Anyone familiar with the woeful state of teacher preparation in America should not have been surprised at the recent anti-American tirade by Colorado high school teacher Jay Bennish. You may wonder, where do these people come from? Well, the substantial majority of them come from our colleges of education, many of which encourage the shaping of students’ belief systems as a priority of at least equal standing with the relevant course subject matter. In fact, as reported by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), under guidelines issued by the federally recognized National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), colleges of education are required to assess the “dispositions” of teacher trainees as a condition for accreditation. According to the NCATE standards, these dispositions should include “beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice” and, according to ACTA, there is already plenty of evidence that these guidelines are inviting political and ideological litmus tests for entry into the profession and to subordinate academic objectives to social engineering.The origin of this social engineering is no secret. It comes from the educational philosophy of John Dewey, the father of teacher education as we know it. Dewey shared Rousseau’s conviction that human nature is easily molded, which he believed should be a primary objective of education, and his ideas led to the firmly embedded concept of “constructivism” in teacher preparation, the belief that children are best taught by allowing their natural creativity to flourish. (For a good overview of Dewey’s thought and the havoc it has wreaked, see John Dewey and the Decline of American Education, by Henry T. Edmondson III.)
President Dwight Eisenhower had it pegged over fifty years ago: “Educators, parents, and students…..must be induced to abandon the educational path that, rather blindly, they have been following as a result of John Dewey’s teachings.” So far, we have made little progress in heeding his advice, and the Bennishes will keep coming.