Tuesday, February 20, 2018

True Education Is from Speaking the Truth

Thursday, February 8, 2018, 21:54
This news item was posted in Education category.
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By the Rev. Dr. Joe Renfro

Attacks on free speech are taking place in our college students by many of our Progressive and Liberal thinkers who desire to use education as a basic tool to the realization of a socialistic world.  Counter protesters rallied and cancelled a “No Marxism in America” event in Berkeley.  Colleges and universities of all sizes from both the public and private institutions are putting the clamps on free speech, when the speech can be classified as objectionable, while they allow free speech for the more liberal thinkers and demonstrators, since it is politically correct. 

The term “socialism,” which is the bedrock of Marxism, has a long history, and it has had variable meanings.  It comes from the Latin “socius,” meaning “comrade” and was first used back in l831 in France. But from the Marxian understanding, it is a stage though which the societies must pass to ultimately realize “communism,” marking from the Marxian understanding is the end of history and the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat.                                                            

Communist China right now is developing a system that is being implemented in China a way to control the behavior of its citizens by 2020.  This ability to control an entire population is called the “Social Credit System.”  The Social Credit System is a national reputation system where every citizen is assigned a “social credit” rating.  This score will affect their eligibility for a number of services, including jobs, financial services, travel, schools their children can attend, etc.  They determine what they wish to categorize the “truth.”  China is on a campaign that reflects the Communist Party’s longstanding fear that Christianity, viewed as a Western philosophy, is a threat to the party’s authority.

Ultimately, the problem is that “socially acceptable behavior” will be defined by the Chinese government, and that punitive measures will certainly be taken when a person breaks this trust by failing below a certain number on the system. A citizen’s score comes from monitoring their social behavior — from spending habits and social interactions — This score then becomes the basis of that person’s trustworthiness, and then it is publicly ranked.  (China experiments with sweeping Social Credit System  — by Director of DW-Made for Minds).  Maybe there is a comparison here between what is called adherence to political correctness here in America, although maybe to a much more advanced degree.  However, it can certainly be argued that many colleges give the politically correct thinkers right to speak and organize, while making it more difficult for the conservatives.

Rachael L. Brand from Fox News (January 25, 2018) observes that these restrictions on free speech take a variety of forms.  “For example, speech codes at many colleges ban speech that is ‘offensive,’ a subjective standard that allows college administrators to arbitrarily ban speech they find disagreeable. For example, Georgia Gwinnett College stopped a student from speaking about his religious faith because it ‘disturbed the comfort of persons’ – even after he had gotten a permit from the school to speak.” The truth sometimes hurts!

Brand brings out that: “Other schools claim they allow free speech but impose so many rules and procedures that it is almost impossible for speakers to reach an audience. Pierce College in Los Angeles, for example, limited students’ ‘free speech’ to a space the size of a couple parking spots and required a permit to speak even there.  At a community college in Michigan, a student was arrested and jailed for handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution because they didn’t have a permit.”

“We are also seeing that even where these institutions don’t limit speech directly, schools’ actions often enable students to silence others’ speech through shouting, threats of violence, or actual violence.’ Drug addiction, sexual promiscuity, indolence are all destructive, and this is true, but things such as this can be promoted, but not publicly spoken against!

“Sometimes schools fail to prevent students from intimidating and even attacking speakers, as happened at Middlebury College, where student protesters violently shut down a debate and physically assaulted one of the school’s own professors.   In other cases, schools’ policies effectively encourage this behavior by imposing special limitations on speakers they deem controversial.” Can you believe that speaking about traditional values is controversial?

“Viewpoints that are mainstream now may quickly become minority views, and vice versa, as has happened repeatedly throughout history.  That is why protecting even unpopular speech in the short run benefits everyone in the long run. Free speech is not only a fundamental right, but, as James Madison said, the ‘effectual guardian of every other right.’”

“When public universities restrict speech, it has constitutional implications as well.  The First Amendment prevents government institutions from imposing speech restraints such as arduous permitting restrictions or arbitrary curfews, particularly if the school discriminates against certain viewpoints.  Yet this is precisely what many university speech policies do.”  (“Where free speech should be promoted, free speech is under attack”  — By Rachel L.Brand, Fox News, January 25, 2018

It is sad that in many of our universities that even where they don’t limit speech directly, the schools’ actions often enable students to silence others’ speech through shouting, threats of violence, or actual violence.  It is the “IN” thing to demonstrate and attack the ideologies and beliefs that were once basic to the morality and education in our land. Activist movements are friendly to the progressive, socialistic thinking, while being most disdainful to the more conservative, traditional thinking.

Liberal Studies professor Michael Rectenwald, known for criticizing social justice and political correctness, has been called  a “racist, sexist, misogynistic, adderall-filled [sic] bully” as well as the “devil” with a “delusional, narcissistic, and drug-fueled narrative.” Rectenwald was placed on paid leave by NYU shortly after outing himself back in October 2016 as the owner of the once-anonymous Twitter account he had maintained that spoke up against political correctness and the progressive platforms, although he has now resumed his position, and is waiting the publishing of his forthcoming book, Springtime for Snowflakes: “Social Justice” and Its Postmodern Parent.

He said, “It was a hostile work environment, not only being shunned, but being treated as a sort of moral leper, being treated as a pariah, people refusing to get on elevators with me, things of that sort…Every time you open your mouth, you could be accused of committing a micro-aggression or some other bias or infraction,” Rectenwald said, reading off of his notes. “This is a terrible way to run a university. It is antithetical to intellectual work.”   (“Deplorable’ NYU Professor Sues University, Colleagues for Defamation,” by Sarah Jackson, Washington Square News, January 29, 2018)

Sarah Jackson wrote that Rectenwald had observed that: “The bigger picture is that this is a question of academic freedom and tolerance and the ability to have first amendment expression without having it curtailed, without having it administratively chastised and without having to face basically libel and defamation in the process.”  He went on to say: “This shows that a particular ideology has been treated as doctrine and that anyone who dares and has the temerity to even question it faces a veritable rhetorical firing squad.”  

This made me think about the growing encroachment of the authoritarian Islamic mindset and what effect it will have on academic freedom in the West, a freedom much of which developed from the Protestant Reformation, and the teaching of Christ, that was “I shall make you free, and if I shall make you free you shall be free indeed.”  The progressive thinking is very much at work in our schools, although it parades under the guise of freedom, underneath is very much authoritarian, and in this respect leans in degree very much to the Islamic type of thinking which is from of authoritarianism, rather than the Christian that seeks to develop a disciplined freedom.

Progressivism is an educational philosophy. The term “progressive” is difficult to isolate, as it has a long history of evolution, and it relates to many different disciplines. The Center for American Progress, that promotes it traces the development of progressivism as a social and political tradition stretching from the late 19th century reform efforts to the current day, and they seek to promote it whenever and wherever they can.  This progressivism rules out matters of faith, as they are not scientifically observable.

The Center declares that it has a series of lessons “designed primarily for educational and leadership development purposes to help students and activists better understand the foundations of progressive thought and its relationship to politics and social movements…This thinking is “in contrast to the conservative intellectual tradition and canon.” (“Social Movements and Progressivism,” by John Halpin & Marta Cook, The Center for American Progress, April 2010). Our state sponsored public schools are very much influenced by progressive thinking, and one of the reasons our academic achievement has declined is that we have been so concerned with rights that we have neglected the right thinking that was basic to the foundation of this land.

John Dewey was very much instrumental in the Progressive thinking of the 40s and 50s, but it started moving on steroids during and after the 60s, moving more into the development of social re-constructionists, existentialism, with the goal to the development of socialism throughout the global context.  Yes, our educational establishment, rather than reinforcing the foundational standards of our nation and culture are caught up very much in trying to redirect it, and that it has become basic to the decline in our more standards and achievement. The concern has been so much on minority group achievement to the neglect of individual responsibility.

In this understanding Progressivism educates very much toward political activism in contrast to the conservative intellectual tradition that would fit more closely into the philosophical thinking of Essentialism with the acquisition of knowledge for intellectual development. In the Christian context, the truth of God is revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ with the moral development from the laws and directives of God, as presented in the bible, which makes individual disciplined demands on Christian thinking, but this is something the Progressives feel is not basic, for they have no basics!

It might be said that Essentialism believes there is a common core of knowledge that needs to be transmitted to students in a systematic, disciplined way. It is a conservative perspective, and it is concerned with intellectual and moral standards that are central.  The core of the curriculum is essential knowledge and skills through academic rigor. It seeks to teach concepts that are everlasting, basic assumptions to learning. It sees human beings a rational beings and seeks to develop cultural literacy, rather than to stimulate cultural change.

The core curriculum for Essentialism can change, but schooling should be practical, preparing students to become valuable members of society.  Students should be taught to work hard, to have respect for authority, and to cultivate personal discipline. Many private schools and colleges such as Hillsdale College and other conservative colleges and secondary schools would fit into this thinking.  The Christian influences in many of these schools proves to be most positive for learning.

Gordon Clark (1902-1985) was a great Christian philosopher. John W. Robbins of the Trinity Foundation at the end of the Gordon Clark’s Modern Philosophy, Vol. 5 has a chapter entitled the “The Crisis of our Time,” and Robbins writes:  “In past centuries, secular philosophers have generally believed that knowledge was possible to man. Consequentially they expended a great deal of effort trying to justify their claim to know.  In the twentieth century, however, the optimism of the secular philosophers all but disappeared.  They despaired of knowledge…This radical skepticism has penetrated our entire culture, from television to music to literature. The Christian at the beginning of the twenty-first century is confronted with an overwhelming cultural consensus—sometimes stated explicitly but most often implicitly:  Man does not and cannot know anything truly.”  

This is sad, but Robbins is pointing to end result of the Progressive movement, for truth to them is not what was or is, but it is the quest for what they wish to project to come into being.

However, God already is.  The root to true knowledge, however, is God—the Being of being, who causes all to be, and the bible teaches God revealed himself through the “Word,” whom we know in Jesus Christ. This affects all of life and every discipline.  Knowledge is realized through words, and the power that can and does tie it all together is the “Word”.  The educational establishment needs to see this!

 It is not a progressive search for a socialistic, sharing of all, but it is the call to individuals as the Apostle Peter wrote to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever.”  (2 Peter 3:18)   Here is truth in action.  We need to turn back to this vantage point in our land for true education to take effect.

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