Friday, 25 May 2007

Something Called Education

There is no clearer sign of a widespread blight in culture than that language, a vital organ of intellectual and cultural life, is degraded. That it should be purposely degraded, furthermore, by those whom one might expect to be its guardians, is a sign of a yet greater disease. An illustration:
English Leadership Quarterly ran an article urging teachers to encourage intentional writing errors as “the only way to end [the English language’s] oppression of linguistic minorities and learning writers.” The pro-error article, written by two professors at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, actually won an award from the quarterly, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English. So you can now win awards for telling the young to write badly. [1]
It is too much to hope that the principal vectors of this disease (or the professors of progressive education, as they prefer to be called) are capable of shame. On the contrary, as one blighter unashamedly tells us, all criticism that does not come from his part of the swamp, as it were, is misplaced:
The professional literature and the media are blitzed with publications that are critical of educational ideology, research, and practice. Many authors of these publications are concerned about basic skills in literacy which they perceive to be inadequately taught in schools. . . .
. . . Their expertise, however, is not fined-tuned [sic] in the literacy field. Specifically, they have not been trained in advanced graduate work concerning the research, theory, and practice of helping children become literate. [2]
Thus: only the author and his fellow ideologues, “fine-tuned” by years of graduate research and practice in “educational ideology”, can tell whether they have failed to teach children to read and write properly; and if it appears to you that they have failed spectacularly, then you must be mistaken.
.....
[1] John Leo, “The Office of Assertion: Some Thoughts on Writing Well”, City Journal, 21st May 2007.
[2] Joseph Sanacore, “Needed: Critics of Literacy Education with a More Inclusive Perspective”, International Journal of Progressive Education, Vol.3:1, February 2007.

8 comments:

Malcolm Pollack said...

All hope abandon.

dearieme said...

I once knew quite a few folk involved in teacher training. Their deformation professionelle was easily spotted. They were dim.

The Tin Drummer said...

I wish I could say I was surprised by this: but the determination of the highly trained and very well educated to prevent others achieving similarly knows no bounds. For my part, I will plod on with spelling tests, writing stories, correcting full stops, and so on, even if I'm indulging in discrimination and oppression, because, well, the children _get better_ at writing that way. A little bit of discrimination and oppression is a small price to pay. It never did me any harm.

Anonymous said...

We read the shallow piece entitled "The Joy of Curmudgeonry," and we completely disagree with its limited and defensive stance. It's always easier and more cowardly to blog without a real name and to quote scholars' work out of its comprehensive and thoughtful context.
Dr. James Andrews
Dr. Mary Evans
Dr. James Nardy

Anonymous said...

We applaud Drs. Andrews, Evans, and Nardy for their thoughtful response to the shallow and cowardly "The Joy of Curmudgeonry: Something Called Education." We read the original 30-page essay, which the "Curmudgeonry" writer critized, and we are convinced that the "Curmudgeonry" writer did not read the entire essay. In fact, he/she quoted only from the first paragraph of the essay, suggesting that the rest of the article was not read. This is shabby journalism at its worse, and the writer of this journalistic garbage should be embarrassed. As high school teachers, we would give him/her a failing grade in both process of writing and substance of ideas. In retrospect, the 30-page essay is receiving major recognition from researchers and classroom practitioners in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, and New Zealand. We therefore were dismayed to read the emotionally toned "Curmudgeonry" response to it. Obviously, this limited writer and thinker knows little about education, about classroom practice, and about related substantive research.
Joel Rittler, Ph.D.
Barbara McNulty, M.S.

Anonymous said...

We read "Something Called Education" and were extremely disappointed by its overt bias and narrow perspective. This so-called critique pretended to have substance, when it really demonstrated quite the opposite. As educated parents, we expect more from writers who are supposed to control their prejudices as they express their points of view and document them thoroughly. The author of "Something Called Education" did neither. He also did not read the two articles that he critiqued. His review of the English Leadership Quarterly article was predicated entirely on a secondary source. It also was obvious that his critique of the progressive education article was equally ineffective because he quoted from the first paragraph only, and this quote was blatantly out of context. This lack of ethics, accompanied by poor research skills, would clearly be identified by most young school-age children. As parents, we demand more.
George and Rachel Clifton

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

As a professor of English myself, I say - wonderful. Straight to the point.

vishal said...

ARE YOU FED UP BY SEARCHING FOR A GOOD COLLEGE AND GOOD EDUCATION ? DON’T WASTE YOUR VALUABLE TIME, WE PROVIDE YOU DETAILS OF GOOD EDUCATIONAL COLLEGES AND OUR EXPERTS WILL GIVE YOU GOOD COUNSELING ABOUT YOUR FUTURE AND WE ALSO PROVIDE A WIDE RANGE OF EDUCATIONAL AND GENERAL KNOWLEDGE BOOKS.SO GO AHEAD AND click here
HAVE A BRIGHT FURTRE.