Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Common Core Curriculum: Questioning the goals of the questioners pt.2

The Common Core Curriculum has plans, not only for your children, but, as we began looking at yesterday, for you parents out there as well. What are those goals, and how do they plan to arrive at them?

How do they dare to plan to arrive at them?

The short answer is that the Common Core were designed by smart people, and, as smart people commonly do, especially the poorly educated ones, they simply figure that if the idea seems smart - do it!

Socrates made his mark on the world - and found his ticket out of it - by subjecting just such smart people and their smart plans, to some very basic questions, and just as their plans haven't changed all that much in 2,500 years, the best way to expose them hasn't changed all that much either. That Socratic method, both when visibly applied, as in the exchange with Thrasymachus that I mentioned in the last post, or when noticeably absent, as in the brief snippet we looked at there, demonstrates just how 'smart people' actually do think, then as now, about what they need to do about everyone else that they can see are in need of their wisdom.

And it's not all that complicated to undo their plans: simply ask them about their plans. Get them talking about them, ask them about what they mean by what they are saying, and get as many people together as is possible to hear them say it. It can be a very self-correcting problem.

As a case in point, and an excellent example of how they still think those same thoughts today, I included in yesterday's post, a quote and a video promo from MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry, where she said in part that,
"... we in America "haven't had a very collective notion that these are our children." "[W]e have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to their communities,..."
Predictably, today Melissa Harris-Perry is playing the kind, well intentioned but maliciously misunderstood victim of meanies card, with the reply that,
"One thing is for sure: I have no intention of apologizing for saying that our children, all of our children, are part of more than our households, they are part of our communities and deserve to have the care, attention, resources, respect and opportunities of those communities."
Notice that this last statement is a very different meaning than that of the first one, that was a prepared, reviewed, directed & and recorded for broadcast statement, which she made as a promotions for her network. Frankly, if she is unable to tell the difference between our having to "break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents", and "they are part of our communities", then her ability to comprehend the English language is even worse than her ability to pronounce it, and she has no business grading other people's school work, she needs to go back to school herself (and you might want to take notice of the fact that she views what 'belongs' to someone, as not being a 'part' of society).

Though, I'd recommend that she chooses a school other than Tulane. As Groucho Marx might have said, "I'd refuse to attend any school that'd have me as a teacher."

I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that her reply was at least partially prepared before the original promo was even filmed, as a one-two attempt at maximizing publicity - scrapping the bottom of the public opinion for ratings is an economic necessity on her network. But seriously, if one of my kids, as even entry level teenagers, had tried to use that sorry bit of equivocation on me as an excuse for something, I'd make them rewrite it until it was at least passable, before grounding them for a week.

And that is about as much consideration that anything Perry has to say is worth.

But how she, and her progressive brethren manage to kid themselves into thinking that such thoughts qualify as thinking... that fits right in with this current set of posts.

The question worth asking here, is what goals are these smart people aiming at, and why do they think these missteps will move them towards them? And don't dismiss their foolish statements, they are succeeding with them. The answer is just as old as the question of "What to do about the parents".

The surface level answer is similar to how Glaucon & Adeimantus were able to recognize that Thrasymachus's claim that "justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger..." was unjust, and yet feel it was entirely reasonable and just to contemplate seizing all children under the age of ten, and exiling their parents and anyone else older than ten. The answer is that a heaping helping of 'self esteem' and a belief that the 'Greater Good' is of more worth than what is Good, enables you to do whatever it is that you think is a smart thing to do - as long as you can convince yourself that it is 'For the greater good!' And it doesn't' take a whole lot of convincing for those who are inclined to believe it.

When you are quite impressed with who you are, or with what your position is, and much less accustomed to questions of what you should do, than with what you'd like to and feel you can do... you tend to do whatever it is that seems like a smart idea at the time.

And ask yourself, those of you who were horrified at her comment to the effect of "All your children are belong to us!" (and why weren't you as startled by Hillary's book of the same theme some years ago "It takes a village"?); if a person has not made a deeply ingrained habit of asking themselves "Should I" questions - such as what ought to be done? Would it be proper to do so? Is it something that I should do? Would it be right for others to have this done to them? - you know, questions that hint at having a conscience - if those aren't second, if not first nature to someone, then why would you expect them to not say such things as she said?

Is there anything in Melissa Harris-Perry and her networks ideals and history, that would possibly lead you to think that they wouldn't think - and hope for - such things coming to pass?

When unhindered by the habit of reasoning beyond what seems to be so obviously and self evidently smart, then those smarty pants, be they Glaucon & Adeimantus, or Harris-Perry, Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Mike Bloomberg... or Bill Ayers & Pol Pot for that matter, they all have a tendency to be satisfied that they already know all they need to know on a subject - and that they most certainly know better than you, what to do about it. So that when they conclude that 'that's that', in their not so humble opinion, that is the end of it, and they feel justified in doing what they see needs to be done, to you, for your own good (and theirs).

But if you were to pick up on that part of the dialog in "The Republic" that Socrates laid down for you - and why not, you're living right smack dab within the very same dialog today - you might find, at the very least, after poking around your noggin for a moment, that there are at least a few questions that are well worth asking of those who are proposing to exercise power over you, such as:
'What gives you the right to decide what anyone else s kids should be taught?
What gives you the Right to do so against their will?
Why should what you think is best, have any more power over my life than what I think is best?'
, or if you want to just stick to more 'practical' considerations,
'What if the parents won't go, or... what if they come back?
What if they come back for their children?
What if they come back and are feeling none to pleased about having had their children taken from them?'
Pol Pot certainly considered those questions, well, the practical ones anyway, and not liking the look of the answers he came up with, devised an incredibly efficient little answer to the ol' question, which was: haul the parents off and kill them.

Which he did. By the millions. Nothing more need be said.

Their Goals
While you and I might think that Pol Pot's solution was more than a bit outrageous, you've got to remember that our thinking, the Western way of thinking which America was formed from, is an ethical way of thinking, having its roots in something deeper and higher than mere popularity, more concerned with "...certain unalienable rights...", than utilitarian expediency. Theirs, on the other hand - the central planners who feel perfectly at ease with making plans for your life for you - do not consider the Rightness or Wrongness of their actions, except perhaps as conversational camouflage. Theirs instead is the motivation of power, of ends and those means that will best serve them, rather than an ethical norm which shapes means and ends through their service to it.

Right and Wrong are not their go-to's (caught and uncaught or what the meaning of IS is, are also not nearly the same). Instead your first concerns are going to be what sounds most practical and whether or not it seems like a smart idea. IOW, is it likely to accomplish at least some of what they want it to, and are they likely to be able to get away with it? If so, then their next question is what would be the most efficient solution, contributing the most to the 'greater good' (as they see it)... in the long run (cue Keynes:"... In the long run we are all dead...").

Why do I say 'they', as if they are separate from, or opposed to the Western way of thinking?

Because they are.

If you doubt me, take a look at this video, narrated by Dana Loesch. Do you think that these are people who see themselves as members of the Western Way of life? These are the people who have plans for your children, and for you. Do you think that Western ideas of Right and Wrong, are going to play a real big part in carrying those plans out?

Now of course I don't mean Western in a geographical sense, but in the philosophical sense, one that no birth certificate will ever prove your membership in (or exclude you from, for that matter); it's a way of thinking that has struggled against those who've opposed it, from within and without, since the time of Homer, and it continues to struggle with them for its survival today - as it always will.

The Western Way is a struggle between those who will further its ideals, the ability of each to pursue truth and happiness under protection of a Just rule of law - and those who prefer easier pursuits, pleasures and powers incompatible with that. From the West's peak political achievement in the era of our Founding Fathers, with the U.S. Constitution, that achievement has served as the focus for its opposition ever since, and the biggest gun directed at it has been education, and it has been firing non stop upon us from the front line of battle almost since the ink dried on the ratification of the Bill of Rights.

The 'smart people' who have been diligently fighting against it, are people like Jeremy Bentham, the father of Utilitarianism, who thought that the Individual Rights of Natural Law which our nation was founded upon, were nothing but "...nonsense upon stilts...", and they (a 'they' which very much includes many supposed defenders of 'liberty', such as J.S. Mill) do not look to ideas of Right and Wrong for guidance, or seek to ensure that their actions conform to such norms; instead they ask only whether it will get them what they want in an efficient manner, will it be effective for the moment, and will it be seen as being the most 'fair' for the greater good (as they conceive it).

For 'smart people' such as these, disdainful of what put the West in Western Civilization, they don't waste time contemplating what is True, Good and Beautiful, or in developing those habits which follow from such a regard, such as habits of:
  • self reflection,
  • self criticism,
  • logic (as opposed to logic chopping),
  • dialog,
  • the value of the individual,
  • respect for the individual choices which are a requirement of both individuality and a healthy society,
  • that Justice requires that all people of all stations to be treated equally before the same laws
  • and the American innovation, that all individuals, through their nature as human beings, have the same Rights which the Law is to uphold and defend
, people who disdain these habits, which are the veritable jewels of western culture, are unhindered by the habit of considering more than one step beyond what is so obviously and self evidently 'the smart thing to do. Such people have a penchant for knowing it all and knowing better than you little people, bitterly clinging to whatever it is you cling to, could ever possibly know. Whether they become actual tyrants like Pol Pot, or more mild public servants like Arne Duncan & Barack Obama, or simply pursuers of the power to 'do good', like Glaucon & Adeimantus, Bill Gates, and so forth, they all just know what the smart thing to do is, and that is the end of it - or rather, those are what they've concluded are the necessary means to their ends - and, in their humble opinions, nothing more need be said about the matter.

If you think it's outrageous for me to put all of those persons into one category, ask yourself which part it is that you think I'm being outrageous over? Their methods? Or their goals? Although there is certainly a relationship between methods and goals that should not be ignored, I'd agree today that it would be outrageous to include Duncan, Obama and Gates, in the same group as Pol Pot - in regards to their methods - but what about their goals?

Those goals - separating the child from the influence of their parent (biological or cultural) - have too often in our own history been judged, in principle, to be not so very outrageous at all, in fact, they have often been the point of state led education.

For instance. The very first compulsory education law in America, "Old Deluder Satan Law of 1647", was a law passed by the Puritans, who were worried that new immigrants (and their lax fellows) weren't puritan enough, in one way, or another, and a new law was needed to correct matters by seeing to it that all children learned to read the Bible.

During our Civil War, the popular answer of the smart set was that the state needed to take a hand in education in order to 'help educate ignorant rebelliousness out of the South', a sentiment which would eventually transform both the North and the South, through the Morrill Land-Grant Act, and the creation of the very first Dept. of Education, in 1863. That also marked the first instance of the Fed Govt offering cash incentives to the states for undertaking policies it approved of, but could not constitutionally put into law itself.

And those same goals didn't seem far fetched at all to the father of modern American education, John Dewey. Dewey stated explicitly that the task of educators was to separate the child from the beliefs of their parents and culture, .
"... it is the business of the school environment to eliminate, so far as possible, the unworthy features of the existing environment from influence upon mental habitudes. It establishes a purified medium of action. Selection aims not only at simplifying but at weeding out what is undesirable. Every society gets encumbered with what is trivial, with dead wood from the past, and with what is positively perverse. The school has the duty of omitting such things from the environment which it supplies, and thereby doing what it can to counteract their influence in the ordinary social environment. By selecting the best for its exclusive use, it strives to reinforce the power of this best. As a society becomes more enlightened, it realizes that it is responsible not to transmit and conserve the whole of its existing achievements, but only such as make for a better future society. The school is its chief agency for the accomplishment of this end."
There are two ways to take this - the Western Way, and the Progressive way. If Dewey's intention was meant to eliminate error or even a tendency to lie, turning us away from ignorance, rudeness, and so forth, that would be one thing, and a good thing. If he meant that, through imparting a clearer understanding of what is true, what is good, as well as a respect for one's self and the rights of your fellows, that would be a good thing as well, but that would imply a metaphysical standard that Dewey not only did not recognize, but was actively opposed to. Seeking to eliminate error and falsehood and instill virtue requires a metaphysical view that larger timeless truths exist, can be discovered, and should guide and refine the understanding of men. That is a view which Dewey most certainly did not believe.

Dewey did not intend the statement above in a metaphysical manner, but in a political and ideological one. He meant that views which did not gibe with his progressive beliefs, should be selectively excluded and subtly denounced, so that more 'progressive' policies could sooner succeed in their place (in your 'educated' mind).

Dewey was a pragmatist and a small 's' socialist, whose views of education ran counter to the traditional western views in general, and to American ideas in particular. He didn't believe that the purpose of education was to teach the student to gain a greater understanding and mastery of themselves so as to become a more virtuous, self governing individual and a worthy addition to society - which was the goal of the traditional form of education, a mostly Aristotelian view, which Dewey's progressive education supplanted. On the contrary, Dewey believed that the purpose and proper goal of education was the socialization of the individual - not that you conformed yourself to what was demonstrably right and true, but that you should conform yourself to what people around you believed, or wanted to believe. This, from his "My Pedagogic Creed", sums it up fairly well:
"I believe that education is a regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness; and that the adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness is the only sure method of social reconstruction."
Aristotle (Plato's student and Socrates' philosophical grandson) held that indispensable to the pursuit of wisdom (back when Philosophy still meant 'the love of wisdom') was the understanding that it was necessary to discover what is true of reality, in order to deepen your knowledge and benefit from it; or as Bacon put it "Nature to be commanded, must first be understood". And while his views weren't without flaws (some of which were ominously statist in many areas, including education) yet through the next twenty five centuries, his metaphysics, ethics, science and logic (a more methodical refinement of Socrates' dialectic), shaped the development of the West, driving students to correct long held and revered beliefs (as Aristotle said of his teacher, "Plato is dear, but the Truth is dearer"), and formed the philosophical basis for the only real and practical progress the world has ever known.

By providing us with the means of a larger and ever deepening standard of truth to measure our ideas against, we are able to stand outside our preferences and preconceptions, and improve them.

Not so with Dewey.

Dewey's pragmatic philosophy is not guided by a timeless standard or long range goal of comprehending what is real and true, but by the short range desire for 'what works' and can be gotten away with - for the moment. As such, while it can refine its methods, and it can change directions, it can do so only internally; its adherents desires are its standards - it has no way to rise above them, no way to stand outside and judge the Rightness of them... if for some reason they cared to... but why would they? It has no way of saying something such as,
"..."The 'See and Say' method of reading limits a students ability to read, more than it improves it'"
, because it is not a policy driven by a truth that was perhaps poorly understood, but is driven from a position that is held and desired. If the 'See and Say' method becomes unpopular, they can adjust to that, taking a more progressive aim at their goal... but that is hardly the same thing, is it.

For Aristotle, and the Western view, the Truth is an understanding of reality, never complete, but ever deepening, a standard to measure our ideas against, which enables us to stand outside our preferences and preconceptions, and improve them - the Truth contains philosophy, and we are rewarded by struggling to better comprehend it.

For Dewey, the 'truth' is entirely contained by and defined by, his philosophy and the needs of the moment. What people want (or should want) is the standard which his new progressive education steers by, and in that truncated view of reality, the moment is all there is; what is newest is best, and the moment, or the goal to achieve it, is the goal which their methods serve... for the moment.

Given that the concept of something such as Timeless Truths, let alone seeking to live up to them, is unthinkable to the pragmatic progressive, you can imagine the status of Individual Rights or any other timeless truth, under such a philosophy.

Of what is virtuous and moral, Dewey said in Moral Principles in Education:
"... The moral has been conceived in too goody-goody a way. Ultimate moral motives and forces are nothing more or less than social intelligence--the power of observing and comprehending social situations,--and social power--trained capacities of control--at work in the service of social interest and aims."
It is a very small step to take from inculcating social-morals (more on that from a few years ago, here), to indoctrinating children with those 'smart ideas' that are dearest to the interests of the state, be it global warming, Green Tech or America is always right or America is always wrong. To believe that " is a regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness..." is to believe that children should be, must be, separated from those views of their parents which those who speak for society disapprove of. To believe that, is to say, as Harris-Perry did, " belong to their communities..."

Or to translate into its actual, practical, meaning: "... justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger..."

It matters not whether the stronger is of the one, or the many, it is power, not virtue, that is their focus, and the focus of the educational system that has followed from his influences, that of exalting skills over understanding, has had a far greater influence over your child's education (and your own), than the Founding Fathers of our Republic have had over either of you in well over a century, and a corrosive multiculturalism is the inevitable result of a view point that cannot see, or even acknowledge, the existence of the whole.

And that philosophy is what is guiding the education of our children, today, at this moment.

Dewey's fellow traveler Ellwood P. Cubberley, an early proponent and innovator in standardized testing, and an architect of modern (and by modern he meant ever larger) schools, school systems and the expansive office and role of the school superintendent, enthused that,
"... our schools are, in a sense, factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life..."
as well as the the heartwarming view that::
"Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent."
In other words, the child is a Product that is produced in the factories of the State, which owns the rights thereto.

That was in 1909 mind you. If you wonder how America has wound up where it is today, you might also find it useful to keep in mind that the father of American education  Dewey, was also seen as the father of the educational system of the USSR.


Those sentiments have not diminished over the last century, but have grown in power and influence over us all.

Our Educationista Leaders today repeatedly show that they have an affinity for quoting such admirable central planners as the mass murdering Chairman Mao (45 million people killed=mass), as can be seen in this recent instance when in the Common Core Curriculum's recommended "Kids' Zone" website.
"Our attitude towards ourselves should be: 'to be satiable in learning' and towards others to be 'tireless in teaching' "
And lest you want to give them a pass on that, with something like "Oh come on, it's just a nice saying", it is no such thing. Read it again, there's nothing quaint about it at all. The quote of the day from Chairman Mao is:
"Our attitude towards ourselves should be: 'to be satiable in learning' and towards others to be 'tireless in teaching' "
, which means, that you should be Satisfied with, unquestioning of, accepting of, what you are taught, seeking no more than what has been determined is best for you, and that you should then be tireless in spreading it to others - IOW, you should be an unthinking vehicle for spreading propaganda.

How very educational.

When those in power believe that their own smart ideas are sufficient justification for their acting on them, then they will do just that, even if the law they supposedly operate under, such as that which formed the Dept of Education forbids it, and especially if they think their reasons, and the greater good, are smarter decisions than what the law allows them. If they think they have the power to get away with it, they will do what they want - power is their purpose and their guide, not considerations of what is Right and Wrong. It's only pragmatic.

The most overlooked aspect of the question of 'What to do about the parents', is that, thanks to the Progressives, that question doesn't just apply to those who are parents today, but tomorrow as well. The Progressives traditionally shy away from sudden revolutionary actions such as those favored by Glaucon & Adeimantus - after all, those scare people - instead the Progressive way of change is to never state your actual goals, but to talk about the most appealing spin that can be put upon them, so as to go slowly, so as to proRegressively erode the memories of standards and ethics until they are replaced by more progressive ideas. In other words, the ultimate answer to 'What to do about the parents', is to manufacture a newer and more improved model of them to take the place of the current and more bothersome line of products... soon to be discontinued (and perhaps recalled...?).

That is just what modern education has done.

There is little outcry from Americans today, because most parents today are that product that has been relentlessly produced in Cubberly's factory schools. Too many Parents, peons, and princes alike - are Cubberly & Dewey's product, and, like the Borg, they are rapidly assimilating the rest of us. People such as Mayor Bloomberg, Cass Sunstein, etc., are intent on doing just that, and being who they are, they will put their smart ideas into practice in your life. They really do believe that once they've come up with a smart idea, then Nothing more needs to be said and that's that... power, efficiency, effectiveness (or the shallow appearance of it) are the goals that drive them, not Justice, Rights and the Rule of Law.

And the ProRegressives are calculating that enough of you have been assimilated, as were your parents and probably theirs as well, that they can now, at long last, make their final grab for power, free from having to worry about any one's parents - today or tomorrow.

I'll leave off this section with just the last few lines (though it is an almost unbearable temptation not to include more - read it!) of Dewey's "My Pedagogic Creed
I believe, finally, that the teacher is engaged, not simply in the training of individuals, but in the formation of the proper social life.
I believe that every teacher should realize the dignity of his calling; that he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of proper social order and the securing of the right social growth.
I believe that in this way the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of God.
Is there anything in that passage that leads you to believe that these undeniably smart people, do not feel quite comfortable in their ability, and responsibility, to live your life for you?

How about this, from his "School and Society. Chapter 1:The School and Social Progress
It is to this, then, that I especially ask your attention: the effort to conceive what roughly may be termed the "New Education" in the light of larger changes in society. Can we connect this "New Education" with the general march of events ? If we can, it will lose its isolated character, and will cease to be an affair which proceeds only from the over-ingenious minds of pedagogues dealing with particular pupils. It will appear as part and parcel of the whole social evolution, and, in its more general features at least, as inevitable.
Do you need a translation of that?
"All your children are belong to us"
Tomorrow, how the Common Core expects to handle the parents, and what you can do about it.
(Cross posted at The Bell News)


opinion8dhermit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
3rseduc / handsinthesoil said...

Here I was, reading your post, barely into it, when I thought, darn, my zip drive isn't cooperating, I have some great Dewey and Cubberley quotes...and had them anyways! :) I love connecting then to now as CCSS is very...."then", put into action.

3rseduc / handsinthesoil said...

Oh. I forgot to add... I know a family that survived Pol Pot, a man and his wife. He speaks limited English (but can speak 5 languages!) and so he told us his story in very broken English...but it did not take away from the emotion. Vietnamese ethnicity but living in Cambodia and part of both cultures, their family was in Vietnam during the Vietnam war and fled with their lives back to Cambodia in time for Khmer Rouge. He worked to help the US military covertly in Vietnam or Cambodia. His family was starving and ate "not food". They marched and some were killed next to him. Most survived though. His wife lost all but an aunt, mostly on the march and she saw family tortured and executed in front of her face. She was a teenager. She refuses to admit to her history, claiming she is Chinese and just doesn't speak the language. I can't blame her....her past is too painful. They are proud hard working Americans, immigrants we need to look up to, people with a story we need to hear.