules, and not bother taking tests or turning in papers. Children are allowed to be lazy, late, and irresponsible. As Joan Dunn noted, "the whole school system is geared to the problem child. He is petted, excused, and studied out of all proportion. He is a man of the hour, and he knows it. ... I think that many children made themselves problem children simply because they saw how important they could become, how much attention would be paid to them." Dunn wrote this in 1954, which shows how long the Education Establishment has been fine-tuning these destructive ideas.
The Education Establishment lie when they say it's good for children to learn more about foreign countries (as prescribed by Multiculturalism) than about their own country. As a practical matter, children will hear weather and news reports every day; they need to recognize these cities, states, regions, etc. Instead, we have American children who can spell Chinese rivers but not American ones.
The Education Establishment lie when they say learning basic facts is not important and multiplication tables are not useful or necessary. K-12 education these days is a relentless war on facts and memorization. (Children, we are told, don't need to know history as long as they can think historically. This sort of drivel started in the 1950s: "We don't teach history; we teach children.")
At some point, we have to ask: do these self-proclaimed experts ever tell the truth?
"Even 'and' and 'the.'" That's so clever that many might assume it's hyperbolic. Not so. The Education Establishment in this country starts off each school year with a barrage of lies, pretending to care about children, country, literacy, and all those good things. In practice, however, their main goal seems to be dumbing down the population. They need to keep lying each time they speak. Bad ideas must be constantly protected by a phalanx of lies.
The surfeit of deception makes it difficult for society to correct its mistakes. The only recourse for individual citizens is to learn more about each problem so they can try to fix it.
Our public school system has become detached from reality, like Lillian Hellman's whopper that Stalin created the ideal democratic state. The Education Establishment have secret agendas and secret stratagems, most of them transparent if you really look at them.
Here's the simplest way out of our dilemma: education's loyalty should be to truth first. Let's get back to that.
Bruce Deitrick Price's new book is Saving K-12 – What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them? He deconstructs educational theories and methods at Improve-Education.org.