By the time a child graduates high school he or she has experienced hundreds of teachers. It would be unrealistic to expect every educator to be outstanding. However, it is reasonable to expect basic competence. It is not only reasonable, but essential, to expect a teacher to desire student success.
My aunt taught science for decades, retiring as she neared ninety only due to concerns about driving in icy road conditions. Her principal gladly smudged her birthdate on official paperwork enabling him to keep using her talents. Towards the end of her career, she was hospitalized for what turned out to be a mistaken lab result. While in the hospital, the head of cardiology entered her room, helped her into a wheel chair and escorted her to his office. Unusual behavior, indeed. Once she was there, he took down a volume from his shelf and handed it to her, saying, “That woman is the reason I am here today.” The volume was his junior high yearbook with the page open to my aunt’s picture.
Contrast that with a Kentucky teacher commenting favorably on using Common Core standards in her eighth grade classroom. The Wall Street Journal quotes her as saying, “We focus more on primary sources, like graphics, pictures and quotes…I always tell my students that I’m horrible with memorizing dates, and I am not going to ask for them.” Leave aside whether she is confused as to what a primary source is and its usefulness, why would a teacher want to limit students by her own preferences and/or inadequacies?
Over in Australia, admittedly not an area touched by Common Core, the same embrace of low expectations can be found. An Australian news outlet covered a report by philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse worrying that parents who read aloud to their children gift those children with an unfair advantage.
While the pull quote questioning whether parents should feel guilty for reading their children bedtime stories received attention, this quote should be noticed as well, “One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.“
While he acknowledges that most people think having all children raised by the state is a bad idea, he encourages moving towards equality by reducing parents’ freedom to make choices for their children. For example, Swift argues against allowing parents to send their children to private schools.
As equality becomes the mantra of society (naturally the Great Leaders, say those with the last name Clinton or Obama will never have to live by that mantra) ideas such as these can swiftly move towards mass acceptance. Those of us who watch in abhorrence feel almost ridiculous stating an opposing view. It seems rather like arguing the con side of a debate titled, “Resolved: Children should be dropped off to play in the middle of the highway.” Is this really necessary? I’m afraid as our universities discourage reasoning, our electronic gadgets reduce our abilities to think deeply and too many politicians require electoral illiteracy in order to win, it is, amazingly, very necessary to fight this fight. At the risk of stating the obvious, here are two ideas I’d like to propose. 1) Teachers should not limit students based on their own limitations, but rather encourage students to excel. 2) We should aim for all children to achieve economic, physical, mental and spiritual success even if that means acknowledging that the ‘advanced and enlightened’ policies of the last few decades regarding families, education and economics, have moved us backwards from that goal.
When Winston Churchill said that socialism’s “inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery,” intelligent people understood that to be a put down of socialism. Our befuddled society is moving in the direction of thinking that to be a worthwhile goal.