Since the 1969 sit-ins and unrest across American college campuses, our secondary education system has imploded. I can recall (yes, I am that old) the first time I saw Women’s Studies in the course catalog of the school I attended. I considered it fake education, similar to the fake news we are now confronted with. And that was only the beginning. Eventually the schools had to bear the burden of race-specific studies, social justice studies, sexual identification studies and more, generally referred to as “Oppression Studies.”
It is more complicated than it first appears. Intersectionality, linking these alleged oppressions, defines the ideological agenda rampant throughout academe.
Feckless administrations allowed the newly formed departments to define their own curriculum and hire their own professors. Scholarly education died not just in these fake education departments, but as conservatives were refused professorships so liberals could be hired, it died in every department across our campuses. It is bad enough to be educated in a system where the teacher stands at the front of the room and tells you “what you need to know.” Worse yet is the presentation within a liberal/social framework that influences every aspect of learning.
The United States of America has gone from being number one in the world in education to 37th in the world. Correlation? Absolutely.
According to David Horowitz in his book “Big Agenda,” Gallup found 69 percent of Millennials would vote for socialist candidates while only a third of their parents would do so. What can be done?
Republicans must act with serious legislation to change the heavily weighted number of liberal professors on most campuses to a mix of conservative and liberal professors that accurately reflects population demographics. Only then will there be a free exchange of ideas and thought on our campuses.
How do they begin? In order to return to an education system where students are taught how to think rather than what to think, existing diversity offices offer the most likely opportunity. Intellectual, ideological and political must be added to the current list of differences that now reads cultural, ethnic and religious. The force of those diversity offices can then be brought to bear on the issue. Hiring Republicans because they are Republicans is not the answer but not hiring them must end.
From this lowly place, where do we go? What are worthy goals for the American education system? I offer a bright, shining educational star as an example we should all be proud to follow, Israel.
Good teachers are essential in any education system. Unfortunately, the same problems exist in our K-12 system as do in our post-secondary system. We must have teachers who honor our children’s need to know how to think, not parrot the teachers’ points of view. We must return our classrooms to safe harbors for truly academic learning. Israel has one up on us because of the good schools in their education system.
However, Israel’s Minister of Education Naftali Bennet, in a recent Wall Street Journal article shares what he describes as their secret weapon: a parallel education system that operates alongside the formal one.
There are three components to the shadow education system. Debate is the first. A perfect example of how debate works relates to how the Talmud is studied. Complex sections of text are debated by student pairs with teachers offering guidance only when necessary. Israeli libraries are “buzzing beehives of learning” according to Bennet. So instead of students sitting quietly in class, they are actively engaged in finding solutions, often numerous, rather than regurgitating a solution posed by a teacher.
The second component is peer-to-peer youth organizations called movements. Older children are responsible for groups of younger children for outings of various kinds. Teenagers are held responsible for the care and informal curricula of younger students.
The third component is the army, which drafts 18-year-old boys and girls into the military for two or three years. Here they are exposed on a daily basis to analyzing situations, making critical decisions and function under pressure, both physical and mental. Our college students can’t even get their heads wrapped around the national election.
There is hope for the American education system and whether or not you ascribe to the Israeli approach, no one can deny its effectiveness. Their success in business and technology is evident in the number of startup businesses, the level of innovation and the number of entrepreneurs. It is their education system that allowed for this tremendous success.