For Civil Society, End Multicultural Education

Published July 28, 2016

In a thoughtful blog post, Robert Pondiscio ruminates on how to apply insights about social psychology to American education in a season of social unrest.

He refers to the work of Jonathan Haidt, who is popularizing research that shows emphasizing social differences in media, education, and popular culture creates social instability, especially as a society diversifies in such aspects as race, interests, politics, lifestyles, and religion. A taste:

While common sense would suggest that exposure to difference–discussion and celebration of diversity–should be critical to understanding and empathy, this humane and intuitive impulse might be precisely the wrong one. ‘All the available evidence indicates that exposure to difference, talking about difference, and applauding difference–the hallmarks of liberal democracy–are the surest ways to aggravate those who are innately intolerant,’ Haidt quotes Stenner, ‘and to guarantee the increased expression of their predispositions in manifestly intolerant attitudes and behaviors.’

‘Paradoxically, then, it would seem that we can best limit intolerance of difference by parading, talking about, and applauding our sameness,’ Stenner observes. ‘Ultimately, nothing inspires greater tolerance from the intolerant than an abundance of common and unifying beliefs, practices, rituals, institutions, and processes. And regrettably, nothing is more certain to provoke increased expression of their latent predispositions than the likes of “multicultural education,” bilingual policies, and non-assimilation.’

Many, if not most, Americans are deeply unsettled about where our nation is and seems to be headed. Yet most of us still agree on the essentials of what makes America itself: freedom of religion and speech; a number-one priority of government being the defense of its citizens’ lives; telling children the truth about their heritage, both good and bad. Most Americans agree on what kids should learn in school: American history, basic math, good literature, the ability to think and reason through different ideas.

Despite all this unity, our public education system, if one is to analyze by the precious snowflakes it helps parents send to universities, is at the very least not helping emphasize this unity of direction and at the worst severing it deliberately. Making a major contribution to this state of affairs are teacher training institutions, where surveys find the majority of professors consider their mission as social justice rather than effectively transmitting a coherent cultural heritage to the next generation in conjunction with the wishes of parents, neighborhoods, and society at large.

They get away with it because they don’t suffer for their bad ideas; their students, and students’ students, do. One step towards helping Americans reach towards one another, then, would be disbanding the monopolies of disconnected, ineffective, and politically divisive teachers’ colleges. There are many other ways to work towards a more unified society, but this would be a key place for education-minded folks to start.

SOURCE: American Interest, Flypaper


  • Common Core and Curriculum Watch

School Choice Roundup

Common Core and Curriculum Watch

  • CALIFORNIA: Second-graders will learn about families with gay and transgender parents and fourth graders will learn about the first openly gay man elected to public office in California under new LGBT history curriculum requirements.
  • DEMOCRATS: New WikiLeaks-released emails show Democratic National Committee staff calling Common Core a “third rail” and deciding to deflect attention from it as a campaign issue.
  • MONTANA: The state is proposing new curriculum mandates for science, and state officials insist they have “local roots”–except they’re basically the same as a set of national, Common Core-linked science mandates.

Education Today

  • STUDENT DEBT: Contrary to many media reports and politicians’ assertions, most people who graduate with a bachelor’s degree have less than $20,000 in debt, and seven in 10 had less than $30,000 in debt, finds a new data analysis.
  • SCHOOL BUILDINGS: Attending school in run-down buildings is correlated with high absenteeism and low academic performance, finds a new study.

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