Saturday, August 31, 2002

Kumbaya Alert!
From the NY Times, Lesson Plans for Sept. 11 Offer a Study in Discord:
The anniversary of Sept. 11 has set off the latest skirmish in the classroom culture wars.

On one side are school districts, universities and organizations across the country that have produced lesson plans for the day that try to teach everything from what snacks to eat for mental health to the traditions of Islam.
Snacks for mental health?
On the other side are those, mostly conservatives, who say these plans spend too much time talking about feelings and not enough time teaching history and civics if they teach anything at all. They say the lessons are too focused on teaching tolerance and are unwilling to cast judgment or assign blame. In bending over backward to help students understand the ideology behind the attacks, they say, educators have gone so far as to be unpatriotic.
More by following the link, but for a Times story, it gives an amazing amount of ink to the non-touchy feely side. On the other hand, it makes you wonder where all the wussies came from.
Jeffrey Mirel, a professor of educational studies at the University of Michigan, noted that as the nation approached World War II, the N.E.A. produced a book starkly critical of those who would become the United States' enemies, calling them "ruthless men of force who care nothing for civil liberties and who mock all appeals to humanity."

Now, Professor Mirel said, "there's a great deal of reticence among teachers to make a value judgment, to adopt a stance they feel would be perceived as arrogant or absolute."

"The irony is," he said, "what the Islamic terrorists accuse us of is arrogance, yet here's a country that is so reticent to say our form of government is better than the kinds of autocratic, intolerant governments that they support."