Are You An Education Activist? What Is An Education Activist??
Nov 13, 2010 Teaching 2901 Views
Bad news. It turns out that the phrase is used in very different ways.
Many liberals in education call themselves “education activists,” although I think they should more correctly call themselves “activist educators.” They believe in using education to serve an ideological agenda, much like “peace activists,” “environmental activists,” and so on.
Meanwhile, I like to call myself an “education activist” even though I’m coming from the traditional side. Perhaps I enjoy tweaking liberals. Perhaps I should give up and call myself an “education crusader.” In an case, I believe in education as an end in itself. Knowledge is power.
Here’s what I can tell you for sure. If you’re going to have a discussion about activism and education, begin by defining your terms, and stating honestly what you really hope to accomplish in your ideal school.
To start the ball rolling, here is a short statement titled “My Life As an Education Activist.”
[this statement first appeared in M-Tides, the Mensa publication for eastern Virginia]
I’ve been writing about education for almost 30 years. Here are a few conclusions I’ve grown comfortable with:
1) The biggest mystery in American history is who dumbed down the public schools? You see the millions of functional illiterates, the declining knowledge throughout the society. But why? How?
2) My main entry into the mystery was through reading. I studied reading theory, read books by Flesch, Blumenfeld, Smith, Goodman, and others. Whole Word appeared to be bogus. Few humans learn to read this way. Why was it used?
3) You find a parallel situation in almost every subject, in every grade. The Education Establishment has a genius for devising techniques and sophistries that will undercut smart practice. They came up with Constructivism, New Math, Cooperative Learning, Critical Thinking, Authentic Assessment, and 50 others. Things presented to parents as panaceas turn out to be flops and failures.
4) I believe most of our problems were engineered by the people at the top, the ones who set policy, the Education Establishment. (I don’t think teachers are responsible for our problems.)
5) To improve the country’s schools, I feel we need to confront the realities of our past. John Dewey and his ideological descendants were Socialists. They believed it was their duty to prepare children for the new world they hoped was coming.
6) Even as I know the word “conspiracy” is problematical for many people, I’m comfortable with it. I doubt that John Dewey and the other top professors ever had a meeting when they were not conspiring to impose their collectivist views on this country. (There’s an interesting parallel with the pedophilia in the Catholic Church. The rumors were there; but who wants to believe something horrible about a local priest? Similarly, we know that many kids aren’t reading but we didn’t want to go to the next step and say, I think the educational system is abusing these children.)
7) I have 250 articles, videos and book reviews on the web. My proposal throughout is that we can take back the schools; and we need to do so quickly. I try to inspire people to get involved any way they can. I hope they will put my research to work in their own crusades.
[See Improve-Education.org for articles on reading, math, constructivism, knowledge, etc. “42: Reading Resources” is a good entry.]