Friday, November 27, 2009

Why Our Stoodents is Iliterat

For those of us who have spent our lives as educators, this report by Katherine Kersten in The Star Tribune of Minnesota offers an insight into what schools of education are doing and the reasons for the mediocrity of teachers graduating from those schools.

I have interviewed hundreds of teachers who gave me myriads of cliches, but could not answer basic questions on the subjects they were supposed to teach. English teachers stammered when asked the title of the last book they read; social studies teachers couldn't explain the causes of World War I; math teachers had difficulties explaining how to solve a quadratic equation and lacked the knowledge to teach an advanced course in mathematics.

In the meantime the University of Minnesota has introduced the following ideological requirements for graduation. All similarities to the Cultural Revolution or Stalinist purges are NOT coincidental:

The task group is part of the Teacher Education Redesign Initiative, a
multiyear project to change the way future teachers are trained at the U’s
flagship campus. The initiative is premised, in part, on the conviction that
Minnesota teachers’ lack of “cultural competence” contributes to the poor
academic performance of the state’s minority students. Last spring, it charged
the task group with coming up with recommendations to change this. In
January,planners will review the recommendations and decide how to

The report advocates making race, class and gender politics the“overarching
framework” for all teaching courses at the U. It calls for evaluating future
teachers in both coursework and practice teaching based on their willingness to
fall into ideological lockstep.

The first step toward “cultural competence,” says the task group, is for
future teachers to recognize — and confess — their own bigotry. Anyone familiar
with the reeducation camps of China’s Cultural Revolution will recognize the
modus operandi.

The task group recommends, for example, that prospective teachers be
required to prepare an “autoethnography” report. They must describe their own
prejudices and stereotypes, question their “cultural” motives for wishing to
become teachers, and take a “cultural intelligence” assessment designed to
ferret out their latent racism, classism and other “isms.” They “earn points”for
“demonstrating the ability to be self-critical.”

The goal of these exercises, in the task group’s words, is to ensure
that“future teachers will be able to discuss their own histories and current
thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity,
heteronormative, and internalized oppression.”

Future teachers must also recognize and denounce the fundamental injustices
at the heart of American society, says the task group. From a historical
perspective, they must “understand that … many groups are typically not
included” within America’s “celebrated cultural identity,” and that “such
exclusion is frequently a result of dissimilarities in power and influence.” In
particular, aspiring teachers must be able “to explain how institutional racism
works in schools.”

1 comment:

Ted Hewlett said...

The agenda which is referred to in this article is very much active in British Columbia, where two pro-homosexuality activists and the "experts" they named were given a special role in the revision of all curriculum. See