Tentative foray into politics

The dictionary defines “foray? as a raid for plunder. So maybe “toe in the water? would be a better title. This is a response to a message from the person who set up this blog for me. I withhold his name to protect the innocent and the guilty.

As do many people, he labels himself conservative but admits he’s probably more toward the center. I am definitely centrist but my colleagues label me not just a leftist, but a radical! I suppose it was that comment I made about it being a good thing we abolished slavery; they’re still evaluating the consequences.

Anyway, my collaborater declares that he is more interested in methods and techniques of fl teaching than in politics. Well…. Methods and techniques should be examined objectively. There’s plenty of time later to speculate on motives, like now. let’s attack me first. My background is the FDR Democrats of the 40s and 50s. That makes me a Liberal; I don’t fuzz it up with labels like Progressive or express disappointment wih the Party. Democrats did what had to be done in the 60s and it resulted in so much change that it ticked a lot of people, even hardcore Democrats, off. Many left the Party. Republicans gained. We’ll see if they can hold on to them. that’s politics. I don’t begrudge the Republicans their votes, the ones they actually got, I mean.

The impression I get from reading my collaborator’s posts to the fl teaching listserv is not one of a conservative, neither professionally nor politically. My frame of reference, the 50s and 60s, is of conservatives resisting change and rights for all. They can deny it all they want, I was there, I remember the diatribes, and you can read them in the back issues of newspapers and magazines. Questions like, “Who lost China?? were big then, and the witchhunts were very scary; one of my teachers at Camelback High School in Phoenix was chased out of the school for being a homosexual (many years later I was his neighbor and his kids, all 7 of them, played with my kids); he went on to get a law degree and become head of the local ACLU.

When I offered to show a visiting doctor from Nigeria around Phoenix, I was given a list, a short list, of restaurants that would admit him. When the biggest bank in the state hired their first Black teller, Ed Hightower, we all went to see him…. just to look at him.

Why is this important for the classroom?

Because Conservatives accept inequality as a part of life and oppose attempts to change it. Conservatives, by definition, resist change, but their acceptance of inequality has an impact on the classroom. Conservatives see attempts to level the playing field as a waste of time. Inequality is inherent; Herrnstein and Murray, in The Bell Curve, see society as dividing along IQ lines and say that IQ is 40-60% inherited, with 60% being a conservative estimate. For them, Headstart is a waste of time. They reason, not unreasonably, that if people are poor enough to qualify their kids for Headstart, their kids, having inherited the low IQ that made their parents poor, will have no chance of improving.

The implications for fl teaching in goals, standards, selection and methodology are obvious.

I’ve based this outline of conservatism on a variety of readings, but if you are unaware of the place books like The Bell Curve occupy in Conservative thinking, you may be tempted to say that I have unfairly labeled (libeled?) Conservatives. I can only refer you to their own writings, available in magazines and books found in any library.

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