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31: Subject: Teacher Liberation Front--Join Now

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Teacher Liberation Front

 
 
AN OPEN LETTER
TO THE TEACHERS OF AMERICA
 

 
It has been said that teachers are the hope of the future. This was never so true as it is today. More and more I think that if American education is to be improved, teachers will have to do it.

I write a lot about our educators and their counterproductive theories. I always hasten to explain that when I speak of educators, I never mean teachers. I mean the people at the top, the bosses with PhD’s who dictate policy in the ed schools and the bureaucracy. (Indeed, my work is dedicated to America’s teachers--I always feel they are as much the victims of bad theory as students are.)

Unfortunately, teachers often allow themselves to be co-opted and controlled by these elite educators with their hidden agenda. Here is a better (indeed a revolutionary) paradigm: teachers should distance themselves from these education commissars, and focus on what is genuinely best for children.



 
After all, isn’t a teacher’s first duty to students and parents? Dorothy H. Cohen, a specialist in child development, recommended: “No school can work well for children if parents and teachers do not act in partnership on behalf of the children's best interests. Parents have every right to understand what is happening to their children at school, and teachers have the responsibility to share that information without prejudicial judgment.” Reprehensibly enough, educators have tended to sabotage this partnership, and undermine this responsibility.

Mona McNee and Alice Coleman, two remarkable British teachers with more than 80 years of experience between them, have just published a searing new book titled “The Great Reading Disaster.” McNee and Coleman analyze education in the UK during the past 50 years, and reach this sad conclusion: “The real villains were not the victimized teachers who carried out the intellectual child abuse but the training establishments that brainwashed them into doing so.”
 

 
Victimized. Brainwashed.
I wonder how many American teachers
recognize themselves in that quote?
Indeed, how many teachers have always known that
they were being manipulated and managed in a variety of ways, and sent forth to do the ideological bidding of their trainers?
 

 

By way of historical background, let me just note that John Dewey, our preeminent educator, laid out precisely this program a century ago: indoctrinate teachers at the ed schools, and then return them to towns everywhere to indoctrinate the young. Harold Rugg, another top educator, described the plan this way in his book “The Great Technology” (1933): “Through the schools of the world we shall disseminate a new conception of government--one that will embrace all the activities of men, one that will postulate the need of scientific control...in the interests of all people.” He’s talking about one or another version of Socialism/Communism/ Totalitarianism/Fascism. “Scientific control” says it all. If you want to serve this program of subversion and social engineering, that’s one thing. But to be shanghaied without consent is criminal. Really, the sinister trademark of Dewey’s schemes is that they would be implemented in secrecy, without the permission of teachers, students, or citizens. Educators would be unseen chess masters; teachers would be their pawns.

Thomas Jefferson said: “A little revolution now and then is a good thing.” What we need, I believe, is for teachers to take that message to heart, and revolt against the secret manipulation by educators. Why not return to the real business of teaching--which is to raise children as far as you can. Not control them, not level them, not shape them to somebody else’s blueprint. But to enable them to achieve all that they can achieve--for their own good and for the good of society. 

Thomas Jefferson also said: "Whenever the people are well-informed,
they can be trusted with their own government." Isn’t it revealing that our educators seem so little concerned with ensuring that anyone is well-informed? 

 

Truth is, more and more people are figuring out that our educational failures can’t all be accidental. Some of these disasters must be happening because the people at the top are grossly incompetent or actually subversive. As educators lose prestige, they seem to find it convenient to blur the traditional distinctions in the field of education: teachers teach children; professors teach college students; and educators administer the system. Nowadays, first grade teachers are encouraged to call themselves “educators.” How convenient for our educators. They can hide behind school teachers.

It’s urgent that teachers rethink their loyalties, before they sink along with educators.

Teachers still enjoy considerable prestige because most people sense that teachers, in addition to having good intentions, simply don’t possess the power or authority to create the damage that rogue educators have been capable of. This is a country with 50,000,000 functional illiterates. Stop right here and obsess over that statistic. How could this possibly happen in a country which spends more and more on education every year? This country also has more than a million dyslexics. How could that happen? Additionally, Americans are increasingly ignorant of even the most basic information: where is the Eiffel Tower? where is Idaho? A recent government report concluded: our society and economic well-being are in danger of decline because the public schools are so bad! Who lets this happen?

The USA seems to have two types of educators that cause most of the trouble: the Rousseauvian/Hippie/Romantic/Permissive sort that hates rules and standards of any kind; and the Collectivist/Socialist/ Communist/Totalitarian sort that hates this country and this civilization. The synergy between these two types is predictably negative: less and lower, dumb and dumber. Neither group is overly concerned with whether children can read or count. Indeed, academic success actually seems to get in the way of the social engineering schemes the top educators are often in love with.

It’s not that these people are evil. It’s that their field is contaminated, encrusted, weighed down by lame ideas and inane sophistries. Even smart, highly motivated people are kept from doing outstanding work. 

So, it’s a good time for teachers to pull back from the smothering embrace of educators. Teachers should turn toward doing what is best for their own minds, their own souls. As the Carnegie Foundation stated: “Teachers must think for themselves if they are to help others think for themselves.”

 

 

IN CONCLUSION:

 Teachers may want to ponder this provocative question: when has the educational establishment ever urged you to think for yourself?

Look at your path so far. What have you been formed to do: think for yourself and teach children to do the same? Or have you rather been ground down by trivial courses, empty theories that seem to descend from the moon, and idiotic paperwork and busy work that nobody should be asked to bother with.

Were you expected to learn a lot in college, and master a substantial subject such as History, Biology or Math? Or were you encouraged to go through the motions in something shallow and quite remote from the subjects you would be teaching, such as Psychology or Education?

What intellectual demands were put on you in ed school? Wasn’t it mostly mickey mouse, almost insulting to your intelligence, six months of content stretched out to two years? Being candid, wasn’t it a case of their dumbing you down so you would more likely go out into the world and dumb down your future students?

 

Doesn’t it seem, in short, that the whole system has been cunningly arranged to keep you from teaching all that you might and your students from learning all that they could?

Many teachers know in their hearts that they’re caught up in a huge con.
What they don’t know is how to escape.

Well, first of all, with regard to educators, let’s just point out that the Emperor is naked. Educators since Dewey have been playing power games and ideology games, and many of these games got tangled up with money games (need I mention Big Publishing, Big Psychiatry, Big Pharma, all in bed with Big Ed). So here’s where we are now. The guy’s naked. Yes, the Emperor of Education is quite naked. Educators who would create 50,000,000 illiterates have scant credibility. They ought to be snickered out of town, perhaps arrested. It’s child abuse, for one thing.

All right, you ignore educators. Then you try to ignore the education unions or take control of them, whichever looks easier. Suggestion one: don't elect educators and bureaucrats to anything, elect teachers.

 

 
Teachers need to be liberated from their oppressors. We need to see some new political alignments. Teachers should join, at least in their hearts, the Teacher Liberation Front. TLF--write it everywhere. Power to the Teachers!

Do you know what the most revolutionary thing you can do is? Teach more! That will drive our educators absolutely nuts. Teach kids to read, really read. That means no more Whole Word, Sight Words, Balanced Literacy and rest of that fakery. (Synthetic phonics, please.) Teach them to do math. That means no more TERC, Everyday Math, Connected Math and the rest of those impostors. (Saxon Math and Singapore Math actually do the job.) And teach lots and lots of facts and dates and information and theories and inventions and knowledge. Oh yes, lots and lots of knowledge. Educators will flee like vampires before a new dawn.

There is a long history in this country of guerilla teaching. When Whole Word was mandated in many school districts and teachers were actually fired for not following the Party Line, other teachers retreated underground. When the doors were shut, they taught phonics, and their students escaped the full force of this bogus pedagogy. That’s the spirit we need.
 
What’s truly best for students and the society--let’s do that for a change.
 

 

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EPILOGUE: EDUCATOR LIBERATION FRONT

No group is monolithic. Surely there are many educators who wonder at the extreme positions that their field somehow ends up advocating. Surely there are educators, even in the upper echelons, who would like to object: come on, guys, aren’t we a little over the edge here? What are we actually trying to accomplish? Why do we always seem to be in the position of undermining the country? Isn’t some of our thinking really quite tired, even obsolete?

My own sense is that many in the field of education are almost on auto-pilot. There seems to be no self-reflection, no fresh thinking. Some bad ideas go back a hundred years to John Dewey. Some bad ideas were created in the heat of the Cold War. A long time ago in another universe.

Now we’re in a new century. Surely it’s time to take a new look. Aren’t there a whole new set of dangers, a new set of challenges, and a new set of opportunities? Don’t we need, more than ever before, smart, highly educated citizens?

I hope the old ideologues will get out of the way, and let younger, more humanitarian educators do what is best for students and the society.

When that happens, here are the questions you’ll hear around the faculty lounge: Why are we so invested in dumb anyway? What do we really have against facts and knowledge? Why are we always increasing illiteracy? Why are we so upset if children reach their potential? What’s the big deal about hating America all the time?

Welcome to Educator Liberation Front.



 

Postscript I: In 1944 Life magazine reported that "Millions of children in the U.S. suffer from dyslexia." This was an epidemic created almost entirely by Whole Word. Did the educators pushing this hoax apologize or change course? Not at all. They dug in for the long haul. These are not people who apologize or look for better ideas. That's why we need a Teacher Liberation Front.

Postscript II: In his book "The New Illiterates," Samuel Blumenfeld mentions that our big problem is "the teachers of teachers [e.g., professors at ed schools]...Why don't some of these Ph.Ds get into the classroom and help undo some of the damage they are responsible for?" An excellent suggestion. But here's the key aspect: this book was published 35 years ago! Nothing has changed or improved in all that time. That's why we need a Teacher Liberation Front.

Postscript III: related articles include "38: Saving Public Schools" and "45: The Crusade Against Knowledge"

 

© Bruce Deitrick Price 2011

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