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Your Opinion: Thoughts on education -- Part 2

Your Opinion: Thoughts on education -- Part 2

November 10th, 2012 by Thomas C. Hartman, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

The ascendancy of minorities in the sixties fostered the claim that the traditional liberal arts are culturally biased; thus grades and testing came under attack, because these measured, at the very least, middle class culture.

At the same time what can be called levelers urged change, not only in schools but in unions and corporations as well. Minorities and women urged change in all kinds of restrictive policies.

Ultimately, open enrollment, which reduced standards, the dumbing down of education, as some called it, came into being in universities and colleges as well as in high schools. The upshot was burgeoning enrollments in vocational programs, especially in community colleges.

The now famous New York City teachers strike of 1968 was ignited over who should exercise control within the academy: should it be parents or professionals?

Parents won. The elite New York City College avoided this issue of open enrollment by creating new campuses; it was these that welcomed open enrollment, but not the elite College itself, which remained unsullied by the new measure. Thus was met the letter of the law, but not the spirit.

Current decline in U.S. manufacturing is sometimes seen to be a result of a more competitive, international environment; others see this decline to be caused by technological advances which have made unnecessary the numbers of workers previously required; and, just as was true in the seventies, still others view this decline to be caused by growing ineffectiveness of schools.

And so, by adopting reactions to the vicissitudes confronting education during the past 60 years, we in Jefferson City appear poised to retreat from traditional education.

After all, what does it matter how poets or artists have seen and interpreted the world around us, in a way we had never considered?

Who cares that in Hans Holbein the Younger's painting, The Ambassadors, a skull, distorted beyond recognition when viewed frontally, can only clearly be seen when viewed from the right of the painting.

The lesson to be learned from this piece of art: what we see depends on our perspective. But who cares about such lessons?

Again, who cares what were the weighty questions which the framers of our Constitution debated before they reduced the document to its written form? These may provide insight into the meaning of some matter in our Constitution; but who cares? We can interpret it ourselves.