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‘Obstacles’ Category

  1. Dumbing-Down the arts — constructivism’s spread

    March 4, 2018 by Tunya

    The hijacking of art education for political purposes was highlighted 6 years ago.
    Aristos is an online review of the arts and its April 2010 issue had an article entitled “The Hijacking of Art Education” by Michelle Marder Kamhi. This is the opening statement:
    “Parents and others who think that children are mainly learning about painting and drawing in today’s art classrooms should consider this: a movement has for some time been afoot to hijack art education for purposes of often radical political indoctrination”.
    After attending a convention of the National Art Education Association (US) she wrote her analysis. She describes some of the left professors who are forefront in the movement to use art education as a vehicle for social justice — a move linked to critical theory and critical pedagogy. This is not to be confused with critical thinking, she says, whose aim is to develop students’ powers of reasoning.
    An abbreviated form of the article was published in the Wall Street Journal, with strong responses, mainly in support of the author’s views.
    A follow-up Forum in Aristos months later provided a reasonable balance of opinions from teachers and professors in the field of art education. Some argued for integrity to art discipline and adherence to the understood principle that teachers should teach how to think, not what. Others saw them selves as “cultural workers” and felt that art could be used to “change the world”. (See Aristos archives.)
    The author concluded in 2010: “Though a social justice approach to art education is not yet widespread in K-12 classrooms, it would be inaccurate to suggest that it is non-existent.”
    Well, here we are now. Martin Robinson quotes from The Guardian that in the UK “in some schools, teachers are embracing . . . [the arts] . . . as a tool to teach the environment.” The children “learn the ‘compost and growing’ song and produce artwork in relation to it, too. The arts and other curriculum areas are continually connected. Teaching the children to be sustainable has nice science, humanities and responsible citizenship links.”
    This is an issue that needs broad discussion. Perhaps that august lineup (EDHirsch, DChristodoulou, GAshman, KBirbalsingh) that is to meet in Nov in Amsterdam (topic: Shift from social-constructivism to science-informed education) might touch on the issue raised here.

    [  My response to Martin Robinson’s blog post of Marco 03, 2018 ]  ]


  2. Edina & Marxism

    February 5, 2018 by Tunya

    Re Edina story — It’s not just about equity, but “marxism” as well !
    Readers of this post, please click on the link provided.
    In the 7th paragraph the author states: “ . . . the equity agenda is the leading edge of a full-scale reeducation campaign. A course description of an 11th-grade U.S. Literature and Composition course puts it this way: ‘By the end of the year, you will have . . . learned how to apply marxist [sic], feminist, post-colonial [and] psychoanalytical . . . lenses to literature.’”
    NOTE in particular how Marxist (normal spelling) is now changed to marxist, which the author noted. But wait, this is probably not a typo at all, but a deliberate means to make the term appear “generic” and not a brand name for the ideology of Marxism. A parent reading this teaching objective might just glance at it and not realize its significance. Thanks to the author of this article, however, careful reading of the syllabus does indeed sound like “a full-scale reeducation campaign” !

    To Katherin Kersten of this newspaper

    Hi Katherine:

    Your post on Edina has been highlighted in many places.

    Good research on your part and good details.

    This is what Jordan B Peterson said: “If you don't think this is coming to Canada, you don't know anything about the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario or OISE. Parents beware.”   Look up the significance of Jordan B Peterson .

    In helping to broadcast your article I include the following comment: "See syllabus — 'By the end of the year, you will have . . . Learned how to apply marxist, feminist, post-colonial, psychoanalytic . . . lenses to literature.'  Indoctrination ? ? Note how Marxism has now become generic!  Students acquire a marxist behavioral view (lens)."

    Katherine: You used [sic] after marxist, which Spellcheck might do automatically or an editor or the author.  My feeling is that this is an intentional usage to make the term more generic — for example, Liberal and liberal — taking away the strong ideological flavor.  Check with your editors or some linguist if this is possibly some transitional phase for Marxism to also become a small "m" marxism — as I've seen some people say, "I'm not a Socialist but a small "s" socialist.

    Thanks for doing such an important article.

    This story has been highlighted in a # of places, including a comment by Jordan B Peterson  who said:

    “If you don't think this is coming to Canada, you don't know anything about the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario or OISE. Parents beware.”  


  3. who will help the parents?

    January 27, 2018 by Tunya

    Who Will Help The Parents?

    This discussion of a “social justice perspective” being injected into college-level teaching is perhaps OK on an academic level. This phenomenon of cultural theory at this level is probably not universal yet, and, people are talking about some backlash principally due to Jordan B Peterson’s critiques.

    However, I think this mindset of social justice through the institutions has already been embedded into the public schools, K-12. Social emotional learning (SEL) is a common feature. There are many books geared to this level of teaching with titles such as “Teaching for Social Justice”, “With Literacy and Justice for All”, etc.

    Uri Harris did a great job of digging deeply into the Lindsay Shepherd matter whereby we learn that her supervising professor is very concerned about the tender age of the first year students and whether they should be exposed to such critique as Peterson’s. In his letter of apology he said: “ . . . first year students . . . might not have the tool kit to unpack or process a controversial view such as Dr. Peterson’s . . . such material might be better reserved for upper-year or grad courses.”

    I am concerned that so much of the social justice projects in public schools may be beyond student comprehension and developmental readiness for such topics as “sweatshops”, “indigenous injustice”, etc. In the atmosphere of the Cultural Revolution in China (’66-’76) and in Orwell’s fictional 1984 it was the children that parents often feared, having been prepped by their schools to be informers. If current parents only knew how insidious this social justice imperative could be, they would not stand by and let the schools use their “social license” to prepare children to be avengers.

    KDM (Jan 22), one of the commenters in this thread, is the only one who sees this SocJus “phenomenon” as more of a fait-accompli conspiracy of “the far left infiltrating the schools all the way down to K-12 for the revolutionary paradigm.” I look forward to reading the book he recommends: “The Critical Turn in Education”. Meanwhile, unless there is an outrageous reaction, as only Peterson seems able to generate, I fear that a whole generation is right now being trained for some Brave New World!

    Now that Peterson is a grandfather, might he consider bringing his remarkable insight to critique these postmodern constructivist cultural shifts now being engrained in the schools?

  4. Phonics resistance persists

    January 20, 2018 by Tunya

    Resistance Persists

    I am not of the teaching profession, just a dismayed grandmother who is very annoyed with the long-standing Reading War. The casualties are numerous. I’ve always stood up for parents who wanted to know if their children were at grade-level in reading but were put off by teachers who dismissed their concerns.

    The best book I’ve read on the topic of the Reading War is “Phonics and the Resistance to Reading” by Mike Lloyd-Jones, 2013. It tells the history of the issue and the current state in the United Kingdom. From my estimation I would say the history regarding the continuing Reading War closely approximates that in Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. What is not equivalent, however, is the remedy. The UK has by legislation (2014) and financial support made systematic, synthetic phonics the standard for teaching reading in government schools and reinforced that with the Phonics Screening Check to identify, at an early age, students needing help to attain competency.

    The book does infer that pockets of resistance remain in the UK but that was 3 years ago. What is clear, however, is that the commitment to raise literacy is there via both legislation and compliance with overwhelming research on the issue.

    In my opinion, laggard jurisdictions and well-meaning reformers could gain considerable insight from this book about some of the dynamics of the opposition. These are some of the problems: phonicsphobia, opposition by the teaching unions, ideologically motivated teacher training, lazy media, myths & misrepresentations, teachers clinging to mixed methods, word guessing, etc. Even “partial phonics” is a problem as systematic, synthetic phonics is now seen as the settled method.

    It’s a short and quickly paced book. I would recommend it. It also provides neat arguments against those who persist in saying that children can learn to read best without phonics. The resistance is well discussed. What remains for us to find is the strategy used in the UK to bring in the legislation and supports.

    [comment to Filling the Pail blog — topic Phonics is like a vaccine, Jan 20, 2018]


  5. Quit or persist with ed reform?

    October 9, 2017 by Tunya

    Paul Bennett is a long-time education reformer.  He just posted on Facebook his photo of 30 years ago as a school trustee candidate. He also has the blog, Educhatter   I wrote this note on his Facebook page:

    Thanks, Paul.
    On this Thanksgiving Day I am so grateful that you have not dropped out of the ed reform efforts. You have such a stockpile of experiences, insights and knowledge it would be a pity for us to lose your perspective and continuing zeal. It’s so tempting to quit. So many I know are so, so relieved to leave the pain and hopelessness. Ed improvement sabotage is so frustrating, infuriating, exasperating, maddening, sad . . . Thanks for being there and not giving up. Hope to see visible responsiveness in our lifetime!


    [Discouraging is another word I should have used.]