Education’s Great Divide: My Time in the Trenches

TeacherThumbby Glenn Fairman  10/28/13
In thinking about education and how invaluable it is in cultivating the next generation of Americans, my mind took me back nearly 20 years to when I was a graduate student functioning as a substitute teacher at La Puente High School in Southern California. On one assignment, I was to cover a Social Studies class of an old timer who wrote down in his instructions that since his classes were on a field trip, my sole duty was to show a movie at 6th period to those who did not attend. What I found that day opened my eyes.

In a dusty corner shelf of the room was a set of thirty year old textbooks from the mid 1960’s, and although my memory cannot now relinquish their title, their contents burnt themselves into my brain. As I flipped through the pages, I was astonished at finding what I would now consider to be an upper level college textbook under color of what in the High Schools used to be termed “Civics.” This text contained a very detailed understanding of Political Theory, Constitutional Law, Macroeconomics, American History, and Comparative Political Systems. I spent the rest of the day in slack jawed amazement perusing what a student in a working class town was expected to know before the Mavens of Education began tinkering with the curriculum of our schools.[pullquote]From elementary school and into the colleges, disciplines of objective knowledge have been either discounted or leveled and critical thinking has been pushed aside for a subtle indoctrination of a specific worldview. [/pullquote]

When the instructor arrived back at the end of the day, I revealed my astonishment to him and he informed me that he had used those texts when he first hired on, but could not do so now since they would be incomprehensible to nearly every student and that the nature of History and American government had been changed in the current texts. The teacher related to me that the current texts were scale down to what used to be a grammar school understanding and carried within them a jaundiced view of America, preferring to accentuate the warts and blemishes rather than the achievements of our political system.

I then subsequently made it my business, when finding an older teacher, to ask them if education had been “dumbed down.” To a person, I found that this question unleashed volatile diatribes on how dull children had become since they began initially as idealistic young men and women in the field. Algebra teachers informed me that every year they were forced to eliminate problem sets that previous years had mastered. English teachers that once taught Shakespeare and Dante were now reduced to leading seniors through Orwell’s Animal Farm or Post-Modern novels featuring teens in existential moral dilemmas. Moreover, the analysis of themes in book reports had been deconstructed into not what the author was attempting to portray, but what personal emotions were elicited by the reader.

Teachers, who are part and parcel the products of our New Education, can never be fully aware of what diminution has been wrought subsequent to the Great Divide. From elementary school and into the colleges, disciplines of objective knowledge have been either discounted or leveled and critical thinking has been pushed aside for a subtle indoctrination of a specific worldview. Students are deemed to be merely clever animals, and as such, the slow simmering replacement of a spiritual for a biological self-definition is woven into the fabric of how they are taught life and the world.

Campus Speech Codes and filtered curricula have denuded the classical goal of the acquisition of a free and analytic mind. The capacity to search and apprehend truth has devolved into the project to fashion pliable minds with correct and proper opinions, in which truth itself is a problematic wavering conventional construct. Passion and commitment in service to a politicized cause is indeed more valuable than the veracity of that cause, since the absence of truth renders one construction of the world coequal with another.[pullquote]All cultures and religions are also worthy of celebration—–with the exceptions of Christianity and the American regime, who are guilty of a panoply of crimes throughout the earth and must therefore be lowered in stature to ensure the final egalitarian assessment of distinction-free understanding. [/pullquote]

The moral equality of lifestyles, as well as the preferred end of an equality of material results, is deemed by those who design curricula to be consistent with “anointed ideologies.” All permutations of sexuality are to be held valid and not to be held under the scrutiny of blighted paleo-moral judgments. All cultures and religions are also worthy of celebration—–with the exceptions of Christianity and the American regime, who are guilty of a panoply of crimes throughout the earth and must therefore be lowered in stature to ensure the final egalitarian assessment of distinction-free understanding. The fiction must be implanted that we are all one worldwide loving and happy family: benevolent and divided only by geographical and artificial political overlays.

On perhaps my saddest day of teaching, I was witness to an assembly presented to Juniors and Seniors at La Puente High School under color of “Aids Awareness.” Within the 45 minute series of very cleverly devised humorous skits and demonstrations, I beheld the barbaric demolition of the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West before my very eyes. Along with provocative descriptions of male on male coitus and disparaging judgments that targeted anyone who found fault with the emancipated vision of a sexual free for all, students were treated to a demonstration that elicited wild applause and profound laughter amongst the audience.

A mid twenties young woman, in showing how the transmission of Aids would be nipped in the bud by condoms, unwrapped a condom, placed it into her mouth, and proceeded to insert a cucumber- using her lips to unroll the condom around the circumference of the vegetable. She then brought students of both sexes on stage and had them perform the same activity- some with a strange adeptness and others rather clumsily. I looked around the auditorium to see if a teacher or administrator would stop this but those in attendance were laughing as hard as the students.[pullquote]There is no doubt within my mind that the lesson learned that day, under camouflage of health safety, was that any traditions of restraint or sexual boundaries that implied that we are any more than passion driven erotic animals were either demolished or seriously called into question.[/pullquote]

There is no doubt within my mind that the lesson learned that day, under camouflage of health safety, was that any traditions of restraint or sexual boundaries that implied that we are any more than passion driven erotic animals were either demolished or seriously called into question. After all, schools are anchors of authority and they function en loco parentis. Moreover, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the homes of those students when their parents asked Johnny and Mary what they learned in school that day. In hearing the “Tale of the Cucumber,” I wonder if any were as dumbstruck as I was– that the children that they loved above all else were instructed in an action that any back alley prostitute was proficient in while plying her trade.

In a world where knowledge is a commodity we value in the extreme, wisdom, or the possibility of it, is becoming an endangered species of mind. Leo Strauss said that it is better to understand the low in the light of the high than the high in the light of the low. If we can no longer grasp the cryptic meaning of his epigram, then perhaps we are farther along towards our Day of Reckoning than we can ever know; and of the volley being fired across our broadside, it can be said that we never truly saw it coming.
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Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. He can be reached at arete5000@dslextreme.com. • (1122 views)

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4 Responses to Education’s Great Divide: My Time in the Trenches

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I suspect that the back-alley prostitute has more integrity than a lot of teachers today, but then I’ve long regarded public education as a fraud because it takes money from the public on the false claim of educating children. (Not only does it fail to educate them, but it misinforms that they are in fact learning.)

    Let’s see. . . . I believe I read Animal Farm (independently) around my 6th grade year, along with such books as Around the World in 80 Days, The War of the Worlds (a natural for an Army brat), and The Time Machine. In 10th grade, we had A Tale of Two Cities, 1984, Brave New World, The Importance of Being Earnest, and a Shakespeare play (either The Merchant of Venice or Hamlet). In 12th grade, we had the other of the 2 Shakespeare plays along with Othello, plus Tess of the Durbervilles, Victory (by Joseph Conrad), and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. All of these were in addition to the standard reading in our texts. I gather they don’t do a lot of that stuff these days. (My 12th grade term paper was on Shelley’s long poem “The Mask of Anarchy”, which is why I once did a parody of the early portion of it, The Mask of Obama”.)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I suspect that the back-alley prostitute has more integrity than a lot of teachers today, but then I’ve long regarded public education as a fraud because it takes money from the public on the false claim of educating children.

      Or as pst4usa often reminds me in jest when I stoop to calling our politicians prostitutes, “At least with a prostitute, you get what you pay for.” 😀

  2. Glenn — I couldn’t agree with you more. I spent 30 years teaching. Three years I spent in a Catholic high school, the rest in public schools. I saw terrible things happen to our education system in that time. The latest fiasco in our district was to “raise the bar” code for forcing more students into advanced level classes and then reprimand teachers for failing more students. The result? The classes all dropped another notch or two. And when the incoming geometry students were unprepared for that class, they had to dumb things down even more. Totally maddening. I closed my door and did as I pleased. I need to write more about education — thanks for reminding me.

  3. Glenn Fairman Glenn Fairman says:

    We need to hear these things from you……..

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