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The first article is the defense of an initiative at the University of Minnesota teaching standards. In the second article, this initiative is criticized. It is an interesting look at what the collectivists in teaching schools are doing to ‘raise standards’ in teachers themselves.
It is sometime difficult to understand the particular positions of a collectivist. Since they are unusually mired in doublespeak and groupthink, their interpretation of ideas and words are confusing and seem somewhat garbled. Reordering the shared understanding of American society is complex and sometimes difficult for clear-minded, linear, common-sense thinkers to parse. That is what constitutes intellectualism in today’s culture, an ability to confound plain, simple ideas with the collectivist narrative. Such a task is tricky and therefore considered higher order reasoning. It is not. Actually, cutting through the deadwood of obscurity can make the ideas they express illuminating. Sometimes, a concise translation of their arguments can make one shudder at the frightening world in which collectivists live.
Katherine Kersten wrote a November 22 column on the future of our land-grant university’s plans for teacher indoctrination. The collectivists were infuriated. First, they were incensed because someone had the audacity to speak regarding the bold-faced truths about their collusions. Two, they were inconsolable that someone would be so brave as to cut through their nonsense and get to the real purpose of those said collusions. As a result, they must set the record straight. Jean Quam does so by doing that which collectivists are so good at doing, redefine the terms, misstate the opposing case, hide behind words the real point of their plan, and confuse the rest of us with their gobbledy-gook. Here is an analysis of this oblique apologia.
Kersten argued the University of Minnesota plan “a process of ideological indoctrination denouncing ‘the American Dream”, as characterized by Quam. Of course, Kersten had actually laid out a plan of how the University’s program would stifle free discourse and individual belief systems to the exclusion of the accepted collectivist model. That is essentially correct. Insofar as it precludes the ‘American Dream’ Quam is essentially correct. However, as a good collectivist, she simply redefines ‘the American Dream.’
“We do not take a narrow view of who is an American and who can achieve the dream,” Quam writes. This suggests that Kersten had created a kind of checklist of criteria for inclusion in ‘the American Dream.’ It is therefore a limited view of American ideals and not open enough. Of course such a list of criteria was never even hinted at in Kersten’s commentary. It appears in Quam’s mind that free discourse and individual belief systems are only possible in certain groups of people. Other groups, perhaps, are not capable of having contrary views or principles to her viewpoint. After all, her view is “a broad, balanced view of that dream.” Therefore, any dissent to her collectivist philosophy is heresy and verboten.
Quam then takes another avenue of argument. Not only is Kersten’s interpretation of the program wrong, she is wrong because as a “premier public research university”, the U must be right. Kersten may have made a strong, elegant case against their program, but the University of Minnesota is a big, read indomitable, player with many smart people and so cannot be wrong. Since the initiative has “taken more than a year to develop and has included the work of more than 50 faculty members”, they have the numbers on their side. How dare she criticize the hard work of so many people. Kersten, Quam suggests, should just sit down and shut up because the smartest people in the room have decided. Hers is not to question why, hers is but to do or die. There, that oughtta tell you something.
It does. Quam’s argues the university initiative is right because it is bigger and smarter than you. That is not an evidential, reason based argument on the merits. It is an argument that ‘we are right because we are bigger.’ That is the argument of a bully and not an argument you can counter. Kersten is correct in reasoning that the initiative is a way to institutionalize a bully mentality and suppress dissent. If you do not agree with the university’s position, they are bigger and more knowledgeable and will crush you. Quam, in essence, has illustrated Kersten’s point.
Quam is not done with her intellectual bullying. Once again, Kersten’s argument is twisted and warped. “Her belief is that discussion of these [racial, class, culture, and gender] issues equates to indoctrination.” Quam is arguing that ‘we just want to talk about these issues.’ However, that argument is disingenuous. Collectivist dogma is based on labeling groups of people, creating antipathy based on that groups’ past history, and making it become a shared reality for those members. Simple discussions of what it is like to be ‘black’ or ‘Hispanic’ or a male are not the suggested fodder for the initiative’s goal. Creating a common, doctrinaire philosophy within the group is the purpose of the initiative. Once the group becomes inured with these ideas, they will become useful idiots for the bully. They will have successfully divided and conquered elements of the American polity.
Kersten points out this sociopolitical maneuver adroitly. “The report advocates making race, class and gender politics the “overarching framework” for all teaching courses at the U. It calls for evaluating future teachers in both coursework and practice teaching based on their willingness to fall into ideological lockstep.” Collectivist thought requires a kind of socialization that places a person’s identity within a particular category. Then, that person can be taught what they should think in response to any given situation. It is the very notion of an ‘overarching framework’ of socialized thinking that drives this ideological pure strategy. They want to essentially discourage other theories from being even considered. So, it can’t be a Great Leader or a Principled Idea or even a series of unfortunate events. It must be the social arrangement of people and their relationship to power. Quam doesn’t stop there.
Once again, instead of making a principled case for the initiative, Quam joyfully name-drops. The National Academy of Education, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Minnesota Board of Teaching are all listed as supporters of this reeducation initiative. This argument is as persuasive as the toothpaste claim that nine out of ten dentists agree. It simply demands bowing to authority and contributes nothing to the argument on its merits.
Quam also peppers this “Respect Authority” diatribe with a smattering of politically correct words intended to cow the reader. ‘Diverse’ leaps from the page in almost every sentence. ‘Inventive’ and ‘innovative’ are used in an attempt to make this initiative seem fresh and new. It is not. It is a continued ordering of education along collectivist lines that will indeed pigeonhole, indoctrinate, and marginalize broad thinking. It will create and perpetuate more generalizations and stereotypes among teachers and students in an attempt to achieve political hegemony and curtail dissenting thought. It will continue to bore students, limit teachers and Balkanize our population. The initiative is more about redefining the American Dream than sharing it.