Progressive Education and Political Culture

This is causing some consternation in certain spheres. Good.

The Traditional Teacher

Snake_oil_old_bottleProgressive educational ideas constitute an attack on truth and authority. Traditionally, education consists of passing on to the next generation a body of knowledge, handing on to them the precious inheritance of human wisdom and thought which has built up through the generations. The teacher has authority because he has already mastered this knowledge, and has been chosen for the important role of passing it on to the next generation. But progressive ideas reverse all of this, placing the child on a pedestal, and asking the child what he wishes to learn. In making education child-centred rather than knowledge centred, progressive educators pass on this key dogma: there is no objective truth; there is only subjective experience, and to know more of this relativist ‘truth’, we must look within, not without.

It is well documented that these ideas took a powerful hold of state education in Britain from the sixties…

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2 thoughts on “Progressive Education and Political Culture

  1. I warmly endorse your call for teachers and learning to be respected, and I agree that it is the business of schools to pass down to the next generation the accumulated knowledge of our forebears. But I do worry that readers may construe “respect” as reverence, and they are not the same things at all.

    I am dismayed by the shift in educational focus from learning facts to moralising. Students are encouraged to think in slogans. Commitment to glib formulations of social issues trumps commitment to truth. There is an air of pious certainty in classrooms that is inimical to genuine scholarship.

    However, I would not like to see the current piety replaced by another — that received knowledge is sacred. Respect does not imply uncritical acceptance.

    That said, of course we must first understand an idea before we can criticise it fruitfully. And that means approaching it, in the first instance, in a spirit of respect and generosity.

    • Good point. It’s not written by me, of course, but I am in *broad* agreement with the content. It sounds like you are implying that teaching via the Trivium is a sensible approach, and that’s a view with which I agree wholeheartedly. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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