Saturday, August 18, 2007

The politicalization of everything

UPDATE: As noted in comments, this post, while I stand behind my sentiment for what should be taught, was too "personal" in it's focus -- especially since it was based not on the original words of the teacher in question, but rather someone else's interpretation.

I've tried to update this a bit to tone it down, but decided for now rather to simply put this apology and disclaimer up here where it can be read. I've made some changes, but reserve the right to do more later.

Text starts here:

I won't debate here who is to blame for politicizing everything, but it's clear the democrats have mastered the art.

Latest example, through "raising kaine" from "democratic central" (not that liberal bloggers don't regurgitate a message or anything), Go Read Teacher Ken:

There's a wonderful post on Raising Kaine, which is cross-posted with DailyKos, from TeacherKen, a/k/a Ken Bernstein, who is a public school teacher, in which he talks about teaching and how the act of teaching children -- challenging them to think, to justify their opinions -- is inherently a political act.
I'd just as soon a public school teacher would see teaching my children as an inherently educational act, not a political one. Democratic Central quotes TeacherKen as saying:

I teach in a public school, seeking to empower the future generations in the hope that the democratic republic from which I have benefited for most of my life will still be there long after I die. I can think of nothing more important for me to do. Teaching is my essential political action.
I hear some of the results of teachers who like to make teaching into a "political act" when my children come home from school, saying "I heard Bush is evil", or "why do the republicans want to destroy the environment". Teaching should be an educational action. There are facts that should be the basis for rational thought, and teaching should instill those facts in our children, not the political opinions of teachers who post at liberal blogs about how they think the most important job they have is to brainwash my children in their lunacy.

It's possible this particular teacher meant something else by the use of the term "political act". He speaks of wanting to teach critical thinking skills, and letting his students make their own choices. These are good things, but not what most people mean when they mention politics.

I'm surprised at a liberal teacher wanting to teach facts, or critical thinking skill. While that would truly "empower future generations", it would be very detrimental to the liberal lunacy of the current democratic party. Better to have children brainwashed that everything is political, and republicans are evil. Can't have people who can think and reason for themselves, they don't make good democrats.


Anonymous said...

The um.... amusing thing about the Democratic Party these days is that their own words indict them. The sad thing is they do not realize the foolishness of what they have said. Worse, neither does too much of the public at large.

teacherken said...

nice of you to quote me - too bad you do so totally out of context. And what you don't know is that my biggest supporters are conservative parents, because in a liberal school my room is a safe place for them to express their points of view. I don't indoctrinate. I challenge them to think through the implications of statements - theirs, mine, the president's, Harry Reid's, everyones. Teaching people to think is an inherently political act because it empowers them to fully participate in a democratic republic. Maybe that's why a kid who was going for a top scholarship at Liberty U asked me of all his teachers to write his recommendation. Maybe that's why two brothers both of whose parents are evangelical christians and retired full-bird army colonels consider me their favorite teacher, and the parents consider me the best teacher the boys ever had.

Too bad some conservatives presume that because I make my writing available and people respond that such is inherently politicizing any more than the Republicans getting together for Grover's weekly meetings to discuss the talking points that everyone will hammer. There is a real difference - my words are my thoughts, not those decided upon by someone else. As a teacher I do not lose my 1st Amendment rights outside the classroom, and my students are bright enough to be able to use google to find out what I think, or read things I have had posted on a variety of topics in the Washington Post, or read things posted in professional publications about educational policy (about which I most frequently write).

The politicization of everything is what Rove and company have done to the government. Or, as someone educated might say looking at your words, perhaps those from MacBeth are appropriate, the thing about methinks the lady doth protest too much.


Charles said...


Let me think that over, and try a re-write. My initial point was based more on what points people were making in other blogs about your writing, and the implication thereof.

I am familiar with how many teachers make teaching a "political act", and the manner in which DemocraticCentral quoted you made me believe you were using the term in the same manner.

But it seems you were not, and it is unfair for me to hold you accountable for how others interpret you.

I don't have the time at the moment, but I'll make the time in the next day or two to straighten up this post.

teacherken said...

appreciate your willingness, Charles, to rethink what you wrote after I provided a broader context

we are not fully responsible if others choose to take what we create and use it in a fashion we did not intend.

I do not deny that I am extremely hliberal. All my students know that - heck, if they just read their newspapers or googled me they would know that. So I don't pretend otherwise.

But I also do NOT indoctrinate. I challenge everyone's thinking. I tell my students and their parents that my job is to force them to think more deeply, to learn how to communicate (verbally and in writing) their own ideas more cogently, to dissect the arguments of others, and hopefully to learn ow to disagree without being disagreeable. In the process I may create my own worst nightmare: an articulate and persuasive advocate of a position I abhor. In that case, as a teacher, I have to be happy - I have empowered my student.