by Jayne Friedman, ©2021
(Apr. 5, 2021) — School curricula today are a monumental departure from a classical education. This explains why American scores on standardized tests––Regents, SATs, etc.––consistently rank far below other countries.
America has one of the highest levels of educational spending-per-student in the entire world. Then why don’t our students outperform their competitors around the globe? Not only do they vastly under-compete but they underperform by a long shot!
It’s worthwhile to understand how the “evolution” of progressive thinking has been applied to American teaching curricula. You will see that our children have been significantly dumbed-down for at least a century by progressive educators demanding an end to conceptual thinking, discouraging independent thought, and lowering ethical standards for their students.
· Conceptual Thinking––Learning the information from the ground floor up.
The ladder of learning gets increasingly more difficult as each student progresses from grade to grade. Many are encouraged to memorize instead of being taught how to absorb the subject’s patterns, subtleties, and connections. Ultimately, they are left unable to think beyond bullet points!
· Independent Thought––When you do not understand a subject, how are you supposed to formulate your own judgements?
You have to rely on your feelings and make a subjective, emotional judgement not based on facts and objective reality.
· Lower Ethical Standards––Students who feel pressure to perform but who are trapped by insufficient knowledge will often take chances and skirt the rules to achieve.
Their grades? Gained through cheating or through the anti-education joke of Common Core, which rewards effort––the hell with the correct answer!
LOOKING AT EDUCATION IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR
More than a century ago, education was like a skyscraper built to signal excellence, quality and endurance. The bottom floor was reinforced so that the added floors were dependable and sustainable. They were built with sequential building plans that were submitted to building experts and approved repeatedly before a first brick was laid. After each phase was completed, the tasks were inspected and then approved for compliance to standards. Only in this way could builders ensure that their product would be safe and endure for people to safely use.
Building a skyscraper is metaphorically similar to educating children. Once a child gets educationally constructed, tested, and deemed in compliance with test standards, they can go off into the world and provide for themselves. The culture could count on successive generations of a well-educated population able to provide for and think for themselves.
William C. Bagley of the Teachers College at Columbia University said in 1934 that replacing “systemic and sequential learning” and putting in its place “activities” would “defeat the most important ends of education in democracy,” specifically the objective of attaining “as high a level of common culture as possible.”
You must be asking yourself why anyone would not advocate and fight for this high standard. Could it be that a high level of an independent, curious and educated citizenry would question government and not automatically comply with heavy-handed rules and regulations? This would make governing more difficult, exactly as our Founders intended.
OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM IS A HOUSE OF CARDS
In the 1920s, the elite and educated leftist heavyweights in our society exerted Herculean pressure on American education to unshackle itself from expectations spawned from ground-up learning and imposed lesson plans that sought to do away with what they believed was that nasty, nasty concept of competition.
Schools were to be an environment where children absorbed their lessons solely through playing, as opposed to the rigorous practice of homework, research, and receiving marks for their performances.
Today the left exerts colossal focus on self-esteem, gender fluidity, race-baiting, and the divisive construct of political correctness in which children are in a constant state of defensiveness and anxiety.
Consequently, their labors and struggles to achieve subject mastery has been placed on the proverbial chopping block. Our children are now categorized as delicate botanicals expected to gloriously bloom and flourish in only the rarefied soil that liberal/leftist/progressive teachers provide.
It is true that children are naturally curious beings and that they excel through discovery and creativity. Educators who capitalize on these qualities can build sturdy minds. However, I have never met a kid who is naturally curious about grammar. Some things have to be delivered in an organized process called “teaching” directly to students inside a classroom!
Expecting undeveloped minds to be able to figure out life-sustaining skills through only their curiosity is simply a bridge too far. In fact, in the 1950s, a famous cartoon showed a class of bored students begging their teacher, “Please, do we have to do what we feel like doing today?”
Perhaps when adults naively burden children with open-ended choice, they are giving them more power than they have the skill to handle. It is the phony scholarship of low expectations.
DECADES OF FAILURE
The Leftist Democrats would have you believe that classical rules are unyielding and unforgiving and that individual creativity and spirit are negative influences. Just the opposite is true. The media and pop culture signal to our youth that they should oppose individuality, that “the experts” have all the answers and should be followed unquestioningly.
Because young kids naturally follow a Pied Piper, the Democrat strategists use that developmental phase against those of us who plead for sanity in our schools. Children are not botanicals. Neither are they lab experiments. Our children are born into the world with a Tabula Rasa (blank slate). Ideally, schooling should write code on that slate that would teach children how to think, not what to think, how to question and not to blindly accept, and how to arrive at a conclusion based on a thorough grasp of the subject at hand.
The term “diversity” started gaining speed along with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It has grown as a banner, a buzz word, to a virtue signal by the left. If you do not applaud diversity, you are a racist, the left claims. However, only when they finish hurling these stinging accusations can we see that the left only wants diversity of color, not diversity of thought.
Our schools now divide students by color, affording some colors advantages while denying those same advantages to other colors, i.e., recently brown-skinned migrant children in San Diego were provided in-person learning while local multicolored children were relegated to virtual learning and segregated in their homes.
A New York Public School principal asked white parents to reflect on their whiteness. He passed out a ranking of eight identities which ranged from “White Supremacist’’ to “White Abolitionist,” et al. If self-esteem and self-concept were truly a goal of the left for students, then their disgraceful and blatant racism directed at children is nothing short of wicked and monstrous.
The nasty little secret being completely ignored is that self-esteem is not about feeling good. It is about doing good! American curricula that teach anatomically-correct body parts and masturbating techniques to six-year-olds and shame white students to repent and beg forgiveness for their DNA is not education. It is indoctrination. It is racism and it is going to drive American student test scores to be on par with countries where anarchy is the rule and formal education is unknown.
Diversity, like other deceptive terminology used by the left, elicits feelings of rage and division among people. It covets the false virtue that only through a color-coded skin system can America reap genuine greatness.
But when it rejects basic human dignity, serves a political goal of division, cheers hostility between groups, and laser-focuses on destroying the spirit of freedom, autonomy and patriotism, it tears down civility, morality, and American education!
Our children are watching. Parents are watching. Heads-Up, teachers––Instruct! Do not indoctrinate!
Jayne Friedman, a native New Yorker who now lives in Cave Creek, Arizona, is a Range Safety Officer and a National Rifle Association certified pistol instructor. She teaches firearm skills to former victims of crimes as well as those interested in their personal defense. Jayne began political activism in 2010. The formation of the Tea Party galvanized her passionate conviction to conservative ideals and policies. As a lifelong writer, she focused her goal on writing political commentary primarily on social media. She is now sharing her insights with a wider audience. Jayne can be reached at JayneFriedman@protonmail.com