Silence in Class


I have blogged quite a bit about the on-going attempt to censure and silence educators, both at the university and at the public school level. This new McCarthyism works today much like it did in the fifties. Teachers read about the harassment of public school teachers like Deb Mayer, Jay Bennish, and college professors like Miguel Tinker Salas and Peter McClaren and, out of fear, they begin to practice self-censureship. Rather than engaging students in thoughtful discussions about critical issues, they fall back on a scripted, canned curriculum. Of course, the real victims are the students. They begin to view learning as a passive process having little to do with their real world. What results is a school experience that is dull, routinzed, and based upon rote learning. The great American philosopher, John Dewey, described such schooling as “miseducative” because it deprived the young of a chance to experience the dialogue and discussion critical for citizens in a democracy.

The main stream media has largely ignored this issue. When it is discussed at all, commentators parrot the right wing line that higher education is infested with leftist (Marxist) professors intent on “brainwashing” their students. In this view, students are passive victims incapable of critical thought. Of course, the irony is that censorship (self-imposed or external) denies students the opportunity to practice and obtain critical thinking skills. Consequently, they either leave school at the earliest opportunity or play the “school game” of remaining submissive and passive in order to obtain the certificate that allows them to pursue their career goals.

Outside the American MSM some attention is being paid to this new censorship. For example, there is the following article from the UK in the Guardian . Thanks to “Thorn in the Side” for providing the link.

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