Archives For Teaching

Wiel 18th October 2018In 1944, C.S Lewis wrote:

‘The demand for equality has two sources; First, the noble: the desire for fair play. Second, the mean-spirited: the hatred of superiority. If you seek to appease envy: 1. you will not succeed. Envy is insatiable. 2. you are trying to introduce equality where equality is fatal.
Political democracy is doomed if it tries to extend its demand for equality into the higher spheres of beauty, virtue and truth. Neither of which are democratic. Ethical, intellectual or aesthetic democracy is death.’
(C.S. Lewis, 1944. Democratic Education) [i]

Lewis’ position can be read as a push back against extreme egalitarianism and the quagmire of sameness. The late American political philosopher, Jean Bethke Elshtain, also brilliantly hummed her own critical tune in relation to this issue.

Writing under the heading, ‘Multiculturalism and Democratic Education’ Elshtain stated:

‘Teacherly malfeasance occurs in instances of unreflective, dogmatic politicisation […] This sort of education fails in its particular and important task of preparing us for a world of ambiguity and variety. It equips us only for resentment or malicious naivete [ii]

Lewis and Elshtain come at this argument from different angles. Both add to an argument for the re-balancing of popular ideologies birthed in the 1960’s, and the new societal norms which come from them.

As Elshtain posits, “I wonder if democracy can survive what it has to, by definition allow? Such as, the desires a mob majority,  which works against the democratic voice of the people. Democratic freedom must have a framework of responsible limitations, for example, a just constitution, in order for democratic freedom to exist.

The area where this applies most is forced compliance with ‘unreflective, dogmatic politicisation’ (Elshtain)(E.g.: forced compliance to the failing and flawed ideology of multiculturalism and new definitions of tolerance).

Instead of preserving the vibrancy of a cohesive multi-ethnic society, under one meta-culture, multiculturalism morphs a once united multi-ethnic society, into a multi-nationalist society. This threatens the national sovereignty and stability of that multi-ethnic society, because it breaks with a shared history, agreed upon ideals, civility and common values. It creates foreign enclaves or beachheads, such as “no go zones“.

This is the direct result of tolerance introducing ‘equality where equality is fatal’ (Lewis). The ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’s’ reign of terror.

Disguised as part of the new educational standard, guided by a good vibes only, ‘unreflective, dogmatic politicisation’.  The new definition of tolerance and compliance poses as the only academic essential. Acceptance and legitimacy are only validated by an absolute alignment with approved ideologies. In turn, a form of emotional blackmail follows. The academy is paralysed because the academic focus is reduced to how best education can be forced to fit within the new educational standard of the ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’.

Democratic education is reduced to compliance. Academic standards are lowered, while teachers are forced to obsess over appeasing the feelings and fickle sentiments of society.
In not being willing to responsibly discuss differences, for fear of offence or ridicule, democracy wanes.

This narrowing forces everyone into the same box: a secular version of “convert, pay a tax or die.” From here academic indifference and complacency replaces the energy of academic rigour. Genuine progress, and the conservation of hard fought for healthy traditions, are held back by the demand for total compliance to the ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’.

Along with a cohesive multi-ethnic society, democratic debate and its ability to preserve the beauty of unity-in-diversity, dies. Political democracy, as C.S Lewis pointed out, is ‘doomed if it tries to expand its demand for equality into beauty, virtue and truth [none of which are determined by democratic vote].’

Society and politics, placed under this good vibes only, ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’, sets people on a trajectory towards tribalism and slavery. People are then forced to stick to their “own kind”: Whites with whites; men with men; women with women; black with black; indigenous Australian with indigenous Australian; Left with Left, Right with Right.

Differences are considered irreconcilable. People are divorced from one an another. Strangers become enemies, and friends become strangers. Thus we come to the  inevitable rejection of differences and the quagmire of sameness.

As Elshtain predicted, this flags a new segregation:

‘As a form of ideological teaching, multicultural absolutism isolates us in our own skins and equates culture with racial or ethnic identity. [In America], the new multiculturalism promotes commensurability: If I am white and you are black, we cannot, in principle, speak to or understand each other. You just won’t “get it […]. Some critics wonder how long it will take to move from separate approaches for African-American children in the name of Afro-centricity, for example, to a quest for separate schools.[iii]’

Extreme egalitarianism is a quagmire of sameness. We arrive at the quagmire of sameness because of envy and (as C.S. Lewis so brilliantly put it) its hatred of superiority.

The quest for equality ends up creating new forms of inequality. Anyone with opposing views or unique abilities is silenced, condemned and shipped off to camps, under the guise of “re-education” or “resettlement.” This is all done “for the good of the collective”.

This is evident in Australian society. Where very early on children are taught to tow the good vibes only, ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’.

Over achievers are called “try-hards.” They’re deemed a threat to the collective and are consequently castigated for it. Rather than celebrate the competency and talent of a person, the majority maliciously turn against them. “Try hard”, an otherwise encouraging term, is used as a shaming control technique. Uniqueness is squashed into the box of sameness, under the name of equality.

For both Lewis and Elshtain, extreme egalitarianism is a ‘phony equality.[v]’ It perpetuates that which it says it opposes. This phony equality levels whatever it subjectively sees as uneven ground. The same could be said about the new definitions of tolerance.

Those who want to walk away from the ‘unreflective, dogmatic politicisation’ won’t find it easy.

They will face the same hostile reaction, French philosopher, Albert Camus faced, when he ‘was virtually excommunicated from the French Left by Sartre, and his comrades, because he expressed a strong disapproval of the passion for unity that saw any opposition as treason.’[iv]

In not being able to celebrate unity in diversity or find and maintain common ground, democracy fails. The cohesive elements of a vibrant multi-ethnic Western society are then consigned to the prison of a good vibes only, ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’. If left unanswered, Western society will descend into the terror of fascist rule, the shared poverty of communism or the destructive anarchist vacuum of pagan tribalisation.
________________________________________

References:

[i] Lewis, C. 1944, Democratic Education In Walmsley, L. (Ed.) 2000 C.S Lewis Essay Collection Harper Collins p.190

[ii] Elshtain, J.B. 1995 Democracy on Trial Basic Books, Perseus Books Group p.83

[iii] Ibid, p.79

[iv] Ibid, p.120

[v] Ibid, p.74

Originally published 5th January, 2016 & on The Caldron Pool, 2nd November, 2018 under the headline: ‘Multiculturalism has failed: Identity politics sets people on a trajectory towards tribalism and slavery.’

Photo credit: rawpixel at unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2018

 

Tandem Reading _GVLExcluding ‘The Floating City,’ ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ is our second Jules Verne classic utilising a tandem reading out loud strategy.

For our first tandem reader our 3rd and 5th grade homeschoolers, journeyed through ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Seas.’ Each took turns at reading a page, stopping at key points to investigate significant historical events, including geography and marine biology.

This came about because I had decided to revise our reading out loud time after a time management crisis; I was trying to fit a lot of exciting themes and educational opportunities into such a small timeframe. The individual reading of different books out loud, at different times during the day, was not as effective as I’d hoped it would be.

Reading Verne out loud and in tandem offered me a way to implement a more rounded reading routine. The aim was to deal with a large amount of new information in small, fun and interesting pieces. A primary part of this process was journaling about each chapter, focusing on the action (verbs).

I was then able to monitor the progress of reading and comprehension more closely. By creating opportunities for discussion about the current status of the characters and where they think the storyline is headed, I’ve also been able to partake in the joy of the adventure without adding more pressure to the workload.

The added bonus here is that Verne was French. As a well-travelled French novelist his perspective is broad and insightful. It meant that when we sat down to watch the American movie version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, our homeschoolers were able to discern the cultural and literary differences. For example: the screenwriters wrote for an American audience, whereas Verne’s audience was primarily European.

Our kids pointed out that Ned Land’s behaviour, dialogue and character in the novel is more humorous. Whereas the Disney movie presents a more serious and restless character. They came to their own conclusions about the differences between film and book, taking serious issue with some scenes and the ending of the movie.

Rather than buy duel copies of each book, we’re utilising e-readers. For this job the Kindle readers have served us well. The benefits of the Kindle outweigh its drawbacks. The benefits being an inbuilt dictionary, Kindle for P.C., highlighting for future reference and cost. The drawbacks are battery life, location numbers and the loss of that book-in-hand experience. As for the location numbers they are sometimes matched against actual page numbers, but I’m probably not alone in wishing that Amazon would just drop the former and stick with the latter.

Adding to the benefits of reading these 19th Century classics out loud is the language. Each book has its own unique set of verbs, adjectives and nouns. So much so that they are great for vocab building. Not only are our homeschoolers spelling the words and working with definitions, but they are reading them in a firm historical context.

This said, our journey hasn’t been without its struggles. Being over 120 years old, Verne’s use of vernacular and the depth of his vocabulary shows it’s age. So, the progress can be slow going. When this happens it’s up to me to make an extra effort so that these hard parts are as much fun to get through as seeing what happens in the story next.

In order for this to work well I’ve had to make sure that I am clear with our homeschoolers about what I expect and don’t expect. For instance it’s not vital for them to retain things like the Latin names of categories that Verne throws our way.

The outcomes so far have been some improved reading, comprehension and further familiarity with scientific concepts. If I’m forgiven for being bold enough, I’d even follow this up with increased appreciation for teamwork, communication and the benefit of being introduced to historical events otherwise overlooked in some history curriculums.

Tandem reading out loud is new for us. The teaming up of a more advanced reader with a less advanced reader has helped both. It’s a learning technique that we’re still exploring.

As much as I like it, we won’t being using this technique with any and every book.The format seems to best fit big adventures and older style writing. For us, Jules Verne has been a good fit, preparing us for a time when they’re more than ready to tackle something like John Bunyan’s, 1678, ‘Pilgrims Progress.’


Related posts:

Brunel, Verne & The Great Eastern

Flying Cohesion

God’s Grace, Jules Verne & The World That Revolves On The In-Between

During my management theory classes I undertook while working as a manager in retail. We were repeatedly told that the “crucial” characteristic of any successful manager was being clear on the complexities  encountered when arriving at the intersection between procedure and implementation.

The intersection has the universal reputation of being fraught IMG_20140518_160505with snares and frustration.

A procedure, therefore, should be informed by how it is to work on the field. Not just passed across from those personnel detached from the actual hands-on personnel.

Unfortunately even the best laid out procedure can hit pot-holes. This is because the delivery of any procedure when it hits the implementation stage can be limited by resources, circumstance, environment and time.

Simply put: what reads great on paper can become a nightmare in practice.

To resolve the issues encountered here managers will generally apply the axiom “review, review, review”.

Reviewing looks for limitations and strengths; taking a step back to refocus application, direction and timing.

Reviewing gives priority to the limitations in order to reform the procedure whilst seeing whether the strengths could be improved upon or simplified to free up resources for improving areas of delivery or achievement that need improvement.

One of the great things we enjoy about home-schooling is being able to apply and develop life skills learnt in the professional arena.

Today we had a parent-teacher conference and looked for limitations in our approach to home-schooling.

The outcomes included a list of new material to research and purchase. In addition to a simple timetable drafted to empower flexibility in our routine. A quick discussion followed in which we both talked about the progress of our kids, and the resources we are using to improve their education.

For example: creating more light in a room by replacing dark  and heavy bookshelves with white ones. Carefully putting new things in place to improve our environment can potentially improve the way in which their home education is delivered.

Stumbling along this “road less travelled” and feeling as though you’re walking through mud sometimes is a seasonal challenge for home-schoolers.

These seasons will come, they do in the business world as well. Some skills are transferable. The importance of reviewing and improving how we do things as home educators is that it advances the home-school team and can safeguard our parenting by minimise exhaustion closer to end of term.

Bringing your talents, gifts, work experience, knowledge, faith and skills into your approach towards homeschooling has serious potential. It can uplift the process by energising how children are taught in the way they should, could and ought to go.

In theological terms, reviewing is like confession. It recognises our humanity through our limitations and calls us back to life, out of self-condemnation and complacency. Back into the why and the how we got started on this journey in the first place. We are reminded of the One who schools us and grants us the privilege of the burden of responsibility in serving our children in such a special way.

‘Education is the point at which we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, not to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new – but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world’

(Hannah Arendt, 1961 Between Past & Future, Penguin Classics p.193)

Image: mine via instagram.

blog post header Kierkegaard quote

I am constantly amazed at how much I learn from participating in my share of the home schooling. In a lot of ways I am a student as much as I am the teacher for three days a week.

In my reflecting on the week, I once again was reminded of something Soren Kierkegaard  wrote:

to be a teacher is to truly be a learner: if one is truly to succeed in leading a person to a specific place, one must first and foremost take care to find that person where he or she is and begin there’[i]

As an example of the journey I’m talking about, here are some photos of a small field trip we embarked upon last week.

Field Trip_LandformFuanaFlora excursion Collage

My plan for the morning was to expand our focus on geography by having a closer look at ecosystems, the local environment and landforms.

As part of this we looked for evidence of animals and noted the variety of trees and plants, most of which we found were native to the Eastern Australian coastal habitat. We explored a little further and located significant erosion, building rubble and even part of old metal track used for railways. There was some degree of surprise at the level of waste left from what appeared to have been an industrial use of the area.

This gave up an opportunity for discussion on the negative and positive aspects of human interaction with the environment.

Field Trip_LandformFuanaFlora excursion Collage 4

The list of items we discovered included, Gum, Wattle (Acacia), Iron-Bark, and Bottle Brush. We also encountered some bromeliads, a large spider and  a couple of kangaroos which appeared in a paddock not too far off.

Field Trip_LandformFuanaFlora excursion Collage 3_

Maybe it’s the aspiring academic in me that looks to contemplate how all this fits together, and how I fit into the journey with our home schoolers as a whole. I’m not totally sure.

I do know that it can leave me with a healthy dose of good-exhaustion and humility at the end of the day. I have come to understand in recent days that learning and seeing my children learn, energizes me in a way I never truly expected it would.

Perhaps this is a reflection of the process of grace enacted by the Holy Spirit. The life-giving breath that raises us up and assists us in putting on, and putting down. The witness we come to see in God’s journey with us, towards us and for us. We are never empty-handed, never without a teacher; we are shown in order to see, and told in order to hear..

‘…the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you….Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid’.

–  John 14:26-27

Source:

[i] Kiekegaard, S On my work as an author, the point of view in Hong,H. & Hong,E. 1978   Princeton University Press pp.460-461