After I posted my blog entry late last week called "What Is Education?", one of my favorite people posted this entry on the liberal purpose in education.
We talk a lot about the sorry state of education in the US. We
talk about how kids aren't learning much, at least, not much worth
learning. We talk about the fact that the goals most parents have
for their kids' education are not the same as the goals of the
What I can't figure out is what they are trying to accomplish by all
I have read enough to know that, originally, the purpose of public
education was to have a willing workforce, a bunch of people
educated enough to do their work well, but compliant enough to
do what they are told. OK, great. We pretty much had that,
through the '40s, '50s, and at least the early '60s, right? People
got up in the morning and went to work. They worked long hours,
loyally staying with even difficult jobs. They pretty much did what
was expected of them, without asking questions.
If this is the point of current education, then there is no reason to
have changed what was taught in the first 1/2 of the century.
I've also read enough to know that social re-engineering is a huge
thing the NEA and other education bureaucrats are trying to
accomplish. But I can't figure out how not being able to read makes
someone more likely to adopt their social perspectives. How does
not being able to add and subtract make someone more likely to
accept h-m-s-xuality? I can understand not teaching logic. I can
understand changing the types of literature studied. I can
understand historical revisionism, even, if your goal is to produce a
certain type of attitude.
In addition, one could argue that the liberal mind-set needs people
who are dependent on government help, who will vote for you
because you give them more help for their dependence.
But if a child can't read, they can't even read your propaganda. I
find it hard to believe that the NEA appreciates not being given
proper change at their conferences. Even the most dependent-
minded person still will have some need for basic reading and math,
right? Even if you want everyone to depend on you, to ensure
your importance, you still want them to be able to DO something for
you, don't you? Wouldn't it be better to have well-educated people
who support your viewpoint? Isn't a doctor who says you are
right more "valuable" to your movement than a homeless person
who agrees with you?
Some of it I can see, but I do not understand how the type of
"education" being promoted by the NEA really helps them achieve
any goal at all. Or if it does, I can't figure out what that goal might
This is an excellent question, and one which probably has almost as many answers as there are liberals to answer it. But it seems to me at least part of the explanation is this: while the education system has accomplished much of what it was designed to do, creating great little employees, getting to that point has had unintended consequences. Certainly no one wants to have people coming out of the schools who can't read or write or cipher. But in the process of instilling "groupthink," creating good little worker-bees, developing a dependent class, and so on, they ran into a problem: many kids couldn't learn all this stuff - especially with their parents working against it at home - and still learn to read and write and do math.
Herein lies the dilemma of the liberals today: they know parents will no longer accept schools that don't teach their children the basics. (Yesterday in the Denver Post there was an article about Denver's middle schools, which are losing attendance in a hurry.) At the same time, if they are going to accomplish their purposes, liberals can't afford to do the things that actually bring academic success. So they continue to make their purposes most important, and to continue making minor changes trying to find a "new method" which will get kids to learn the basics. Those minor changes won't work; it will take a major overhaul of their methods to really educate kids; but that kind of overhaul will destroy their purposes in the process, and I don't believe it will ever happen. When "developing self-esteem" is more important than really learning to read; when "appreciating other cultures" takes priority over addition and subtraction, kids are not going to learn to read or to add and subtract.
That's my take, anyway.