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Teaching with Eyes Closed

Teachers, perhaps more than anyone else, should recognize the intractable fact of inequality.

by
Janice Fiamengo

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July 22, 2013 - 12:04 am
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It would be difficult to find a more staunchly left-leaning profession than teaching — at both the public-school and university levels. Although individual instructors may hold conservative views, teachers as a group are firmly progressivist, committed to “social improvement” through state intervention. Solidarity with the putatively oppressed has led schools to embrace a variety of ameliorative causes, most recently, in Canada, a gay-oriented anti-bullying campaign that is at times stridently anti-Christian (though also, ironically enough, pro-Muslim) and a zealous environmentalist philosophy that teaches children to condemn oil and gas production.

Perhaps the most notable and pervasive form of teacher progressivism is egalitarianism, the commitment not only to equality of opportunity but also to equality of outcome as a social goal. This is a form of utopian thinking that radically minimizes or outright denies innate differences in human ability and intelligence, ascribing to social factors such as class privilege and “ableism” all significant variations in student performance.

According to this ideology, young people are held back from achieving their potential by factors not of their own making: by poverty, social prejudice, or pedagogical obtuseness — factors seen as ingrained and pervasive in contemporary North America. Official affirmation, cultural sensitivity, and institutional support are necessary to combat these conditions. Thus a document produced by the Ontario Ministry of Education (2009) finds it necessary to devote close to 100 pages to stressing how Ontario schools should work to reduce “bias and barriers” in the classroom so that “all students feel engaged in and empowered by what they are learning.”

Throughout this document and in North American schools at large, the overwhelming emphasis on “bias and barriers” means not only that poor performance is almost never understood to be a student’s fault and that responsibility for failure is social and systemic, but also that individual achievement, the result (as the worldview holds) of unmerited privilege, cannot in good conscience be admired or applauded — must even, in fact, be minimized. The only exception to the attitude of downplaying both achievement and failure is the case of the oppressed person who achieves success; his (or more often her) achievement can and must be celebrated, even beyond its worth. Only those deemed shackled by poverty or prejudice can be applauded.

As a result of this philosophy, schools are now dedicated not to recognizing and promoting individual merit but instead to hiding the fact of individual differences from both the achievers and from those who struggle or fail. Schools also seek to devise systems to accommodate and overcome difference in order to produce the equality they believe to have been distorted and denied. Such pedagogical practices as group projects and alternative means of evaluation (”Service learning” is the latest example, whereby students earn part of a course grade for volunteer work) are measures towards this end.

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Top Rated Comments   
It's your right to disagree; may we ask how? Could you give an example? My wife is a teacher and also disagrees with a lot of the writing about her profession, but she has reasons and she can accept a discussion of them.

The simple fact of your disagreement is not a rebuttal, much less a refutation, and it speaks very poorly of your skills as a (former) educator to think that "I don't like this" is in any way evidence that you are correct and the author is in the wrong.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
While giving lip service to achievement, the truth is that a massive dumbing down process is essential to the success of Leftist Utopia.

Remember Barack's ideal citizen, Julia, who is reliant on government largesse at every single stage of her life ?

Julia would have to be indoctrinated (aka "educated") to accept such an arrangement, it would not come naturally to her to want to be a citizen of that crushing, soul destroying Brave New World.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
"How, with contrary evidence before their eyes, can teachers hold to their egalitarianism?'

Because, in contrast to earlier eras, public school teachers today aren't very bright ?

Because teachers today, in contrast to earlier eras, adopt the knee jerk ethos and mentality of the Left ("everybody gets a blue ribbon") and their teachers union, that acknowledging differing academic potential in children must not be done ?

Inside this mentality, excellence is a bug, not an asset.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (22)
All Comments   (22)
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I believe that people have innate differences and that their environment strengthens their differences. Public schools, ideally, would offer a level playing field in which the brightest would succeed regardless of their race. With the help of mentors, tutors and extra help from various sources AND the cooperation of the family, those without innate ability can succeed and receive an education. However, I have found by my own experience that, for some, education is not encouraged by the family regardless of what resources are used. Sometimes little cooperation is available.All students should have an opportunity to learn.....sometimes students use it and sometimes they don't.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Equality of opportunity & equality of outcome are *both* wrong. Equality _before the law_ is the only equality consistent with a nation based on individual liberty.

Equal opportunity requires that each of us act exactly the same.

"I want every person to have the same opportunities I have had."

So you want to make everyone exactly like you--because that is what you'd have to do to make sure everyone has the same events occur in their life as you had, then have the same reactions to them as you had,, approach them with the same desire, ambition, effort, as you had, in order to have the same subsequebt events occur and so on--is that what you really want to do?

Here's the result of so called equal opportunity--and the actual goal of egalitarianism: totalitarianism.

"The best ordered state will be one in which the largest number of persons ... most nearly resembles a single person. The first and highest form of the State ... is a condition in which the private and the individual is altogether banished from life, and things which are by nature private, such as eyes and ears and hands, have become common, and in some way see and hear and act in common, and all men express praise and blame and feel joy and sorrow on the same occasion, and whatever laws there are unite the city to the utmost ..." (Plato's _Republic_ & _Laws_ c. 370 BCE)

As usual, the conservatives give the Left its basic premise then set about to argue on particulars.

Left: Would you go to bed with me for a million dollars?
Conservatives: Hell yes!
Left: Would you do it for, say, $5?
Conservatives: Hell no! What kind of girl do you think I am?
Left: Well, we've already established that. Right now, we're dickering on the price."
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
If they truly believe in perfect Egalitarianism, if they truly believe they are all exactly the same . . . then they'll be happy to all be paid exactly the same. Take away the graduated pay scales that pay more for more years of experience. Take away the increases in pay for those who have Masters or Ph.D.s. Give them all the exact same wages because they're all the same.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
In other words, politically correct morons actually believe everything that Stormfront writes.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
And, all of this is only possible if the left destroys the idea of spirit, a soul, a meaning to life. The belief of the growth of the soul through life lessons is no longer a concern.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
The "activist" scholar came in with the New Left, but even before that, teaching was heavily ideological. There are no golden ages of school instruction, sad to say. See http://clarespark.com/2013/05/06/the-new-left-activist-scholars/.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...utopian belief in human perfectibility"

GB Shaw thought thought the rabble should be eradicated and that he and his fellow superior beings should decide who needed to die. Because he fancied himself a humanist, he advocated the invention of some user friendly, benign poison.

(ah the history they don't teach you in school when you're reading the guy's plays)

The organization that became Planned Parenthood was actually started to rid the world of inferior negro babies. (ironic that so many leftists today vehemently support PP)

Every totalitarian cretin of the 20th century, from Stalin to Hitler, Pol Pot and Mao, attempted to eradicate whole segments of the population, often independent thinkers and intellectuals who were the natural enemies of their regimes. Stalin focused mainly on the hordes who simply wanted to eat.

An acolyte of Bill ("the end justifies the means") Ayers said that the Weather Underground thought some 25 million Americans would have to be killed.

The Left in America, however, cannot yet indulge itself in the style of those infamous 20th century totalitarians.

Murdering the child's mind will have to do for the moment.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was a teacher for 26 years and totally disagree with the author.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's your right to disagree; may we ask how? Could you give an example? My wife is a teacher and also disagrees with a lot of the writing about her profession, but she has reasons and she can accept a discussion of them.

The simple fact of your disagreement is not a rebuttal, much less a refutation, and it speaks very poorly of your skills as a (former) educator to think that "I don't like this" is in any way evidence that you are correct and the author is in the wrong.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
You disagree that different people have different innate abilities? You disagree that " false affirmation offered to the inadequate and the praise withheld from the excellent undermine the trustworthiness and authority of teachers and of the whole education system"? You disagree that there are unmistakable gradations of intelligence, capacity, and character in students?

Then you are very much part of of the serious problem of the dumbing down of America's children.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
While giving lip service to achievement, the truth is that a massive dumbing down process is essential to the success of Leftist Utopia.

Remember Barack's ideal citizen, Julia, who is reliant on government largesse at every single stage of her life ?

Julia would have to be indoctrinated (aka "educated") to accept such an arrangement, it would not come naturally to her to want to be a citizen of that crushing, soul destroying Brave New World.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
"How, with contrary evidence before their eyes, can teachers hold to their egalitarianism?'

Because, in contrast to earlier eras, public school teachers today aren't very bright ?

Because teachers today, in contrast to earlier eras, adopt the knee jerk ethos and mentality of the Left ("everybody gets a blue ribbon") and their teachers union, that acknowledging differing academic potential in children must not be done ?

Inside this mentality, excellence is a bug, not an asset.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
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