Every so often I read in the news about some great educational breakthrough designed to produce uniform bestness and brightestness. I am not a student or avid follower of education policy, except to note it in current events and relate what I read to history and relevant human experience. Today, the headline reads “Kindergarten Shifts To Rigorous Standards“. Naturally the first thing that came to my mind, being…..old school, was the teacher rapping the little heathens across the knuckles with a ruler. Used to be effective with some, but of course not kindergarteners, because back in my day, in my town, there was no kindergarten, and if there was they weren’t studying rocket science.
But no, what the article referred to was another brilliantly conceived and constructed program from our Doctors of Education called Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. Now, if you’re like me, you’re thinking,”These kids just recently mastered how to pee in a toilet, and now the teachers are going to begin the assessment process to produce future generations of automatons and career-oriented hyper-achievers? They think?” They profess is more like it, but that goes to who “they” are. More on that later.
Rigorous,” she said. “They are much more rigorous.”
For example, the addition and subtraction that Nacrelli’s class was slated to get to in April instead will come up in the curriculum in a few weeks.
“The kids start moving at 8:30 (a.m.) and they don’t come up for air until 2:30 (p.m.),” Nacrelli said.
I don’t want to get too far out into the weeds here on this PARCC thing, or on automated education, or No Child Left Behind, or It Takes a Village, or doing it
to for the children. But I do want to point out the tension in education today and the tendency for reaction and overreaction in some cases redounding to the detriment of the conservative cause (otherwise known as playing into the hands of the enemy).
For a few generations, this thing called kindergarten (cum pre-school, cum infantile ed.) was, for middle and lower-middle America, a luxury. Then it began to be used as a class warfare thing, where we were told it ought to be made available to everybody, so the rich kids didn’t always have a leg up. This was about the time they started handing out Doctors of Education degrees like soothing pills in the asylum. Well, soon the best and the brightest started becoming the adequate and the somewhat dimmer, and we’re not talking about the lower and middle class graduates either.
What happened next, especially coming out of the education revolution of the 70’s and the concurrent rise of “above all, social, economic and environmental justice!” was the abject dumbing down of education. It was a match made in heaven , this New Age Ed and Social Justice. And who shepherded all this along? Well, the predecessors of the ones referred to above who are Masters and Practisers of the Education Arts and now coming up with things like PARCC. And why are things like PARCC coming into vogue? Because somewhere along the line, some erstwhile traditionalist Americans groggily stirred and asked “Wh-wh-whaa?? What’s going on? Why can’t Johnny read?” Then they had a cup of coffee, woke up a little more, and a little more forcefully said “Well! We’re going to get some more accountability into this thing, and demand results, and proof of results! (from the Doctors of Education we are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to run our schools).”
So, pretending to be chastened but still blameless, the educators began to wail and whine they didn’t have enough curriculum time, and the kids didn’t have any help at home and there wasn’t enough parent involvement and parents were bad anyway and they promised to grind out scientists and mathematicians to compete with the Chinese if only more tax dollars could be devoted to education , including putting the kiddies in harness earlier and earlier, and so on. And Middle America went along with it.
Borrowing from the songwriter/poet : “Time has passed and now it seems”, 30% of incoming freshmen aren’t prepared to be in college. Why is that? Well, that’s because 70% of them weren’t prepared to be in kindergarten, and updating to the latest fad, 98% of them weren’t prepared to be in pre-school. And soon they want to take the infants out of the home and put them in training (shudder). But what’s wrong with getting kids on track early? Doesn’t it make sense that if they can be taught to do algebra in kindergarten, the future of mankind will be secured?
No it doesn’t. Not to put too fine a point on it, but as the saying goes, you can teach a monkey to perform complex repetitive functions. However, the key word is assimilation. That is why, for example, the spectacle of little kids being forced to sing/song “He said that all must lend a hand, Umm, umm, umm. Barack Hussein Obama”, was so horrid, or why Joe Biden’s most recent campaign swing through the elementary schools of America, haranguing them about the rich not paying their fair share, was an abomination. But it doesn’t stop at just using the children for partisan politics. This push for early childhood education is just as bad because it is not only depriving them of their normal development process, the natural one of learning to play and fight and give and take and behave and enjoy, it forces on them concepts and practices that, in the grand scheme, they do not know what to do with. They can not assimilate what they have been taught and use it for good, because they never learned good. They never learned smack! and ouch! and No! and uncertainty and the antitheses of and antidotes to those things.
In the TV interviews and You Tube videos of the more youthful of the Occupy Wall Street congregation, much note has been made that they don’t seem to make much sense. They don’t have much of a concrete agenda. They cannot seem to draw discernible lines of correlative connection between whomever they chant are the bad guys and whomever they (mostly themselves) like to say deserve more …..of….something. They can say words. They have been taught to say words. But, to a person, their development, not their rote, but their development was arrested at a very early age. They were injected with things (and as we now have come to realize since waking up, many of the things were not useful to man, like Diverse Multicultural Environmentalism) and they formed the ability to say words. But they cannot apply anything; they do not know what to use it for. They haven’t had to cope with life, even with play-life and how and when to be selfish and not to be selfish. Things little kids used to be allowed to ease into before being given instruction and task.
Somehow, incredibly, some commenters insist that the Wall Street protestors, the occupiers, have valid points. No, friends, they do not have valid points. They say words. They are incapable of having points. They have no frame of reference. They have no basis. They have no foundation. The trillions spent on ‘early childhood development’ have been poured into the drainhole, for they have developed not. See here, I am no more a student of religion, or theology, than I am of education, so I ask of you, “Are we born with a soul?” If so, I posit that it is a very tiny, tiny little thing. Something that needs to be developed, something that has to be developed in little children, and further in adolescents, and further in young adults, and further in the maturation of mankind. And this is both a fostered and a natural, inherent development. At any stage, at any stage, we arrest this development at our peril, and the most critical of all, of course are the very earliest stages. So we have to ask ourselves, do we want to develop human beings with souls, or do we want to develop the next generation of mathematicians? Or are we satisfied with, or have we even noticed, what we have developed of late?