Thursday, August 28, 2008

We're Not all the Same...no, Really

By Rich Bordner

I just finished my first day back at school. Staff reported today, as we attended a day-long staff development workshop with the whole school district (I'm a public high school teacher, by the way). The day was fraught with joys, from seeing old colleague friends to learning something new about teaching to getting 'pumped up' for the upcoming school year. It was a good day on all three counts.

What struck me, however, was just how incredibly liberal the public education establishment is. I don't know why it hasn't hit me until now...denial, perhaps. Not individual teachers or administrators, mind you (though there are definitely a fair share of liberal teachers and administrators roaming around), but the establishment itself.

Education folk are big on diversity. For the most part, this is a good thing, but it can take an ugly twist. At the one point at which you'd think there'd be the most diversity, there's the least: thought and worldview. Most of the day was focused on good teaching strategies, but throughout the workshop, deeper worldview issues and questions came up, questions and issues that most people there didn't stop to ponder. Most just accepted the left leaning answers without thought, because its what they've been taught to think and believe by institutions of higher learning.

When these deeper worldview issues crept to the surface today, what I heard from the pulpit was incredibly predictable and stereotypical.

An example: we watched a filmed interview of several Latino fifth graders in a local elementary school. Most of the parents of these fifth graders, presumably, had entered into the U.S illegally. The interviewer asked the kids, 'what do you feel when you hear the phrase 'illegal alien'?' The kids responded, 'like everyone hates us, like they think we're dirty and don't want us here.' There was more to the interview, but the view the students communicated was clear: if you are against illegal immigration, you are prejudiced and don't believe in freedom. People have an unmitigated right to come to America.

Next, the film showed these same students 'taking on' an old, old (and I mean old), white male with a thick southern accent on the subject of illegal immigration (This man was actually the librarian of the school). The man went on and on about how illegal immigration needs to be curbed because of the trash and litter they bring: 'when I chew gum, I don't spit it on the floor.'

The students were all over him...when he actually tried to make an economic argument, they interrupted him. Afterwards, the presenters praised the kids for 'speaking truth to power.'

Oy...it's almost like the interviewers went out of their way to find a strawman to oppose the students, as if they said, 'hey, we need someone to represent the conservative viewpoint. Hey, you, you're old, and you're white..reeeeal white...so far so good. Say a few words ('howdy pardner!'). Great..you'll do.'

And about 'speaking truth to power.' Power sometimes corrupts...true. And it sometimes needs to be opposed...true. But I can't help but feel that power gets a bad rap these days. After all, Churchill needed a certain amount of power to bring down the Third Reich. Speaking truth to THAT power would go something like: 'great job..thanks bro...keep it up.'

Anyway, I was amused at the uniformity of worldview the different presenters had.

(Photo courtesy of Pyromaniacs blog at www.spurgeon.org/~phil/posters.htm)

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