Sunday, October 17, 2010

Some Thoughts on Public Education

Our form of compulsory schooling is an invention of the State of Massachusetts around 1850.  It was resisted—sometimes with guns—by an estimated eighty percent of the Massachusetts population, the last outpost in Barnstable on Cape Cod not surrendering its children until the 1880s, when the area was seized by militia and children marched to school under guard.  (Gatto 22)
My Hypotheses

1.       Increased exposure to whole-word reading instruction (equivalently, a decreased exposure to phonics-first instruction) will cause a decrease in student vocabulary levels.  I based this on John Taylor Gatto’s book The Underground History of American Education (page 66) where he found, at the end of fourth grade, that an average student could read 24,000 words at ease if trained with phonics.  A similar student trained in the whole-word method would have 1,600 words memorized and would be guessing, usually unsuccessfully, at the other words.  I started with the whole-word method because of its prominent role in the history of modern public education.  I think that the whole-word method is the major cause of failure in modern education and all of the modern “techniques” and “reforms” are just various ways of masking this underlying problem.  By ‘modern public education,’ I mean the monopoly system of producing predictable stimulus-response trained students paid for by taxpayers without any choice.
2.       Increased student vocabulary will cause increased levels of knowledge.  I based this on Charlotte Iserbyt’s book The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America where she cited evidence that vocabulary is the key predictor of a student’s level of knowledge.  “Gaston nodded solemnly:  ‘Young people know fewer words than their fathers.  That makes them know less’” (page 105).
3.       Increased student knowledge will cause increased levels of critical thinking.  I based this on Dr. Maureen Stout’s (PhD, Education) book The Feel Good Curriculum where she explained why critical thinking is impossible without knowledge.  She wrote on page 28, “…the development of logical and analytical reasoning—critical thinking—is essential.  But of course we don’t just think in a vacuum (every try thinking about nothing?); we need something to think about; some subject matter to chew over; some body of knowledge that will put our brains to work.”
4.       Decreased ability to think critically will cause increased acceptance of the messages propagated by demagogues, for example, the acceptance of the hypothesis of man-made global warming.  I based this on M. Mihkel Mathiesen’s book Global Warming in a Politically Correct Climate.  The central thesis of Mathiesen’s book was captured by Dr. Zbigniew Jaworwski’s (MD, PhD, DSc) foreword to Mathiesen’s book.  Jaworwski wrote on page xiv, “Mankind is sometimes described as ‘anthroponemia,’ or the ‘cancer of the biosphere.’  This is caused by a number of modern irrational myths, which seem to have replaced the ghosts, haunted houses and witches of past generations.”  In other words, Dr. Jaworwski saw the retrogression of society back to the irrational past. 
5.       Decreased ability to think critically will initiate, through the Theory of Bureaucratic Displacement, a perpetual loop of falling academic standards combined with increasing budgetary expenditures.  The loop consists of the following items:  Less Critical ThinkingàFeel Good CurriculaàHigher Student EnrolmentàBigger Education Budgets to supposedly fix the initial problemàEven Lower Critical thinking. 
a.      I based this, in part, on Milton and Rose Friedman’s book Free to Choose:  A Personal Statement.  They wrote on page 155: In Chapter 4 we referred to the Theory of Bureaucratic Displacement that Dr. Max Gammon had developed after studying the British National Health Service:  in his words, in “a bureaucratic system…increase in expenditure will be matched by fall in production…Such systems will act rather like ‘black holes’ in the economic universe, simultaneously sucking in resources, and shrinking in terms of ‘emitted’ production.” 
b.      I also based this on Craig Brandon’s book entitled the Five-Year Party School in which he ascribed much of the blame for falling academic standards to the retention-driven funding model.  As such, no government educational bureaucracy will ever implement the proper solutions or reforms because to do so would render the bureaucrats’ jobs superfluous. 
c.      Finally, I drew upon Gary North’s article Digital Education vs. The Ruling Elite where he discussed why reforms to the current educational system do not and cannot work.        
6.       Demagogues manipulate the masses through the Montaigne Fallacy and the Fourier Complex.  A demagogue is defined as someone who appeals to the audience through emotions, passions, and prejudices and hence irrational arguments.  I propose that the demagogue will exploit the uncritical masses, the product of the education system, and will do so through the Montaigne Fallacy and the Fourier Complex. 
a.      The Montaigne Fallacy says that you lost because someone else won.  I took this idea from Ludwig von Mises’s article entitled Economics as a Bridge for Human Understanding.  He wrote:  The Leitmotiv of social philosophy up to the emergence of economics was:  The profit of one man is the damage of another; no man profits but by the loss of others.  This is not a philosophy of social cooperation, but of dissociation and social disintegration.  For the sake of expediency, we call this doctrine after its proponent, essayist Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-92).  In light of this Montaigne fallacy, human intercourse cannot consist in anything but the spoliation [plundering and pillaging] of the weaker by the stronger.
b.      The Fourier Complex says that you should not blame yourself for your losses in life but instead you should use the world or society as your scapegoat.  I took this idea from Ludwig von Mises’s book Liberalism: the Classical Tradition page xxx.  Mises wrote:  The neurotic clings to his “saving lie,” and when he must make the choice of renouncing either it or logic, he prefers to sacrifice logic.  For life would be unbearable for him without the consolation that he finds in the idea of socialism.  It [socialism] tells him that not he himself, but the world, is at fault for having caused his failure; and this conviction raises his depressed self-confidence and liberates him from a tormenting feeling of inferiority. 
7.       To remedy the felt inequities produced by both the Montaigne Fallacy and the Fourier Complex, the demagogues will propose government interventions in the economy as the ‘magic solution’ to all problems.  I built on an idea from Ludwig von Mises’s article entitled Small and Big Business.  I drew upon his history lesson regarding the German ‘majority socialist’ philosophy from 1918-1919, viz. socialism was now to be implemented in Western nations through planning as opposed to through nationalization.
8.       Government intervention will undermine social harmony and social cooperation.  Government economic intervention leads to privileges being handed out to connected insiders (cronyism) and to factions fighting for power (the so called ‘doctrine of force’).  This undermines the proper functioning of a society.
9.       By undermining social harmony and cooperation, society fails to achieve its full material potential because the division of labor can no longer function properly.  I drew on a number of works here, but the most colourful example is Ludwig von Mises’s history lesson in Liberalism:  the Classical Tradition (page 21) on the economic impact that a repeat of the Wars of the Roses [English civil wars] would have on today’s economy.
10.   As society gradually loses the benefits of the division of labor, there will be calls for more government intervention in the economy.  Moreover, the falling standard of living will provide more evidence for demagogues trying to sell the population with the Montaigne fallacy and the Fourier Complex.  Hence, there is a built-in self-reinforcing mechanism in this Zwangswirtschaft scheme of planning.  In his article entitled Socialism, Inflation, and the Household, Dr. Mises saw this process working through calls for more government fiscal spending paid for with unsound monetary policies.       

No comments:

Post a Comment