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The Problems with America’s Best Teacher Training Programme

A question central to Plato’s Republic is “What should we teach our children?” Judging from the parents I’ve talked to, this question is not getting the consideration it deserves. Parroting a common conservative refrain regarding what some believe schools teach, a colleague referred to them as “liberal-producing factories.” Thankfully, that’s not quite the case. While the teaching profession as a whole leans left, most educators are aware of their bias and, with varying degrees of success, try to push against it. Unfortunately, this is not true of the programs that train the nation’s school staff.

I received a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the premier schools of education in the country, occasionally nudging out Columbia and Harvard for the top spot in U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of education programs. In reality, it was a series of graduate courses that featured various arts and crafts projects.

To their credit, the faculty seek to ameliorate legitimate and pressing concerns that our schools face: racial disparities, stagnant scores that are falling behind other countries, defective spending structures, high teacher turnover, and a host of other problems. However, they promote a philosophy of education that is effective at exposing these problems but impotent to solve them. The root issue is that the three elements of a progressive worldview I discuss here—restorative justice, contemporary literary theory, and an antipathy to intellectual diversity—result in an education that questions all systems but fails to offer students a coherent alternative.

Restorative Justice and School Discipline

Restorative justice is a central tenet of contemporary educational philosophy and one of the culprits behind the current state of behavior in many public schools. The theory posits that students act out not because they are ‘disrespectful,’ but rather because they either have not learned how to act appropriately from parents or are expressing a deeper emotional need in a destructive way. As such, discipline has little to no place in schools.

To some extent, the theory bears weight. In Teaching with Poverty in Mind, a significant text on educating at-risk youth, Eric Jensen outlines how early childhood trauma alters neurochemistry and ingrains unhealthy coping mechanisms such as aggression or disregard for authority. In response, most schools resort to suspensions and expulsions. Because poverty rates are higher in communities of color, black and Hispanic students receive a disproportionate amount of discipline at no fault of their own. The diagnosis of the problem is correct; restorative justice, the prescribed medication, is not.

A foundation of this theory is the practice of “restorative circles,” a discussion format with content focused on personal experience. At the university, our instructor posed us with the question: when is one time we had been an oppressor? We proceeded to pass around a “talking piece”—in this case a popsicle stick with googly eyes glued on. Weekly conversations like this always featured a child’s toy as a talking piece and some variety of an oppression-centric question. In the capstone course for my graduate degree, we spent a circle making Black Lives Matter themed friendship bracelets while reflecting on what the movement meant to us.

Paired with restorative circles is the implementation of redesigned consequence structures. Imposed on schools is the necessity for equal rates of suspensions across demographic groups and softer punishments—a discussion with a counselor instead of a suspension. In theory, weakened discipline structures and circles work together to retrain teachers’ brains to see poor behavior as either a mere cultural difference or a cry for help that requires support not punishment; concurrently, students learn how their behavior negatively affects others and so intuitively learn better behavior.

After the RAND Corporation completed a comprehensive review of its effect, media reported restorative justice a striking success; overall suspension rates decreased and the disparity of discipline among racial groups shrunk. Having taught in a school that adopted restorative practices, though, I question what change affected the data. For my school, behavior did not improve; instead, student actions that formerly would have earned a suspension either went unreported by teachers or unaddressed by the administration. Running parallel to my observations is a survey of student perceptions, nestled within the RAND study. According to the students, schools that adopted restorative justice experienced an increase in bullying, an uptick in classroom disruptions, and an overall deteriorating school culture.

Restorative justice isn’t working. It seeks to question what qualifies as a good and bad student; it critiques traditional responses to disruption and misbehavior. In its place, this deconstruction of behavior norms has resulted in few—if any—systems of consequences, leaving administrators unable to call poor behavior what it is and without any tools to fix it. School cultures are suffering for it.

Literary Theory and What We Teach

While literary theory may be an esoteric trifle to most, students read the foundational texts of Western literature in school, making English classrooms the space where teachers most inculcate a worldview and civic values. Thus, the philosophy of how literature should be taught is arguably one of the most important ideas in education. Unfortunately, contemporary theories impart a way of thinking that closes the mind off to the new ideas and ideals literature has to offer.

In a broad scope, there are three approaches to reading. What could be called the “traditional approach,” sees any work of literature as containing a definitive statement by its author, which the reader is asked to uncover. A more popular approach is “reader response theory,” which says that there is no way to uncover any definitive meaning in a text and so all that is important is our subjective experience. The third general theory, the one that is taught at the university, is “critical theory.” It treats any work of literature as a cultural artifact through which we critique the society in which it was written.

In a method’s course, where we were to learn the practical aspects of teaching, we spent a day on literary theory. Scattered across various tables were short explanations of each theory. Moving throughout the room, my classmates and I analyzed the same poem through different “lenses.” We moved from critical race theory to feminist theory, Marxist theory, and deconstructionism—all variations on the overarching “critical theory.” At each table, what the text actually said or taught was secondary to how it exposed oppression or cultural assumptions.

In this mindset, gone are the varied perspectives on love that Shakespeare provides in Romeo and Juliet: Romeo’s idealism, Lady Capulet’s utilitarianism, Mercutio’s flippancy, and the Friar’s doctrine. Instead, Romeo and Juliet become a story of female oppression and class battles. These are important discussions, yes, but with this theory, the same discussion of oppression is then repeated with Hamlet, The Great Gatsby, Don Quixote, or any other work of literature.

At the root of the issue is the lack of an ideal with which literature can present students when analyzed through critical theory. The child psychologist James Marcia studied identity development and determined two things that adolescents need to develop a well-adjusted sense of personhood: exploration and commitment. They need to explore potential vocational paths and moral codes, and then they need to make a definitive choice.

In contrast to critical theory, T.S. Eliot believed that the ideal poet removed himself and his emotions from his work, introducing the reader to ideas themselves. Thus, a book, a poem, a play, or any other work of art is not just a cultural artifact but a statement to be considered. Understood this way, books give students, as Marcia recommends, substantive alternatives to both explore and choose, thereby aiding the achievement of a healthy mental state.

Critical theory, however, closes ears to the voice of the author and instead encourages a deconstruction of preconceived notions—about gender, politics, ethics, religion, etc—without providing the students with an alternative apolitical reading. Once a student has criticized or deconstructed their culture’s norms, they have no tools to seek something better. It leaves them in a state that Marcia calls “identity moratorium,” a listless state of purposelessness and anxiety.

Intellectual Uniformity

The antipathy towards intellectual diversity on campus has been much discussed. It will come as no surprise that I was accused of white supremacy and intentional segregation for allowing a student of color to self-select a seat in the back after they had asked in private to sit there—they had been too close to their friends and unable to focus. Similarly, I am not the only student in a university who has received audible clucks of disgust because I asked if an article contradicted itself. However, a teaching program that practices intellectual uniformity has a unique consequence: the monotony and mediocre homogeneity of public schools will not change in this environment.

There are myriad ways to teach any class; I’ll use English as my example as it is my specialty. The progressive techniques I learned at the University would have me set traditional works like Shakespeare in conversation with contemporary works of art like rap songs or movies, and then compare the biases or stereotypes present in both. A more traditionalist school, military or religious, would explain the meaning of a work explicitly to their students, only to ask them to restate the information on a test. A charter school would teach students four explicit steps for analysis, practice a few times, and then have students repeat the process unaided for a test. Montessori schools let students develop their own curriculum under the guidance of adults.

If there is one certainty within educational research, it is that there is no single distinct and best way to teach. Instead, different methods emphasize different skills and succumb to certain drawbacks. As such, the question is not what is best but what kind of student development do we want to encourage and with what skills.

Ken Robinson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Warwick, popularized a critique of the “factory model” of schools; that students are shuffled along a conveyor belt, responding to bell calls and repeating motions, and end up carbon copies by the time they graduate. Perhaps a progressive model of education would break this specific norm, but in its place, it just creates another carbon copy model.

Speaking more generally, many public schools are failing because they provide the same product to a student living in Brooklyn, to one in small-town Appalachia, and to another in my mid-sized city in Wisconsin. Until a diverse range of ideas is allowed in teacher training programs, there will be a uniformity of teaching methods in the schools.

A Concluding Anecdote

The consequences of progressive theories of education are best shown through an example. Every teacher has certain students who leave a significant impact on them. Mine is the kind who got sent to the office almost 40 times in one semester and had over 15 days of suspensions. He had recently immigrated to the United States, fleeing corruption and violence. He was the kind of student who knocked computers to the ground and cussed out teachers.

One day, he opened up to me. He told me about his insecurities, about his mother’s tendency to ignore him even if he addressed her directly, and about his overwhelming sense of failure and helplessness. Within the progressive theories of education, we could have questioned how he relates to his friends or examined laws that brought this reality to bear. However, if you were to ask me why he should change, I would be left without an answer, without a code of behavior I could recommend to which he could be held accountable, without ideals in literature which he could be invited to consider, and without the freedom to teach him in a distinct manner that might better fit his needs.

There are universities and institutions that are challenging this status quo. Various academics at the University of Arkansas are studying the benefits and drawbacks of various market-based initiatives like school choice, merit-based pay, and pension reform. Systems of charters like Uncommon Schools and KIPP are observing the varied practices of the most effective teachers and disseminating materials to educators across the nations. The scholars at Fordham Institute are questioning both traditional and progressive methods of teaching and public policy to determine the most effective balance between the two.

When my advisor accused me of racism for expressing conservative views, I asked what she would she have me do. She gave no response and ended our final conversation. Contemporary educational philosophies seek to question Western society and various cultural structures but fail to provide any substantive alternative. In response to Plato, educational departments across the country are saying “nothing.”

 

Daniel Buck teaches English as a second language in a mid-sized city in Wisconsin, is a regular contributor to the Foundation for Economic Education, and writes as the head columnist at LoneConservative.com. You can follow him on Twitter @dantitheses396

29 Comments

  1. Barney Doran says

    Do liberals not see that the more liberal-think, liberal-talk, liberal-do that goes on about education in this country, the worse the schools become? And they are getting worse, if that is possible. That broken clock is not even right twice a day.

  2. Del Nillpeznaf says

    Another report from the frontline of education which makes some pertinent points. As a soon to be qualified English teacher – completing a M.Ed. this semester – I have experienced the ‘progressive’ viewpoint conformity blighting teacher training colleges (in a European setting) first hand and would agree with much of the diagnosis above.

    However, the claim that “one certainty within educational research, it is that there is no single distinct and best way to teach” conforms to the progressive mindset; which demands a “revolution in education” and ignores evidence from the likes of Hattie, Christodoulou and Hirsch which shows ‘explicit teaching’ methodologies – or traditional teaching – as, in fact, being the most effective way to teach.

    There is a move within certain areas of education towards an evidence – rather than ideology- based pedagogy. It is a failure of the teacher training colleges to omit such research, leaving it to the discerning student-teacher to discover it for themselves. Once the discovery has been made, however, the evidence is clear – explicit teaching methods remain the most effective ways to teach our youth. The academics and bureaucrats who control educational policy are ideologues who, in the main, have no actual experience of teaching kids. Until this changes and best practice follows a more robust, evidence based, pedagogy – mainstream education will continue to get progressively worse.

    • Daniel says

      Del Nillpeznaf,
      Good call. I also got jack squat out of my M.Ed. I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years, and I have used exactly nothing from my coursework (though having the letters after my name has proved useful.) I remember a course on Curriculum Development — a useful skill for teachers, you’d think, right? — in which we didn’t learn how to develop curriculum, but rather listened to the teacher lecture about “hegemony”.

      Katharine Birbalsingh (worth looking up, for anyone who is not familiar with her) insists that didactic teaching — where teachers stand up and tell the students what to do and explain what they need to know — is the way to go. I’ve found that to be the case as well.

    • Gringo says

      There is a move within certain areas of education towards an evidence – rather than ideology- based pedagogy. It is a failure of the teacher training colleges to omit such research, leaving it to the discerning student-teacher to discover it for themselves.

      I am reminded of my main complaint with my Ed School experience. There have been about 2,500 years of formal classroom instruction. In that time, there has been sufficient experience with what works and what doesn’t work in formal classroom instruction.

      Instead of instructing prospective teachers about what works and doesn’t work- and why- in formal classroom instruction, Ed Schools focus on the newest unproven theory that will EXPLAIN IT ALL. In five to ten years’ time, research disproves the “newest unproven theory that will EXPLAIN IT All.”
      No problem, say the Ed Schools. There will arise another “newest unproven theory that will EXPLAIN IT All.” Which subsequent research will also debunk. Rinse and repeat.

      In my day, the “learning styles” narrative was all the rage.

  3. doug deeper says

    Thank you so much for a view into how our teachers are being educated. It is somewhat “refreshing” to know how close our education system is to collapsing in on itself much as the Soviet Union did.

    Our current system puts ideology at the center and the student at the periphery. There are a great many new models of education that actually focus on how an individual student learns, and for the first time we have the technical tools to affordably assist with student-centered, self-paced, engaging learning based on real critical thinking and problem-solving. This is very exciting.

    There will no longer be a need for teachers using the indoctrination methods first used by the Prussian King to train good subjects, and later used by all good communists to train good apparatchiks.

    With any luck these “new” schools, teachers and methods will result in young graduates who can actually think and solve real problems, and have an understanding of human nature, human history and the human condition.
    Technical schools are blossoming that teach real marketable skills and the humanities will begin anew with Jordan Petersen’s Humanities U.

    Then, very probably, the stunning rise of anxiety, depression and suicide among the young will flatten and decrease.

    And hopefully, ““identity moratorium,” a listless state of purposelessness and anxiety” will be something associated with yesterday’s “restorative justice, contemporary literary theory, and an antipathy to intellectual diversity.”

  4. Jay Salhi says

    Question.

    Are there any education schools that take an old school approach?

    • Daniel says

      Jay Salhi,
      Check out classical schools. Many of them are Christian — don’t know how you feel about that — but they are delightfully old school.
      Classical schools vary, but all of them are committed to using the best techniques — the ones that haven’t been improved upon in 2000+ years. Most all of them will also include more modern methods and ideas as well. Primary years feature learning lots and lots of facts. Middle School/ Jr. High has them learning and applying principles of logic, and in High School they are learning the rhetorical art of persuasion.
      They also emphasize the Great Books. Which is a magnet for intelligent people, and absolute kryptonite for Leftists.

      Especially important to me: they rarely, if ever, use class time to hold Beanie Babies and tell how their Beanie Baby helps them express how they feel… and then get a participation award grade for it.

      • Jay Salhi says

        Thanks. You appear to be referring to K through 12 schools themselves. I should have been more clear that my question related to universities. Are there any universities training teachers to use old school teaching techniques rather than all the woke nonsense?

      • Simon Johnson says

        “Which is a magnet for intelligent people, and absolute kryptonite for Leftists.”

        In light of a piece on viewpoint diversity, you’ve certainly managed an impressive bypass of your irony meter.

  5. Wells Marvel says

    “In reality, it was a series of graduate courses that featured various arts and crafts projects.”

    This 100%. The generous interpretation, I think, (and to be fair this was made explicit) was that graduate level content was being taught with K-12 methods that you could apply to your own future students. It made sense I suppose, but to see full grown adults crafting name tents, clapping songs, drawing in crayon, and choosing corners was a little strange. It was a foreboding of things to come.

  6. Pinkot says

    It’s not only “liberal” teaching methods that are to blame, but also the demand for everything to be entertaining. That demand comes more from the fact that capitalism has turned most of our lives into entertainment from news to relationships. As a result teaching is also expected to be entertaining. I hear it daily from my students here in Finland that they are not interested in studying, because it is not fun. Well, honey, I am not Netflix. A teacher will never be able to compete with the world that is so entertaining, because ultimately what the teacher is selling is hard work.

    U nderstanding and learning always require one to admit their ignorance, which rarely is fun. Reading is hard, slow and often boring, and understanding concepts requires repetition. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. There just is no shortcut there. At the same time students are told they are “perfect the way they are”. It doesn’t matter what noble intentions of self acceptance is behind that line, in the mind of a rebelling teenager it translates into “I don’t have to do anything”. When they are eventually asked to do something, they get anxious, because they are not accustomed to striving for excellence. Always when I ask the students to do a presentation I get protests that holding presentations is scary and makes them anxious. Of course it is if you haven’t done it!

    Regarding restorative justice I think the writer gives a bit of a skewed image of it. Restorative justice is just a practice where two people in conflict come and try to reach an understanding of the situation that happened and move past it. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with oppression issues.

    • Kencathedrus says

      @Pinkot: I used to teach in the Netherlands. Excellence was anathema to both students and school boards there. Some Dutch schools are removing all books from the curriculum now in favor of group projects designed to further social justice causes. Is Finland like that too?

  7. Anonymous says

    I am working on a book about redesigning the military from the ground up on the basis of restorative justice.

    Instead of antiquated, unprogressive, pre-digital-age concepts like “weapons” and “assault” – all parties to the conflict will engage in justice circles.

    Whoever holds the GI Joe doll may use his turn to express his grievances in a safe space, or else sing and dance in the language and clothing which expresses his/her/their culture in accordance to the gender pronoun of choice.

    • Brilliant! And I’m sure exploring Hitler’s and Tojo’s traumatic childhoods would have made WW2 unnecessary!

  8. I can be fairly passive in the face of what I know to be mandatory tasks. It’s almost essential to get through some of the silly things one has to do at school and at work. But if someone handed me a popsicle stick and asked me to discuss a time when I had been an oppressor, I’m pretty sure I would have torpedoed any chance of a degree right there by telling the teacher exactly what I thought of his exercise.

  9. scribblerg says

    Best case I’ve read yet for defunding education via tax dollars utterly. On every level of our society. These people are so detached from any reality based sense of responsibility for themselves and the institutions we entrust them with that the only thing to do is blow it up and start over.

    Restorative Justice – That’s how the Parkman shooting happened. That kid would have been in jail, or at least certainly would not have been able to buy an AR-15 legally had he been arrested when he should have been. Do your research, you’ll see I’m correct. That kid had been threatening violence and assaulting people for years. Dozens of cops had interacted. People called and warned he was going to do something violent. But nope, they didn’t arrest him because they did’nt want to give him a record and put him on the “school to prison pipeline”.

    imilar for Trayvon Martin, believe it or not. His school was an early adopter of these strategies to essentially remove discipline and punishment from the schools. Trayvon had been caught in school just days earlier with stolen items and burglary tools in his backpack. If he’d been arrested, as he should have been, perhaps he’d still have been locked up instead of buying the ingredients for “Purpla Drank” and casing more apartments to rob on his way home. Wait – you never knew this was the story of Trayvon Martin? Yup, his school caught him, and the school safety officer, a cop, didn’t arrest him.

    I bet almost none of you knew the above. This was all part of Obama putting into practice the daft ideas of academics.

    Literary Criticism – I studied literature. To me, this should be dealt with in a hierarchy. Subjective interpretations are a great place to start. Then interpreting the author’s intent. Then perhaps critical theory based insights – all put in their proper perspectives. And of course, if you can’t do the first two, why bother with the third? Why are young people being taught critical theory at all? Why isn’t it more important to intepret literature for yourself, when you are first reading literature? Why isn’t it important to know what the author thinks? Why is it more important to focus on a political interpretation of litertature?

    The answer is obvious. That’s what matters to these educators, which is so sad. I remember learning literature from teachers and profs who loved prose and the author’s they taught. They came alive for me, when being taught by such people.

    These technocratic, political hacks? Disgusting.

    Last. The author seems to believe we aren’t teaching a value system to these kids, that the problem is the classroom is a vacuum morally and culturally. No, wrongo – utterly wrong! They are learning that the West and classical liberalism and the Enlightenment are bunk. That they should hate this culture and its traditions. They learn that I’m bad because I’m white and male. They learn that they are special because they are refugees or black or female.

    Plenty is being communicated to them. They learn that they can walk all over us and that we hate ourselves. We look weak and idiotic to them.

    Nice job. And I bet folks like this author wonder why some of us on the right seriously consider revolution. They’ve done this to our children for crying out loud! It’s unconscionable.

      • scribblerg says

        Thanks, E. I’m trying to figure out what the purpose of the essays are. To me, it seems these folks should be “whistleblowers”. They have the titles, the relationships, the experiences and the standing to take these institutions on. So, what happens next? They should hook up with a right wing legal foundation to pursue these monsters in the courts and politically and via public shaming.

        Conservative school districts could, for example, prevent hiring from these education schools. They should publicize that. Conservatives should lobby for overtly political programs to see their universities cut off from all public funds.

        But I don’t see this happening. There are a few organizations trying to do this. Capital Research, Judicial Watch and numerous other watchdog organizations.

        Put it this way. If some Leftists discovered an education program that focused on say Edmund Burke, Leftists would target them and destroy the institution and everyone associated with it.

        It’s pretty simple. This is “viewpoint discrimination” and its illegal in certain contexts. If we don’t have the laws we need, we should fight for them on the local and fed level.

        But I see none of this being done coherently.

  10. Horace says

    Tangential observation: You wrote that “… students read the foundational texts of Western literature in school …”–If that’s the case at the school where you teach count yourself lucky. This is very rare in US high schools today, including many parochial and independent schools.

    More pertinently: I’d encourage interested readers to check out the Relay Graduate School of Education, which was founded as an alternative to traditional schools of ed. It’s possible even Relay has succumbed to DEI orthodoxies, but it was founded with the express purpose of training teachers to successfully increase measured student achievement, going so far as to “guarantee” their graduates’ measurable value-add to student learning. If they’ve stayed true to that mission they’re worth a look.

    I’ve appreciated the K-12 and ed school articles Q has published and hope it continues to.

  11. BrainFireBob says

    Extra comment, tangential:

    The author dances around a cultural problem I see as particularly pronounced in American education.

    Have you heard of “method acting?” It’s more correctly the Stanslavski Method. He was a noted a stage actor.

    Roughly speaking, his premise- if you’ve read his book- is that acting can be elevated to a whole new level by the professional actor if, after having mastered the structured form of acting taught traditionally, the actor focuses on “feeling” the character and settling into their world view, which will be automatically supplemented by their developed skills.

    He’s quite clear in his introduction that it is an advanced technique for those who have already mastered the traditional structured form of acting, focusing on items like the mechanical details of accents and gestures and behaviors.

    Culturally, this is the thing that most makes me frustrated with my countrymen. It’s a fallacy:

    1) Method acting is a higher form of acting for the master
    2) Therefore, if you can do method acting, you are a master
    3) Anything not method acting is less than perfect and therefore not good

    Just because IF A THEN B, IF B THEN A is not true. If you haven’t already mastered a wide range of acting skills, every attempt at method will be . .you.

    Same thing destroyed many classical arts. Picasso had superb, perfect technique, as did Dali. Their early realistic works approach photographic perfection. Without that basis, it is not possible to truly deconstruct art to its minimalist design elements. Their paintings came out exactly as intended. Yet idiots who wanted to pretend they understood Picasso raved about anyone who produced juvenile creations, especially without training, as if it proved greater genius. Guess what? Picasso was painting time, or space, on two dimensional canvas; he wasn’t just slapping paint to evoke random feelings. The conception is actually brilliant. The result is weird, but once you see it the vision behind it is impressive and you wonder if it could have been done any other way.

    Relevance: Why the hell would you ever teach critical theory to anyone that didn’t already have a strong foundational basis in literary structure and analysis?

    Americans have this wrong cultural idea. Yes, 60 years ago the kid that matriculated and spouted off deconstructive literary analysis was brilliant- because that kid had to have mastered the intervening material. Just teaching all kids to randomly spout off what is, if you press, meaningless drivel to them isn’t any proof of brilliance.

    You need context for these things. You can’t deconstruct mythic heroes unless you are coming from a standpoint where the myth has been embraced. Theseus as the year king representing a folk memory of the rise of patriarchal culture isn’t a meaningful thing to teach to kids whose response is “Theezayoos what now? Is that a name?” You have to be conversant with the material to gain anything from breaking it down. Otherwise all you are doing is preventing kids from ever finding heroes, values, or self-worth.

    • scribblerg says

      Brilliant comment, thanks. I think it’s even more basic and problematic. The purpose of education today isn’t to create skilled teachers, with mounds of expertise and knowledge in their fields, armed with good teaching skills and a sensible curriculum that covers needed learning. Nope, rather, they are totally focused creating a “just society” and to redressing the dysfunction of our society.

      These “educators” – read as “apparatchiks” – also believe their radicalism is a necessary balance to the bad things kids are learning from their families and our racist, hateful society in general. They forgive their own excesses in this way, quite breezily. You and I are dismissed as reactionary and just backlash, We get “handled’ and then they move on.

      They are better seen as cadres of the SJW war being fought against our nation. As such, they are much more dangerous and pernicious than most realize. This is how the Left wins. And it needs to be fought agains.

      • doug deeper says

        Please spread the word, alternatives to traditional indoctr. … er, universities are growing. Prager U, Khan Academy, coding boot camps, good technical schools, and soon JP’s Humanities U.
        As an entrepreneur, I believe it is the rise of serious competition that will shrink applicants to traditional indoctrination centers. They will eventually be forced to offer either affordable marketable skills, and/or affordable critical thinking skills, or go out of business.
        It may be too late for other solutions to work effectively. But serious competition will precipitate a huge change.

  12. Dominic Allaway says

    I like this article.

    Romeo and Juliet is a love story, it is literature – it is not a story about patriarchy or class war, it is not mere ‘text’…

  13. David of Kirkland says

    Everyone claims that “big business” is so bad because it eats up the competition and makes everything the same across the country, but they still think centrally planned schooling is a good idea.

  14. Man with the Axe says

    When discussing a student whose sex you obviously know, but is anonymous to the readers, why would you refer to him or her as “they,“ and to his or her friends as “their?“ It is disconcerting to read those plural pronouns for a singular person.

  15. Joe says

    The Critical Theory approach has a fundamental, albeit subtle, problem. It involves an eisegesis approach (as opposed to an exegesis approach), using contemporary categoricals to understand a writer’s work. It’s not the categorical usage itself that’s the problem (there is no absence of categorical thinking), but how those categoricals were come by and are applied (unconsciously apparently!). In effect, it does the opposite of understanding a writer’s work from a past milieu and instead, posits his/her own milieu on that very work. Theologians and philosophers do this all the time.

    Reader Response Theory has its problems as well. It sounds like a rehash of late 19th/early 20th century Logical Positivism.

    Read to enjoy. Your human nature and the author’s human nature are where the meeting takes place.

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