You Don’t Need No Education!

RottenAppleby Bruce Price   11/29/13
In Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” we heard, circa 1980, one of the most famous lines in all of rock ‘n roll: “We don’t need no education.”

It was a countercultural time. This was meant to be the angry voice of adolescent angst and rebellion.

In fact, few teenagers ever articulate the extreme thought that they don’t need school. They may not like the teachers, the subjects, the way they are taught, oh, lots of things. But that’s not the same as saying they don’t want an education. Most teenagers know they need an education. If only the schools would provide one.[pullquote]Dewey wrote: “I believe that this educational process has two sides — one psychological and one sociological.” Parse that all day and you won’t find any mention of the side where the kids actually learn something.[/pullquote]

How strange the world has become. In the US, it’s not the kids crying out against education. It’s the people in charge of education crying out against education. This has to be one of the most remarkable role reversals in history.

John Dewey is always credited with being the Father of American Education. Unfortunately, he is. Dewey was a collectivist, i.e., a leveler. His writings bristle with hostility to traditional academic pursuits. He said (1899): “The mere absorbing of facts and truths…tends very naturally to pass into selfishness. There is no obvious social motive for the acquirement of mere learning.” Mere?

Dewey wrote: “I believe that this educational process has two sides — one psychological and one sociological.” Parse that all day and you won’t find any mention of the side where the kids actually learn something.

Dewey drew up the blueprint for progressive (actually, regressive) education. Our so-called professors of education still follow it today. The entire message can be summarized in five words: “YOU don’t need no education!”

That’s what our Education Establishment, in dozens of formulations and catchy jargon, is telling the children in public schools: “You don’t need no education!”

Teachers make it clear that basic skills and knowledge are not worth bothering with. It’s a waste of time to memorize the multiplication tables or where countries are on a map. No, there’s nothing subtle about it. Students know what the school is preaching: “You don’t need no education!”

Should children bother learning dates, facts, foundational information? Of course not. No one will be expected to memorize anything. Not only that, the teachers will not try to teach much of anything. Students will be encouraged to acquire such knowledge as they can “construct” for themselves. Perhaps the message was subtle 50 years ago. But now the schools are screaming it: “You don’t need no education!”

The student are not dumb. They understand their marching orders from the first grade onward. Reading is taught in a way that can’t work (memorizing sight-words). Arithmetic is taught by a fuzzy, spiraling method that bounces from topic to topic. Children don’t master basic skills. Teachers go through the motions of teaching but the broader message fills the air: “You don’t need no education!”

The system is designed to move students to a high school diploma and a place in college, even if they don’t know enough to be there. Assessments are “authentic,” i.e., tests are easy and answers can be fuzzy. Almost everyone gets an A. Cheating is overlooked and excused. Bad grammar and misspellings are considered trivial. There is nobody saying, “Work hard. You need to learn this material.” All the voices are saying the opposite: “You don’t need no education![pullquote]”That’s what they do now. They seem to think it’s their job to dumb down the schools, the students, the culture, the entire society. As long as John Dewey’s collectivist philosophy controls education, education will be impoverished and inane.[/pullquote]

What an irony. The Education Establishment would be more properly called the Anti-Education Establishment. That’s what they do now. They seem to think it’s their job to dumb down the schools, the students, the culture, the entire society. As long as John Dewey’s collectivist philosophy controls education, education will be impoverished and inane.
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CODA: This debate is especially important now when Common Core Curriculum is descending upon the country.

If schools were run by people who really cared about education, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to give more control to the federal government. But Common Core Curriculum seems to be a euphemism for all the worst ideas from the past 50 years. The elite educators will make sure your kids learn close to nothing, even as everyone chatters on about 21st-century, student-centered learning, creativity, cooperation, and all the rest.

But in practice children will reach the age of 20 not knowing where Alaska is on a map, what 7 x 8 is, and no clear picture of what goes around what when sun, moon and earth are discussed.

Actions, they say, speak louder than words. Whatever the Education Establishment is saying, their actions are screaming: “You don’t need no education. And we don’t intend to give you one.”
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Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org
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9 Responses to You Don’t Need No Education!

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    And yet they mulct the taxpayers of untold billions on the pretense that they really do educate their hostages. This is why the perpetrators should be put away for criminal fraud.

  2. Kung Fu Zu says:

    As few years back, I subbed for our local ISD. I was amazed at what the students didn’t know.

    When I was in third grade, we had to memorized the multiplication tables up to 15 x 15. Ask a kid today what 7 x 7 is and too often you get a stare. This lack of basic arithmetic is very apparent when shopping. Don’t use cash, as the people at the cash registers can’t add or subtract.

  3. Excellent piece — and the tragedy is that our schools are filled with students who would love to learn and teachers who would love to teach, but the system works against them. One of my fellow teachers — new to the profession — said to me one day, “I finally get it — I’m never going to be allowed to do this right.” She was dead on.

  4. NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

    “If schools were run by people who really cared about education, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to give more control to the federal government.” Well, no Bruce, it would always be bad to give more control to the federal government, or indeed to government at any level. Government is always filled with more John Deweys than Maria Montessoris, and it will never be any better at education than it is at running Amtrak. Indeed, it will be worse, because government isn’t intentionally awful at running a railroad, but it always will be intentionally awful at running education since it is better for the ruling class that children be indoctrinated rather than educated. Those low-information voters tend to vote only one way, and that’s for the party of government…

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One of the best quotes that Bruce provides in this article is this doosie from Dewey:

    “The mere absorbing of facts and truths…tends very naturally to pass into selfishness. There is no obvious social motive for the acquirement of mere learning.”

    It can be understood why a father, for instance, would want his son to be an image of himself. But why would someone in government want to do an end run around all the natural and normal ways for people to gain a sense of who they are and have it instilled by government?

    To my mind, that is sick. And all socialists are sick in this same way. Yes, I know. All of our mothers and fathers are imperfect. Mine certainly are/were. But I’ve never then had the impulse to naively pine for a Utopia whereby government becomes the perfect stand-in mommy or daddy. And I honestly don’t understand people who are so feeble and weak-minded to want such a thing. And that is exactly what the state, via government schools, is now doing.

    Nor do I understand those, such as Dewey, who are so evil as to think it a good thing that people be shaped into animals for use by the state, for that is what socialism is. It’s what statism is. It’s the very meaning of “Progressivism.” And what is being successfully taught to these skulls-full-of-mush is the one most important thing they need to know: Business is evil, limited government is a con. Instead of being turned into productive individuals who can make use of their god-given talents, they are being used as cogs in an overarching utopian political scheme.

    I actually had a “Progressive” tell me that he didn’t believe in limited government. Do you realize how naive and stupid you have to be to say such a thing? To not believe in limited government is to believe in unlimited government. No limits. Shouldn’t that sound wrong to even the most ill-informed voter?

    The point of an education is now for the state to indoctrinate children into a socialist worldview. They are no longer seen as individuals with their own god-given talents and identity (despite the smarmy lip service they may give to these concepts). They are sheep in the making.

    At the top you have the Dewey/Ayers types who think it is their job to replace ignorant parents with the training of enlightened leaders such as themselves. One might ask where such ignoramuses get such an inclination. Did daddy kick their dog when they were young? Did mommy not allow them a second helping of ice cream? What kind of perverse individual would take it upon himself to be the master of other people’s children?

    And for the teachers, politicians, and bureaucracy, state schools are little more than a jobs program. They do not care about your children. Oh, there are some good teachers in the system, for sure. Even an oppressive and corrupt system cannot squeeze the humanity completely out of people. But the system itself does not care about children. It does not exist for that purpose. The results clearly show this.

    And parents have been the third part of this unholy transaction. State schools, for them, are little more than baby sitters. If they cared for their children, they would be looking over the shoulders of these “educators” and either making a ruckus when these “educators” failed. Or they would pull their children out of the schools, as more and more home-schoolers have done.

  6. Timothy Lane says:

    Thomas Jefferson observed that if we can’t trust people to rule themselves, we can’t trust them to rule others. The central conceit of socialism is the arrogant, elitist idea that they alone can be trusted to control themselves and others. Since they can’t, the results are invariably disastrous.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      The central conceit of socialism is the arrogant, elitist idea that they alone can be trusted to control themselves and others.

      I think the central conceit is “We know best.” Whether you’re talking about the raising of children or how an economy works, liberals have proven time and again that they don’t know best.

      Their “out” is that people buy into their Utopian notions. There’s the secret desire we all have of finding ways past the innate hardships. It’s a very attractive notion, and one especially suited to the dark sides of our nature, the side that is glad to grab something for nothing if given even the slightest excuse.

      The utopian scheme is compelling. It promises a relief from hardships. And through slippery and dishonest language, it aids and abets the something-for-nothing crowd. This is why socialism always fails, both economically and morally. Built into socialism is darkness.

      Real life isn’t perfect, nor is it perfectly fair. It’s not free of bumps and bruises. And it means you have to stick your neck out on your own behalf. One can’t stay a child forever.

      But socialists now promise relief from all of these things. And if they fail, well, they can always say that they had as a goal the desire to eliminate hardships. And who can be against that?

      But some hardships are not only unavoidable, they are necessary, such as the hardship of learning the multiplication tables by rote. Hard is good. Soft and pansy usually leads to stupid, unwise, and immoral people.

      When will a Republican, let alone a conservative, speak these truths? Only these truths, honestly stated, can pull our country back from the brink. We are 17 trillion in debt with at least 90 trillion of unfunded socialist entitlement liabilities. And we have become such a pansy nation that we refuse to look at these things and announce them as bad.

      This is what socialism gets you. It’s rotten. It’s rotten when it’s inside the Republican Party. It’s just as rotten when it’s inside the Catholic Church. When will men and women be real and good men and women and speak up against the creeping darkness of socialism? I sure as hell will. But who else?

      Most people are gutless. They are content to mouth mindless platitudes of “caring” or “diversity.” But given the obvious failure of the government schools, it’s obvious that these people don’t care. It’s all a mirage. It’s all spin. It’s about anything but caring, for it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that a child who can read is better off than one who can’t.

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