The other night I listened to yet another discussion on NPR about fake news, and someone commented that Americans really need to train high school students “how to think” so they have the tools necessary to identify fake news. Another panelist countered with the suggestion that high school students are already learning “analytical thinking skills,” given that their chemistry and biology classes cover the scientific method. Alas, I am not sure we know how to think about “how to think.”
After sitting on that first sentence for two days now, I still can’t help thinking it sounds like a threat.
I have read precious little which explains the 2016 election (or the two elections before that, say) better than this passage from The Meaning of Conservatism, originally published in 1980. Most of the explanations of the 2016 election come down to fear and hatred, but Scruton intuits something quite human about how we vote for heads of state which makes 2016 seem much less tawdry, at least so far as voters are concerned.
Around ten years ago, I was caught between the basically Republican ideals with which I had been raised, and the ambivalent approach to tradition which has been popular for around two hundred years now in the West. For several years, I was quite sympathetic to pacifism and anarchy, and a leftist anthropology seemed more compelling, more humane, and more true to reality than my old loves.
“Kids can smell morals. And they smell like Brussels sprouts.”
That line summarizes, more pithily than most, the general attitude towards “preachy children’s books” reflected in a cursory Google search. It comes from an article by a published author giving tips for writing children’s books, and most articles of that sort seem to include, fairly high on the list, the admonition to avoid preachiness at all cost.
As an essayist and a classical educator, I have severe reservations about the value of research papers, not the least of which is that there are no canonized research papers— but this is a matter to be discussed out by the pool, after hours, at conferences this summer. Over the next several years, the school where I teach will move from one section to three sections of seniors, and some changes to our senior thesis program will become necessary.
Who is the worst teacher you have ever known? If you are involved in education, you should know the answer to this question, even if you don’t say the answer out loud. You should put some time and thought into considering what makes a bad teacher bad. An image of a bad teacher should be easy to conjure up in your imagination, and you should live in a little fear of becoming like this bad teacher.
True or false: You are regularly outraged by news stories of terrible criminals walking the streets after receiving little or no punishment for their crimes.
True or false: You are baffled by judges who hear ludicrous excuses for criminal behavior and allow the guilty to go free.
A materialist society like ours overvalues objectivity, and rarely understands the necessity of subjectivity. This confusion wreaks havoc on the way we test, and on expectations of fairness in grading. I offer the following series of reflections and theses on objectivity and subjectivity in testing and grading. My intention is not to dismiss objectivity, which is both real and necessary, but to correct the profound overemphasis on objectivity in our society. My comments are directed towards teachers of philosophy, theology, literature, and history.
Among my most vivid teaching memories are scenes from my first day of classes. Just a few months distant from the libraries and lecture-halls of college, I stepped into the classroom, my scribbled lesson plans ready at hand.