Character, Knowledge & Independent Thought Denounced As Bourgeoisie
Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying that the philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next. If the proposals of one pedagogical theorist are implemented, students will in all likelihood never know anything about the figure believed to have uttered such an astute observation.
According to a Daily Mail story titled “Drop middle class subjects says school adviser”, in the United Kingdom, education officials are considering a proposal that would eliminate traditional academic subjects such as English, History, Science, and Geography because these disciplines are “middle class”. In the place of the old curriculum, schools will emphasize a series of “personal aims” such as energy conservation, sustainable development, and personal relationships.
Such change must be made because these “middle class values” are a holdover from the 19th century as “mere stepping stones to wealth” and “alienated many youngsters...from disadvantaged backgrounds.” These comments exhibit a desire to tear down and reconstitute more than the public education system but rather the entire society.
For example, first and foremost the remarks are a rallying cry against Western civilization’s Judeo-Christian foundations. Across Europe, the spineless and effeminate are afraid to raise their voices against Islamic encroachment for fear of radicalized adherents of this particular faith flying into homicidal hissy fits. By undermining the legitimacy of the values upon which society (and thus the educational system as part of society) rests, revolutionists hope to rebuild what they tear down in their own image.
In the Judeo-Christian worldview, the individual is imbued with considerable moral value for having been made in the image of God. However, in secular theory of education, since God is taken out of the picture, the individual loses much of his distinctive worth and becomes little more than an extension or cog of the group from which values and worth are alternatively derived.
The ultimate threat to such intentional collectivism is the ability to think and provide for oneself. In fact, part of the criticism of the traditional academic subjects is that they are "mere stepping stones to wealth."
State forbid (can't say heaven anymore since that is likely to offend some philosophical deviant), the individual (yet another ontological concept out of fashion in the New Order) that the individual should provide for himself. Rather one is to be taught reliance and dependence on the group and to aspire no higher than the station predetermined for them by committee.
In pursuit of this goal, students are instead to be taught a series of themes and personal aims such as civic responsibility, commitment to sustainable development and valuing personal relationships. Thus, students are not to be instructed in how to evaluate claims and policies made in regards to these matters but rather what to think about them.
Under the old regimen of traditional subjects, students assimilated and synthesized facts which they then utilized to weigh the different sides of an argument and then adopted the position they felt was closest to the truth. Under the new way of doing things, students are being told ahead of time what (to use a word popularized in the 1990's when this kind of nonsense percolate to the surface of mainstream pedagogical theory) "outcomes" they are to embrace.
For example, students not taught geography or science don't really know if they are being told the true state of the environment or being sold a total crock about sustainable development. Likewise, if students are not being taught the lessons of history and literature, how are they to know whether or not what they are being told presents a balanced perspective, what constitutes good citizenship, or that they are merely being brainwashed into sacrificing everything they have on the altar of the Fatherland (or rather the "Homeland" as it is becoming known as today).
Relatedly and more importantly, what if by some slim chance a student managed to transcend the intellectual shackles placed around their mind and did not embrace the presented outcomes? Will it be annotated in the student's file as has been suggested by the proponents of Outcome Based Education in this country with one's station in life no longer determined by one's talents but rather if one has embraced the values and outlooks one has been told to by elites.
Furthermore, while the educational system ought to teach students basic values such as treating others with a basic level of respect regarding person and property (what use to be called the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments before we were told to be all jittery about mentioning God and the Bible), do we really want bureaucrats assessing whether or not our children "value personal relationships"? These days this is probably psychobabble for applauding homosexuality, shacking up outside of marriage without guilt, and additional welfare handouts for each additional mouth brought into the world as the result of such unions, thus making what usually gets tossed into the face of the disapproving as a private matter into a very public one.
Though improvement could be made in informing students as to how these subjects are applied to life beyond the classroom, the liberal arts have earned their name as those bodies of knowledge worthy of a free man. Any reform that does more than tinker around with the edges of the system that has for the most part proven itself for centuries is not about improving the life of the individual but rather about devising more efficient ways to enslave it.
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. He holds a BS in Political Science/History. Frederick earned a MA in Apologetics & Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary. Frederick holds a Doctor of Practical Theology through the Master's Graduate School Of Divinity in Evansville, Indiana. Dr. Meekins is pursuing a Ph.D. in Apologetics through Newburgh Theological Seminary. His books are available in print and electronic formats through Amazon.com. His ministry site, Issachar Bible Church & Apologetics Research Institute, can be found at http://issacharbiblechurch.blogspot.com/. The Twitter page of Dr. Meekins can be found at