It’s not what you know, it’s whom you read

The Atlantic’s poster boy, Obama

More and more, it’s all about whom you are actually reading or perhaps it’s always been about that but now it’s becoming so bleedin’ obvious.

I came into a “discussion” with a left liberal who was steeped in The Nation, Harper’s, Time, CNN, Salon, Slate, the Guardian, the Independent, the Atlantic and the American Prospect:

The American Prospect is a bimonthly American political magazine dedicated to American liberalism. Based in Washington, DC, The American Prospect is a journal “of liberal ideas, committed to a just society, an enriched democracy, and effective liberal politics”.

I was steeped in Adam Smith, Samizdata, American Thinker, News-Max, WND, Spiked, the Spectator, the Telegraph, National Review and so on. There was almost no common ground. It’s not that we disagreed on the events but on the interpretation of them and it was a chasm.

My very use of the word leftist, when leftists attempt to employ the term “liberal” or freedom lover, which is rich given that those politics lead to oppression, obviously places me on the spectrum. Equally, the terms the left uses identifies them immediately.   I wrote, at OoL:

Surefire way to identify a leftist is when asking who is the individual bete noir, he says Koch Bros. Ask a centre-right and he says Soros. Ask a leftist who is the global bete noir and he says the banksters and the corporate global elite. Ask a centre-right and he says the banksters and the global socialist elite, including crony capitalists.

Ask what is a useless movement and the leftist will say Tea Party, as they were taken over by the corrupt money. Ask a centre-right and he’ll say Occupy, as they were funded by the corrupt money.

Let me give you another – mention the Frankfurt School.   Any self-respecting centre-rightist libertarian knows what evil muvvers they were.   A leftist is nonplussed by this – he sees the Frankfurt School as some sort of august coming together of great minds.   Amazing.  Marcuse?  Latter day disciple Saul Alinsky?

And so the the American Prospect article on education. Not knowing the journal’s bias, I began reading it and from the outset, it was going to tear down this Joel Klein, whoever he is.    In a way, it was useful not knowing because I could then approach the text on its merits.

Have to admit, I missed the opening and went to the main text [time constraints] – therefore I missed:

The fiction is the autobiography of Joel Klein, the former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. Appointed in 2002 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Klein transformed the city’s public-school system by promoting privately managed charter schools to replace regular public schools, by increasing the consequences for principals and teachers of standardized tests, and by attacking union-sponsored due process and seniority provisions for teachers.

That would have told me to stop reading and go onto something more useful. However, I did read on:

As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has declared, “Klein knows, as I do, that great teachers can transform a child’s life chances—and that poverty is not destiny. It’s a belief deeply rooted in his childhood, as a kid growing up in public housing. … Joel Klein never lost that sense of urgency about education as the great equalizer. He understands that education is the civil-rights issue of our generation, the force that lifts children from public-housing projects to first-generation college students. … In place of a culture of excuses, Klein sought [as chancellor] to build a culture of performance and accountability.”

Yes, fine – what’s the problem with that? The author doesn’t seem to like that. He writes:

Here is Klein’s autobiographical account in his own words, faithful to original context, culled from numerous speeches and interviews that Klein has given and continues to give.

It’s that “continues to give” that really gives away his bias against Klein. It suggests something somehow untoward. The autobiography follows and is in keeping with the quote above. Again, what is it I’m supposed to see wrong in it?

The lesson Klein, Duncan, and others draw from this autobiography is that poor children today fail because their teachers, unlike the 1950s Mr. Harris, are overprotected by union contracts, have low expectations for poor students, and so barely try to teach them. To correct this, Klein and others who call themselves “school reformers” hope to identify ineffective teachers and replace them with new ones who rest their security not on union rules but on an ability to rescue children from material and intellectual deprivation.

Maybe I’m obtuse but I still fail to see anything wrong here. They do have low expectations, the non-development of literacy and numeracy by teachers under the global curriculum [see World Core Curriculum, IB etc.] and the results of all this you see today where birth control jabs for 13 year olds in school are more important than teaching, very much brands the modern teacher.

And teacher appointer. And union. But as has been shown on this blog many times, this is an old, old campaign which has been going on since the turn of the last century. The child psychology is wrong, the assumptions are wrong, the research methods are wrong – the results you see.

I hope I’m not misportraying him but this author puts underachievement down to poverty as a lone phenomenon or at least is mainly down to that. I’d partly agree – even down to nutrition and exercise, vital for a developing mind and stunted in this day and age. So yes, poverty does lead to poor choices and a sense of entitlement among many.

But many others have fought their way out of it and that comes down to mindset and that is what Klein appears to refer to – good role models who inspire children. And look at it logically – which is better, a teacher who is positive and says you can better yourself if you have all the skills and a teacher who says you poor thing, victim of the wicked capitalist imperial pigdogs who are keeping you down?

Which is better – a teacher who concentrates on getting those skills into the kids or one who focuses on providing condoms so that children can face the global breakdown more “safely”?

I don’t mean the global socialist elite are not trying to keep people down – they are and they’re trying to turn everyone under them into the yahoo pleb class, undernourished, underbrainpowered, bereft of a moral compass. Sure that is going on. But to continue to sit in the mire, saying: “Woe is me, look at me sitting in the mire “they” put me in,” militates against all initiative, discretion, common sense, oomph, proactivity.

This is the hallmark of the left – the status quo nature of their mindset and the only way out is via a state subsidized, hideously expensive government programme to educate everyone, without understanding in the least what it is children are actually in need of and are missing. Meanwhile, the Mr. Chips style of oldfashioned good teacher is shut out of the process and only the tickboxing, compliant, feelgood teacher is in vogue.

Therefore the problem is the teachers who have been employed in the last two decades and who actually employed them. That’s where the focus should be.

This post was not meant to be about education per se – it was about how there is no communication any more between left and right and most of that, which begins with a mindset and outlook on life, is fuelled by the literature one reads and the programmes one watches. So it does not come down to intelligent debate but to who has the greater numbers.

That’s all the French election was about, that’s all this U.S. election is about. There are two separate populations occupying the one land and ne’er the twain appear to meet.

So where does that leave the libertarian?

Further reading:

Children ‘failing to write simple words’

5 Responses to “It’s not what you know, it’s whom you read”

  1. james wilson October 31, 2012 at 17:24 Permalink

    I do not agree with assigning equal tone-deafness to left and right, James. Most people on the right came to their beliefs by ultimately rejecting their own leftism through experience. A leftist remains on the left by rejecting the contradictions of his experience. We are separated not by our experience, but our capacity to embrace it.

    I do not know what a libertarian is, because their opinions are so numerous and contradictory. But I have not noticed that they have the immunity to argument which the left has.

    CHESTERTON
    Liberty has produced scepticism, and skepticism has destroyed liberty. Latter-day scepticism is fond of calling itself progressive; but scepticism is really reactionary. The lovers of liberty thought they were leaving it unlimited, when they were only leaving it undefined. They thought that they were only leaving it undefined, when the were really leaving it undefended.

    JOSEPH SCHUMPETER
    As a supreme if unintended compliment, the enemies of the system of private enterprise have thought it wise to appropriate its label.

    THOMAS SZASZ
    The battle for the world is a battle for definitions.

    The Frankfort School was all about controlling language. Control language and you control thought. Ironically it is their own thought which is held most captive to that control. Why would you wish to argue with this mindset? It is counterproductive and degrading. George Lichtenberg wrote that he gave up arguing with that type in 1764, and instead made his arguments only to improve his friends and annoy his enemies.

  2. James Higham October 31, 2012 at 19:36 Permalink

    Oh yeah – you pop up with the fuel at the right moment:

    Why would you wish to argue with this mindset? It is counterproductive and degrading. George Lichtenberg wrote that he gave up arguing with that type in 1764, and instead made his arguments only to improve his friends and annoy his enemies.

  3. james wilson October 31, 2012 at 21:05 Permalink

    I had a long conversation-debate with a pedophile once. Certified, two stretches in prison. He was white, educated, talented, and sincerely believed he was misunderstood. He loved children and they loved him. Not discussion, nor prison, nor anything ever broke though his state of mind. I was in a sense legitimizing him by having the conversation.

    Von Mises wrote that (like the compromise of water and sewage) the left advanced their agenda by compromise. The right has nothing to discuss with them except to negotiate the loss of liberties. Which they do regularly.

    Discussion addresses the difficulty in reconciling conflicting truths, not mental disorders. We are so exhausted combatting the product of bright and disordered minds that the conflicts in truth remain invisible until they hit us in the head.

  4. James Higham November 1, 2012 at 07:23 Permalink

    James, you certainly surpass yourself over here – I’d like to see some of your other selected material.

  5. james wilson November 1, 2012 at 17:48 Permalink

    I don’t have much, James. Too busy working, and not enough to say that hasn’t been said better. I read you blog because you have pulled off a neat trick. You understand the insufferable nature of our politically induced conditions, policed and enforced. But you insist on living life under light and in beauty. I can’t do it, but I am always willing to appreciate someone who has.

Leave a Reply

Please copy the string 0LMG5y to the field below: