Monday, January 21, 2008

Getting a (the) B.S. in Education

A Glossary of Ed-land Euphemisms and General Nonsense

- "Teaching to the test"
This is what Ed-clones call instruction that can be used by the student to successfully take a test over the information covered. The point being that such information is -- in the eyes of the "educator" -- useless and unnecessary.

- "Do you teach the child or the subject?"
This is the common rhetorical question made in Ed-land that seeks to imply that teaching one's area of expertise to students is somehow neglecting the students themselves - that the teacher must choose between sides of a conjured dichotomy.

- "Teaching the Whole Child"
Another classic total crock (which is related to the previous item). Their point being that good teachers are supposed to be wizards who "nurture a student's emotional needs" and involve themselves in everything from a student's sexual orientation issues to whether or not they're offended by the presence of a flag in the classroom. The insinuation they're trying to make with this cliché is that teachers who actually increase a student's knowledge of a subject are somehow neglecting their more important roles as nannies and psychoanalysts.

- "Diversity"
The phony and patronizing nature of this word, as it is used in Ed-land, is well known by almost everyone by now. Lip-service and instruction regarding an ever growing list of "marginalized" people has become the cause celebre' of teachers too incompetent to actually teach all their students a simple subject. Hint; when anyone mentions, "diversity," they're probably promoting the cause of conformity -- with heavy left-wing political overtones.

-"Hands-on Learning"
This essentially means; don't utilize lecture, reading, writing, or thinking in a classroom. Popsicle sticks and glue would be considered "materials" in a "hands-on learning exercise." In my student teaching class (again, maybe the teacher can be cut some slack because the kids were twelve years old), making totem poles out of cardboard paper towel centers was a "hands-on" method of learning about the native peoples of North West America.

- "Learning to Learn"
I have no idea what this means [!]. It's essentially more Ed-land BS. Although there are genuine methods within philosophy that utilize logic to enhance one's knowledge, I can assure you that this is not what Ed-school drones are talking about when they use this Ed-world cliché. Ask any kid how they've "learned to learn" and they'll probably laugh at you (which means they've at least learned on their own to see through nonsense).

- "Critical Thinking skills"
In Ed-land, this means that kids have developed a depressive radical skepticism regarding their nation, their family, notions regarding the existence of god or good and evil, and the very meaning of life itself. "Critical thinking" in today's schools would, of course, "question" the war in Iraq but not the policy of appeasement towards brutal dictators. When you hear about "critical thinking" in a classroom you can be certain that there will be a neat divide between what is to be looked at critically and what is to go unquestioned.

- The "Rote Learning" straw man
This is a big one. Ed schools, and teachers in general, like to pretend that there is some traditional teacher out there who is the norm and bores his or her classes with lectures, facts, and information. This phony concoction is often accompanied by the phrase, "drill and kill," in which students are imagined reciting meaningless facts which are deadening their minds. Check out a local school classroom today and you'll search long and hard for any remnants of rote learning or drilling of information. You definitely won't find much concern for or even belief in - facts. "Progressive Education" has had a firm lock on America's schools for decades and each year they try to pretend that the enemy is some imagined boogeyman that's making kids learn facts through rote memorization.

- The post modern world of "no facts"
Related to the previous contrivance in Ed-land, is the Ed-school's fascination for post-modern philosophy and its accompanying left-wing worldview. The world they see as void of absolutes is so lost in radical relativism that they dare not teach a child that some questions even have a right or wrong answer. This phony world, free from facts, fits nicely into Ed-world's "multi-cultural" template as well, where all peoples, lifestyle choices, and styles of government are okay as long as they are not American, bourgeois, traditional, or worst of all, capitalist. Some dedicated nut-cases of Ed-land will dare argue that even math and science absolutes are invalid (there is no "right answer"). Of course, one can argue such things with a degree of speculative validity when discussing metaphysics in a university philosophy class but -- call me crazy -- I think it's okay that kids learn that weather is caused by measurable factors of heat, humidity, and pressure - and not the gods and goddesses of some long dead tribal culture.

- The pervasive need for more money to do less teaching
Ed-land has hit the jackpot. The teacher's unions (which are something way beyond mere "unions") have scored big. The average per pupil expenditures in America has continually risen over the last few decades (in spite of pervasive phony claims of "cut backs") and the payroll's of school districts are clogged with ever more teaching "staff" yet, each year they cry for more. To turn them down is to, "not care about children." While kids today can give opinions regarding slavery, racism, war, AIDS, and environmental calamity, they literally can't read or write with the degree or quality that existed in prior eras. While the system (Ed-schools, unions, and bureaucrats) clogs school districts with counselors and "diversity specialists" the classrooms roll on with the "progressives'" usual stale standards; making a "better world" by weaning a child from his or her own parent's authority and dumbing them down while doing so.

- "Addressing individual learning styles"

This is Ed-land's phony implication that a teacher can somehow provide individualized instruction to a class of several kids. By acknowledging the obvious, that some kids are more visceral vs. analytical, or creative, Ed-land claims they can somehow "meet the needs" of such psychological variety. They seem to miss the obvious point that, if a teacher is "meeting the needs" of a particular "style" they will automatically be not addressing the other "styles." While individual instruction (i.e. home schooling - which Ed-world hates) could perform this ideal concern for "unique learning styles," it's absurd to even imagine that a teacher can effectively pull such a stunt off in a classroom of 15 or more kids. Add to this the phony claim that Ed-world makes (at other times) that "all kids are equally creative" etc.

We used to address "different learning styles" quite effectively - by simply teaching distinctly different subjects! In gym class the system addressed the visceral "learning style." In English, a student would…learn English (e.g. learn to read and write English!). It may also be argued that, if a student is indeed a "visual learner" (likes to watch TV) it is all the more reason for them to compensate for their less acute skills in writing, reading, or thinking rather than indulge the "style" they're supposedly good at already.

- "Interdisciplinary Teaching" (Bureau-mind's wet dream)
This is a confusing mess of a concept that only a clown from bureau-mind could love. Teachers "collaborate" so that various subjects as diverse as math, physical education, and literature are "coordinated" by each subject's teacher while addressing a common theme. To really pull such an abstract project off requires an incredible investment of time and the miracle that each teacher can easily "work together" and agree on a common "coordinated" strategy - this delusion is the ultimate cluster f__k of Ed-school philosophy.

- "Every student is creative / every student is smart"
More of the typical egalitarian / communal nonsense one could only expect from a sub-cult in left-land. While it may be good to begin a class with such positive assumptions, the reality is that kids, like adults, have a variety of capacities. Not every kid is a natural born artist or athlete. The leftist sympathies of Ed-world can imagine this phony ideal all they want, but reality begs to differ. Eliminating grades or giving everyone automatic high grades to foster some illusion that they are all model students is one of Ed-world's most ridiculous fantasies. In the real world, a student who is aware that they have fallen short in a given subject is either motivated to study and applies themselves harder or they face, with self-honesty, the possibility that they may have to become an accountant instead of an artist. Honesty serves a valuable purpose in schools just as in life. Ed-land's conjured egalitarian conformity accomplishes nothing for anyone and sways students far from an honest appraisal of self or others.

- "Classroom management techniques"
Ed-land's belief that schools without clear standards of order, discipline, or consequence can be none-the-less "managed" by some non-existent "techniques" to con kids into smiley-face obedience. Every honest teacher knows that, in today's schools, there is virtually nothing that can be done to elicit or compel good behavior from some students. The result has been classrooms where a mere one or two students are able to disrupt or completely thwart any attempts at teaching or learning. Another result has been a "teacher shortage" exacerbated by many teachers leaving the profession after only a couple of years (if not during their actual student teaching before even getting a job in Ed-land).

- Teaching awards for the best gimmicks
I've seen it more than once; teachers who are highly acclaimed because they've come up with some witty new project or gimmick. Such awards are not based on kids' or parents' actual appraisals, and are definitely not based on a result of students with increased knowledge; they're just more self-congratulating gestures to promote evermore bizarre and confusing gimmicks rather than actually teaching a subject.

- "Self Esteem" and becoming a cog in the social wheel
Another paradox from Ed-school philosophy; a concern for so called self-esteem rests side by side with a pervasive desire to view students and people as mere servants of the collective. Everyone must "share" everyone must "sacrifice" everyone must obey - but feel good about themselves "as individuals" while doing so -- another sham, born and bred in Left-land and implemented daily in Ed-world.



david said...

"on the whole, most were sheep by every condescending definition I can think of; not too bright, not too skeptical (of what they were being fed),"

Cliff, What's new, how you doing?

This describes at least 90% of humanity, not a left wing plot. You are much smarter than the average person. You would be frustrated in education, business, government, law enforcement, or trash removal. Most people are followers (and thus sheep).

The most difficult position in life is to be aware and still care. These people you disdain don't care and can't be reached. They are either unaware sheep who watch TV 6 hours a day or calculating wolves (metaphorically speaking-I've got nothing against wolves) not bound by compassion or empathy (see Dick Cheney).

The aware person who also cares has the most difficult plight in life.
It's not about left or right though, when we take a side we
follow along with the other good sheep.

Promethean Antagonist said...


But, sheep or not, after being taxed for education and told where they're children will be sent and what they'll be "taught," the average sheep / parent is certainly entitled to more than games, gimmicks, and sophistry. (In recent decades, the sheep herders happen to be left wing and have drowned the cirriculum in their PR campaign to adore the growth of the state and diminish the capacity to opt out of the socialist herd with compulsory membership).

Ed Land's euphemisms are more than worthy of ridicule.