Education and Learning to be Human

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Yesterday I posted the first Thinking Out Loud post. I listed a number of articles that I read and promised to discuss them today. Ironically, they are tied to today’s hot button topic, California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. Since I’ve posted my views on that topic, and some folks seemed to find them today, I will discuss yesterday’s articles.

            Let me start with The Brave New World of Children’s Propaganda by Annie Holmquist at Intellectual Takeout. The key word in Annie’s title is “Propaganda”. She notes that young children are introduced to the woke social agenda as they learn the alphabet. The child is introduced to words that will mold their opinions to support the current progressive social agenda: “Thus, if society can catch them young, tenderizing them through imparting “woke” ideology on racism, sexuality, and other progressive issues, then such policies are more likely to be accepted a few years down the road.” This is the essence of propaganda: embrace the “official ideology” without critical evaluation of the accepted dogma. (For instance, see Xi Jinping’s agenda for China’s education programs: China Teaches School Children ‘Do as President Xi Tells You’).

            Bari Weiss provided, in my view, the most alarming evidence of the progressive propaganda program in The Miseducation of America’s Elites at City Journal. Her investigative report on the socially correct curriculum at high-priced private schools is depressing. The fact that parents of students at these schools are more concerned about social acceptance than the education of their children reveals the level of metastasis of this cancel culture cancer. As one parent noted, “ ‘The school can ask you to leave for any reason,” said one mother at Brentwood, another Los Angeles prep school. “Then you’ll be blacklisted from all the private schools and you’ll be known as a racist, which is worse than being called a murderer.’ ” Blacklisting at private schools? Parents who selected private schools for quality education clearly need to blacklist these private schools. They should establish a coordinated home-school program that serves their children’s educational needs. In essence, they can build their own community; they can afford it.

            At Intellectual Takeout, Jeff Minick offered insight to the impact of America’s declining educational system. In Books and Those Who Read Them Are the Real Endangered Species, Jeff observes that students spend less time reading than playing computer games. (Actually, he credits Professor Mark Brennan for challenging students to admit their addiction to games.) But students who cannot read and reflect will never learn anything.

            In Sound Reason Is Missing in Action, Jeff captures the societal impact of a poor education. “Politics and polemics have conquered reason and rational debate. It’s impossible to argue with people who beat their fists on the table, resort to ad hominem attacks, and throw tantrums that make two-year-olds look civilized.” Anyone who follows the daily media rants would be hard pressed to deny the truth of this statement. Of course, the fact that each person involved in a one of these “tantrums” is driven by the desire for personal recognition. And the fact that their views cannot be defended by a reasonable argument requires an emotional offensive to disarm the opponent. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty confident that the emotional outburst is a byproduct of not being able to read and reflect on the written word.

            At this point I’ve only skimmed the surface of the material in these articles.  Take some time to read them to get a better understanding of the education problems confronting this nation.

            However, the post by Arthur Hippler in the Imaginative Conservative offers a classic explanation for the objectives of a real education. Mathematics and Liberal Education contains the following truth: “Liberal education is not just familiarizing oneself with classics of the humanities, or the polish of culture. Its ultimate goal is to free the learner to find the truth for himself.” Mathematics is instrumental in developing the reasoning skills necessary to establish sound arguments for defense of a body of knowledge (e.g., geometry). Arthur Hippler provides a strong defense for a demanding mathematics curriculum.

            But the woke community wants to undermine this academic discipline. This is clearly documented by Lee Ohanian at the Hoover Institution in The Capitalists Who Sell Ethnic Studies. “Participants receive a toolkit, which lists ways that “white supremacy culture” infiltrates math classrooms. This culture is allegedly problematic because it focuses on getting the “right” answer and on students needing to show their work. The toolkit notes that the concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false, and teaching it is even much less so. . . . Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuate objectivity as well as fear of open conflict.” Welcome to the world of ethnomathematics.”

            I will not back down in my defense of quality education. The Catholic education I received in elementary school, in high school and in college truly formed my soul. That was the Catholic promise and that is what they delivered. It also delivered the same for my wife and our three children. It is the most solid education available anywhere. Anyone looking for a model curriculum would do well to start with Catholic education.

            Although I usually end with a quote from Edward R. Murrow (“Good night and good luck”), I will close with today’s Old Testament reading from Jeremiah.

Thus says the LORD: This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper.   But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed. They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me. From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day, I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets. Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed; they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers. When you speak all these words to them, they will not listen to you either; when you call to them, they will not answer you. Say to them: This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the LORD, its God, or take  correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.                                                                                                                        Jer 7:23-28

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