Patrick Deneen sums up much of what I’ve been saying here more eloquently than I ever could. Please click over and read the linked article. The clarity he gives on the subject of education, and reality too, is refreshing. He nails the coffin shut on education as that word is understood in these times, and points out the nefarious goals and motivations of the institution with pinpoint accuracy.
He begins his article describing the deep ignorance of his students. But he even goes deeper than that by explaining their ignorance of their ignorance, and their contentment in their fragile bliss.
But then he begins to look at the institution, and that is where I will take my excerpts:
Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system – it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide. The end of history for our students signals the End of History for the West.
Our society is casting itself off from the shores of our pasts and setting sail for the Utopian shores just beyond the horizon where they will ever remain. If our captains had only studied the histories, and understood through them the condition of the “man” they were taking to this paradise, they’d know it’s all a fool’s errand. But as Solomon wrote, “there is nothing new under the sun.”
There are the Saints in Catholosim, and there are the “saints” in the god/state. Like the St. John in the church, Planned Parenthood might be a “saint-like” in the god/state, and also the ACLU, the LGBT, the NEA, the DNC and a host of other forces that are tirelessly at work in the institution. But if these organizations are Saints in the state, the education institution is the Messiah who will deliver the masses from their sordid past and into the hands of their Lords in the paradise ever hidden by the horizon of time. And, in the same way that the Messiah came to suffer, so also the institution comes before us broken too; a sort of sufferer in its own right. And since it is the state Messiah, we heap ever more power and cash into it to fix it; to make it work right again. But it never gets any better, only worse. But Deneen points out that this is only an illusion while in reality the institution is achieving its goals with keen precision:
We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders. What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.”
Our students are the achievement of a systemic commitment to producing individuals without a past for whom the future is a foreign country, cultureless ciphers who can live anywhere and perform any kind of work without inquiring about its purposes or ends, perfected tools for an economic system that prizes “flexibility” (geographic, interpersonal, ethical).
Education, being a word, is definable. But the definition of it is much more profound than we think, and it varies between individuals as well. And I’m sure, given my research, that their definition differs from yours. I see that difference every time I read an article that says “parents outraged” or “shocked”. For the parent, education ought to be a word worth an essay’s length definition at the least, a word that grows in scope as he attempts to educate his children and he sees the breath and depth of the meaning hidden in that word. It is far more than math, science and arithmetic. It involves character, purpose, and answers to man’s deepest and most profound questions which he has been asking from the beginning. Please don’t turn your child over to a god/state for their “education”. You will do a much better job than a cold, heartless and self-serving state ever could.