Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Teaching for Indoctrination

There is a blogsite called "Discover the Networks: A Guide to the Political Left," which is a treasure trove of well-written, well-thought out, and thoroughly documented essays on various topics which anyone concerned with contemporary political and cultural trends should read. One of the latest entries is an excellent précis on the life of Yassir Arafat as the godfather of modern Islamic terrorism. Another eye-opening column is The Islamist Infiltration of the Obama Administration, which exposes a roll call of activist Muslims hand-picked by Barack Obama and his cronies. Throughout each article are links to the writer's "backup documentation" and cited information. I highly recommend "Discover the Networks" as a source of information and as an educational tool.

Most of the pieces are updated versions of articles that appeared elsewhere. The site is under the aegis of Freedom Center's Neo-Conservative David Horowitz, with whom I disagree on many subjects, not least of which was his disgraceful and unapologetic treatment of Diana West and her book, American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character last year (reviewed here), and the attendant smear campaign against her, which he orchestrated and oversaw. Because Neo-Cons are against socialism, communism, and other totalitarian "isms," but are for nothing but a vague status quo, I certainly cannot endorse Horowitz and his colleagues, and this column should not be interpreted as an unqualified endorsement of Horowitz et al. But Discover the Networks, insofar as it provides factual ammunition about what the Left and Islamist activism have been up to for over a generation, Discover the Networks (DTN) has an intrinsic value for anyone wishing to grasp current political and cultural trends.
That being said, another article captured my attention, dated February 26th, "Teaching for Change"" (TFC), which presents the history of an organization committed to "transforming" America by "transforming" the way Americans from kindergarten up through high school and college are taught American history from a Marxist perspective, and of the methods and purposes of socialist indoctrination in America's schools. (Unfortunately, the links in the DTN article have expired; the reader is directed to TFC's new and revamped site, here.)
Founded in 1990, Teaching for Change (TFC) is an organization that seeks to turn K-12 schools into "centers of justice where students learn to read, write, and change the world." Moreover, it aims to transform America into a more "equitable, multicultural society" populated with "active global citizens."
Toward these ends, TFC's Early Childhood Equity Initiative (ECEI) sponsors professional seminars designed "to develop leaders in early childhood education," both in metro DC and nationwide. Proceeding from the premise that the United States is a country rife with racism and discrimination against nonwhite minorities, this Initiative "embrace[s]" an anti-racism/anti-oppression approach" that promotes "curricula, environments, programs, policies and standards that are equitable, culturally-responsive and linguistically consistent with the diverse communities served by our profession."
There is a reverse parallel to be observed between Nazi educational ends and American Leftist educational ends. The Nazis educated children to be unquestioning, loyal, docile manqués who would believe anything the Party said and follow the Party wherever they were led. Developing intellectual or critical skills was either frowned upon or suppressed. All this was to ensure the "racial purity" of the German race.
The New Foundation website on Nazism and Hitler stated the means and ends of Nazi education:
There were three major aims of the youth training program developed for the Hitler Youth: character building , physical training, and training in the National Socialist world-view. Educational training for the first 5 years, 10-14, focused on the first two objectives: character building and physical training .  At the age of 15 physical training and training in the National Socialist world-view were emphasized (Childs, 1938, p. xix).   Each of the disciplines taught were given a Nazi slant especially History and Biology.  "History was based on the glory of Germany... Biology became a study of the different races to ‘prove' that the Nazi belief in racial superiority was a sound belief..." (Trueman, 2000, para. 4).
There was also a "service or community learning" component, the purpose of which was both practical, in that it provided a source of cheap labor, and also ideological because it reinforced socialist ideals. By being forced to mix with the less privileged sections of the community, students would be reminded that they were all [national comrades] together. "Service in the Hitler Youth is honorary service to the German people... the true, great, practical school is... in the labor camp, for here instruction and words cease and action begins" (Groban, 1990).
If the goal of education prior to Hitler was to enrich the student personally, the goal after his rise to power changed to one which focused on the preparation of the student for service to the state. Education was used as a form of social selection by which only the best racial participants would rise up and serve as the next generation of German leaders. The child was something to be molded and was no longer a person but rather an object whose purpose was to without question or hesitation accept Nazi doctrine
The American Left's educational ends are also to produce unquestioning, loyal, docile manqués of every conceivable race but white or Caucasian (including Jews), who must take a backseat to all other races and ethnicities (as punishment for being "dominant"). The emphasis on race is clear and pointed.
Rejecting the notion that foreign-born immigrants should subordinate their own cultural practices and mores to those of the U.S., ECEI "promote[s] the principle of pluralism" which "embrace[s] the uniqueness and value of all cultures" and "incorporate[s]" each participant's "native/home language into [the] curriculum." The Initiative also places emphasis on environmental concerns, urging "the use of recycled materials" as one of numerous avenues toward the promotion of "social equity."
Another aspect of Nazi educational philosophy was to glorify German history and culture, and to imbue German students with the will to defend and even die to uphold German cultural and racial "superiority." Teaching for Change, however, reflects the Left's nihilist, deconstructionist ends. The DTN paper notes:
TFC also co-sponsors (with Rethinking Schools) the Zinn Education Project, which incorporates into classroom curricula the writings of the late historian Howard Zinn-especially his best-selling book A People's History of the United States. This Marxist tract describes America as a predatory and repressive capitalist state that serves only the interests of wealthy white men who exploit workers, American Indians, slaves, women, blacks, and populists.
From the TFC site:
"The Zinn Education Project promotes and supports the use of A People's History of the United States and other people's history materials in middle and high school classrooms across the country. The Zinn Education Project is a collaboration between Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change.
The goal is to introduce students to a more accurate, complex, and engaging understanding of United States history than is found in traditional textbooks and curricula. The empowering potential of studying U.S. history is often lost in a textbook-driven trivial pursuit of names and dates.
Zinn's A People's History of the United States emphasizes the role of working people, women, people of color, and organized social movements in shaping history. Students learn that history is made not by a few heroic individuals, but instead by people's choices and actions and therefore students' own choices and actions also matter."
The Nazi educational policy was to "unify" history by making Germany the fountainhead of all Western progress, and by demoting other nations, such as Britain and France, to subsidiary, dependent, almost parasitic roles. The American Left's educational policy is to disintegrate any kind of thematic impetus behind Western progress, characterizing such progress as the fruits of oppression of ethnic, religious, and other "minority" groups.  For example, there is this interesting page on the TFC site, written by "Alison Kysia," about "Challenging White Privilege in Children's Books":
As an educator and a parent, I need children's books that represent the diversity of my children, students, and our community. This is easier said than done. Data collected by the Cooperative Children's Book Center indicates that from 2008-2012 only 10% of children's books published were about people of color despite the fact that 37% of the U.S. population are people of color. That means that 90% of all children's book published in the United States feature white characters or animals. This has to change.
The Nazi educational philosophy was to stress German history and culture, and to instill in German students a sense of German "superiority" in all matters. The American Left's educational philosophy, through such programs as "Common Core," is to denigrate American history and culture, rewrite it, revise it, adulterate it, with the conscious purpose of turning American students against their own country.
Bennett Murray highlighted the Nazi educational policy in an article on Suite101:
To Hitler, intellectualism was correlated with a lack of patriotism, racial mixing and, most ominously, Jewry. Thus, the role of education would be not to encourage creative inquiry, which leads to unpredictable results, but to mold the mind to unquestionably accept the core tenets of Nazism as articles of faith.
Martin Heidegger, the Nazis' foremost intellectual proponent, was explicit about the means and ends of education in the Nazi state:
The mentality of Nazi academia can also be captured in the rector address of legendary philosopher (as well as Nazi Party member) Martin Heidegger at the University of Freiburg, where he lays out the students' three obligations, both as members of the university and as citizens of the Third Reich. "The first obligation is to the community of the people," he said, with the second obligation "to the honor and fate of the nation in the midst of other peoples," which primarily encompasses military service.
The third obligation, which Heidegger defined as "the spiritual mission of the German nation," is the most telling to where he placed the priorities of Nazi German academia. The causes he listed for this obligation tend to reflect a thoroughly Nazi view of Germany's place in the world, with particular emphasis on the metaphysical national "spirit" : "Our nation realizes its own fate by risking its history in the arena of world power in which all human existence is affected and by continually fighting for its own spiritual world." Knowledge is essential to fulfill this mission, but Heideggar explains that the servicing of knowledge by the state is vital."The professions create and administer that highest and most essential knowledge of the nation concerned with its total existence," explained Heidegger. "But to us this knowledge is not a merely quietistic cognizance of spirit and values itself, but an awareness of that greatest danger for our own existence, posed by the superior powers of being."
The American Left's program is similarly anti-mind, and anti-knowledge. It wishes to bring about a "multicultural society" in which no culture is esteemed more than another, that all cultures are equal, and all individuals, no matter their intellectual abilities, are products of their "natural" cultural heritage.
As with the Left's agenda, it was so with the Nazis. Murray writes:
This attitude [an animus towards the individual] was common amongst German conservatives even before the rise of the Third Reich, with former Freikorps member Ernst Von Salomon making a similar argument in 1930: "The intellectual speaks and writes ‘I.' He feels no connectedness," claimed Salomon. "He causes disintegration, the disintegration of the mass of individual beings into the particularized individual beings, who henceforth stands not under and not over the people, but at their side."
Whereas individual intellects were shunned, individual racial characteristics took the former's place as the predominant factor to be considered. For example, the 1941 admission regulations to the Friedrich-Wilhelm University of Berlin contained extensive racial requirements and national service requirements for prospective students, but there is little mention of expected academic standards.This is primarily because the Nazis converted the Nietzscheanübermenschfrom an intellectual idol into a racial idol, and this was reflected in the schooling system.
Make no mistake about it: squirming beneath the "multicultural" mask of TCF is a racist agenda. It leaches like poisoned ground water up through cracks in the cement. It manifests itself no matter how prettily the "social justice" and "victimhood" tunes are played.
Capitalism, of course, means freedom. TFC is as anti-capitalist and anti-freedom as was Nazism. Another DTN paper, "Teaching social justice, anti-Americanism, & Leftism in the K-12 Classroom," explains:
In 2004, education researchers David Steiner and Susan Rozen conducted a study on the syllabi of the basic "foundations of education" and "methods" courses in 16 of the nation's most prestigious teacher-education schools. The mainstays of the foundations classes were works by Paolo Freire, the Brazilian education theorist who is considered the "father" of the "teaching for social justice" movement, and the radical education writer Jonathan Kozol. For the methods courses, the leading text was To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, authored by the former Weather Underground terrorist and lifelong Marxist, Bill Ayers, Professor of Education at the University of Illinois and perhaps the most influential promoter of "social justice" education in American schools today.
When Ayers himself was a student at Columbia University's Teachers College in the 1980s, after coming up from the underground, he was deeply influenced by Professor Maxine Greene, a leading light of the "critical pedagogy" movement. Greene told Ayers and his fellow classmates that they could help change this bleak landscape by developing a "transformative" vision of social justice and democracy in their classrooms. Greene urged teachers not to mince words with children about the evils of the existing social order. She said they should portray homelessness, for instance, "as a consequence of the private dealings of landlords, an arms buildup as a consequence of corporate decisions, [and] racial exclusion as a consequence of a private property-holder's choice."
This message resonated strongly with Ayers, who had already failed in his effort to transform America through violent revolution. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in education and became a Distinguished Professor of Education and a Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The federal government is now embedded not only in the nation's public schools, but sets the standards for what its bureaucrats and fellow-travelers in the education field wish to impose on the whole country. This is most notably represented by "Common Core." The federal government bribed many states to adopt Common Core, according to the New York Times, in a contest to see which state would best implement the program and get a piece of that $4 billion in school improvement funds. In its July 21st, 2010 article, "Many States Adopt National Standards for their Schools," Tamar Lewin wrote:
Less than two months after the nation's governors and state school chiefs released their final recommendations for national education standards, 27 states have adopted them and about a dozen more are expected to do so in the next two weeks....
The quick adoption of common standards for what students should learn in English and math each year from kindergarten through high school is attributable in part to the Obama administration's Race to the Top competition. States that adopt the standards by Aug. 2 win points in the competition for a share of the $3.4 billion to be awarded in September.
"I'm ecstatic," said Arne Duncan, the secretary of education. "This has been the third rail of education, and the fact that you're now seeing half the nation decide that it's the right thing to do is a game-changer."
Who is Arne Duncan? Obama's Secretary of Education. This is the guy who targeted "white suburban moms" for opposing Common Core, Duncan's personal project to bring all American children under the federal government's thumb.
One solution to Common Core and the state mandating "standards" of education is to get the government out of education. We are already saddled with semi-literate students from K-12, many of the older ones, with stars in their eyes and echo chambers for minds, old enough to have voted for Obama. Getting the government out of education will help arrest our progress towards totalitarianism.
For a dramatization of what such an "education" can do to young people, see director Thomas Carter's "Swing Kids."
Edward Cline is the author of the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period, of several detective and suspense novels, and three collections of his commentaries and columns, all available on Amazon Books. His essays, book reviews, and other articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Information Ethics and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Rule of Reason, Family Security Matters, Capitalism Magazine and other Web publications.    

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