Monday, October 23, 2006

Training for the revolution

I remember while in school myself hearing stories about the type of - well, to be blunt - indoctrination that occurs in the top education schools in the country. The New York Sun recently had a piece on the very issue, in the context of Columbia:
"The problem extends beyond that issue, however, in New York and beyond. Every new instructor minted by Teachers College who uses these ideas in our schools will rob New York students of opportunities for a better future. The flap over indoctrination at Teachers College comes the same day as the news that fewer than half the eighth graders in the city's public schools passed a state math test. It's a juxtaposition as jarring as that of the Nobel prize and the derision of merit. How are the city's schools to produce the next Nobel laureate if their teachers are taught that merit is an 'ideology' that exists to justify discrimination? Truth is, no one would mind so much about teachers' views about the 'legitimacy of the social order,' or lack of it, if the teachers were producing students who can pass the math test."
I would be willing to guess that many (most?) graduates of these programs would not find the material in question particularly controversial. In not doing so, though, they would inadvertently demonstrate how isolated the academy is from those it purports to think for and lead.

As for me, I guess you'd call me a bit of an educational traditionalist. Diagram sentences, drill algebra - learn the foundations until they are second nature. Teach people the skills of communication and the rigor of mathematical thinking, and then you'll be well on your way to educational success.

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