27 April 2008

Ayers and Education

The more I read about William Ayers, the less I care to know more about him. Like most folks outside of the Chicago area, I thought Mr. Ayers’ big thing in life was perpetrating terrorism as a Weatherman. Recently, though, I’ve learned about his role in teacher education at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

According to an article in the City Journal, Ayers promotes a syllabus that demands teachers “be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and” and to “be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, a teacher teaching for social justice and liberation.”

Strange. I’ve always thought that being a teacher was about giving students the tools of language and logic with which to practice life-long learning. And while teachers must be aware of social and moral norms of their society (many of which, I dare say, would not equate to those of Mr. Ayers), these do not – and should not – lead to struggle, outrage, or action by the teacher.

Thankfully, I’ve never knowingly read one of Mr. Ayers’ teacher preparation text books. It is more than sad that too many have. Sad and dangerous. The “liberation” that Mr. Ayers pushes is nothing of the sort. What Mr. Ayers would have students (and teachers) liberated from is personal accountability, as all personal woes are the result of social injustice.

For a good read of education lessons and prescriptions for change, try an article by Chester E. Finn, Jr. in the Wall Street Journal. His view of the road ahead with regard to education reform does not revolve around liberation or social justice. Mr. Finn comes to some concrete conclusions which are, to say the least, logical and realistic. What’s more, Mr. Finn’s conclusions do not appear to cost more money nor do they advise universal panacea.

Post Script: For more on the Ayers / Obama relationship, an opinion article from the Boston Globe and another from Hugh Hewitt on Townhall.

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