KABOOM! Did A School Really Try To Brainwash A Second Grader? [UPDATED]

kaboom-red

The comments to a perfectly sane article about the value of teaching logic and critical thinking in elementary school are fascinating, terrifying, aggravating and all too typical in some ways. For example, it takes just 25 comments or so before some of the participants start calling each other names based on their assumed political views. The entire thread is enlightening reading, but the most provocative part is the discussion sparked by this comment:

If you teach your kids logic they’ll have conflicts with their teachers lol. I know because all of mine have had issues and it should not be this way. My youngest corrected a teacher in the 2nd grade because she was teaching something wrong. My daughter ended up going to ISS(in school suspension). I was called and they said while your daughter was correct, she cannot correct a teacher. They had put my daughter in ISS and wrote on the whiteboard 4=eight and as soon as my daughter agreed with that statement she could go back to class. She was in ISS all day. I was proud of my daughter and disgusted with everyone that would treat a 2nd grade little girl the way they treated her. Was glad that she wasn’t in that school very long.

This is also the source of the KABOOM!, as you can see. North Korean brain-washing methods have apparently penetrated some parts of the American teaching establishment. My head exploded in protest, but I can’t say I’m surprised.

Some random observations, and then I’ll leave the reactions to you:

  • I am afraid to even consider what I might do if I found that a school had tried to force my child to acknowledge that “4=eight.” I also find it ominous that the obvious progressive in the discussion attempts to spin this as something other than an outrage, and to turn the complaining parent into the villain.
  • That guy writes in part,

“You clearly have a narrative. I have no idea how much of that narrative is accurate or inaccurate, but the totality with which it divides the world into the good “in-group” (you and your children) and the bad “out-group” (the public schools and everyone who works in them) strongly suggests that it is a heavily (attribution) biased narrative in a textbook way. And what your narrative suggests, bundled up with this harshly expressed set of biases, is a striking lack of empathy. The rest of the world is full of malice for failing to accommodate you in every way; you alone are virtuous in your fight to ensure that they do. (I’m not surprised to see you declare, downthread, that liberals are “bat shit crazy,” since the current right-wing in America is strongly characterized by a lack of empathy for others and a strong belief that the world exists to privilege you, at everyone else’s expense.)”…

What? Since this “narrative” reflects horribly on his profession, the story must be a “narrative,”  and ideologically motivated. This seems like an example of someone interpreting the actions of others through their own ethical maladies. I have empathy for a single participant in this indoctrination exercise: the second-grader. Aww, was the poor teacher embarrassed to have a seven-year-old point out that she was wrong? Tough: she deserves to be embarrassed, as does the school that employs her, perhaps. Maybe the shame will motivate her to be more competent.

  • Of course a student should challenge a teacher who is giving out bad information; the student also better be sure she’s right, and be taught how to do it politely and respectfully. You will not be surprised to learn that I had a penchant for correcting teachers, though I don’t recall starting quite that early. My Dad, he who left several jobs when he refused to follow what he believed to be wrongful orders, both taught and modeled the principle that authority should be challenged, including his own.
  • I don’t want to be too much of an alarmist, but I continue to find the drift to totalitarian methods and attitudes in liberal bastions like lower and higher education very troubling and threatening to American ideals.

UPDATE: I just saw this article. Hmmmm. Can’t have that now, can we? Time to beef up those Re-Education Centers with sensory deprivation tanks…

_______________________

Pointer: Patrice

18 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Kaboom!, U.S. Society

18 responses to “KABOOM! Did A School Really Try To Brainwash A Second Grader? [UPDATED]

  1. Chase Davidson

    I remember when I was in second grade, I got detention for saying that Christopher Columbus wasn’t actually the first person to find America. This has been going on for a while; at least I got a paper thesis for Sociology out of it! I think, as I stated there after I researched the issue, that schools, at least at the elementary phase, are far more interested in teaching students the ‘student role’ rather than actual knowledge. The ‘student role’, by the way, being to sit quiet, passively absorb information, and be obedient and compliant with even the most inane bureaucracy.

  2. joed68

    Here’s a quick read by a guy with an interesting take on modern public school “education”. http://easybooks.xyz/?book=1522813756

    “I am afraid to even consider what I might do if I found that a school had tried to force my child to acknowledge that “4=eight.” ”
    Yeah, that’s one of the reasons we shell out mortgage-level tuition for parochial school for our kids. Keeps me out of jail.

    • Becky

      One of my sisters fled a public HS and went to a small Catholic school. Our family never encountered any indoctrination in our public Houston schools (all 3 of us, except for her final 3 years of HS), but it was REAL at her Catholic school. My Catholic-raised dad who’d had his own issues in Catholic schools, who’d also become Presbyterian, rolled his eyes plenty. It never came to the level of this incident, but that’s partially because Father Bill wasn’t as convinced he’d make her change her mind once the bell rang and it ended (seems she was dang lucky?). But she went round and round with him in more than one class. And there was at least one incident where both my parents refused to leave work and go pick her up because she was NOT in the wrong. “Send her back to class.” Apparently we were lucky??? My dad was kicked out of Kindergarten by a nun who told him on the first day, “Wipe that smile off your face.” He didn’t know what that meant, so he literally wiped his face with his hand while trying to stop smiling. He was sent home and not allowed back til NEXT year, when someone else taught Kindergarten.

  3. Wayne B

    What an Orwellian development! I may have corrected a teacher a time or two when I was a kid and I knew they were incorrect about something. As I can recall they just shrugged it off and corrected their mistake. I even did this many times at the university level when I was a grad student. Usually the professor would blow me off if he thought he was right. Sometimes they would look at me and laugh while stating that I might have somewhere there. Only poor teachers will resort to the “I’m the authority here” bs when corrected by an alert student that they have made a mistake.

    • joed68

      Kind of ironic that Orwell was a socialist.

      • Wayne B

        Orwell besides writing :*1984* he fought with an anarchist group for Republican Spain against Franco’s Nationalists. The group was brutally suppressed by Communists in Barcelona as directed by Stalin. True, he was a Socialist but was an adamant foe of totalitarianism.

  4. Dwayne N. Zechman

    So . . . there’s a part of me that wants to pass the 2nd-grade daughter a note that says to tell the teacher this: “Sure, 4 = 8 if we’re talking about a Z mod 16Z algebraic ring set. Do you know what that means, {teacher’s name}?”

    –Dwayne

  5. Isaac

    “…the current right-wing in America is strongly characterized by a lack of empathy for others and a strong belief that the world exists to privilege you, at everyone else’s expense…”

    Funny, what actual studies have been done show that political conservatives both give and volunteer more of their time and money to charitable causes. I don’t know about empathy, but seeing as the millennial generation is both more liberal AND far less empathetic and more narcissist, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a causation to go with that correlation.

    But hey, random internet commenter, just say things and try to sound like you know what you’re talking about. Seems to work for you.

  6. Did you really read the entire comment dialogue? Dear Lord, the places where it went! Comments travelled from a pompous verbose explanation about why some guy doubted her story, (Which he did with many thousands of words), to others exploring possible logical fallacies regarding the existence of Jesus and whether Tacitus was a historical contemporary. I do admit to skimming after losing whatever prurient interest I had in how far the insults could travel, but even that left me exhausted. Now let me get back to Sartre’s ‘Being and Nothingness.’

  7. If you teach your kids logic they’ll have conflicts with their teachers lol. I know because all of mine have had issues and it should not be this way. My youngest corrected a teacher in the 2nd grade because she was teaching something wrong. My daughter ended up going to ISS(in school suspension). I was called and they said while your daughter was correct, she cannot correct a teacher. They had put my daughter in ISS and wrote on the whiteboard 4=eight and as soon as my daughter agreed with that statement she could go back to class. She was in ISS all day. I was proud of my daughter and disgusted with everyone that would treat a 2nd grade little girl the way they treated her. Was glad that she wasn’t in that school very long.

    This is quite an extraordinary claim.

    I would not believe it without corroboration.

    • I find it completely plausible, and also something unlikely to be made up. “4=eight”? 2+2=5 would have me more suspicious. I’ve certainly read about worse teaching methods in news reports.

  8. Completely plausible in my book. I attended grade school in a conformist era, in a conformist location, and conforming was the primary lesson. I knew nobody could force me to believe anything that didn’t line up with reality, but it was confusing at first to be faced with B.S. because I had thought that schooling was supposed to be beneficial. By second grade I’d become cynical enough to choose my battles about whether or not to ACT LIKE I believed it. I think this “training” was not only good preparation for the workplace, it helped me at scoring well on standardized tests. I didn’t have to agree with the test writers’ opinion about, for example, what you get when you divide by zero; I only had to know and choose what the currently-fashionable answer would be (“infinity” was the old answer, “undefined” the newer one.) In college, I had no conflict with regurgitating on the exam everything some professors said in their lectures, while (for myself) comparing and critiquing what they said with the accounts in the textbook, and with primary sources where available. Having had to keep myself sane in the face of outright counterfactuality in grade school forced me to become flexible in my thinking and to be able to hold in mind a multiplicity of worldviews at once. It was a harsh but effective practical introduction to the existence of other minds. But as a child, my realization that some teachers valued saving face and enforcing arbitrary authority far more than they valued teaching, and that some others were simply unequipped intellectually or educationally to be up front, was pretty scary. It meant that I was at mercy of untrustworthy adults. It felt like being lied to, repeatedly, by the grownups who were supposed to be supporting the kids. This creates trust issues, and with good reason. Forcing a teacher into the 4=8 inanity, something that nobody actually believes, is at least some power for a second-grader. But it’s all about the teacher’s ego, not about benefit to the child.

  9. Isaac

    I tested into a gifted class in 5th grade and the teacher (who had less than 10 students and who we stayed with most of the day) harassed and tried to humiliate me daily. I vividly remember one day her taking me out into the hallway and berating me until I started to choke back tears, and then she made fun of me for crying (with no one else even around,) as if she had scored a personal victory. Of course she got away with it, because I was usually convinced I had done something wrong.

  10. Isaac

    That kid should have said…”There…are…FOUR…LIGHTS!” right as he was being led out of suspension.

  11. It starts small…

    …then it get’s out of hand.

  12. You will be assimilated, resistance is futile.

  13. Deliberate Dumbing Down of America by Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt

    There is a bunch of over the edge stuff in this but there is also some enlightening things in there. There are some video interviews links on that page too.

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