The Culmination of Progressive Education

Last week was made more exciting by another grenade lobbed in Da Mommy Wars:  I Look Down on Young Women with Husbands and Kids and I’m Not Sorry.  For some righteous indignation as a response, click here.  For mockery, click here.  The article itself was so over the top it fairly screamed click-bait.

The author has already written a follow-up post, “In Defense of Trolling.”  In it, she explains that trolling is good because Socrates, Jesus, and Martin Luther did it.   And that trolling “combines the act of having an unpopular opinion with the skill of incentivizing people to engage with it.”  It encourages dialogue.

Encouragement of advertising revenue through increased page views is surely an incidental by-product.  It’s all about the dialogue.

We are living in an unserious culture.

Really, I don’t much mind the fact that some people say ridiculous and/or inflammatory things in order to get attention and/or make a living.  The problem is, this appears to be a perfect example of the kind of young adult our progressive education system actually creates.

I am almost done reading The Story-Killers:  A Common-Sense Case Against the Common Core.  Common Core itself may not have been stamped on her books at school, but nevermind.  Common Core doesn’t invent bad teaching; it just standardizes it.

Things were bad enough in aught-diggity-six, when I was in school. If you are older but not yet old, you might remember the drill:  teachers made students read excerpts of various literature, often aloud, in turns.  Sure, most people droned on terribly.  Sure, we had to find the plot and the climax and the foreshadowing and the, oh, I don’t know, characterization and main idea, or some such.

Sure, there was the instruction to compare the story to modern life or whatever.  It always seemed contrived and just lame.  There was always one question in every exercise that was so stupid it made me angry to even have to read it, let alone answer it.

Things are worse now.

Terrence O. Moore analyzed a Common Core-aligned, high school literature textbook.  It has seventeen pages devoted to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and not a single bit of the actual novel is included in those seventeen pages.

They do get to read, and possibly act out, a Saturday Night Live parody of Frankenstein.  And they get to complete a brainstorming activity about modern urban myths.  Does that count as literary analysis?  I’ll let Mr. Moore explain, as he does a better job than I can:

“My wife, the former English teacher who recognizes pretense when she sees it, took one look at these pages and put it very simply:  ‘They (the editors) are requiring students to have opinions on something they know nothing about.’  Who needs to read and learn from Frankenstein, or any other book for that matter, when a person can just spout off in pseudo-intellectual jargon–and never be called to account because no one else has read the book?  The production of such opinions in uninformed young people leads to hubris and intellectual dishonesty.”  The Story-Killers, page 177 (bolding mine).

I’m all about intellectual honesty.  I haven’t read much of anything about Socrates.  But I’m pretty sure the use of his work to rationalize provocation for provocation’s sake is pseudo-intellectual jargon.  And when someone is not a young wife and mother herself, she might be rather uninformed in her opinion about it.

Hubris?  That seems to be a defining quality.  How about intellectual dishonesty?  Take this passage for example:

“Having an opinion doesn’t mean you think it is right or that you are smarter than other people, it is a vehicle towards truth that only works when you engage with others.”

Um.  How honest is it, really, to claim that you are engaging with people when you “looked down” on them in the very title of that supposed engagement?  Or dialogue.  Or whatever.

Welcome to the culmination of progressive education, folks.  You’ve just met one of its products.


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