Did America’s top educators deliberately aim low?? A lot of evidence says dumbing-down was the name of their game. Did these top educators work together on this project? That is, did they engage in a conspiracy?
If the subject is Education, the 2000-pound gorilla that nobody wants to talk about is conspiracy. Or, as they say in crime novels, who-dun-it, what was the murder weapon, and who were the accomplices?
“We see lots of gloomy education statistics,” notes Bruce Price, founder of Improve-Education.org. “But the worst of all may be the finding that the United States has 50 million functional illiterates. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that such massive damage couldn’t happen by accident. You need lots of high-ranking people working together, over many decades.”
“I’ve done a lot of research on the reading wars,” Price says. “Starting in 1932, a new method called Whole Word was suddenly forced into almost every school, all across the country. This preemptive strike had to require massive coordination within the Education Establishment. What else would you call that coordination but a conspiracy?? (By the way, this method instructs children to memorize English words as graphic designs, one design at a time. The process requires a tremendous memory and much more discipline than the average child has. It’s a complete non-starter, and a major contributor to the dumbing-down of America.)”
The fact that Whole Word was ever used--and continues to be used--is by itself a devastating indictment of the Education Establishment. This thing, Price believes, is basically a hoax. But nobody should suppose that bad reading theory is an isolated situation. In almost every subject, and for every age and grade, the Education Establishment concocted slick excuses for discarding most content, and slick sophistries for making sure that whatever remained was confusing and hard to master.
Progressive Education was the umbrella term for all the wrong-headed techniques these people liked. Some other components of this crusade against sensible education are: Life-Adjustment Curriculum, New Math, Constructivism, Self-Esteem, Cooperative Learning, No Memorization, Open Classroom, Authentic Assessment, Outcomes-Based Education and so many more. Typically, these gimmicks would be highly praised for several years and suddenly dropped. Why? Because even the Education Establishment had to admit that its gimmicks were not working.
So the obvious question is: how do we explain to ourselves this systematic preference for flawed ideas, time after time, decade after decade?
“My own conclusion,” says Price, “and this took years for me to accept, is that the top educators had to know what they were doing. It’s not as if somebody feel asleep on one occasion. No, the damage was country-wide and century-long, so the effort must have been country-wide and century-long. I suspect these people were all sidetracked by their socialist beliefs. They became obsessed with leveling the children of America. The general socialist idea is that it’s fairer to have everybody at the same level, rather than to let the better students move ahead. So when these educators contemplated how to set up a school, they invariably got everything backward because they were not seeking excellence but mediocrity!”
Here is Price’s proposal for the future: to improve the public schools, we must honestly confront what was in these people’s minds. “I conclude that they were socialist ideologues, they knew exactly what they were doing, and they carefully conspired to get the bad results they in fact got. Some people are reluctant to reach these conclusions. But I think a good case can be made that no other conclusions are possible.”
(For ideas on fixing the damage, see “38: Saving Public Schools” on Improve-Education.org.)
Bruce Price's fifth book is titled THE EDUCATION ENIGMA--What Happened To American Education... Available on Amazon.
Word-Wise Education promotes better schools and educational reform via smart site Improve-Education.org. (This site presents 120,000 words of original content dealing with art, design, poetry, language, phonics, Latin, creativity, sophistry, failed education policies, etc.) Improving our public schools is now an urgent matter. For an introduction, see "38: Saving Public Schools" on Improve-Education.org .
Word-Wise Advertising provides big agency thinking and services for the smaller business.
Both businesses are owned by novelist/artist Bruce Deitrick Price.