Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Million Monkeys With Typewriters Would Do Better

It was the headline on my homepage that drugged me in: "A Democracy Without Civics" and wotthehell, the authors had familiar names. They chugged along, hitting all the old familiar notes about how kids today dunno squat about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, how education in civics is fundamental to our, er, "democracy..." And then they did it: "Sadly, civic education has been in steady decline over the past generation," the writers sniffed, "as high-stakes testing and an emphasis on literacy and math dominate school reforms."

Emphasis mine.

Ummm, Justice (ret.) Sandra DayO'Conner? Mr. Lee Hamilton, former U. S. Representative? How do you intend to teach them Civics if they cannot even effing read?

I suppose I should expect no less from a pair who approvingly quote the fatheaded Dewey, one of the architects of the ruin of American education. Still, it's the sort of damnably huge hole in logic that makes me wonder how some people get through law school, let alone ascend to rarefied heights within the Federal government. Are they hauled, kicking and screaming, by main force, do you think, or do they just save up enough boxtops and send away for a sheepskin and a bar card?


Carteach said...

We are required to do a Constitution/ Bill of rights lesson in class.
Yes... I teach an auto mechanics course.

My lesson was very short.. to all fifty at once....

"How many of you have ever read the bill of rights, and have some clue what was mentioned in them?"

Maybe five hands went up.

"Those with their hands up just earned a ten minute break. The rest of you HAVE no rights. Shut up and get back to work. Shut up and pay your taxes. End of lesson."

The school really should not ask me to teach civics....

Baker M. Romeo said...

I have read Dewey's bastardly plan mentioned in passing several times, but I haven't read anything in-depth about why I should hate him yet (nor have I found any particular reason to like him).

Do any of y'all know of another blog post or an article discussing Dewey's public education ideas (I know he's often referred to as the father of modern public education) and why they're awesome/crap?


Somerled said...

I can't figure out why these woeful people are so linear in their thinking.

Civics is just a very small subset of the social sciences. Why can't schools develop cirriculum that enhance literacy and math skills while teaching the social sciences? I've heard elementary teachers and administrators wail about the "No Child Left Behind" act and how it ties their hands. I've read the act and this state's guidelines stemming from it. The only restriction I see is that the complainers have closed minds.

Economics, which the study of could no doubt enhance math skills, is a social science. If we required our young people to study economics, maybe they could read and understand the terms of their unsecured credit agreements upon adulthood. The rate of bankrupties might actually decrease one year rather than setting a new record every year.

Maybe civics would then involve more than setting around whining how terrible things are and how the government should fix it by taxing the greedy few.

Anonymous said...

After listening to several educaters, their opinion seemed to be that -no child left behind- means- make the standard so low that all will pass the standard.

karrde said...


I found many denunciations of Dewey among homeschool parents who studied the history of education. However, I'm getting all this at second hand.
To wit: Dewey and co. were interesting in deliberately changing the children to make them New Citizens of the New Society.

Said New Society looks suspiciously Rousseau-inspired, and had much in common with the dreamy plans of modern Socialists. (As opposed to Locke-inspired, individualistic patterns that are somewhere between conservative and libertarian in the U.S. political spectrum.)

Whether or not there was a master plan, there now appears to be an in-group of Dewey-inspired Socialists running Schools of Education in the Western world.

Whether this means "hate Dewey", I don't know. The man is dead now, and it is his intellectual disciples we must decide what to do with.

carteach--love your approach.

BobG said...

Here's a quote from Dewey:

"You can't make Socialists out of individualists - children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone is interdependent."
-John Dewey