How the Progressive Left Ruined Education
The education of the young is quite rightly a serious concern to parents, teachers, and everyone else who believes that what children get from school is a major factor in their success in life and their commitment to making a positive contribution to society as adults. But the purpose of education today seems very different from what it was when I was a child in the 1950s and 60s, and this change has been imposed by radical progressive liberal-Left educational “experts.”
Schooling used to be about equipping pupils to succeed in life. These days (with very few exceptions) it is about politicizing them so that as many as possible are indoctrinated into the radical progressive left ideology, thus blighting their adult lives with discontent and grievances, mostly as result of being conditioned to view all life’s set-backs as a form of “oppression.”
The most pressing problems facing most schoolchildren used to be how to avoid being bullied (becoming part of a mutually protective friendship group works best) and how to find some way of making classes enjoyable (by learning to attend to lessons and/or being the class clown). These days they have to worry about having the “right” opinions and not upsetting those who have minority privileges in case denunciation or worse follows.
In the old days, children (and parents) relied on the teachers to teach something interesting and useful, and to inspire their pupils to become worthwhile members of society, whatever their attainments. Today it’s fashionable to blame our supposedly racist white patriarchal capitalist society for every disaffection felt by those lacking sufficient self-respect to do something worthwhile with their lives. In fact, the blame rightly lies with those who have ruined the education system by abandoning the traditional syllabus and teaching methods in favor of an educational culture that denigrates Western civilization and the Christian values and moral principles on which it was built.
The reason why so many young people today feel rootless and aimless is because they have never learned to respect the achievements of their ancestors (whose legacy they carelessly squander) or developed sufficient self-respect to aspire to leave a legacy that will in turn inspire others.
Even if what children were taught in the 1950s and 60s didn’t seem that useful to them at the time, they were still expected to leave school equipped to get a job and knowing how to behave properly when in polite society. If they were high achievers, they might be lucky enough to enter higher education. The aim remained the same: to be able compete in the real world. And whilst in school they were expected to learn self-discipline, self-reliance, resourcefulness, and self-responsibility, rather than blame their misfortunes and setbacks on others. In other words, they were expected to start growing up, to accept that no one is perfect and that not getting what one wants happens to almost everyone, and it’s better to acquire wisdom than collect grievances.
These days schoolchildren are referred to as “students,” which implies they are capable of taking far more responsibility for their lives and educational progress than is often the case, but their teachers take pride in being “experts” who know best. The contradiction is laid bare when a child who fails to learn what is expected is termed a “victim” of “society,” or as having a problem that requires psychological and/or medical intervention, or -- as is increasingly the case – is deemed to require an additional dose of ideological indoctrination.
What is not permitted is any consideration of the right of the child (or parents) to reject this political indoctrination. The lack of such consideration demonstrates how intellectually malformed and morally-underdeveloped are the people inflicting this child-abuse, because that’s precisely what it is.
In America there have always been some political issues about schooling (such as racial integration), and racial tensions have been common, but the idea that the classroom itself should be politicized is a fairly recent idea. Traditionally, politics was supposed to be kept out of classrooms. But today radical progressive left political indoctrination is now an integral part of schooling, which means that all dissenting opinions must be suppressed.
All education imparts a worldview, but in the days of traditional schooling, it was expected that the parents would take responsibility for shaping their children’s worldview so that some worldly wisdom influenced learning. Wise parents still do this, but they also have to undo the stupefying indoctrination imposed at school. This is complicated by schools trying to turn children into enforcers of political correctness, so that they are likely to become alienated from their parents unless the parents assent to what is being done. This was exactly the technique used in Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s USSR, and Mao’s China to ensure that all dissent was detected and destroyed.
For much of the past sixty years, taking control of the education systems in the West has been the goal of the radical progressive left, and they’ve almost completely won. In most schools, children are being subjected to constant neo-Marxist propaganda designed to turn them into anti-Western, anti-white, anti-male, anti-heterosexual, anti-capitalist, anti-Christian, anti-individualist, anti-free speech political robots. Much that is essential to learning how to live a fulfilling, productive, prosocial, and spiritually uplifting life is now absent from many schools.
Sixty years ago, the standard method of instruction in children’s education in the West was to impart information that had to be learned to enter the world of work, and to deliver training in mental skills and prosocial conduct that would ensure social acceptability. Reading, writing, and reckoning were all learned by rote, and strict school discipline helped instill respect for authority.
It’s no accident that the first student revolts occurred in universities in the 1960s, because these were the first institutions infiltrated by Marxist ideologues in sufficiently large numbers to instill political disaffection and revolutionary fervor in their students. From there it filtered down to the colleges and schools and has now reached early-years classes. Only home-schooling can guarantee avoidance of this, which is why the home-schooling movement is booming.
We should blame radical progressive left education “experts” for ruining the education system, because they are responsible for the millions of disaffected young people in the West who now either live with no hope of a fulfilling life, or who react to their misguided sense of grievance by becoming activists for the radical progressive left, working for the very people who abuse(d) them as children. There needs to be a new term to designate this, because “Stockholm syndrome” doesn’t quite fully capture what is going on here, but the pathological irrationality is much the same.
Image credit: Pixabay
Wen Wryte is the pseudonym of a retired teacher of philosophy who likes a quiet life.