Instead of 6 virtues, we teach what?

The previous blog described the belief that our definition of “educated” should always be open to democratic debate.  Where has that belief led us?  Here are examples from the Education Week article, “State Lawmakers Make Curricular Demands of Schools.”

State Legislation Crap

SB 2313 | Status: Gov. Deval Patrick signed, May 3, 2010
Requires the state to set academic standards for instruction in bullying prevention and requires both public and private schools to provide age-appropriate instruction on the topic.

New Jersey:
AB 2920 | Status: Assembly approved, March 14, 2011; Senate approved, March 21, 2011
Requires the state to develop a policy for school district dating violence and requires all districts to incorporate age-appropriate dating-violence education into health curriculum.

North Dakota:
HB 1412 | Status: House defeated, 47-47, Feb. 18, 2011
Requires school districts to teach concepts of personal finance at least once during the 6th, 7th, or 8th grade.

HB 368 | Status: House passed, April 7
Requires state and local educational authorities to “assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies,” including evolution and global warming. Prohibits state or local authorities from preventing a teacher from helping students “understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course.”

AB 172 | Status: Gov. James E. Doyle signed, Dec. 10, 2009
Requires the inclusion of “the history of organized labor in America and the collective bargaining process” in the state’s model academic standards for social studies.

Here is the link:

Cut the Crap

These are desirable purposes, but where do they rank among the hundreds of desirable education purposes?  Have we had that debate? What does that debate look like?  How does debating knowledge and skill purposes make education better?

Education can improve only when we see that virtue leads to knowledge and skills.  Students will learn not to bully or commit date violence, to keep accurate financial records, to critique scientific theories, and to understand labor history when educators model and teach understanding, imagination, strong character, courage, humility and generosity.

If democracy advocates want to debate whether these are the six virtues of the educated person, we can start with these questions:

1.  Which of these six virtues do you not want children to develop?

2.  Which virtues are not included in these six?

3.  Which knowledge and skills can students learn without these six?

If the answer to all three questions is, “none,” how are the six virtues not the definition of the educated person?


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