October 12, 2006

Dissent Crushed

Doug Loon of Borderlands (first google link) has censored my criticisms of his post-modern constructivist ramblings. Apparently, I offended his delicate sensibilities by pointing out all the flaws in his thinking and the thinking of his like-minded commenters (first google link).

Instead of providing a coherent rebuttal, Doug first appeals to non-existent authority:
I think that's a good idea. Get a job in an elementary school classroom. Be the teacher for 1 year. Report back when you know something based on real classroom experience. You don'’t know what you'’re talking about, and you have no valid claim to know.
Then he goes all post-modern on me and denies the existence of truth (and I suppose beauty as well):
The difficulty here is a reality vs. perception dispute. Truth claims about objective reality can be challenged on the basis of either perceptual error or definitional disagreement. We'll get nowhere trying to resolve such questions. Any further attempts to argue or prove anything should be taken to a judge.
Then he displays his lack of understanding of what an argument really is by claiming not to have made an argument when, in fact, he has:
My post was not an argument, so much as an observation about the effects of recommendations for practice that come from outside a local context.
Then he proceeds to make another argument, and a not too well thought out one at that:
Flexibility, and responsiveness to student needs is necessary for teachers to teach students. Best practices emerge from practice, they are not imposed as a matter of policy.
Huh? Here Doug is using the word "teach" to mean something other than activity that results in students actually learning. This is his "best practice" and he's upset that taxpayers are telling him to stop doing it as a "matter of policy." Then he tries to shoot the test data messenger of his failed "best practice," but his aim is off:
The use of testing data to support an argument, and insistance on empirical proof for everything we know while simultaneously denying the validity of personal knowledge, is absurd.
See, Doug's personal knowledge trumps empirical data because Doug's personal knowledge permits him to ignore the fact that he hasn't adequately taught many students in his charge. Doug doesn't understand that the reason why we have standardizrd tests in the first place is to guard against these little disconnects from reality.

Lastly, Doug attempts to censor me:

If I have the blog settings adjusted correctly, any further comments from you will be moderated for content. I don'’t want this thread to become a didactic exercise in futility, which it has already tended to be. You've disrespected me and my colleagues - calling us idiotic educators - in a mean spirited, and personally disagreeable manner. I owe you no respect. Your opinion is a blight, an obfuscation, a parade of ignorance. As a conversationalist, you rate with telemarketers, who I dismiss as soon as I hear their voice.

I ain'’t buying any.

Boo Hoo.

A cowardly reaction if ever there was one especially considering that his Derrida-esque viewpoint effectively precludes him from actually losing the argument. Though I suspect Doug realizes that his silly justifications won't play well in the court of public opinion, at least among those who haven't drunk the constructivist Kool-aid already.

Do you like the way Doug strung together a bunch of of unsupported conclusory statements into the form of an argument (or is it an observation?) demonstrating that he really might not know what an argument is.

It is one thing to think you are right. It is quite another to continue to think you are right in light of the overwhelming empirical evidence that you are not, to the point that you are afraid to even entertain that you are wrong by censoring the opposing view.

I am constantly amazed that these free thinking educators are so afraid to be challenged by opposing viewpoints. I'll be sure to take out the hand puppets the next time I argue with Doug.

Update: Mr. Loon has upped the ante on his cowardly censoring ways by redirecting links away from his site that originate here. Just use google and click on the first link. What a cowardly jackass.

12 comments:

allen said...

I don't think you ought to be surprised by Mr. Loon's behavior. An important reason for taking up that po-mo attitude is that a display of post-modernist doggerel is evidence of intellectual superiority, puzzlement is a sign of ignorance and dismissal is a sign moral inferiority.

Any philosophy that posits as one of its central, if unvoiced, tenets that acceptance of the philosophy is evidence of some flavor of superiority, is a philosophy that'll engender fierce loyalty and little patience with intellectual diversity.

For myself, I've developed a fondness for post-modernist tracts and tropes. Since I know that they're, uniformly, bereft of any value to me, reading them is like reading "lorem ipsum" except that someone's slaved over each precious word. The delight the writer clearly feels upon emitting some particularly torturous example of post-modernist prose is almost palpable. You know that somewhere they've folded their arms, leaned back from the display and nodded with satisfaction.

SteveH said...

Nice comment Allen.

I can't say that I've ever met a full Po-Mo in person, but the ones I have met never let me get a word in edgewise. However, they do seem to enjoy themselves.

1citizen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
rightwingprof said...

"I can't say that I've ever met a full Po-Mo in person"

Aren't you a fortunate soul.

1citizen said...

http://freedomtodiffer.typepad.com/freedom_to_differ/2006/08/school_pays_out.html

I liked Mr. Loon's call to take it to a judge.

Perhaps a few of these shot over his bow would quiet him down.

From the site:
"Ms Meyer claimed Jake, now aged 13 and in a private secondary school, made it all the way to Year 5 without being able to read properly.

Until then, he had been guessing and memorising words.

Jake struggled with reading and writing from Preparatory grade when he was enrolled at the government-run Albert Park Primary School.

By Year 1, he was a year behind his classmates. He did two terms of Reading Recovery, and despite passing reading tests, little changed. "

Jetgirl said...

Mmm, the post-modernist. I love them, they're like the intellectual equivalent of those little puffed rice straws you get as a garnish with Chinese take-out.

Pretty to look at, but you can't quite figure out what they are, they're devoid of any significant substance, and they’re totally, horrifically, indigestible.

Far too many people assume that both the rice straws and post-modern thought are intended for consumption.

1citizen said...

http://freedomtodiffer.typepad.
com/freedom_to_differ/2006/08/
school_pays_out.html

see if this works.

1citizen said...

Moe, the bartender on the Simpsons sums it up well:
http://www.snpp.com/episodes/CABF20

Moe: Welcome to "m," hah? Heh, heh. So, what do you think of
the new joint?
Lenny: Wow, this place looks like it's from the not-too-distant
future.
Moe: Yeah. You like it, Homer?
Homer: [looking at live rabbits wiggling in harnesses suspended
from the ceiling] Um, the rabbits are cute.
Lenny: Eh, that one ain't moving. [points to a still rabbit]
Moe: [snaps, summoning an aide] Uh, change number 7.
Carl: I don't get all this eyeball stuff. Uh, what are they
supposed to represent? Uh, eyeballs?
Moe: It's po-mo! [blank stares from all]
Post-modern! [more staring]
Yeah, all right -- weird for the sake of weird.
Guys: Oooh!
"Homer the Moe"

allen said...

Thanks SteveH but flogging po-mos is like calisthenics, not an end in itself but preparation for a worthwhile task.

In any case, it's a self-limiting movement since it can't crawl beyond the confines of the lit and philosophy departments, maybe to history departments but not any further.

My prediction, and I may be too late, is that post modernists will, in a fairly short time, be looked upon like hippies. Unrealistic and vaguely unsettling but ultimately harmless and not to be taken seriously in an case.

SteveH said...

"...not an end in itself but preparation for a worthwhile task."

Being a constructive (not constructivist!) and pragmatic type, and not one to simply rant to hear myself talk, I'm not sure what would be worthwhile. It's easy to counter many progressive educational arguments, but I'm surely not going to change the fundamental assumptions of those running our public (and private) schools.

Blogging and the internet are a huge help, especially for getting parents around the country to realize that they are not crazy or stupid. On parents night at my son's school their was a mini uprising (helped by information from the internet) about the use of Everyday Math. However, change will be slow, or at best, "balanced", and, we parents will not be part of the process.

I applied my years of study and blogging persuasion skills to write a follow-up to the mini uprising with an email to the head of school. I pulled out all of the stops and in the nicest way offered my constructive service. Two weeks later(!), I got a "Thank you for your input, math is on our list of things to look at." response. Perfect. I think this is what they learn in Ed School. They are in charge and they have to keep it that way.

So I blog to help other parents in the hope that some sort of critical mass will be reached. I remember, when my son was in Kindergarten, that I really didn't want to be one of "those" parents that teachers always talk about. I now realize that schools are experts at preemptive parental strikes.

Then, of course, there is the old smile, head nod, and do nothing technique. At our mini uprising, the math teacher basically agreed with our complaints. Result? Brain teasers as supplementation.

I asked my fifth grade son tonight what the latest brain teaser was.

A farmer has 20 cows and ducks in the barn. there are 64 legs ....AAARRRRRRGGGHHHH!

My son looked at me funny. Forget Po-Mos, we're fighting raw ignorance and a system that has a lot of inertia and litle requirement to change.

Anonymous said...

Wow. And here I thought Gerald Bracey had the corner on that market.

-- Jessica

rightwingprof said...

Jetgirl, you got the Zinger of the Day award on my blog for that comment.