Friday, March 17, 2006

Rot in the Belly of the Beast

"The gimcrack pedagogical notion that education should be 'relevant' to children's lives gained currency in England in the sixties. The thought that this would confine children to the world that they already know - and a pretty dismal world it was, too, as anyone with the slightest acquaintance with English working-class life will testify - apparently never occurred to those educationists who claimed such exceptional sympathy with the relatively disadvantaged. The result was that a route - perhaps the one most frequently traveled-to social advancement was substantially closed to them.

"Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to overturn these educational (or anti-educational) developments even now, when the central government has belatedly realized their disastrous consequences. Why? First, the teachers and the teachers of the teachers in the training colleges are deeply imbued with the kinds of education ideas that have brought us to this pass. Second, a huge education bureaucracy has grown up in England (one bureaucrat per teacher, pullulating like admirals in a South American navy) which uses every subterfuge to prevent change, from falsification of figures to willful misinterpretation of government policy......Thus it happens that Britain spends a higher percentage of its GDP on education than any of its competitors and ends up with a catastrophically ill-educated population, whose lack of intelligence is evident from their ruminant gaze to be seen on every street in the country, and which is remarked upon by all my foreign friends."
(Life at the Bottom - The Worldview That Makes The Underclass by Theodore Dalrymple).

This could have been written about the USA. While we have to import engineers and scientists our children rot in the belly of the beast of American public education whose master, the NEA (National Education Association) refuses to allow the firing of unqualified teachers, or to allow any change in the curriculum that may require the teachers to actually teach something, or to allow charter schools where they can stop them. Meanwhile our own children graduate with very little knowledge of American history (I've read that some teenagers do not know who George Washington was!), poor math skills and reasoning skills - but our teenagers do know how to have fun. Spring break speaks volumes about our youth today - mindlessness passing for fun.

Everyone should read "Life At the Bottom" - it will open your eyes to our own underclass right here at home as well as our atrocious public schools.