E-mails and comments welcome from teachers and learners of all ages.  
November 15, 2002
Geography environmentalism - compulsion

Finally, I'm picking up the threads of this "Education Blog" thing, and have an honest-to-god link from this guy (Steven Chapman) to this guy (Alex Standish of Spiked) to give you. Standish writes about how the environmentalist agenda has taken over the teaching of geography. New Zealand educated (which I didn't know until now) Chapman comments. Make of it what you will.

I'm as and maybe even more inclined to think that one bunch of old-school propagandists is being pushed aside by the next lot. If you set up a machine for compulsory "teaching", even if it is for compulsorily teaching children to think for themselves, don't be amazed if even nastier zombies steal it and do some more serious damage with it. Not sure. Discuss.

One thing I'm a bit more sure of is that turning the clock back is a hell of a lot harder than defending the existing settings, and that the only way to chase out environmental propagandising may be to banish propagandising of any kind. Then, if you want old fashioned geography like-we-used-to-have-in-the-good-old-days-in-New-Zealand, do what they do with a new soap powder: argue for it, sell it, push it, plug it, but don't compel anyone to buy it if they don't want to.

Do what I'm doing here, in other words.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 02:55 PM
Category: Bias

Producer capture, beloved of the Adam Smith Institute, is at work in education wherever the state has a nose in it. Getting rid of propaganda and replacing it with propagoose is never going to be easy. It is the meniacal desire to control content of the message in much of what passes for education that is the problem.

The urge to stamp government approved method and fixed ideas is legion. Within it comes the stunted views and pat solutions to social problems. School time with captive audiences compelled to listen are the only raw market (if you can call it a market) for such tommy rot.

State sponsored teacher education is as near to the root of all this as you can get. Abolishing such institutional arrangements would be a plus. Not high on any government to do list so don't expect any move on this soon.

The wretched B Ed degree was never taken as a serious academic degree nor as a serious professional degree such as a B Mus or LLB degree is understood to be. I recall the standards for entry being so low that not even a pass in math was required in some colleges.

One good, and eminently cheap move, would be to require teachers to have a real degrees in their subjects or at least a masters degree in their chosen major. This won't stop all the propaganda but it might tend to reduce the rapacity of it.

Armed with a useful degree, the next stage should require an apprenticship in teaching in front of real pupils. There is little point in all the edu mumbo jumbo served up at training college. The job is standing up, putting on a show, and inducing people to listen to you and then they will learn from you. It really is that simple. Or hard if you have no talent for it. I know it is that simple as I have given day seminars to people. The customers liked it and that is one sure criterion of success. It is the duty of the teacher to engage, enthuse, and thereby ensure success for the pupil.

Whenever the bureau mentality is in evidence the rot sets in and the usual dodgy agendas emerge. There are no mysteries here. Environmentalist geography, socialist history and the like are normal outcomes of our current instutional arrangements. Captive audiences are key to this drivel surviving.

Brian hit the point on the head by pointing out the simple remedy is that you just get in there and offer a traditional product. I say it can be personal tuition either, face to face, or on line via the web. There are so many way to compete. Imagination folks is all you need!

I recently engaged in an email conversation with David Davis, a teacher in the private sector, who teaches real subjects to his pupils. Sterling work is being done by such professional teachers putting right the mess of state diseducation. The customers are not happy about the statist agenda so in steps edu doctors like David. The fact that the dross is no longer in a hidden agenda will hasten its demise, especially as it has to be degaussed by the edu docs for pupils to move on and up.

Junk education is of low value and can only survive in state pens called schools. The forces of free trade will eventually remove this stuff.

This education blog spot will have immense effect on the debate. I recall, as I am sure that Brian does, my talk to small number of dedicated libertarians on the subject of education within the four walls of a small room in Mecklenburgh square. The extraordinary thing, in contrast to that small room, is the expansive internet debate with all the interconnections to smoke out the garbage. It is the massive spread of interlocking comment that will laser out the dross in education. We can now predict, confidently, the prevention of the Colcloughing of education by having this debate.

Ultimately, it is a contest of ideas. You are entiled to your opinion but you are responsible for the results of promulgating it. One point, not canvassed, is the resistence theory between generations. It would not surprise me to find that many children, captive in these mind numbing classes, merely refuse to accept this guff, for no other reason than they reject the old fools who promote it.

Comment by: Howard Gray on November 15, 2002 07:56 PM
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