I came across an interesting article from invisibleserfscollar.com on the theory behind modern education practices. It should have been obvious to anyone not in a coma that children are taught the ideological views of their teachers. But the educational theories and the policies that follow, being enforced as part of the curriculum, takes this danger that has always been with us to a new height. In essence, education is no longer developing an individual (ability to think, knowledge, ability to learn, literacy, etc.). No, now it is:
“In the socio-cultural perspective, learning takes place as individuals participate in the practices of a community, using the tools, language, and other cultural artifacts of the community.”
Ah, that word "community"! Every good and positive word in the language has been corrupted, but few so much as this one. "But surely being part of the community is good!" you might say. My answer: only when it can be a free choice. The difference between a good community and a bad one is that good ones are optional - we join them because they nurture us and give us an opportunity to nurture others. Bad ones, like the ones all our children will soon be subjected to, are compulsory. Fall in love with an unapproved man in the middle east? You get murdered. Now, want to be a rugged individualist in the 'enlightened' west? You become stigmatised as a sociopath who won't cooperate and "participate in the practices of a community." Over-dramatic? Don't laugh. That just demonstrates you haven't paid the least attention to what is going on around you.
Regular readers of this blog will know that we are committed to the Principle of Goodness as a critical necessity for getting out of our current morass of bad policies and directions. I'll point out one critical reason why the Principle would hinder this totalitarian socialisation of children: there is a gap, a space, between being good and being evil.
What does this mean? Let us first take the 'common ethic' that most 'enlightened people' would adhere to: utilitarianism: maximise happiness. Well we can't sit and think about everything, so it is perfectly reasonable that one might accept that ethic as the basis for one's life without thinking it through in great depth. Unfortunately it is profoundly wrong, and this is one thing that is wrong with it.
Take an example: you have a decent job, so you give regularly to helping others; maybe you donate to a charity for the needy in a poor African country. Then what? Go have a nice meal? Watch TV? Chat with your partner? But that isn't maximising happiness! As we are told,it costs trifling amounts to feed an African child. One source quotes 25 cents a day. But if you are a westerner with a good job, it is unlikely you earn less than $20 an hour. Instead of that restaurant meal or wasting time with your partner or your children, you could be working for an hour and keeping 80 African children alive! The usual next move when this is pointed out to a utilitarian professor is to waffle, to talk about differences between bulk and 'quality', or about how you need that time to do your best at your job next day.
All baloney. According to utilitarianism, you should be doing a cost-benefit analysis of how hard you can work - 18, 20 hours a day, and how soon that will kill you, so that you can donate the absolute maximum to charity to save as many lives as possible (minus one, because you will die sooner by doing this).
"That's silly" you say "No one does that."
Of course not - because no one can be a true utilitarian! That is one proof that it is not a good ethic. But as long as people believe it (even whilst not practising it) the philosophy still influences their choices.
Getting back to our topic, the utilitarian logic works like this: Being part of a community is good - on the whole it would be better if we were all part of the community - therefore force everyone to be part of it: use teaching methods that force the child to join the community on pain of exclusion and failure.
How does the Principle of Goodness avoid this? Here it is:
- Goodness is trying to benefit everyone;
- evil is trying to harm even a single innocent one.
So how about our starving African children? You are being good by donating to help them. If you say, but I can't help them all on my poor salary, I should be working myself to death, I answer: the Principle only required you to try, not necessarily to succeed. But the beauty of the principle is that it is up to you how you interpret it, so if you think you are not being good, that's fine; at least you are definitely not being evil!
Even if you sat and did nothing at all, you are not trying to harm the innocent. Unlike utilitarianism, where anything except causing maximum happiness is morally wrong, there is nothing morally wrong under the Principle of Goodness with being in the zone in between good and evil. Utilitarianism has no space for freedom: either you are good or you are evil, either you are with us or agin us! That is why political correctness, philosophically grounded in utilitarianism, always ends up in totalitarianism.
And to return finally to educating children: So community is good (in the practical sense)? So promote it, encourage us to join a community. But don't try forcing us! We have our own moral senses, we can and we are entitled to make moral choices for ourselves. The rugged individualist is in that moral zone in between good and evil and is entitled to their freedom, their own moral choices. Base education on developing knowledge, thinking, and skills (however passe they might appear to be to the enlightened avont-garde), and yes, teach the values of the society, but let the children choose their path for themselves. After all, some of them might know better than you; Jesus, Gandhi, Buddha, for example.