Tuesday, July 26, 2016

John Dewey and the Decline of American Literacy

Written by Sam Blumenthal

"In May 1898, Dewey published his seminal essay, “The Primary-Education Fetich,” which was to guide the progressives in their long-range crusade to remake American education as an instrument to bring about socialism.  He wrote:

There is …  a false educational god whose idolators are legion, and whose cult influences the entire educational system. This is language study — the study not of foreign language, but of English; not in higher, but in primary education. It is almost an unquestioned assumption, of educational theory and practice both, that the first three years of a child’s school-life shall be mainly taken up with learning to read and write his own language. If we add to this the learning of a certain amount of numerical combinations, we have the pivot about which primary education swings....
… It does not follow, however, that because this course was once wise it is so any longer. On the contrary, the fact that this mode of education was adapted to past conditions, is in itself a reason which it should no longer hold supreme sway.... My proposition is, that conditions — social, industrial, and intellectual — have undergone such a radical change, that the time has come for a thoroughgoing examination of the emphasis put upon linguistic work in elementary instruction....
… The plea for the predominance of learning to read in early school-life because of the great importance attaching to literature seems to me a perversion.... No one can clearly set before himself the vivacity and persistency of the child’s motor instincts at this period, and then call to mind the continued grind of reading and writing, without feeling that the justification of our present curriculum is psychologically impossible. It is simply superstition: it is the remnant of an outgrown period of history."

Can parents combat the media's tolerance of institutional manipulation?

 Sandra Stotsky | July 22, 2016

"As yet another example, it is widely rumored that the Gates Foundation also paid for the writing of the 1000-page rewrite of No Child Left Behind known as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It is public knowledge that Senators Lamar Alexander (TN-R) and Patty Murray ((WA-D) co-sponsored the bill, but the two senators have been remarkably quiet about ESSA’s authorship. No reporter has commented on the matter, or reported asking the senators who wrote the bill and who paid for the bill."

Can parents combat the media's tolerance of institutional manipulation?

Friday, July 8, 2016

States' Impact on Federal Education Policy US Department of Education | NY State Archives

Introduction: Federal Aid to Education, 1785-1900


It is important to note at the outset that, while the federal role in education has expanded rapidly since World War II, the basic idea of federal aid to education is, in fact, nearly as old as the republic itself. In 1785, two years after the end of the Revolutionary War, the Congress of Confederation passed the first of two Northwest Ordinances, which reserved 1/36 th of the land allocated to each western township "for the maintenance of public schools within the said township." Two years later, in 1787, the recently convened Constitutional Convention passed the second Northwest Ordinance, which reaffirmed the purpose of the first. However, since the Convention left all explicit mention of education out of the new Constitution itself, some have speculated that it saw schooling exclusively as a state or local issue-left, under the Tenth Amendment, as an unenumerated power reserved "to the states . . . or to the people."

How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture

"Above all, the one overarching lesson that students receive is the true end of education: the only essential knowledge is that know ourselves to be radically autonomous selves within a comprehensive global system with a common commitment to mutual indifference. Our commitment to mutual indifference is what binds us together as a global people. Any remnant of a common culture would interfere with this prime directive:  a common culture would imply that we share something thicker, an inheritance that we did not create, and a set of commitments that imply limits and particular devotions."

Friday, July 1, 2016

Ethics Without Indoctrination

In this revised paper, originally published in Educational Leadership (1988), Richard Paul argues that ethics ought to be taught in school, but only in conjunction with critical thinking. Without critical thinking at the heart of ethical instruction, indoctrination rather than ethical insight results. Moral principles do not apply themselves, they require a thinking mind to assess facts and interpret situations. Moral agents inevitably bring their perspectives into play in making moral judgments and this, together with the natural tendency of the human mind to self-deception when its interests are involved, is the fundamental impediment to the right use of ethical principles.
Paul spells out the implications of this view for the teaching of ethics in literature, science, history, and civics. He provides a taxonomy of moral reasoning skills and describes an appropriate long term staff development strategy to foster ethics across the curriculum"