Readers of this blog are all too aware that there are a number of things that get my goat. If I had to pick one thing that sits atop of my list, it is the enforced ignorance and illiteracy that our young students endure. All indicators point to an insidious intention behind this; keeping people as ignorant as possible and consequently unable to critique the political garbage that routinely gets stuffed down their throats. The table is set for a proletariat that can do little other than believe what they are told by the Left. Frightening numbers of Leftists/progressives have called for abolishing the one actual measure (Apart from Standardized Testing) of a teacher's work, grades*. I have noted on two posts that the most basic of tools for education, reading, has been effectively denied to our youth.**
I came across this story, I am ashamed to admit, only today:
A 13 year-old black female student in Rochester NY was assigned to read The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. She found much of the verbiage difficult and often had to consult a Thesaurus and Dictionary. This is understandable for someone of her age for a few of the older words in the source but in all probability this is another solid proof that our youth have been deliberately held in ignorance; our style of writing and speaking has not changed that much since then.
Jada Williams persevered and had an epiphany:
"In her essay, Ms. Williams drew a parallel between what she saw as a group of self-satisfied "white teachers" overseeing dysfunctional students (characterized by Ms. Williams as "so-called 'unteachable'" students) who were not being properly taught, illiterate and perpetually ignorant. This she considers a form of slavery. Ms. Williams quoted an arresting passage from Douglass's description of one of his masters, a Mr. Auld, happening upon his wife instructing Douglass in basic reading:
[Quote from the narrative]
"If you teach that nigger (speaking of myself [Douglass] ) how to read, there will be no keeping him. It will forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master."
"A grand price was paid in order for us to be where we are today; but in my mind we should be a lot further, so again I encourage the white teachers to instruct and I encourage my people not to just be a student, but become a learner."
What resulted was a witch hunt for the student who dared call on the carpet the teachers who were not teaching:
"The essay that Ms. Williams wrote was never entered in the essay contest. Instead, she was harassed out of her school by the very people whose assistance she requested.
The teacher who gave Ms. Williams the original assignment was so enraged at her essay that copies were distributed to fellow teachers and the principal. Soon after, Ms. Williams' parents began receiving several phone calls from faculty claiming that their daughter was "angry." Suddenly Ms. Williams, a model student prior to the essay, began receiving low grades in her classes. In several meetings, these same teachers refused to show Ms. Williams' parents the papers and tests that garnered lower grades. During at least one such meeting, according to Mrs. Williams, a teacher union representative was present.
"Happily, not everyone has ignored Ms. Williams. She was awarded the first "Spirit of Freedom" award by the Frederick Douglass Foundation* of New York on February 18, 2012. Sadly, not enough people know and celebrate her courage and thoughtfulness. No members of Congress, no former governors, and no professional basketball teams have taken the time, nor has the president, to publicly applaud Ms. Williams. Nobody dons a hoodie in support of a young black girl tossed aside like trash for daring to learn, daring to speak up, and being summarily punished for it."
I know that we parents are busy. We have a lot going on, but we have no choice but to be involved. We need to know if our children are actually learning as opposed to being trained to be helpless. To my dismay, my youngest, a High Sophomore, rarely reads on his own. I provide him with any reading material that I think may spark his interest. When he asks a question, I offer brief explanations and inform him that he needs to consult primary, or at least secondary, sources to get a more full picture. I ensure that he has access to these sources. Apart from that, I can only remind him that he has no choice but to read on his own, and critically so, if he wants to be able to discern whether or not he is being scammed once he is sitting in his seat in a college class. Fortunately, he attends a Catholic High School that has a fairly rigorous program and an American History teacher who actually teaches American History as opposed to an anti-US agenda. Most parents do not have this option.
*One from the US:
* And one from Sweden. Mona Sahlin, who seems to work in concert with with her garbage-spewing Norwegian counterpart, Unni Wikan in their quest to destroy these two proud and accomplished nations:
“We want to do away with the grade system [in today’s schools]. Grades contribute considerably to stress and are not a fair and objective system of measuring the individual’s potential.”
From the link below. This was also quoted yesterday:
"So here we are in 2012, and children are still forced to memorize their Dolch words in first grade. What are Dolch words? They are the more common words, named after Edward Dolch, one of the pioneers of Whole Word. Although language and jargon have been changed, the essential gimmick does not change. Kids were made to memorize sight-words in 1935, and they are made to do the same today.
Children still end up reading less fluently, knowing less, and making for a less educated, less independent people.
So I propose that reading theory -- perhaps I should say false reading theory -- provides a miniature diorama of George Orwell's analysis. Our Middle are Socialists, and once they were on the move circa 1931, they showed, at least in education, their true colors. I think it's fair to say that Obama and his far-left friends would like to move to the top. Obviously, this is bad news for the High. But this essay is about the Low. The warning is clear. The Low should not be so foolish as to expect much of anything. The people at the bottom will be kept there, ignorant, on welfare, and for sure hardly literate.
In short, the peasants never get an even break.
In 1911, G. Stanley Hall, one of John Dewey's mentors, went so far as to extol illiteracy: "It is possible, despite the stigma our bepedagogued age puts upon this disability, for those who are under it not only to lead a useful, happy, virtuous life, but to be really well-educated in many other ways.' "