Is the fact that the majority of children in public schools are not learning to read malice, or incompetence?
Now, I realize that an illiterate peasantry is needed for a proper neo-feudal regime, but I wonder how many of these people are actually malicious, and how many are just full of their own self-importance and convinced that they are doing what is best for these children?
Judging by those I dealt with, most of them aren’t bright enough to see any overarching social aims in this. They are simply full of their own “good intentions” and they’ve been TAUGHT this is the best way of teaching to read. In fact, if you push them they become either irate or lachrymose and tell you that you don’t UNDERSTAND, you’re not an expert and you weren’t taught the latest METHODS. (This reminds me of when we stayed in NYC in a new hotel and every night our bed was, essentially, short sheeted – it’s more complicated than that, but that was the effect. When we complained the maid, with an accent stronger than mine, informed us it was “latest, Russian bed-making technology. … that one too didn’t end well, at least as soon as I stopped rolling on the floor laughing.)
Dave, yesterday, made a comment that the public school system for all its flaws might teach a kid to read who would otherwise not know how. Since I don’t know every teacher in every corner of the US – but I know from other contexts that at least some of them will be decent and competent and tell the system to stuff it – nor every kid, nor every school, this is POSSIBLE. What I guarantee and would put my hands in the fire for is that the percentage of those is dwarfed by the MASS of what would otherwise be competent “middle brow” C students, who could read and express themselves passably in writing, if they were left alone/had online teachers with just a class supervisor/were taught by anyone (retirees? Mothers?) BUT people who had been convinced they were education experts and that teaching children to read – something that village teachers managed for centuries. (And BTW my first village teacher was a discarded fallen woman, whom some guy had seduced and set up in a little cottage with no running water and only two rooms. She was, it was rumored “of good families” and left with no other means of support, taught the kids to read and fancy work (needlework, guys!) to the girls and died respected and almost revered in her eighties.)
But whether it’s from malice or misguided credentialism and do-goodism, what I can tell you is that our system of education is accomplishing the “miracle” of turning out a population MORE illiterate than the poor never-taught people in Tudor England.
Malice or incompetence, it comes to the same. If you have kids in the system, look to their future. If they read by “guessing” (the signs are easy. They’ll think words that start and end with the same letter are the same) stop that right now and teach them to sound it out. They’ll hate you for a month, but the hatred will pass and the literacy will remain.
Always remember J. Porter Clark’s law: any sufficiently advanced cluelessness is indistinguishable from malice. (I think it was originally prompted by spammers.)
Over thirty years ago, a report on public education started out with words to the effect (if not literally — it may have) that if some foreign power had imposed on us the educational system with which we’ve afflicted ourselves, it would rightly be considered an act of war. If anything, it’s gotten worse.