• Joanne Jacobs

The 'dumbest' education


Eve Arden in "Our Miss Brooks"

"Teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges said Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, at an event with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.


He's not the first to criticize education schools, points out Larry Sand, president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network. "The average ed school . . . is nothing more than a politically correct fad factory that gloms onto the latest good-sounding tripe and forces it down the throats of its students."


Schools of education represent the academic slums of most any college," said Walter E. Williams, a George Mason economics professor in 2012. "American education can benefit from slum removal.”


Arnn stands by his statement, while claiming a "deep and abiding affection for teachers."

Dumb can mean “unintelligent,” which I did not mean. Dumb also means “ill-conceived” or “misdirected,” which is, sadly, a fitting description for many education schools today.
Professors of college and graduate education programs primarily teach methods. To be sure, methods are important in almost any human activity, but they are seldom the chief object. Watch orators speak: method matters, but only insofar as it contributes to persuasion. The quality of the text and the ideas matter far more.

"The education bureaucracy has controlled America’s schools for too long," writes Arnn.


Arnn's speech belittled teachers, writes Valerie Strauss, a defender of public schoools, in the Washington Post.


Among other things, Arnn said:

  • “The philosophic understanding at the heart of modern education is enslavement. ... They’re messing with people’s children, and they feel entitled to do anything to them.”

  • “We’re going to try to demonstrate that you don’t have to be an expert to educate a child. Because basically anybody can do it.”

Hillsdale, which is conservative and Christian, has helped launch “classical” charter schools across the country, Strauss writes, and is helping to open 50 charter schools in Tennessee.


The charter schools use a Hillsdale K-12 civics and U.S. history curriculum centered on Western civilization, she complains. It "extols conservative values, attacks progressive ones and distorts civil rights history, saying, for example: 'The civil rights movement was almost immediately turned into programs that ran counter to the lofty ideals of the Founders'.”


In addition, Hillsdale helped create Florida's new K-12 civic standards and is helping train teachers. "Some teachers who underwent the training told the Miami Herald that Christian and conservative ideology ran throughout the material."


Here's another view of the curriculum from The Federalist.




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