Monday, February 23, 2015

Education in the Conservative Crosshairs: How Scott Walker just lost my vote

We now have one more piece of evidence that conservatives are just as confused as liberals on education policy in this country. In fact, we might even say that conservatives (or at least those who use that label) are liberals on education policy.

Scott Walker, who has been one of the more attractive candidates for conservatives looking to replace Obama in 2016, recently moved to replace the University of Wisconsin's commitment to the "search for truth" with the goal of "“meeting the state’s workforce needs.”

Oh. Brother.

No conservative could possibly support this kind of policy. A libertarian, certainly, but not a conservative. Unfortunately, this is representative of the kind of bad educational thinking that passes for wisdom among many Republicans. Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott made a similar move a couple of years ago.

Walker, like most politicians in both parties, doesn't know what education is. And it isn't because he doesn't have a college degree. In fact, not having a college degree is probably an advantage. Generally speaking, the more degrees you have the less you know what education is.

There are two things that pass for education that are not education, and one thing that actually is education that doesn't pass for it anymore among those who run our educational institutions and who set their policies.

The two popular but impostor definitions of education are:

  1. Education is for job training; and
  2. Education is for political and social reform

The first produces technological barbarians; the second produces radicals. The first amounts to no more than technical training; the second is essentially indoctrination. The first produces hollow men; the second produces "community organizers."

So what is education? Education is the inculcation of wisdom and virtue through passing on the culture of the Christian West. As Lynne Cheney pointed out some twenty years ago, if you don't know what Western civilization is, then you are not an educated person.


When you produce a whole generation of adults who are disconnected from the ideas and values that inform our history and culture (and we have done this now for about two generations), then you start producing people who cannot think sensibly about what education is and what role it plays in our society.

How does a person who has received job training or been indoctrinated in the latest political fashion make decisions about what the purpose of a university is? Nothing in this kind of "education" prepares you for it.

The philosopher Albert Camus once said something to the affect that freedom, lacking actual lovers, had to settle for mistresses. The same could be said for education.

Many so-called "conservatives" have bought into the education as job-training idea. In rejecting the idea that education is about finding the truth, they become complicit in the postmodern idea that there is no truth to find.

Shame on Scott Walker.

HT: Forbes Magazine


Coat said...

Good word, brother Cothran.

Anonymous said...

Education as cog slotting. Hey hey, ho ho, western civ has got to go.

solarity said...

"Lost my vote" based on a relatively minor state budgeting issue is unworthy of a thoughtful conservative. I am disappointed in you Martin.