Monday, December 17, 2012

Today's Educational Polemic...

...comes from Michael Knox Beran over at City Journal: "Abolish Social Studies:"
"Yet feeble though the [social studies] books are, they are not harmless. Not only do they do too little to acquaint children with their culture’s ideals of individual liberty and initiative; they promote the socialization of the child at the expense of the development of his own individual powers. The contrast between the old and new approaches is nowhere more evident than in the use that each makes of language. The old learning used language both to initiate the child into his culture and to develop his mind. Language and culture are so intimately related that the Greeks, who invented Western primary education, used the same word to designate both: paideia signifies both culture and letters (literature). The child exposed to a particular language gains insight into the culture that the language evolved to describe—for far from being an artifact of speech only, language is the master light of a people’s thought, character, and manners. At the same time, language—particularly the classic and canonical utterances of a people, its primal poetry—has a unique ability to awaken a child’s powers, in part because such utterances, Plato says, sink 'furthest into the depths of the soul.'"
During a brief stint at the local Lutheran elementary in sixth grade, after having been homeschooled for five years, I remember having this conversation:

Classmates: The next class is social studies.
Me: What's social studies?
Classmates: It's like geography.
Me: Why isn't it just called geography?
Classmates: *Radio silence.*

Even as I was knee-high to a grasshopper, green as a spring twig, I was already challenging the blighted regimen of "progressive" education. World---you're welcome!

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