15 December 2009

education means what?

Propaganda

Awesome. Particularly applies to history (and to a lesser extent, the selection of literature for English). I think the one saving hallmark of the "debate" over evolution is that it brings this problem to the surface for discussion by requiring us to defend what we decide to teach children in public curriculum. Having to make the case for doing so is naturally more absurd in a more truly scientific discipline like biology than for history or political science, but it is in fact no less important to do.

In that case because it might allow us to use the Darwinian theory to expound upon the scientific method more fully and thus hopefully garner more support for its modus operandi of rational empiricism in other areas, like say economics or politics. Those methods tend to require people to adopt a stance of a skeptical moderate observer trying to piece things together rather than arriving at pre-defined positions of authority and abusing supporting "evidence" as a result, for example by contorting religious scripture to support particular political agendas of bigotry or intolerance (positions which I, as a fairly neutral observer of religious institutions, would struggle to find in those canonical works).

We could then argue whether it is a desirable effect to create a skeptical population (it does not appear to be held as such by people running public schools institutionally). My own impression is that a school choice situation would allow those people who do not want skeptical children to send their children to factories of conformity to attempt to compress it out of them (and perhaps succeed or fail depending on the relative intellectual curiosity of the student). Strangely, in this country at least, school choice advocates outside of the libertarian economics branch of them tend to be more advocating a stronger sense of social conformity generally as what is lacking in public schools already. I think they're missing the point of using governments to run schools rather than simply using public monies to fund schools. It is precisely designed to create conformity when it is designed in the present manner. The issue seems to be that it is a brand of conformity they are less comfortable with personally, for whatever reason, rather than resistance to conformity out of an enlightened interest for diverse intellectual opinions.
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