Post modernism has seeped into education. Originally, I was of the mind that it applied to an artistic movement. Or even an architectural one. But now it has expanded to encompass, in my experience, higher education. And certainly, the psychology, philosophy and the humanities disciplines. I will explore postmodernism in popular culture in another article, but today my focus is on its influence in education.
Some time back I enrolled on an access course, to then go on to study Criminology. So far so good. This course had a psychology bias, and I was exposed, surprisingly, to the thinking of Derrida, Foucault and Deleuze among others. You may recall that these were the primary French thinkers I cited in a precious article. [Here] So why is this promoted on a course where a rigorous pursuit of facts are required? Surely a strong logical argument would be easier support than one that is not.
Not if you are a postmodernist. You see, facts as you see them, are a construct. Not real. You just think they are because of your conditioning. This refers to your race/culture/education. They will argue that if your construct can be untrue, then so are your facts, your evidence.
Here are some more facts:
- Access to education means access to knowledge.
- Knowledge enables a better future.
- Truth and knowledge should be synonymous with each other.
The generally accepted theory for validating a truth as knowledge is scientific experiment. You present a theory and prove the theory works via an demonstrative experiment. Others then try to replicate the results. If other findings are consistent with your own, it must be true. It supports your theory to be valid and true. But what happens when the results are inconsistent or disagree with the outcome you want?
Cue postmodernism. In education it has dramatically lowered the bar. It has hijacked it! Anyone can assert a truth, and, using the postmodern yardstick, it must be a truth for the asserter, it must also hold true globally. To argue otherwise would be some kind of ‘ism or ‘phobe. Take your pick; the politically correct have plenty for you to choose from.
And this is a very large problem indeed. If I was exposed to this thinking in higher education, then it is most definitely in basic, school level education. Young impressionable easily moulded minds are being led along a path of non-critical thought. I found a table, which is below, setting out the main differences between modern v postmodern education theory.
|Modernist Theory||Postmodernist Theory|
|Knowledge||Educators ideally should be authoritative transmitters of unbiased knowledge||Educators are biased facilitators and co-“constructors” of knowledge.|
|Culture||Culture is something students should learn about, but can also be a barrier to learning. Students from diverse cultures must be trained in a shared language, or medium of communication, before teachers can transmit knowledge to them.||The modernist goal of unifying society results in domination and exploitation, because unity is always based on dominant culture. All cultures are not only of equal value, but also constitute equally important realities. Minority students must be “empowered” to fight against Eurocentric enculturation.|
|Values||Traditional modernists believe that educators are legitimate authorities on values, and therefore they should train students in universal values. More liberal modernists argue that education should be “values-neutral.” Teachers help students with “values clarification”–deciding what values each individual student will hold. Values can, and should be separated from facts. The most important values are rationality and progress.||Education should help students construct diverse and personally useful values in the context of their cultures. Values are considered useful for a given culture, not true or right in any universal sense. Since teachers cannot avoid teaching their own values, it’s okay for teachers to openly promote their values and social agendas in the classroom. Important values to teach include striving for diversity, tolerance, freedom, creativity, emotions and intuition.|
|Human Nature||Modernists generally believe in a stable, inherent self that can be objectively known. In addition, since humans are thought to have a stable essential nature, IQ tests, and other similar “objective tests”, can be used to discover students’ innate intelligence. By giving them mastery over subject matter, teachers enhance students’ self-esteem. Education helps individuals discover their identities. Individuals and society progress by learning and applying objective knowledge.||Students have no “true self” or innate essence. Rather, selves are social constructs. Postmodern educators believe self-esteem is a pre-condition for learning. They view education as a type of therapy. Education helps individuals construct their identities rather than discover them. Individuals and society progress when people are empowered to attain their own chosen goals.|
It was authored by Dennis McCallum of Xenos Christian Fellowship on a different topic but it serves to demonstrate the differences well. Notice how modernism separates facts from values. Postmodernism prizes values over facts, and these values are often emotionally driven. Modernism has an authoritative and consistent delivery of knowledge and postmodernism has many different realities. This is wrong on so many levels.
As the philosopher Roger Scruton points out in his book England And The Need For Nations, the thing that binds us gives a sense community. A sense of belonging and a cohesiveness. ‘A society of citizens is a society when strangers can trust one another, since everyone is bound by the same set of rules’.
Given knowledge enables a better, more prosperous future, everyone owes it to their children, and to the generations to come, to do something about this creeping ideology of this false education.
I have a couple of suggestions on this front. Get involved in parent/teacher associations. Maybe get on the board of governors at your local school. Join local groups. Make your voice heard.
Argue your point using rationality, logic and reason to dismantle this fallacy. But be warned, although this is a relatively easy argument, you will be outnumbered, sometimes greatly so. You will also be shamed into silence using guilt (an emotion), they will point and shriek using hysterical moral panic. And they will swarm. The postmodernists rarely, if ever work alone. They will also not like you.
You may notice some are not as vocal as others. These people will also have been shamed and are just waiting for a moderating voice amid the turmoil to latch on to. Perhaps they didn’t fancy the odds, or are not resilient enough. They are allies, nurture them.
It is worth remembering the lines in Goethe’s Faust, (translated from German). ‘What you have inherited from your forefathers, earn it, so that you might own it’