Skip to comments.The Miseducation of America
Posted on 02/16/2011 10:44:51 AM PST by 6ft2inhighheelshoes
The last two years have been another reminder that education is not equivalent to competence, intelligence or experience, let alone wisdom, as an administration of people who have hardly held actual jobs outside of academia have proven that they are very good at assigning blame and conducting internal rivalries, and absolutely terrible at everything else. William F. Buckley famous opined that he would "sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University". We have spent the last two years being governed by Harvard faculty members, and they have done such an excellent job of it that in the future the Boston telephone directory may well replace the ballot box. Point to a few names at random and call it a day.
Defenders of the administration have taken to worrying in the op-ed pages about the spread of anti-intellectualism, but it isn't anti-intellectualism that it's in the wind, but pro-competence. Americans respect education, but have a limited tolerance for incompetence. Rather than demonstrating intelligence and competence, academia has ushered in intellectual cliques wedded to buzzwords who insist that the world should conform to their research papers, rather than the other way around. These cliques can rule the roost in faculty departments, using tenure to squash unpopular views. They can use bullying tactics to monopolize entire fields of study, as they have done with climate science. But they cannot rule the country for very long.
Americans are averse to tyranny and incompetence. Put the two together and you get an angry reaction. The academic pecking order is undemocratic, and when confronted with public dissent, reacts with snide superiority. A superiority based not on results, but on the degrees of its own closeted hierarchy. The problem with any educational system, is that it is a system. And systems are designed to replicate themselves. The true product of an educational system is not knowledge, but attitudes and perspectives toward that knowledge. What begins with the teaching of learning techniques, ends with the indoctrination of attitudes. The more academic the subject, the more its education is a transmission of attitudes, rather than techniques.
Countless presidential administrations have made education their focus. Clinton promised college degrees for everyone as a panacea for the departing jobs headed overseas. In an age when the oral transmission of ideas seems oddly archaic, the obsession with handing out government financed sheepskins to everyone at large makes less and less sense. Obama's State of the Union address pushed the theme that we need more education in order to compete with China. But China isn't beating us because they have more philosophy majors receiving their diplomas along with six figure student debts. They are underselling us with cheap labor.
Socialist countries embrace universal higher education as a sign of their progressiveness, but routing all the sheep through the university corral is not the same thing as having a knowledge based culture. Russia has one of the highest education rates in the world, and yet a third of the population believes that the sun revolves around the earth. That's because handing out degrees is not the same as handing out the ability to think or the desire to learn.
Despite Russia's more comprehensive educational system, its science was never a match for our own. And as numerous former Soviet scientists have attested, the difference lay in the freedom of inquiry. While American children grew up free to think for themselves, Russian children were subjected to a narrow party line. And so American science boomed, while Russian science marched along in rigid conformity.
The American boom was less the product of formal education, than of an open society. America's greatest inventors were not the products of great academic institutions.
Thomas Edison was homeschooled. So was Benjamin Franklin. The Wright brothers never finished High School. George Eastman dropped out of High School to support his mother. Charles Goodyear never went beyond public school. Isaac Singer hardly attended school at all. Hiram Maxim was self-taught. Elisha Otis did not go past a basic education. The honor roll of American inventors who revolutionized the world is filled with men with minimal educations who were considered average or even stupid by the schools they attended. And even the present day computer revolution was built up by college dropouts like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
That isn't to say that we don't need a system of higher education that can turn out engineers and scientists, but rather that what we need more is an open society where people are free to follow their own passions and where innovation is rewarded, rather than punished. The American miracle was a confluence of industry and inventiveness-- rather than of education. American education was never all that unique or particularly good-- it was the frontier where necessity proved the mother of invention and the open expectations of a society where finding a new way to do something was admired rather than frowned upon, that made America so remarkable.
Today that society is on the brink of extinction, driven to the edge of the cliff by a stultifying power structure as oppressive as many of those that so many immigrants had originally fled from. What innovation we have left goes into designing Chinese manufactured products. The triumphs of American science have long ago ceased to be Made in America. Groupthink has set in outside of cutting edge fields. The only way to think for yourself is to break new ground. This has spurred on the unlimited development of the internet, at the expense of so many other fields.
George Eastman and Thomas Edison are dead. George Goodyear and Benjamin Franklin are long gone. And academics who have not achieved a fraction of their work, or possess even a spark of their genius, aspire to rule us. The same academic orthodoxy that proclaims that global warming is absolute fact and manipulates and suppresses all information to the contrary-- is trying to run the country the same way.
How many times have we gotten news reports that the recovery is underway. This is news to the average American either collecting unemployment insurance or worriedly hanging on to his or her job. But the same reasoning that treats the worst January blizzard in ages as proof of Global Warming, can view negative economic statistics and still reinterpret them as proof of a recovery. When the academic orthodoxy establishes a fact, contradictory data are interpreted as further proof of that fact. As a self-contained intellectual structure, this works out all-right. Millions of people think that way every day. But any field dominated by men who reason this way is a dead field. And running a country that way is disastrous.
The problem with the educational system is that it is a system, and living systems strive to replicate themselves. Each system replication leads to a degradation of integrity and tighter parameters, until eventually you end up with idiots repeating ideas they no longer understand, with their primary goal being to prevent the dissemination of contradictory information and the modeling of obstructive behavior. Tyranny in short.
Academia, like every hierarchy, fosters the illusion that rising through the hierarchy leads not only to internal superiority, but universal superiority. That the function of the inner group represents the core function of the outer group. It is natural to think that way. So many professions and practices are certain that the country would come to a crashing halt without them. But it is still an illusion.
The miseducation of America has been the belief that the university matters more than the man. That we can only win if, in the words of Harvard Law grad Barack Obama, we "out-educate" China. But we've been waving sheepskin in front of the sheep with few results. Many colleges now have to teach basic reading and arithmetic to new students. We have more education than ever, but it's worth less and less. Like Russia, we are handing out degrees, not the freedom to think independently. And if we are going to beat China, it won't be by manufacturing buzzwords, but by manufacturing products. And that takes freedom from repression by bureaucracy, academic and ecocracy.
The progressives fancied that science could make men as predictable and regular as clockwork, but academic heavy administrations have usually made a botch of it. The JFK administration with its roster of professors could hardly get meatloaf out of the oven. Woodrow Wilson, the only president with a PhD, was completely unsuited to running a real world country. And the Obama administration's disastrous tenure is another reminder why.
Of the last five occupants of the Oval Office, four went to Yale or Harvard. The fifth was Ronald Reagan. Which of the five would you rather be governed by?
The best education money can buy is in Catholic or Christian schools where the emphasis is on ensuring that students learn and where there is zero tolerance for class disruptions.
Education must be a serious business and be taken seriously and that is why making sure students learn the absolute basics is so important.
Catholic and Christian schools are known for this and for graduating first rate students who go on to accomplish business or personal success.
There is something fundamentally at odds between what our notion of what education is for and who it is we choose to be our educators. The fundamental purpose of education in a highly technical society is to prepare students to survive in their economic environment. Yet large numbers of our teachers graduated from high school, immediately went to college to get a four year degree with another year of pedagogy thrown in and then began teaching. Does it really make sense that those who are supposed to be preparing students to survive in the real world have never actually survived in the real world? They may know how to survive in academia, but academia makes up but a tiny fraction of the real world.
An education effectiveness study conducted by the LA Times showed that, contrary to received wisdom, a teacher's experience, education and training had very little impact on whether that teacher was actually effective:
"Many of the factors commonly assumed to be important to teachers' effectiveness were not. Although teachers are paid more for experience, education and training, none of this had much bearing on whether they improved their students' performance."
The article describing the study goes on to note: "Nationally, the vast majority [of teachers] who seek tenure get it after a few years on the job, practically ensuring a position for life. After that, pay and job protections depend mostly on seniority, not performance." So we pay teachers more based on seniority and any further education they may attain despite the fact that neither of these substantially correlates with better results for students.
Lastly, when all you see are nails you end up believing that the only tool you need is a hammer. One evening as I was rushing to the auditorium of my daughter's middle school so as not to miss the beginning of her band concert, her principal yelled at me "No running in the halls!" Seriously. If you spend most of your time around 7th and 8th graders, you tend to see everyone as a 7th or 8th grader. Teachers who spend their entire adult working lives with other people's 12 year-olds will have an oddly warped view of the adult world and what's required to succeed in it.
Modest Proposal #2
Teachers should not be allowed to teach K-12 unless they have at least five years of experience outside of academia. Further, teachers should not be able to teach for more than five consecutive years without doing another five year stint, again, outside of academia.
Will there be those who don't wish to become teachers under a regimen in which they are not guaranteed tenure and the perks that go with it? Undoubtedly. But maybe those people who enter the teaching profession primarily for those reasons shouldn't be there in the first place.
But where will our school administrators come from? Where will our Principals and District Superintendents come from if they can't rise through the teaching ranks? But shouldn't the business of running a school district be handled by someone who has actually studied business and even run one? Is it really inconceivable that a CEO who has run a successful business couldn't do a better job of managing a school district than someone who has never been in business?
I call this the "educational-industrial complex". The educrats, for reasons which should be obvious, wish to expand the number and power of educrats. Industry uses diplomas as sorting criteria for new applicants saving themselves the trouble of actually determining whether an applicant is qualified. Read more here.
Best single step toward improving education in the U.S.?
CLOSE the U.S. Department of Education........Close it completely and NOW.
It is TIME to DownSize DC! Beginning here.....
The most literate nation on earth voted overwhelmingly for Adolph Hitler and his Third Reich.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A good understanding have all they that do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” Psalm 111:10
The &*&^$#%^ Department of Education pisses away 70 BILLION a year on what? Harvesting money from the states, laundering it through its bureaucracy, pulling out around 40 cents of each buck for its services then sending the rest back to the states with directives requiring idiotic subjects having little or nothing to do with the 3Rs but spreading the humanist/progressive bravo sierra that has put us far behind places — like China, India, etc. — where they actually teach their kids real skills. Unless I’m misinformed, national test scores have fallen sharply SINCE the creation of the DOE. Talk about bang for the buck!
Reagan went to Washington to KILL an agency that should never have been born in the first place. He was beaten by the NEA/”progressive” morons. Let’s honor his effort BY KILLING IT NOW!!
Carbine Williams didn't make it past the eighth grade. Andrew Carnegie was barely schooled at home, and then at age 13 went to work 12 hours a day. After that he was self-educated.
Hate to burst your bubble, but even the quality of Catholic and Christian colleges is going down hill...they just aren’t what they used to be!
Maybe grades 6-12. K-5 rarely has material that is difficult for any adult. Teaching small children isn't a matter of mastering the subject matter, but understanding how 5-9 year olds learn, because cognitively speaking they are not little adults. It's for this very reason that I've maintained for years that degrees in education should be a qualification outside of elementary school.
Oops, dropped a word: Degrees in education should only be considered qualifications for elementary school.
I simply assumed (I know, ass-u-me) that teachers actually knew the material they were teaching (not always a justifiable assumption). But more important than knowing and being able to impart long division or fractions is knowing, understanding and being able to impart to students why knowing fractions is important in the real world.
Knowing addition or subtraction in and of themselves is useless unless you know what they’re good for - for example - being able to total up the cost of your groceries and subtracting that from your cash on hand to know if you have enough to pay for them.
In other words, relating what is learned to what is necessary to thrive in the real world should be the goal, not just rote learning for the sake of rote learning.
That’s my point. Application of knowledge is NOT important to a 6 year old. At that cognitive stage of development, you’re just teaching them symbols and VERY BASIC number concepts that they’ll be able to use later when they are able to make the necessary connections to actually use the knowledge. During the early years it’s more important to understand what a child can understand at a particular stage of development, than what can be done with greater understanding.
Again, why I maintain that elementary school needs teachers steeped in cognitive psychology directly related to the children at hand, not an expertise in an adult field. That comes later when you have older children.
Example: Children don’t develop the ability to flexibly to apply knowledge and observations not directly related to a solution or draw logical conclusions from an incomplete observation until they’re 12-15 years old.
The pizza joke is the best test in the world. A man walks into a pizza parlor and orders a medium pizza. The pizza man asks him if he’d like that cut into 4 or 8 pieces. The fellow replies that he’d never be able to eat 8 pieces, so he’d better cut it into 4. Children younger than tweens, rarely laugh. Why should they? It’s not funny, it makes sense that 8 pieces are too many.
I’m not disagreeing with you in principle. If you read the rest of my post, you’ll see that I do make a distinction between the younger years when children are very good at rote learning, and later years when their logical faculties are more developed.
That being said, I also go on to note that people who want to devote their entire adult working lives surrounded by other people’s seven year olds are intellectually suspect to begin with.
In the 19th century when few people could read or write, it made sense to honor and respect those “school marms” who were (even with a high school diploma or a year of “teacher’s college”) much better educated than the parents of the children they were teaching.
Today, an average middle class parent is much better educated (both academically and in the real world) than his or her child’s elementary school teacher (or high school teacher for that matter). So we have a system where we send our kids off to public school to be educated by people who know less than we do about our kids or about what it takes to succeed in the “real world”.
If I thought that education itself was the only criteria for educating others, I would agree with you, but I don’t, so I can’t.
Bear in mind that I did homeschool my youngest son through high school, and my youngest daughter until she wanted to attend highschool.
Homeschooling is not for everyone. Not everyone has the time, the patience, the temperament, and yes sometimes even the intelligence. I know a lot of homeschooling successes, but I’ve also seen a lot of homeschool failures that you’ll never read about.
I also don’t understand why you’d find someone who teaches as a career to be intellectually suspect. More often than not, teachers are teachers, because teaching as a career is VERY conducive to family life compared to most other career paths. The hours and time off are tailored for teachers who are also parents with kids in school. Young teachers, especially women cite that as the #1 reason for going into teaching. I’d call that practical rather than suspect.
My disdain for teachers extends back a couple of decades to when I attempted (usually unsuccessfully given how stupid they were) to train them (mainly 5-12) in how to incorporate critical thinking skills into their curricula.
If you are old enough to have kids in high school (or even out of high school) then you are old enough to have gone to school when teachers were actually required to know something about the subjects that they were teaching.
Today (starting a couple of decades back), with “diversity”, we are stuck with teachers who generally come out of the bottom 5% of their college classes and who then get credentialed by taking a year of “pedegogy” (diversity propaganda masquerading as pedegogy) in some wishy-washy ed program.
There is a reason that the number of males in the public education system has declined from around 50% (back when you and I were in school) to around 10% today. No self respecting male would put up with a year of that touchy-feely, promote self-esteem over competence, make allowences for bad students because they are in a protected class sort of bull-hockey that passes for ed education these days.
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