By Bradley Harrington
“When applied to conceptual material, memorizing is the psycho-epistemological destroyer of understanding and of the ability to think. But throughout their grade and high-school years, memorizing becomes the students’ dominant (and, in some case, virtually excusive) method of mental functioning.” — Ayn Rand, “The Comprachicos,” 1970 —
Now that we’ve had an opportunity to consider the intellectual foundations at the root of our taxpayer-supported public schools — as well as the “social adjustments” both Mann and Dewey sought to obtain through them — let’s consider the impact such “progressive” educational policies have had on the minds of our youth.
And, of all of them, the worst by far was the introduction of Dewey’s “Look-Say” methodology throughout the 1930s and 1940s.
The English language is not pictorial in nature, as is Chinese, but that’s exactly how the “Look-Say” method demands words be taught: Not as an integrated unit of one or more phonetic sounds, but as “whole words” to be considered strictly as primary and irreducible absolutes.
Since such methods violate the nature of the English language right at its core, however, it didn’t take long for “Look-Say” to decimate the nation’s reading abilities as well, to the point that by 1955, Rudolph Flesch’s “Why Johnny Can’t Read” became a runaway bestseller.
Ignorant of the facts, however, “Look-Say” teachings continued to thrive … And, by 1983, things had degraded so badly that the National Commission on Excellence in Education was reporting on the “tide of mediocrity” engulfing our schools, and had this comment to add as well: “For the first time in the history of our country, the educational skills of one generation will not surpass, will not equal, will not even approach those of their parents.” (“A Nation at Risk.”)
Remember, as you read this, the critical role that being able to read plays in the educational process, by virtue of its ability to transmit future information. Take away that ability and that entire world is walled away forever.
The greatest threats such reading “instructional” methods pose, however, are primarily epistemological in nature. Since language, itself, is a code of visual-auditory symbols designed to translate concepts into concretes, damages and attacks to conceptual systems seriously interfere with the thinking process itself, thereby impairing the student’s ability to function on a conceptual level (which his or her nature as a functional human being demands).
Thus, turned adrift intellectually and stripped of the ability to self-regulate his or her own learning actions on top of that, what happens to the individual thoughts of our boys and girls? Turned into mush, pretty much, replaced by the current crop of propaganda as dictated by those in power. The “social adjustment” is now complete, for the ability of such students to personally process reality outside of the dictates of the wider society around them has been all but eliminated.
It is by means of such “instructional” processes, Dear Readers, that we foster and encourage “herd” behavior in our children — after all, aren’t we TEACHING that the pack is the source of all morality and intellectuality?
Why are we now surprised, therefore, when our kids abandon their minds and turn to dope, guns and gangs instead? Once the principles of the mind are abandoned, what else could we possibly expect to have happen, but mindlessness?
And wider: Since “education” is the training of a human mind to be able to understand and function in reality, to have the very institutions charged with that task become the purveyors of irrationality and concept-destruction instead, is the worst of all possible inversions. It attacks individual thought itself (which is exactly what it was designed to do).
The state of our “public” schools, which “progressive” teaching methods have turned into literal battlegrounds, has now dropped to the point where attendance in such schools qualifies as actual child abuse. We protect our children’s bodies with “school zone” signs … While we rot their minds with “teaching” methods fit for aborigines?
Parents, would you leap in front of your child’s body to prevent them from being run over by a school bus? How about leaping in front of most of Dick or Jane’s teachers, instead? Or, better yet, how about jerking your kids out of such environments while they still have their brains intact?
Since government takes the money for such “schooling” from us by force, however, whether we want to use their educational “services” or not, establishing a school voucher system would be the primary first step needed to break that monopoly.
And not much more, actually — for, once people are actually free to spend their educational dollars as they choose, the market itself will flush out all the rest.
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on April 1, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.