Sunday, February 23, 2020

Stupidification on the March

The HumanEvents blog has the story. The Seattle School Board has taken grievous offense because some school children do better than others. Worse yet, the division between overachievers and underachievers does not reflect diversity. And we cannot have that.

So, it has decided to solve the problem by dumbing down the best pupils, assigning them to classes where they will be bored and where their intellectual capacity will be allowed to wither away.

Andrew Fillat and Henry Miller write:

The Seattle School Board recently deemed inequality - too few minorities - in their gifted children program to be more important than nurturing the abilities of these intellectually talented kids. They propose to consign these high achievers to classes that will fail to challenge or engross them, and potentially show them the futility of achievement.

How can we explain this? It isn’t very difficult. You need to shut your eyes to reality and insist that real world outcomes fulfill your ideological imperative:

The most likely explanation for the policy shift the Seattle School Board is considering is that they, too, have capitulated to idealism and have been blinded by identity politics into believing that all people are, literally, created equal—not just in the eyes of the law, but in innate characteristics including intelligence. According to this view, differentiating people by accomplishments is hurtful if the outcome does not precisely mirror the racial, gender, ethnic, and cultural dimensions through which everyone can be categorized. Any underrepresented cohort in these political categorization schemes is, by default, considered to be victimized, and the system must, ipso facto, be racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.

But if this is a valid viewpoint, we would ask, “Why isn’t everybody athletically talented enough to play professional sports if they choose?” and, “Why can’t everybody become a coloratura soprano or a published poet?”

Those questions are fundamentally no different than, “Why can’t everybody solve complex math and engineering problems like the smartest kids at M.I.T.?”
The ideal of perfect equality fails in the real world, so why distort policy to try to achieve the impossible?

At root is a pernicious psycho theory called self-esteemism. Schools are not in the business of teaching. Children are not in the business of learning. Schools are therapy mills designed to puff up children’s self-esteem with empty praise.

Self-esteemists believe that this will cause all students to achieve peak performance. Obviously, this is untrue. It doesn’t even produce peak mental health.

The authors conclude:

This trend has led to “participation trophies,” safe spaces, crying booths, protection from micro-aggressions and “trigger words,” and, more recently, the “right” not to be made to feel uncomfortable.  British writer and TV personality Piers Morgan has called it the “snowflake and victimhood culture.”

This new entitlement is a major contributor to the adoption of feelings-based policies that reject the need to seek rational validation. Fact-based debate no longer seems necessary, if passion and good intentions suffice. Unwelcome facts can be ignored, repudiated, or “cancelled,” if social media condemns them.

Entitlement is everywhere. Identity is everything. Measures of merit are no longer a crucial factor for judging people’s status. Virtuous ideas and virtue-signaling are sacrosanct, regardless of their grounding in reality.


UbuMaccabee said...

Henry Miller? The Henry Miller? Cool.

“I have never found such a man! I have never found a man as generous as myself, as forgiving, as tolerant, as carefree, as reckless, as clean at heart. I forgive myself for every crime I have committed. I do it in the name of humanity. I know what it means to be human, the weakness and the strength of it. I suffer from this knowledge and I revel in it also. If I had the chance to be God I would reject it. If I had the chance to be a star I would reject it. The most wonderful opportunity which life offers is to be human. It embraces the whole universe. It includes the knowledge of death, which not even God enjoys.”

Maybe Henry Miller is the right tonic for our soulless and enervated times. I think his writing at Big Sur was his best, but nothing like being 17 and reading Tropic for the first time. I propose more Henry Miller for US high school reading lists.

trigger warning said...

No one told me that Diana Moon Glampers relocated to Seattle!

Sam L. said...

"The Seattle School Board has taken grievous offense because some school children do better than others. Worse yet, the division between overachievers and underachievers does not reflect diversity. And we cannot have that." Ohhhh, I'll BET that that "division" truly DOES reflect "diversity", which it WHY it MUSSSSST BE KILLED.