Years ago I read an article in one of the free papers on the horrors of being a substitute teacher. The unfortunate was asked if he had seen any way the schools could be improved. He responded, “We don’t need better schools, we need better kids.”
Instapundit links on the poor preparation of California State freshmen. But it’s his aside that says it all. Unionized teachers! Boooooooo!
Mainstream conservatives are forever stuck in the 50’s, but not for the reasons liberals think. MCs see social problems as matters of discipline. But since they ignore HBD- some out of genuine ignorance, some out of hostility, and some because while they know it’s true don’t see how they can break the taboo- nothing they say can be effective.
The MC position can be called “HNU with discipline”. HNU with discipline actually works great- with Europeans. In the late 19th and early 20th century the US was flooded with people who were unlike those who had come previously. They were not English or German, and not Protestant. They were from Ireland or Eastern Europe and Catholic, Jewish or Orthodox. They seemed strange and their assimiliation seemed doubtful.
But Europeans are fairly intellectually homogenous, and the society was still had a functioning hierarchy on the lower levels. The children, even if poor and from illiterate families, could be placed in school, told to sit down and shut up, and educated. And for decades this worked pretty well.
But two things changed. One, discipline in the lower parts of society was undercut. The authority of schools and families to force children to do things they don’t like was much reduced. School became child-centered and therapeutic, which is to say centered on stupid adult ideas and toxic to children. Two, the population to be raised up with literacy and numeracy changed. Blacks and later Hispanics needed the most educational improvement.
Putting a low-IQ, impulsive black child in a traditional classroom with traditional instruction methods- which was developed in Prussia- and you have a disaster. The system still works OK for middle-class white children, who have enough internal and family discipline to focus in that environment. Experiments are done with black children involving motivated students and some discipline, and sometimes these show improvement. But widespread application of these programs eludes us.
Discipline is a kind of magic. If it can be applied- from inside or outside- it produces the best possible results given the raw material. The raw material is of course critical; Franco Colombo had as much discipline as Arnold Schwarzenegger, but as successful as he was you’ve probably never heard of him. But imposed discipline is lost to us, especially when NAMs are concerned.
The focus on unionized teachers comes from the idea that if only the teachers were doing a better job, education would be improved, but the unions protect many incompetent teachers. I’m sure they do, but this can’t possibly explain the problem with education. There are good and bad teachers, terrific and awful ones, but the motivation to learn has to come from the student. If he can’t, doesn’t want to, and gets no outside motivation to, he won’t.