Liberal Myths About Education

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Modern American education (particularly public school education) is shaped by a number of liberal myths. These myths, taken as a whole, result in the expenditure of tremendous amounts of time, effort, and money in order to achieve negligible or nonexistent gains.

Among the most pervasive liberal myths that currently shape educational policy are:

  1. Every child is above average. While nobody actually articulates this myth in this form, it is the logical converse of the current state of affairs: it is absolutely taboo to acknowledge that many children are below average in academic ability. No parent wants to hear that their child is below average; in the name of political correctness, therefore, the education system bends over backwards to avoid acknowledging this.
  2. Every child can achieve high standards in all areas. Again, like the first myth, this is a case of political correctness that has gotten out of control. Current educational policies insist that all children can achieve proficiency in all areas. Both research and common sense indicate that this is not true; nor would it be taken seriously in other fields. Nobody would argue that a five foot three adult could be in the NBA if he really, really tried; nobody would argue that a tone-deaf child with no interest in music could be the next Mozart with enough effort.
  3. If children aren't doing well, the solution is more money. This is true in a very, very limited sense. If a school has severe deficiencies in basic facilities--not enough desks, or not enough books, for instance--then investing money in these necessities has been shown to have an effect. Beyond this point, however, the claim moves into myth territory; in schools which already have adequate basic facilities, the investment of ever-increasing sums of money has produced negligible gains in terms of student achievement. [1], [2]
  4. Unconditional self esteem is something schools should cultivate. The current obsession with "self esteem"...and the notion that it is something that is given, rather than earned...has had very real and very negative consequences. Students are taught that esteem is not linked to performance; in many cases, students who have not done the required work and who lack the required skills to do well are promoted to the next grade for fear of damaging their self esteem. This overlooks the fact that a student who lacks the skills to understand a class or do the work is likely to suffer equal or greater loss of self esteem; plainly put, it's humiliating for a student to be the "class dummy." Additionally, research indicates that unrealistically high self esteem may promote bullying and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, and sex. [3]
  5. If a student isn't working up to grade level, it's because they're not trying. Sometimes, if a student isn't working up to grade level, it's because they genuinely lack the ability to do the work.
  6. Private schools have no advantages over public schools. Even those with a vested interest in public schools will concede that this is untrue, if they're being honest. Private schools have substantial advantages, particularly in the related areas of discipline and learning environment. Since private schools are not limited by the ineffectual, feel-good discipline policies of most public schools, they can more effectively enforce discipline. This, in turn, leads to a more stable learning environment, and one that is more congenial to motivated students who want to excel.
  7. Home-schooled students have no advantages over public schools. Again, a modicum of honesty would compel any educator to admit that this is not true. Extensive one-on-one attention, lessons tailored to the needs of the individual student, and a parental rapport are all advantages which no public school can hope to replicate.
  8. Males and females can be taught the same way. Males and females have different brain make ups, different learning skills and different abilities. Hence, they need to be taught using different strategies. It should be also be noted that another liberal myth says that males and females should be treated the same. See Essay:Rules of Chivalry for Students
  9. Abstinence only sex education doesn't work. Liberals believe that children as young as kindergarten age must be taught about sex in graphic detail.[4] They refuse to acknowledge that abstinence is the only way to prevent pregnancy and STDs with 100% effectiveness, and instead argue that we should teach children about somewhat risky methods to prevent pregnancy and STDs.
  10. No religious expression is allowed in school. In the West, this is most distinctly aimed at the Christian religion. No court has ever issued a ruling to this effect, and in fact in America, the modern liberal separation of Christian faith and public education is not the historical norm.[5] Attempting to prohibit a student from praying, wearing a crucifix, or otherwise expressing their faith is, in fact, not within the rights of a teacher or school administrator. Moreover, as it is impossible to divorce an educational or legal system from moral beliefs, the expulsion of the acknowledgment of God, and the authority of the Biblical Bible has resulted in State-sanctioned secularism and its beliefs. By omission and commission this increasing fosters atheism and objectively baseless morality, with its deleterious effects.[6]
  11. It doesn't matter if you succeed, as long as you try. While genuine effort and a strong work ethic are admirable, teaching students that results don't matter is gravely misguided; of course, that isn't how the real world works. Most employers don't care if you tried really hard...they care if you got the job done. Failure doesn't automatically make one a bad person, but it does carry consequences, and students need to be taught accordingly.
  12. Students shouldn't be 'tracked.' Putting students of different ability levels in different classes can hurt their self esteem. Anyone familiar with what goes on in the typical classroom has encountered the opposite: if a student has a serious deficiency in a subject, putting them in a classroom with other students of much higher ability is the surest way to shine a spotlight on that deficiency. Students are keenly aware of which students in a class are the "smart ones" and which ones are the "dumb ones." Generally, efforts to teach students with widely different levels of academic ability in the same class results in boredom for the advanced students and frustration for the struggling students.
  13. Government pre-school is effective. Studies have shown that government run pre-schools are not effective in educating. "There is no evidence that expanding the time American children spend in state-run schools will produce any educational benefits at all."[7] [8] [9]

References

  1. http://www.edreform.com/index.cfm?fuseAction=document&documentID=665#The%20Relationship%20Between%20Spending%20and%20Achievement
  2. http://www.aei.org/publications/pubID.20303,filter.social/pub_detail.asp
  3. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118855650/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0
  4. NEWS.au.com Anger at kindergarten sex lessons
  5. [http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/CauseEffect.html Cause and Effect: The Bible, the Educational System, and It's Influence]
  6. Education and Media
  7. 'Zero to Five:' A scam to help teachers union, Washington Examiner, June 1, 2009
  8. Quelling the Preschool Enthusiasm, The Heritage Foundation, May 20th, 2009
  9. Slow the Preschool Bandwagon, Chester E. Finn Jr, The Washington Post, May 15th, 2009
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