This part could best be called The Empire Strikes Back because it begins by addressing the left themselves and looking at how difficult such a term is to pin down.
It seems to me, from having been “of the left” – leafletting for the Labour Party, essentially inoffensive or harmless, filled with indignation at the injustices in society, appalled at the compassionless selfishness of the Tories as we saw it – whereas our lot actually cared – it seemed to me that we were the good guys.
So how does that sit with what has been written in these five parts? Because it’s been castigating “the left” for crippling education. And even were this correct, it’s human nature not to take characterization and criticism by someone else on the other side of the political divide very well – we tend to reject blanket generalizations. No one of the left is going to buy this, any more than I’d take on board the skewed thinking in the Guardian and politics has become so party polarized that no one’s ever going to concede anything to “the enemy”.
Therefore this divide is a problem in itself. If we stopped calling it left and right or at least redefined those terms to let readers “of the left” off the hook for the clear ideological damage wrought by certain people mentioned through this series – i.e. it wasn’t Guardian readers’ fault – they’d be more likely to perhaps consider some errors all of us might fall into. It seems to me that there are different “lefts” anyway and the first type are unrecognizable to the average left-liberal as one of them – he or she would never wittingly harm children or bring down society – quite the opposite in fact. The left-liberal is into caring, the environment, fairness for all, equality – all the good things.
And this is precisely how the damage has been wrought – through this confusion of what left means and the utter conviction of all parties that they’re actually working for the good of society – except for the minority above [the 1%] who’ve deliberately done this damage. And damage it has been – Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, in the deliberate dumbing down of america – A Chronological Paper Trail, Conscience Press, Sep 1999 showed how cynical groups of people at local level were implementing ideologies which filtered down from above. She showed in that clip in Part 1 and that was followed up in the next few parts, that there was a mafia mentality to it and if you didn’t take on board that mentality, you were quietly shunted out.
We had in-service days where we’d learn the results of the “latest” educational “discoveries” – always new and “up to date”, always cutting edge – we were professionals after all. And where was this coming from? It was building on Bloom and Piaget and Dewey and Neill [Summerhill], we’d have visiting speakers and workshops [pre-Powerpoint days] and the language of compassion and “the child at the centre” would bathe all – hell, compassion for the child was what it was all about, no?
There was no way, the way it had been presented to us, that we’d take it to task and say hey, I don’t want to throw out the now discredited rote learning, the chanting of tables, direct pedagogical instruction, for if we did, our peers and senior staff would look down on us with pity. There’s a strong social coercion in this. And who were we anyway to question Piaget and Dewey, though they’ve now been debunked?
In an independent school I was teaching in, we were visited by the new Ofsted. The school prided itself on a solid education along traditional lines and it got quantifiable results in terms of literacy and numeracy. It was like two different cultures clashing. We were seen as C19th, not abreast with “latest” thinking and yet we were praised for individualizing in the sense that we knew where each of our pupils was at, at that stage of proceedings. After all, we were directly answerable to parents who were paying good money for this.
I think that’s where I began to have serious doubts about Ofsted pursuing the right line in this and since blogging, particularly with the benefit of being able to research these people – the Zenna Atkinses of the world and the whole social line underpinning this take on education – that the full horror of it has dawned. After having read copious amounts of material, of which the first four parts here were but a fragment, then what we were actually doing way back then was wrong and not only that – we were genuinely hoodwinked into it because everyone else was thinking the same way – the way that came down from above.
You can see the following in expanded form here and go to the Amazon site for any later developments.
First up is that a major publishing house didn’t handle Charlotte Iserbyt’s book and nor would it, as it’s explosive in the wrong way. If what it was saying was castigating even publishing houses, then they were hardly going to be onside, especially in the light of such things as Diane Ravitch, in 2003, quoting guidelines by a New York publishing house for prospective writers:
“Topics not to include are: abortion, death or disease, criminals, magic, politics, religion, unemployment, weapons, violence, poverty, divorce, slavery, alcohol or addiction. Women cannot be depicted as mothers or caregivers or doing household work. Men cannot be depicted as lawyers, doctors or plumbers. African citizens are not to be portrayed in a negative light. None of these things can be themes in any publications handled by us.”
So a detractor need only point to the work not being printed by a “reputable” publishing house and that’s the work damned. Against that, the author had been Senior Policy Advisor in the Department of Education during the Reagan years so possibly, she was qualified to write of changes in the 80s in the restructuring of education. Just possibly, this rogue cog-gone-wrong who failed to toe the line might have known that of which she spoke and wrote.
One commenter [33 of 39 people found the following review helpful: The single best book ever on ‘education’ in America, April 9, 2004] wrote:
This book is exhaustively researched; Iserbyt makes no statements without providing the reference source material as proof. Once the reader starts to make the connections between all of these profusely cited documents and the demonization of ‘home schooling’ that is currently underway in our so-called FREE country, it will become apparent that this was all done on purpose with the intent of creating groupthink and to destroy individuality and self-reliance.
It’s a densely packed work and shows governmental decisions, at different levels and how they affected the course of American education. The author certainly believes that the type of thing included in Parts 1-4 of this blog series now did actually happen but it’s chicken and egg here – did she rise in the Department of Education because of her radical views or because of her compliance, as she explains, with the directives allowing only certain people and certain decisions to be made? In other words, did she rise because of her current stance or is her current stance the result of her time as one of the change-agents attempting to subvert and direct the national educational conversation?
Pretty obvious, is it not?
Now, faced with a mass of evidence and there are appendices here with a fair bit of that, you might think teachers would stop and take it on board – maybe not alter their world view as such but at least realize that education has been termited and misled. Nope – the damage had to be defended, for to admit “we took the wrong step years ago”, only in a way different to how we understood that line, is not something anyone is going to take on board. In fact, people of a Guardian hue in particular are going to auto-oppose it.
One reader does attempt a quantitative retort [10 of 67 people found the following review helpful]. Speaking of Iserbyt, she writes:
She does not research the people that is pointing her finger- otherwise she would realize that John Dewy was in fact AGAINST spilting the high school system into liberal arts and making the masses go into vocational traning.
The mental shifts in that are interesting. The assertion that Iserbyt doesn’t “research people” becomes she doesn’t “research John Dewey [misspelt in the review]”. Iserbyt in fact attacks what Dewey and Co actually wrote and voted for. Why would she have researched each and every person mentioned minutely, when her main thrust in the book is the development of educational policy?
Other criticisms of her included this [1 of 3 people found the following review helpful]:
Statements in the book seem outlandish and unfounded. The author has some very strange ideas, including the notion that the schools are indoctrinating students. August 23, 2006
“Seem outlandish”. To whom? To someone whose mindset and approach to education is now being challenged. This is the hallmark of a certain type of criticism – asserting a diametric opposite instead of actually exploring and thinking that possibly we might have been wrong.
Contrast that to this crit [31 of 35 people found the following review helpful: January 21, 2004, reviewer: Deborah L. Schwier “dls333” (Atlanta , GA United States)]:
As a former public school teacher with a B.A. in psychology, I found this book very informative and well documented. Every parent needs to know that achievement tests, now called performance (behavioral) assessments, test a child’s attitudes. Ms. Iserbyt covers the history of such assessments thoroughly. There are several good books about this topic on the market. This is the best reference book about education reform to date.
And what of the charge that the tests at that time did also test attitudes on top of testing skills and knowledge? Go back to Part 1 and Bloom’s taxonomy and what he considered the purpose of education to be- it was spelt out there. It was also spelt out in Marcuse, Huxley, Adorno, Alinsky and many other luminaries who have swayed post-20s thought in the west.
It was spelt out by Harold Drummon, former President of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, writing in the magazine “Educational Leadership”:
The basic goal of education is change – human change.
Bloom again. In my own field of English as a Foreign Language [called many things, e.g. ESOL], my friend who teaches English said they’d revamped Headway [a major text] and now there were more pretty pictures than ever, more social commentary but that the grammar component had been cut back. I can’t comment, not having seen the new text.
In April 1972, in his keynote address to the Association for Childhood Education International, Chester M. Pierce, Professor of Education and Psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University, said:
Every child in America entering school at the age of five is insane because he comes to school with certain allegiances toward our founding fathers, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being. It’s up to you, teachers, to make all of these sick children well by creating the international child of the future.
I’m at pains to stress that the average teacher is not like this – the average teacher is not thinking along these lines at all but those in curriculum, those who produce these textbooks which stock the libraries – they are of this mindset, not so blatantly expressed. Instead, they have a lexicon of buzzwords which make it look as though they, as consummate educational professionals, with the latest research at their fingertips, are doing a service for the child and the parent.
An example of the type of paper which constantly reinforces the goodness of what they’re doing is by the NCDA [available online]. The blurb said:
This paper was prepared and distributed by the National Coalition for Democracy in Education, 108 Spring Street, Saratoga Springs, NY, 12866, “a network of educational organizations and individuals seeking to clarify the nature of education in a democracy and to support a wide range of democratic goals for public education.”
In the field of education and especially in society today, “humanistic education” is the subject of considerable interest and controversy. Many people of good will immediately react “for it” or “against it,” depending on previous experience with the term…Actually, the term means many different things to different people.
Ah yes – “many different things to different people”, typical of the left-liberal – there are so many points of view, so many religions, how can we know one truth? You might call it dumbing down, deliberate false constructs forced into place but we’d call it humanistic, out of love for humanity:
Humanistic education teaches a wide variety of skills which are needed to function in today’s world—basic skills such as reading, writing and computation, as well as skills in communicating, thinking, decision-making, problem-solving and knowing oneself.
Humanistic education is a humane approach to education—one that helps students believe in themselves and their potential, that encourages compassion and understanding, that fosters self-respect and respect for others.
Humanistic education deals with basic human concerns—with the issues throughout history and today that are of concern to human beings trying to improve the quality of life—to pursue knowledge, to grow, to love, to find meaning for one’s existence.
Basic skills? Bollox! You’ve all seen the state of basic skills in the community and the way the textbooks are changing reinforce that. Grammar from reading is not a be all and end all – it should be but one part of the whole process.
In the Sunday Times, on Sunday, October 23, 2005, Minette Marrin wrote:
It has become clear, largely thanks to a persistent BBC investigation into unpublished figures, using the Freedom of Information Act, that the “record breaking” improvement in school league tables over the past five years is not what it seems. The figures are inflated. They hide a decline in key subjects.
A school’s position in the league tables depends on how many of its pupils pass any five GCSEs at grades A*-C. So the government can and did truly claim that the proportion of children achieving that standard this year jumped by two percentage points to 55.7%, the highest rise for a decade. But bean-counting all depends on which beans you count and why. The GCSE beans have been very oddly counted.
The five beans that each child needs for league table success do not, strangely, have to include English and maths GCSEs. It is difficult to think of a good reason, since it’s obvious that English and maths are the gold standard of basic educational attainment at GCSE. Even more strangely, the vocational GNVQ qualification is now counted as equivalent to four GCSEs, no matter what the subject or grade. It is impossible to think of a good reason for that; it looks like the most manipulative egalitarianism.
When you count the beans scrupulously, things don’t look so good. When English and Maths GSCEs at A*-C are included in the tables, the proportion of successful children drops from 55.7% to 44.1%.
According to last week’s BBC investigation, although 300 mainstream schools went up the league tables, their results in English and maths GCSE went down. And some schools at the top of the league table are getting only a third of their pupils through English and maths.
There’s ample evidence of this constant dumbing down and the left-liberal educational establishment, faced with these damning indictments, can only say:
1. it wasn’t our doing – our ideas weren’t implemented properly;
2. it all started during the previous government [which is true in one sense – it’s been going on for decades in universities and curriculum branches];
3. not everything’s perfect.
When faced with the result of all this meddling, social engineering and restructuring, not just of education but in all areas, e,g, the judiciary, the response is often attack. Not attack based on line by line fisking of what is written but a mental defence mechanism which allowed one such person to write to me the other day: “One day I hope you’ll see just how wrong you’ve been”. She followed with how I was cruel and ungentlemanly, winding people up.
That might be so but it doesn’t alter the evidence, does it? This one is old but it does show the mindset which underpins educational policy. On February 10th, 1973, Catherine Barrett, former president of the National Education Association, wrote that:
Dramatic changes in the way we will raise our children in the year 2000 are indicated, particularly in terms of schooling. We will need to recognize that the so-called ‘basic skills,’ which currently represent nearly the total effort in elementary schools, will be taught in one-quarter of the present school day. When this happens – and it’s near – the teacher can rise to his true calling. More than a dispenser of information, the teacher will be a conveyor of values, a philosopher. We will be agents of change.
This is precisely what has happened and why the workplace is decrying the level of literacy and numeracy coming out at the end of the educational tube – you’ve all read the news reports about GCSE results and A levels [more in later parts]. And the process is global. We haven’t even got down to the IB and the influx of new “World Schools” in developing countries yet in this series.
Guess what curriculum they’re following? These things are actually happening, people. Here’s the state-educated child of the C21st, so beloved of Them, otherwise known as Agenda 21 – this is now, not in 1973:
Education is a key ingredient in the transformation to a sustainable society. The UN Commission on Sustainable Development reports that in America, “the national strategy on education is prepared by the Department of Education and includes such programmes as Goals 2000 and School to Work” (emphasis added).
The National Environmental Education Advisory Council to the Department of Education consists of eleven individuals appointed by the EPA Administrator and includes representatives of women, NGOs, and local authorities (visioning councils). The U.S. State Department reported to the UN that:
“At the primary school level, school curricula have already been reviewed and revised, and at the secondary school level, the revision of school curricula is being undertaken currently to address environment and development as a cross cutting issue.”
The State Department also told the UN:
“The U.S. has been involved in several awareness raising programmes and activities aimmed at the population at large (Earth Day, industry supported campaigns, Ad Council, Program KAB, Arbor Day, GLOBE Program, Discovery Channel, National Geographic programmes, CNN, ZooQ, As it Happens, and water clean-up programmes.”
School curricula have already been reviewed and revised? Already, Agenda 21 has changed its name as conservatives got wind of and wrote about it – started to get the message out. American Thinker touched on it here:
A detailed history on sustainable development, definitions, and critical actions can be found here. Section III of the Agenda 21 Plan addresses local community sustainable development. The Preamble and Chapter 28 discuss how Agenda 21 should be implemented at a local level. The United Nations purposely recommends avoiding the term Agenda 21 and suggests a cleverly named alternative: “smart growth.”
It will be rewritten in another form as another project, just like the EU
Just why would the UN recommend a euphemistic name change? It wasn’t for aesthetic reasons, was it? Could it be that any project which requires clandestine means to implement it must have something in it which people are not going to like? And why the word Agenda? Why not Project or Operation Save the World? It’s almost as if they want to be surreptitious and clandestine, as if they want to suck in conservatives into more tail-chasing in this grand game.
They clearly love the game and the way they can create organizations at the stroke of pen which recommend things and then disband will have detractors always playing catch-up. Quite clever clogs, these people.
I have a different word for them – evil. People who will play games with other people’s lives, others they care nothing for, in order to put in place an ideological idea they’re following – who knows why. IMHO, “evil” is a good word for such people and “naively hopeful”, not for the those who get sucked in by them but for those who refuse to learn, refuse to read and find out.
We come back to the same thing which began this part. What does “left ” mean? Certainly most left-liberals will not recognize themselves in Chester M. Pierce. There seem to me to be three different types of what we could call “of the left”:
3. The largely apolitical gentle left is the third type and they, in their own way, even reading this now, are as great a problem as Type 1 [below]. Political laymen, they’d neither be interested in nor see the implications of these five posts so far. They’d note the tone and find it harsh, offensive. They’d prefer reading gentler posts. They could well think I’m attacking them, which I’m not. They’d call me arrogant, totally convinced I’m right, that it’s just my opinion.
My friends come partly from this group and whenever I’m ranting about Types 1 and 2 below, they might well feel hurt at my ingratitude. When I was in genuine trouble in 2008, it was the compassion of these souls, plus two rightwing friends, which kept me [relatively] sane. I’d submit that compassion is, therefore, not exclusively the preserve of either right or left.
My gentle leftist friends might, for example, would support a video like JD’s. So would I. No one in his right mind would ignore that lady and what she did and if anyone were to have a Nobel Prize, she should be it. Most of us are not callous – it’s just that, at the same time, we also see the lack of political discernment in the left of centre Types 2 and 3 , the way they can really get taken in and this video from Chuckles is a parody of that.
2. The agents of N1, when the gentle left become political but also the more hardwired – from Elfansafetee enforcers to the jobsworths, hoodwinked and blinded by the rhetoric, believing deeply that they’re doing good but unwittingly doing evil. Jane Fonda is one of these – more than one of the useful idiots Yuri Bezmenov referred to, she was actually damaging to morale. Edward Kennedy also although he’s a bit N1 [below] as well. Eric Foner I’d not put here but more in N1, as he knows exactly what he’s doing wrong. Heath, Cameron, Red Ed, Red Ken, Major, countless councillors, CP graduates.
Here’s another – Cherie Blair and those around her:
It’s that lethal cocktail of ideology, incompetence, naive fervour in what one’s doing wrong and a set of defence mechanisms for when things inevitably go wrong. A photo is just a photo but just look at this person above – Napolitano – and then read about the damage she’s caused across the pond, the utter wastage she will not admit any responsibility for. She’s a Type 2.
1. The type I called evil – hard cases, twisted shells of people, determined to infiltrate and bring in an ideology, to socially engineer, in order to bring misery to the world. The Huxleys, Alinskys and Adornos of the world, the Blooms, Piaget, Dewey, Marx, Engels, Voltaire, Geoff Mulgan, Julia Middleton – they know exactly what they’re doing and seemingly don’t care – in fact seem to derive great satisfaction from breakdown as some necessary social stage prceding the eventual near-utopia. They’re fine with trampling all over people’s freedoms and rights – it’s all in a good cause.
Naturally they’re either invisible to the world and as safe as houses, their reputations intact or else they have elaborate firewalls to hide behind. Blair, Mandelson, Morali, Trichet, Davignon, Sutherland, the black nobility, Strong, Annan, Moon, the Theosophists, Share International, obviously the openly evil are in there, the mafia types as well.
These are the ones we need to be gunning for – the people who fund both sides in conflicts, who fund the destruction of education, who try to bring down western nations from within, who infiltrate the Big 3 and foment dissension.
The genuine enemy.
Part 6 will be sometime soon.