Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Why Teachers Can’t Teach

Picking up the theme of our educational failures, George Will recently wrote this column on this oldish but still very fresh piece by Heather MacDonald, "Why Johnny’s Teacher Can’t Teach". MacDonald attended some classes in the nation’s top teacher education schools, where most of our teachers ultimately get their ideas about learning and teaching. MacDonald’s thesis is nicely summed by the slogan, “Anything but Knowledge”- as in multicultural sensitivity, metacognition, “critical thinking”, community building – anything but knowledge. Particularly good is MacDonald’s description of the vacuity of the classroom in which teachers don’t convey knowledge, but rather facilitate collaborative groups in constructing their own knowledge, and then share their feelings about what they have constructed in order to create trust and community. The essay is also a good guide to the awful jargon that now passes for thought about education. If this essay is accurate, the wonder is not that some students can’t perform complex literacy tasks, but that any of them can.

Discussions - 5 Comments

I won’t expound on it any further....

The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together.
- Eric Hoffer

Exactly.

Professor Foster - take hope. Many of us who have been through such drivel have rejected it out of hand. I teach 7th/8th graders the whole texts of Plutarch, Virgil, Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, et al. We talk about statesmanship, rhetoric, self-government, and vice/virtue in character. There’s no "community" or "sensitivity," especially when I grade their essays or take them through a Socratic dialogue. But, maybe I’m just an insensitive, racist hegemon!

The overriding purpose of "liberal" education is to produce liberals. By that standard, the schools are certainly trying very hard indeed, and arguably doing pretty well.

On jargon, reading RIchard Mitchell is a must.The Underground Grammarian

I especially recommend Chapter One of Less Than Words Can Say. And then I recommend reading his entire body of writing. The guy was brilliant.

The idea of producing liberals is self-referentially incoherent. Topiary liberals?

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