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« Now could I drink hot blood | Main | The Elegant Simplicity of Effective Instruction. Part 1 »

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Tribe of Dan

That was great. It was almost as good as the live version. I must agree. Anyone who has taught public school recently can easily see that kids can't read, or do math.
About a month ago, my lab class was assigned an article called “IBM or McDonald’s.” The jest of the piece was that a great number of kids leave high school without the basic knowledge to operate a cash register. When I began discussion on the topic, the class was full of stories about people they knew who were illiterate upon high school graduation. The most disturbing thing is that none of these future teachers were shocked by this article. It is as if that is an accepted part of today’s public education. It’s enough to make you sick.
And at the same time, those profs downstairs (and some upstairs) are telling them that NCLB is witchcraft because they have something up their asses about Bush. I am telling you, it’s surreal to hang around in an education school and actually have a rational thought.
Think about this….What did schools not have 75 years ago?? They didn’t have technology (unless you count the wood stove). They didn’t have programs to celebrate diversity. They didn’t have professional development. They didn’t have fu*king reflective portfolios. They didn’t have programs that spoke to the “whole child.” And they didn’t have a lot of nonsensical b*llshit. Yet, think of the kids that they turned out. The men who attended these schools were able to learn to fly airplanes, work on complicated machinery, use maps and navigate. The women who attended these schools easily left the kitchen and quickly began drafting metal, welding aluminum (it's tricky, not that easy), reading precise instrumentation and manufacturing electronics. The generation that won World War II was schooled without many things viewed essential today. Yet, they could adapt as needed because they could read, write, figure, communicate and think. Their parents and those old-fashioned teachers taught them how to do those things.
To think that kids today can’t make change for a five is sickening. To condemn a child at age seven to a life that counts a broom as a friend should cause people to revolt. Are we purposely trying to stupify people? Maybe the damn Commies did infiltrate us in the sixities and plant all of those hippies that came up with this crap. Sure seems more logical than a reflective portfolio. We can only hope that if we rant and rave enough, we might change some minds out there. If not…just sit back, relax and enjoy the Apocalypse.


What a great post from "Dan" of the Tribe of Dan. You should know that Dan is really Don, and is one my students in a class of students who are waaaayyyyy above merely good. Guys and gals like "Dan" are the hope.

I call Don Dan because I think he would have made a pretty good Hebrew, and it always gets a good laugh. To be sure, he'd look silly in a robe and sandals.

But who wouldn't?

Ask Dan how he taught his little boy--Caleb--to read using "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." As I once said, the kid will be reading Christmas cards, and Dan started in September.

Can you imagine Dan as a principal? Ho. Boy!


Where do you teach? I want to transfer to your school, Where I know there is at least one person who will help me learn to teach the way it should be done (perhaps without the shock value cussing). I have only been in the ED department here at UWYO for a few months, and already I see the progressivist/reconstructionist views dominating the crap they call class. I try to argue and have even been told by my instuctor, after she read my "Philosophy of Education paper", that I would have major problems when I entered the work force, because I siad students should be taught in the old school way of sitting down and working. "She gave me a perfect score on a paper with a few grammatical and documentation errors. The paper was GOOD, but not perfect. She was just trying to keep me satiated so that I wouldn't continue to tell the whole class that the material we are being force fed is a bunch of leftist tripe. I need to find a positive mentor who isn't going to tell me just to accept the way things are and go with the failing flow. I won't even get into the lack of quality education I see at the Jr high where I have been tutoring, because even the professors don't care that their kids aren't learning how to do simple arithmatic without a caculator. Thanks for giving me a place to rant.

Dr. Cookie

Hilarious. And so true.

I am soo fortunate to be at an Ed School where a couple of people actually support NCLB, and do so publicly. I'm also working on a study, major league, millions of dollars, and it looks like we're going to show that a program of direct instruction works best. (Shhhhh! Preliminary findings.)

But I go to meetings about revising the doctoral program, about making it more rigorous in terms of methods so ed researchers are actually "scientists" instead of navel gazers, and I hear exactly what Plum hears.

I don't care. I entered this school knowing I was going to meet the enemy. I've learned a lot. I know how to go at them. There are things to be done.

Tribe of Dan

After reading the comments, Jake made me remember some things that pretain to the origin of these Progressives. I really do think that we may be near the end of Progressivism, but hopefully not progress. The two are assuredly not the same.

I have included a segment of a paper that I wrote long ago. Please excuse the drama, I was a young and passionate fool at the time. Now, I am a middle aged fool with less passion. None the less, it may shed some light on the cult of experts and the grip that they have had on our society for the last several decades. It also speaks to the ideas of why conformity has been so strangely engrained in a free and independent people. Isn't it odd that people can toy with our sense of morality and get us to accept things that, otherwise, we would reject.

So in the words of Socrates, " I drank what?" Oh well...

Sorry this is so long Dr. P....I'll keep it shorter next time. If you think it is totally off-base here, just zap it.

I. Introduction and Topics of Discussion

For most people, the 1960’s would come to mind as one of the greatest periods of change in American history. Indeed, the decade of the sixties was a turbulent era. With a recent memory and the thousands of film clips, most would agree that this period changed our nation. There is little doubt that our defining mythology and our concept of community as a whole mutated and changed because of the events that happened during these tense and traumatic years. However, historians tend to look for the origin, the biggest or the best. When they search for answers to questions, they strive to find the real cause. In keeping with this tradition, we can not proclaim that the 1960’s are the molder of our society. While some profound changes took place that really became visible to the mass public, we must set our sights on a more distant period to actually see the conception of today’s world.
Aside from those who have took a great deal of interest in American history, the first twenty years of the twentieth century may seem a bit bland to say the least. While some may recall that it was during that period that the First World War occurred, very few contemplate its importance as a factor in American society. For most folks, the period between 1900 and 1920 only invokes images of Charlie Chaplin, the Charleston dance and possibly the Wright Brothers flying machine. None the less, it is in this period that events occurred and ideas sprang forth that would change and replace American values and sensibility up to and perhaps beyond, the world most of us will see tonight on the evening news.
By far and away, the first twenty years of this century were as dynamic, if not more so, than any in the three hundred years before. The rise and eventual domination of the Progressive agenda by those, who can now be deemed as interventionary Progressives, has forever changed our world and the way we think. It has, in many respects, touched anyone and everyone who has lived since its arrival. That understanding is crucial for this brief study; it is living history. While the movers and shakers of the first generation Progressives have long since died, their ideas and convictions are very much alive today. With this said, we can proceed. First, to define Progressivism and Interventionism and then to discuss its origin and growth. Thus, the conclusion will be drawn focusing on its effects in our daily lives.

II. Progressives and Progressivism

To fully understand Progressivism, some factors concerning its origin must be discussed. Progressivism must be considered as a new faith. More specifically, a secular faith rooted deeply into the strata of the defining mythology which creates and maintains the American mind. The components of this new and exciting ideology are very important to the conceptualization of the mind set found in the United States at the turn of the century.

A. Universally accepted belief that Americans were a chosen people with divine
ordinance to carry out special purposes

B. As a result of divine ordinance, Americans could overcome any obstacle. This
was already proven because of the great scientific progress that had recently

1. Invention of the electric light to eliminate darkness
2. Invention of the telephone allows distant conversation, therefore
overcoming time and space.

C. Because of the progress of technology, America was granted control over the
material universe.

D. History had to be rewritten to enforce all of the above ideas. It had to
demonstrate that progress equates with godliness. Also, it had to show that
self-sacrifice for the common good was the highest achievement.

E. Optimism was absolutely essential to be an American. Pessimism was seen as
faithless and therefore not a member of the divinely ordained.

With these mental factors in mind, it is not hard to realize the ideology of the Progressives. Simply put, the Progressives believed that since America had been appointed by God from its beginning to act as the shining city on the hill, thereby providing and maintaining the glorious example for all the world to see. Since the holy ordination had enabled Americans to succeed in innovation and invention which had conquered some of man’s most basic inhibitors; Americans could, should and would overcome the remainder of man’s foes including sickness, poverty, cruelty, injustice and inequality. With optimism running at this awesome level, it is not difficult to see the enthusiasm shared by Progressives.

III. The Progressive Agenda

As with any social or political movement, Progressivism began with the politically articulate elite. These philosophical mechanics of our society began to start the molding process as early as the late 1880’s. The development of the Progressive agenda began with the movements conception and, by 1915, it was universally accepted. Some of the key elements are as follows,

A. The belief that every individual is improvable (economically, physically,
morally, and educationally).

B. The concept that all of society is improved by the improvement of any
individual. Not only the immediate community, but the entire society is better.

C. The belief that society has an absolute obligation to use all of its resources for
the betterment of every individual.

1. These beliefs produce the concept that the sole test of a government is
whether or not it provides for the society through its obligation to the

While the Progressive agenda was accepted universally by the early part of the century, its feasibility was still questioned. The Progressives, via Theodore Roosevelt, got into the White House in 1903. Even though he put into action many of the ideals of the Progressives, such as legislation concerning mass media, railroads, technology and immigration; the movement still was not directly defeating the foes set forth by the Progressive agenda. Therefore, a new set of directives was to emerge that would change the role of government and effect each and every Americans.

IV. Interventionary Progressivism

As mentioned earlier, Theodore Roosevelt had enacted programs to promote the movement. However, by the middle of the second decade of the twentieth century, it was becoming clear to Progressives that their goals were not being met. People were still involved in vice. Also, poverty and injustice were still growing and sickness was ever present. With the election of Woodrow Wilson, the Progressives were to take on these problems in a more forceful manner.
To clearly understand to concept of interventionary Progressivism, an analogy would serve well. As a moral Progressive, Teddy Roosevelt would have believed that people, if taught the correct way, would make the right choices. His programs were not intrusive into the individual’s life. As for an interventionary Progressive like Woodrow Wilson, his ideas would have been quite different. The ideology here being that people are too stupid to make good choices. Therefore, the government must act as the parent and prevent the individual from making poor decisions which, in effect, hindered the Progressive agenda.
For example, Roosevelt would have thought it a good idea for people to wear helmets when riding a motorcycle. He may have even required that the manufactures and dealers of motorcycles inform the buyer that it was very beneficial to wear protective head gear. However, he would have fought vigorously to stop laws that would force the rider to wear the helmet against his will. He simply believed that people were smart enough to make the right decisions. On the other hand, Wilson would have believed that people needed to be forced to wear them because they did not have the good sense to do so on their own. This example illustrates the intrusiveness of this set of Progressive beliefs. The interventionary Progressives sought to save people from themselves.
While the above example was not an issue in 1914, it makes a very real point. This interventionary ideology employed by Wilson was a radical change in the Progressive camp. It was now the government who was responsible for the morality of America. The intellectual elite of the interventionist felt that it was essential that the state enforce good choices. After all, moral parents equals good kids, thus the quality of life for all of society is raised.
It is this basic belief of government intrusiveness that Wilson institutionalizes and molds so completely that it is felt in the present day. Of course, the contexts of this new idealism was to be essential in its conception and infiltration into our society. It had to coincide with our defining mythology and our concepts of community. Also, to gain wide acceptance, Wilson had to have the right situation and tools to fully develop and establish his ideology.

V. The Institutionalization of Interventionary Progressivism to 1920

As said earlier, Wilson was the epitome of interventionary Progressivism. Wilson had felt that he was an instrument of God to make the Progressive movement yield real, tangible strides toward the lofty goals that had been set forth. Of course, he could not have instituted such radical ideals if it had not been for the unique environment in which he rose to power. Several conditions had to be present to afford the change.

A. The creation and rise of a cult of experts is especially important. It was during this era that the term expert became a household word. Simply, if we are to enforce good choices then it is only logical that people are consulted who have special knowledge concerning the problem at hand. Experts did come from the legal and medical fields, but also from the clergy and social workers. This concept of expert is very important to understanding the reasons behind such massively intrusive programs as Prohibition. It fits with our defining
mythology. Americans do not accept elites, but they could accept experts.

B. The need for conformity was paramount for Wilson especially after 1916. With the United States being a very ethnically diverse nation, programs had to be presented that would link all Americans because of the threat of war. The great obstacle that faced Wilson was how to unite the interventionary Progressives with rural America. This could not have been done with the entry into World War I. Government had to be intrusive to ensure the war effort was moving and that the cohesion of the country was not weakened. The role of the first world war was the important concept to create this union.

1. The concept of the moral crusade was the essential element. Wilson
rallied the whole country behind the concept that we, America the shining city on the hill, were divinely ordained to once and for all end warfare. After all, the Progressive goal of ending death would take a great leap forward with the elimination of war. It was this mission, set forth by God and relayed by Wilson, that was to achieve the mass conformity that was needed to institutionalize intrusive government programs. The concept being that the government is going to have to keep us morally fit as not to tarnish our role as the holy warrior. Therefore, legislation could be handed
down that ensured morality and they would be accepted by the public at large.

VI. The Aftermath of World War I and Prohibition

Long before the first shots of the first world war, there had been anti-alcohol movements scattered throughout the United States. Nonetheless, they could have never gained the support needed to make any national legislation. However, the changes brought forth during the Wilson administration by intrusive government programs made such a great movement possible. Remember, the holy crusaders can not be tarnished by the many facets of vice that still plagued our country. Also, the experts, mainly social workers, were convinced that alcohol was the main source of all problems in America. Therefore, we can not possibly achieve the goals of defeating man’s foes as long as some still choose to make the bad choice of getting intoxicated.
Thus, the stage is set. We are now all conformist. Indeed, we are holy crusaders trying to rid the world of evil. The experts are saying we have alcohol to blame for the majority of problems that still plague our shining city. What do we do? According to those like Wilson, we are too inept to make wise decisions. With all of these factors at work, it is not hard to realize how Prohibition came about so rapidly after World War I. It could even be said that to date, Prohibition was the most ambitious feat the interventionary Progressives attempted.

Even with the failure of Prohibition, the Progressives branched into all areas of our society. The cults of experts have done well (or not) in science but have failed miserably in other fields (education, governance and the bastardization of our history). Yet, even in the face of failure (reading scores), the conformity of the experts continues.
Circle the wagons, boys! Them crazy fools is trying to get rid of constructivism. Hell, I don't know if it works, but by God, if enough of us stick together we can bullshit them to death and get a promotion at the same time. What?? You say we are creating a system of elitists and illiterate masses by refusing to change? Who the hell do they think we are? We are experts!! Yes, it's been 20 years since I was in a public school classroom when I taught three semesters of Advanced creative writing, but damn it, I am an expert!!!!!!!!!

Sorry....It just popped out! Old Dan river...wider than a mile....

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