Rotten (Due) to the (Common) Core

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Writing for the Opinionator, a blog for the New York Times, philosopher Justin McBrayer notes (HT: HBL) and comments on a curious feature of the Common Core Curriculum mandated in government schools: It drums the false notion into children's skulls that there are no moral facts. After laying out his evidence for the claim, McBrayer considers some of the consequences of this kind of indoctrination:

The inconsistency in this curriculum is obvious. For example, at the outset of the school year, my son brought home a list of student rights and responsibilities. Had he already read the lesson on fact vs. opinion, he might have noted that the supposed rights of other students were based on no more than opinions. According to the school's curriculum, it certainly wasn't true that his classmates deserved to be treated a particular way -- that would make it a fact. Similarly, it wasn't really true that he had any responsibilities -- that would be to make a value claim a truth. It should not be a surprise that there is rampant cheating on college campuses: If we've taught our students for 12 years that there is no fact of the matter as to whether cheating is wrong, we can't very well blame them for doing so later on.

Indeed, in the world beyond grade school, where adults must exercise their moral knowledge and reasoning to conduct themselves in the society, the stakes are greater. There, consistency demands that we acknowledge the existence of moral facts. If it's not true that it's wrong to murder a cartoonist with whom one disagrees, then how can we be outraged? If there are no truths about what is good or valuable or right, how can we prosecute people for crimes against humanity? If it's not true that all humans are created equal, then why vote for any political system that doesn't benefit you over others? [links in original]
As noted at HBL, McBrayer does not comment on how one could learn a moral truth, but his piece remains a loud wake-up call and a clear demonstration of the folly of central "planners" -- who are human beings quite capable of error -- determining what children should be learning on a national scale.

-- CAV


Vigilis said...

"Indeed, in the world beyond grade school, where adults must exercise their moral knowledge and reasoning to conduct themselves in the society, the stakes are greater."

Gus, future jury pools of common core graduates are destined to become "transformative" by virtue of their limited, inculcated thought processes.

increasing acquittals ceteris paribus (without reducing recidivism, for example) would inevitably leads to more trials and perhaps fewer convictions (incarceration, for example).

Does future society benefit from more trials and fewer convictions? That may be an open question for some people, but What remains certain, is that dumbing down a public endowed with inalienable rights makes government work much easier an maintaing rights much more difficult.

Gus Van Horn said...


I think I agree with you, but I might have put it this way: "A dumbed-down public will make it easier for improper government to exist, and harder for proper government to function.