I have been inspired over the last several months by many of the critiques put forth by Alex Kurtagic on different aspects of modern society. The sardonic yet brutally honest way in which he tackles airport security, telephone technical assistance, television—and in his novel Mister, virtually everything comprising modern democratic civilization—corresponds to the way I think every minute of every day about the things around me. This inspiration, coupled with realizations gleaned from my daily routine, produced my article “American Secondary Schoolers” in which I explained the utter hopelessness of today’s middle and high school students. Recent developments have encouraged me to put those students’ counterparts in my cross hairs: American educators.
Before I begin what many may consider a tirade, allow me to first be more specific about what “educators” denotes. I am referring here to administrators, i.e. principals and department heads, as well as teachers. Both types of educators are crucial to this missive, but the issues to be taken with each are different.
In my college years, education was put on a pedestal to be something righteous and noble. Characters would be formed, future leaders spawned, ideas contemplated to the delight of all parties, inner potentials fully realized, lives changed, lives saved, and new paths explored in the church-like classroom of an all-knowing, intellectual, benevolent, priestly lover of words, art, problem-solving, and knowledge. The bored child would become an enthusiastic student; the downtrodden child would lose himself in philosophy or history, discovering new lessons on life from the old tribulations of our ancestors; the pragmatist would become a god of math and science; ignorant minds would be imbued with culture—with soul. Under the tutelage of a teacher—a Socratic or Platonic figure with illuminating presence—anything would be possible for a student.
The truth, however, is that our secondary education system is far from noble, righteous, or fulfilling. The basely-bred youths who walk into sixth grade at age eleven walk out of high school at age 17/18 with virtually nothing new implanted into their minds, and no enrichment added to their souls. If anything, they walk away thinking that the culture-bearing subjects (history, literature, English, etc.) are the most dull and worthless experiences of their lives. They scorn higher learning, loathe complex ideas, and laugh at big words; math and science are absorbed to an extent, but the understanding of American youths is outlandishly inferior to that of the Chinese, Indians, and many European nations (while they still maintain their Europeanness and have not fully succumbed to the cancer that is Americanization.)
There is no doubt that the prevailing Zeitgeist, comprised of restlessness, technological escapism, and anti-intellectualism, is largely to blame for the inability of education to really penetrate our youths’ minds. The last line of defense against this tide of ignorance-worship would be teachers—passionate, inspiring teachers—but these are in the microscopic minority.
The Facilitators of Education
When I was a sophomore in high school, I found the majority of my classes drab and sleep-inducing. Most of my teachers had the students take notes for two-thirds of the class, which took so long only because my peers were largely mental dullards who could not maintain the slightest attention span. In addition, however, the teachers themselves suffered a complete lack of personality. Their manner of speech was monotone, their demeanor unenthusiastic, and I found out at times that their breadth of real knowledge was basic. Without the teacher’s edition textbooks they would have been as lost wanderers in a desert.
I am not saying that some teachers were not excellent at their craft; if I did not know any truly great teachers, I would have insufficient fuel for my current argument. Out of every ten teachers, I would say that two or three actually made you want to attend their classes. There were some whose company I enjoyed so much that I attended school on the various “cutting” days (district-recognized days when students are allowed to cut school, believe it or not) just to hang out with them. There was one in particular, an English teacher, whom I can say was a crucial influence on the course my life took and the view I began to develop of myself.
Mr. X, as we shall call him, was a throwback to the hippie days; his style of dress and his passionate, outspoken admiration for Bob Dylan gave this away immediately. He once even confessed to my class that he used to live on a commune. Despite the reprehensible image of some poorly-bathed, drug-addicted anarchist that this description may invoke, he was a well-groomed man of superior knowledge to his fellow teachers. He knew the canonical works of drama and literature; he studied all of the major religions of the world; he read philosophy and history in his spare time. When he taught, his passions poured out and filled the room, drowning all in a temporary lust for knowledge that they would have otherwise never experienced. Even the dumbest of my classmates picked their heads up to view his cultured orations coupled with emphatic gesticulations.
Though he was clearly of the same liberal sentiments that afflict most baby-boomers, an odd and somewhat contradictory synthesis of beliefs also made him into something of a neo-Platonist. He got a paternalistic joy out of being a mentor and friend to all students, especially the “low-end” kids, as he called them, but at the same time was willing to acknowledge that humanity is comprised of “five percent who are thinkers, and the rest: breeders.” During several private conversations with him, he would tell me that I was more analytical and intelligent than my peers, and that it would be a gross injustice for someone like me not to go onto college. Of course, on other occasions he expressed the fear he felt about me leaning toward the far right in my sensibilities, a fear that he “would sometimes go to bed thinking about”—a con that I think is far outweighed by his pros.
Aside from the personal details of his character, Mr. X. was a lover of knowledge who instilled the same sentiments in his students. He made his class an open forum for ideas to be discussed, for complaints to be vented, for mutual understandings to be reached. His lectures, conducted in a style befitting an emotional stage performer, made students pay close attention. His projects were extremely fun and allowed students to imbue them with a little piece of their personalities. He was a giver of information who buttressed intellectual development.
I offer the above anecdote to demonstrate how a great teacher should ideally behave. One who is able to foster a love of learning among all of his students without watering down content is what we need in American classrooms. Unfortunately for our youths, however, Mr. X. is vastly outnumbered by his exact opposites.
Most of our teachers today are simple people. They are not necessarily bad people, nor even are they unintelligent, but they are certainly simple. Rather than explore ideas and stimulate an incorrigible lust for education, they regurgitate excerpts from the drab textbooks mandated by watered-down, dry, mediocre curricula. They appear more like computers that display information for the class to record rather than human agents with communicative abilities. Their demeanor is unenthusiastic and without passion, which instills the same among their students. In many ways, they are virtually indistinguishable from the common 9-to-5, 5-day-a-week workers who love the sound of their cards punching out more than their actual jobs.
If a teacher is supposed to be like a master of his subject unto his apprentices, the students, then most of our teachers today fail to make the grade. Few have a truly expansive breadth of knowledge about their content, especially in the realms of history and literature. The bulk of these teachers’ knowledge comes from the textbooks they teach with and the few facts they have retained from college. I have encountered many English teachers who hate to read and never do it in their spare time and some who do not understand basic principles of English grammar. I recall a history teacher who tried to assert that Adolf Hitler sought to kill anyone who did not have blonde hair and blue eyes—a statement one often hears from the uneducated rabble who knows nothing of Third Reich history other than what they get from hearsay. He even pointed to a tan-skinned Indian girl who happened to have light eyes and said “Women like her would be the only ones Hitler allowed to live in his world.” Blatant stupidity.
H.L. Mencken summed up the situation excellently in his The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche:
. . . school teachers, taking them by and large, are probably the most ignorant and stupid class of men in the whole group of mental workers. Imitativeness being the dominant impulse in youth, their pupils acquire some measure of their stupidity, and the result is that the influence of the whole teaching tribe is against everything included in genuine education and culture.
Some things I have observed in teacher lounges betray other undesirable traits among these mental workers. They make fun of their students by name, often calling them obscenities and sharing their personal lives with colleagues, not in an effort to collaboratively help the kids, but for a laugh. “So, I heard so-and-so’s mother is a crack-addict that beats him,” or “Yea, her father was the one who was arrested for such-and-such” are the kinds of things heard. Make no mistake here—many of today’s students are complete degenerates of base product that will go nowhere fantastic in life. However, a professional educator of these kids should not be using their personal dilemmas and foibles as a source of entertaining gossip. Such a thing reeks of childishness and a lack of professionalism.
Allow me to conclude with some other details. Many teachers today: give students “A” grades simply to avoid having to call their parents and set up meetings, so a student gets passed through the system with no increase in skill or knowledge; give assignments they ultimately do not grade simply to pass the time; curse at students; curve grades to the point where nobody can fail, simply because they don’t want to deal with the inquiries of department heads and parents; count as “test grades” things of the most minute importance, i.e. getting a progress report signed by parents, to increase their students’ grades and thus not have to deal with parents and administrators; have no real interest in the content they teach; hang out in bars until the late hours of the night when they could be grading; smoke pot; have sex with students, which has become prevalent as of late.
The list can go on, but the above picture serves well to illustrate what I mean when I say that most teachers are “simple people.” This especially refers to the younger teachers just getting into the workforce; among the older generation these foibles are much less frequent.
If teachers today are substandard in quality, it’s only because the selection process is carried out by people of the same cut—nay, they are worse. Today’s principals, superintendents, and other administrators are some of the most corrupt, nepotistic, lazy, backbiting, dishonest liberal scoundrels ever to afflict education in American history. They are like average politicians, but their power extends locally rather than statewide or nationally. The policies they enact are destroying the minds of our nation, and the people they hire are chosen because they are not idealistic or aware enough to question or even notice said policies. To quote Mencken again:
For one thing, a teacher, before he may begin work, must sacrifice whatever independence may survive within him upon the altar of authority. He becomes a cog in the school wheel and must teach only the things countenanced and approved by the powers above him, whether those powers be visible in the minister of education . . . the traditions of the school . . . or in the private convictions of the millionaire who provides the cash . . .
Before I elaborate on the personality issues shared by administrators, a word on the “things countenanced and approved by the powers” is due. In the realm of education today, both on the secondary and college levels, there is a battle being waged over what is effective pedagogy. On the one side of the battlefield are those who support the traditional, lecture-based, master-apprentice style of instruction that has worked since the dawn of Western civilization; on the other lay the supporters of a revolutionary style—a style that seeks a virtual inversion of roles—referred to as “student-centered instruction” (SCI). The latter have been winning the battle as of late, which can only be expected in the Kali Yuga in which we live. One thing must be made clear: this new pedagogy, if it can even be called such, will sound the death knell of all intellectuality in this nation.
So what do these educational Bolsheviks believe? In essence, they seek a total leveling of the hierarchy between teachers and students. A suitable definition is offered by the Teaching and Learning Forum of 2000:
Gibbs (1992) offered a useful definition of student centred learning. He stated that student centred learning, “gives students greater autonomy and control over choice of subject matter, learning methods and pace of study” (p. 23). This view highlighted three core characteristics of student centred learning by promoting the idea that students should have more input into:
- what is learned,
- how it is learned, and
- when it is learned.
An important implication of this definition is the need for students to assume a high level of responsibility in the learning situation and be actively choosing their goals and managing their learning. They can no longer rely on the lecturer to tell them what, how, where and when to think. They must start to do this (Sparrow, L. et. al. (2000). Student centred learning: Is it possible? In A. Herrmann and M.M. Kulski (Eds), Flexible Futures in Tertiary Teaching. Proceedings of the 9th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 2-4 February 2000. Perth: Curtin University of Technology. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2000/sparrow.html.)
So in a student centered classroom the following situation will likely arise. Fourteen year-old ninth-graders enter a history course with no prior knowledge about the events and ideas they will be studying. Alexander the Great, the Investiture Conflict, and the Renaissance are terms with which they have no familiarity. They are expected, now, to assist the teacher in determining what topics should be studied? The ignorant one is supposed to inform the knowledgeable one whose degree signifies that he has mastered the content? And what of students having “input” into “how” and “when” material is covered? Students have no understanding of pedagogy, child psychology, or how to keep a group of their peers entertained and attentive. They have no understanding of what time sequence should be followed for historical study—ancient China and pre-modern Europe are equally foreign to them. From the very beginning, this philosophy is sheer madness. It’s one of those Leftist ideas that cry “I am utterly ridiculous” right away, like the idea of paying students to go to school (which has been debated, believe it or not.)
An immature adolescent has no ability to discern what should and should not be learned, how it should be taught, or when it should be taught. A teacher is only a teacher because he has fulfilled his collegiate obligations and demonstrated mastery over his subject matter, as well as his ability to impart knowledge onto others. Student centered instruction would essentially render all this training obsolete.
How is this pedagogy practiced specifically? To enumerate every possibility goes beyond the scope of this article, but one example is due. One type of exercise is the project-based learning activity, wherein students work in groups, both large and small, to solve problems and answer questions. The purpose is not for students to reach a goal set by the teacher, but rather, to come up with their own conclusions—to “construct their own knowledge” as the theorists call it. Whatever answers they concoct are to be discussed Socratically by the class, with the teacher acting as “facilitator” of the discussion rather than an arbitrator who says “correct” or “incorrect.” In the end, no real objective knowledge is obtained, but the students have worked together and developed a collective mentality.
A good teacher friend of mine told me about the response his department head gave him when he complained about the academic worthlessness of the above pedagogy. “Bah, the kids can learn names and dates on the Internet, man!” was the response. “Those details aren’t important for the curriculum.” In other words, the content means nothing as long as the students work together to come up with an answer, even if it is incorrect.
For a deeper explanation of what today’s curricula are degenerating into, I suggest reading the deliberate dumbing down of america (yes, all lower case) by Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt. The central thesis is that educational methods are being geared toward making young people collective, workforce-trained thinkers rather than individualist, intellectual thinkers—a prerequisite for the globalist aims of the powers that be. This is what today’s teachers must sacrifice their individuality for in the Menckenian sense.
So, many of our administrators are looking for teachers who are willing to be mediators rather than actual teachers. When they conduct interviews with job candidates, they carefully screen whether said applicant is an ardent supporter of SCI, or perhaps someone who is apolitical and will just go along with it. Candidates who betray support for the traditional methods, or any kind of intellectual loftiness (which could develop into opposition to SCI), are generally dismissed. Not every school subscribes to this pedagogy, but the numbers are gradually increasing.
Even if you removed the SCI dilemma, administrators are still largely unlikeable people. Most of the time they hire personal friends or associates when positions open, but give mock interviews to other candidates in order to fulfill legal obligations mandated by the state. In other words, they will go through well over twenty interviews knowing in advance of this process who they want for the job. Much of the time this person is an unlicensed, barely experienced youth who’s fresh out of college. The grouchy, haggard secretaries assist them in this process by throwing the resumes of strangers into a pool but keeping those of known associates close at hand; the pool, I might add, is disposed of within a month.
I met an elderly teacher once who shared with me his trials in finding a job. He taught in one district for a few decades, and then retired to pursue a small business. Upon leaving, his principal said “You will be welcomed back here any time, if you so desire.” During his absence he traveled the world and gained experience that one could not gain elsewhere.
After ten or so years his family business went under. He decided thus to get back into teaching, but was not immediately welcomed back. Instead, he had to wait several years for twenty positions to be filled in the district before the principals would consider him; many of the new administrators were former coaches who had former students that they wanted to hire. The man had countless years of teaching experience under his belt along with years of traveling the globe, but as an aspiring social studies teacher, the employers still used the front that his “experience and abilities are not what we need at this time.”
What do we get as a result of this clannishness? Teachers hired not for their excellence in academia or their documented teaching capabilities, but for whose barbecues they go to or whose cousins they’re dating. Teachers like Mr. X are gradually being pushed out so that semi-intelligent, unlicensed, frat-boyish kids with no recorded ability can be used to dumb down our youth and turn them into globalist workers for the future world village.
If you want your kids to get a somewhat decent education, the best bet is to enroll them into a private school. Some of the above problems prevail, but their standards of teacher excellence are still a bit higher. If you have the time and money then it would be an unforgiveable injustice not to try home schooling.