Modern education, in so far as it has turned away from reason and objectivity, has turned against its fundamental purpose: to train the young in reasoning. Of course, this is a for the most part generalization about modern education, not a universal generalization.
David Solway, in “A Huge Serving of Academia Nuts” (Pajamas Media, May 5, 2009), generally agrees:
Indeed, the epidemic of ignorance, false knowledge, and partisan didactics is well advanced — a black plague of the mind. The harm it can wreak is incalculable.
As a former professor and guest speaker on the education circuit, I have seen its ravages at first hand. If this mental infection is not checked, we may well find ourselves in an analogous position to that described by Robert Graves in Goodbye to All That. Graves records the carnage unleashed upon a nation by the misguided conduct and sentiments of Britain’s elite schools. In Graves’ day, the dilemma was a collective outbreak of national chauvinism; in our day, it is just the opposite, the betrayal of our own nation and culture.
Education, to put it bluntly, is neither jingoism nor treason. Scholarship must be disinterested, differing points of view should be presented and debated, strict research methods must be inculcated, and the mind needs to be trained to learn, judge, and think independently. Pedagogical influence is meant to be cognitive, not political. Bias, obviously, is humanly inevitable, but the work of the moral conscience in the act of teaching, which monitors our prejudices and proclivities and keeps them under relative control, is by no means to be scanted.
The situation today, however, has deteriorated markedly. Far too many professors and their nominal superiors have forgotten or have simply overridden the proper business of the university. It is surely time to initiate a public campaign of watchdog legislation and purse-string vigilance to address the monumental aberration embodied in the modern academy. For if we do not get our act together sooner rather than later, we will have been complicit in subsidizing not universities but animal farms feeding the multitudes with tainted provender.
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I would totally oppose the idea of “watchdog legislation,” though. The government needs to stay out of education — i.e., out of people’s minds, values, and thoughts; out of how parents raise their children; and out of deciding what is a best practice in education.
It is exactly bad ideas and government intervention in education which have gotten us to where we are today. More regulation will not help, when it is in part governmental regulation that has degraded education in the first place. Teachers need to be free to think and do the best for their students — not be forced to toe the “educational party line” with “state-approved textbooks.”
What’s more, people are smart enough and good enough to figure out, generally, what a good education is — if they are left free, i.e., if they are put in a situation where they must and can make decisions about their child’s education. As things are today, few care, because public schools are provided, and because personal thinking and judgment are taken out of the equation. And because most people can do nothing to make changes in their child’s edcation; they have to take what is forced on them. The public school system offer what you want? Ha! You generally take what it gives you, and be quiet about it.
What we need is a social system where parents and teachers can be “lone wolves:” independent and self-sufficient, but still able to be social animals.
It is absolutely not “time to initiate a public campaign of watchdog legislation;” it is time to initiate a public campaign of natural, individual rights, self-sovereignty, and reason in education.