A Failure of Critical Pedagogy

Unix-Jedi emailed me a pointer to this piece at Coyote Blog: Scenes From My Son Studying For His AP Exams. If he’ll forgive me, I’ll quote in full because it’s short and it’s important:

Scene 1, History AP: My son asked me how WWII ended the Depression. I said that the draft soaked up a lot of excess workers, which reduced unemployment, and British buying for the war helped our economy but that the war generally destroyed rather than created wealth. He said, “Dad, you can’t tell it to me that way. The guy grading the AP is going to be a Keynesian.” So we talked multipliers and aggregate demand.

Scene 2, Spanish AP: My son hands me a list of Spanish words he is trying to learn. They are the Spanish words for things like “social justice,” “poverty”, “exploitation”, etc. I told him it was an odd selection of words. He said that nearly every Spanish essay in every Spanish textbook he had ever had were about revolution and stopping the rich from exploiting the poor and fighting global warming. So he wanted to be prepared for a similar topic on the AP. After the test, I remembered this conversation and asked him what the essay was. He said the topic was “show why the government of poor countries should give free bicycles to the poor to fight global warming.”

These two short paragraphs are chock-full of everything I’ve been saying since I started this blog about the American education system and more.

In the first paragraph we see that the system is pushing a particular ideology, but it also illustrates two three crucial things: 1) the parent’s involvement is critical, 2) bright kids paying attention understand bullshit when it’s being spoonfed to them, and 3) they know how to game the system.

In the second paragraph the particular ideology being pushed is easily identified as the Leftist one promoted by Paolo Friere known as Critical Pedagogy. Note this again:

He said that nearly every Spanish essay in every Spanish textbook he had ever had were about revolution and stopping the rich from exploiting the poor and fighting global warming.

That’s what they throw at the general population. Here in Tucson the Tucson Unified School District has what is called “Raza Studies” – a program directed exclusively at Hispanic students, which I wrote about in Balkanization. By some accounts this class doesn’t stop at talking about “stopping the rich from exploiting the poor and fighting global warming.” Oh no!

The basic theme of the curriculum was that Mexican-Americans were and continue to be victims of a racist American society driven by the interests of middle and upper-class whites.

In this narrative, whites are able to maintain their influence only if minorities are held down. Thus, social, political and economic events in America must be understood through this lens.

This biased and sole paradigm justified teaching that our community police officers are an extension of the white power structure and that they are the strongmen used “to keep minorities in their ghettos.”

It justified telling the class that there are fewer Mexican-Americans in Tucson Magnet High School’s advanced placement courses because their “white teachers” do not believe they are capable and do not want them to get ahead.

The former Arizona Superintendent of Public instruction (now Attorney General) has been trying to kill the Raza Studies program for years now. The last two public meetings with the TUSD board have been canceled because of organized student protests, which tells you about all you have to know concerning what the Raza Studies program is actually teaching.

Critical Pedagogy is not limited to Spanish language instruction and “Raza Studies,” but goes throughout primary and secondary education.  The Keynesian economics bit is just another example.  But again, the key thing here necessary to counter it is parental involvement, and my belief is that such involvement is getting very thin on the ground. After literally generations of this relentless indoctrination, a declining number of kids escape it unscathed and grow up to raise their own children to recognize it for what it is, and that means we’re vastly outnumbered.

Last year at the invitation of Rob Allen I fisked a high school graduation speech by a perfect example of a kid who did not receive the kind of parental involvement that this man’s son receives. No, in that graduation speech it was apparent that an intelligent young woman had been taken in hand by one of Gramsci’s disciples, been shown the “one true way” – and had fallen for it, hook line and sinker because no one had shown her anything different. She’d gone through twelve years of subtle (and by all evidence, not so subtle) indoctrination in preparation for what she received the last year or two of her education. The field was tilled, sown, and the harvest was ready to be reaped.

But kids like Coyote Blog’s son?

Tough little weeds. We need more of ’em.  A LOT more.

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