The Idiocy of the Latest Educational Framework

America's education system is driven decade after decade by a never-ending stream of jargon.  Left-wing educators seemingly never get tired of reproducing their pap in schools of education and not-for-profit organizations.  Their jargon continuously reconfigures and is infinitely creative in saying the same thing in different ways; decade after decade educational jargon expresses educational models that produce fewer and fewer diligent, capable, informed, goal-oriented students.  The successive models since the 1890s can, in a general sense, be called "progressive education."  These models express the desire of the government and the educational powers that be to engage in social engineering.  This social engineering aspires to replace the parents and the family as the basic unit for passing on social and individual values and morality. 

The government — that "global village" that superintends society, as Hillary Clinton expressed years ago — begins to bear responsibility for raising the little ones in the ways they should go in every respect.  This progressive model of social engineering leads to a perpetual dumbing down of each generation.  This dumbing down has been beautifully characterized in the classic Why Johnny Can't Read and in various books and YouTube videos by Charlotte Iserbyt, who worked in the U.S. Department of Education during the Reagan presidency.  A more recent book by regular contributor Bruce Deitrick Price, Saving K12, beautifully depicts the inadequacies of modern education and offers some solutions.

The Leftocracy rejects the "great books" tradition of education, the executive or problem-solving faculty of the mind known as I.Q. as definitive for learning expectations, and knowledge and skills as defining in the learning process.  Instead, self-esteem, dreaming the impossible dream, believing in the importance of the group, subculture, or society as more important than the belief in oneself (the individual) and in excellence, responsibility, and duty.

This writer, when growing up in Philadelphia, was very good in physics but could never solve the five-star problems assigned for homework — only the four star problems.  Steve — who later received a Ph.D. from MIT — could always solve the five-star problems.  However, this writer's self-esteem never suffered one whit.  Why?  Because I was proud to be a student in a room with someone as smart as Steve. 

The model in our era is typified by a different educational model known as "cooperative learning."  Thus, the success of the individual is attributed not, as in the good old days, mainly to the individual, but to the group, creating the appearance of success for all in the group.

When attending a workshop for educators in NYC, we were assigned a math problem that involved filling one glass with water from another glass.  This writer attacked the problem and finished first out of 80 people present.  But, following the principle of "cooperative learning," the entire table of which I was one member was declared the winner.  As one member of the group jokingly stated, "Jeff, you're the genius, but we all get the credit."  This appearance of success by the group is called not "the appearance of success," but simply "success."  This fits perfectly with the Marxist axiom "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

This is a model of understanding that parallels the system of appearances one finds in Plato's "Myth of the Cave" in Book VII of The Republic.  Under Plato's allegorical scenario, shadows of puppets paraded before the light of fires by puppeteers are projected onto the wall of the cave.  Those shadows of puppets appear before the citizens of the cave, who are chained in such a way that they cannot turn their heads, and are totally satisfied that the shadows they perceive constitute the whole of reality.  When one breaks free of his bondage and sees the true layout of the cave — the free one is a philosopher — he is amazed.  Further, this individual is able to make his way out of the cave and is able to see even beyond the manipulated world of that cave.  He sees the more encompassing light of the sun.  The light of the sun was Plato's metaphor for the Eidos or Forms.  Centuries later, after Christ came to reveal God's will for humankind, Augustine, the great cleric and philosopher, updated Plato's Forms and said that actually, the encompassing light seen outside the cave was the presence of Almighty God, who illuminates the hearts, souls, and minds of humanity.

The 1990s ideal of cooperative learning has been expanded.  The Deweyan model has been updated in the past few years to be congruent with a new jargon, a new set of clichés.  That model is entitled "Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education (CR-S)."  This model follows on the heels of Outcomes-Based Education, in vogue in the 1990s; No Child Left Behind during the first decade of our 21st century; and Common Core Standards, which began being implemented around 2009–2010.

The new framework (sic) is, as is typical of educational frameworks for fifty years, overloaded with clichés.  The Ebonics craze that was centered in Oakland, Calif. in the 1990s, which justified the use of so-called "Black English," comes back in a different form as teachers are encouraged to relate to minorities in their own slang and idiom.  Instead of promotion of multiple intelligences — a term brought into use by Howard Gardner — we now have "diverse cultures" that have different ways of expressing themselves.  This writer once asked a supporter of multiple intelligences how one could learn the causes of WWII via dance, and she assured me that it could be done.  To this day, it has never been accomplished in any classroom in the world. 

In New York State, the preamble to the CR-S program framework calls for empowering students as agents of social change.  Although this is supposed to be innovative, this writer went to a leadership recruiting meeting 15 years ago, when Joel Klein was the chancellor of the New York City Department of Education.  As potential school administrators, we were introduced to the principal of a middle school called the Middle School for Social Justice, located in the Bronx, NYC.  Knowing the chaos that typically is found in the middle schools of NYC, the title of this school was more than laughable.  One imagines that when a gang robs a kid in the bathroom, its "justice" is that the members divide his lunch money among the three evenly instead of fighting over who gets what.

The CR-S framework includes words like inclusion, diversity, equity, marginalized voices, diverse learning styles, current events, social-emotional learning, collective responsibility (is this the classroom version of collective farms in the USSR under Stalin or Mao Zedong's China?), power structures, and civic engagement.  Incredibly there are no references to science, mathematics, history, geography, literature, poetry, art, music, skills, knowledge, experimentation, hands-on projects, books, short stories, study, examinations, or morals.  It's clearly an updating of the communist implementation of the dumbed down control of the people that is the goal of the Leftocracy.  With the implementation of CR-S promised in NYC and other urban settings, it may be difficult to turn back to more traditional educational values.

The Long March to ideological control has been implementing frameworks like this for about 120 years.  Many ignorant zombies walking in robot-like precision will be the result.

E. Jeffrey Ludwig has served on the editorial board of the Harvard Educational Review, been listed in Who's Who Among America's High School Teachers, and is the author of The Catastrophic Decline of America's Public High Schools: NYC, A Case Study.  Presently, he is a professor of philosophy and preaches at churches in New York City.

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