As an educator, I can tell you that the issue with education is really important to discuss. Sometimes I think that level of education in our country is falling behind what it was. While we still have fine colleges and universities, we are doing things to really hurt the overall quality of education in America.
I am an english teacher (sorry for the sometime obtuse grammar and spelling errors, I don’t usually compose well on a computer) in a rural high school. Here we have very fine students and parents. Even those nominally Democrat are conservative in their family values. I am also the english teacher for all the kids in all four years of high school. As the only teacher, I have the ability to choose the literature curriculum our students read. In this, I have taken a classic approach. That seems to work better than reading a lot of the new-age stuff. Despite what some teachers say about the literature canon, I still teach to it in my school.
The one thing that a classical approach (A lot of Greeks, Romans interspersed with Shakespeare, Milton and Dickens in the World Literature. Hawthorne, Melville, Dickinson, Fitzgerald and Hemingway in the American core literature) does is allow for the student to see a narrative within the narratives. They see the western tradition with all of its blemishes, but they also get to see its tremendous triumphs. The false god of multi-culturalism has made this impossible. We have many students who have no understandings of the underpinnings of the traditional culture of the west. We are told to teach multicultural (non-western) lessons, which have some value, but we are discouraged from looking at them critically. We are expressly discouraged from looking at Eastern or African cultures as they compare to the west. Basically, if you have a generation of students who are told from kindergarten that the west is bad and other cultures are great, what do we expect? Europe gave up classical thinking right after World War I and they have lost all their identity, we are doing the same.
I teach the classics in my classroom, with a healthy look at the underpinnings of western thought. My kids coming out of High School can tell you what Hobbes meant in Leviathan.
The conservative movement has been built on classically educated people. The western tradition is being trampled underfoot by an elite that wants to end the importance of the individual. We need to fight this where possible. There are things in Chinese and Japanese culture that are important to our modern thought. I love them, but I don’t think that eastern thought and relativism should replace western thought. If we are to gain our place at the top again, we will need to be led by those who know why the western tradition has succeeded. The modern left, even those in the education field, have forsaken this. They see the individual as the enemy of progress. The classical western thinker looked to the individual as the creator of progress.
If there are other educators on this blog, I would like to hear from you. I think we can make a difference. I go to English teachers’ inservices and challenge the education “experts” every chance I get. I hold up the traditional viewpoint. I get jeered at first, then my fellow teachers listen to what I have to say. They then recognize my thoughts as pertinent. They say things like: “But my kids won’t like the Iliad, Odyssey, or Hard Times.” I respond by simply stating that the teacher affects whether the majority of kids like what they read. My kids all read the Iliad and Odyssey in the tenth grade. They think they won’t like it, then we get into the battle scenes and the boys love it. Girls like to read about Penelope’s faithfulness to Odysseus and his journey back to Ithaca.
As I write this, I know that our impending decline has very little to do with the students. In reality, the teachers control the classroom and the material they teach. My kids have been very successful at University and beyond because they have a core knowledge. I’d like to hear from any educators on this blog. Also, I’d like to hear of any new-age theory of education that has got us where we are today. I think if parents on this site knew what pablum their kids were learning, they’d find a good Catholic/Religious, or private school to send their kids to.