credit: writestepswriting.com

credit: writestepswriting.com

Competent educators generally look forward to in-service “training” with justified loathing. Much of it consists of the same old concepts and ideas, virtually none of which worked the first time, repackaged with new Power Points, new acronyms, and middle school cheerleader-like faux enthusiasm and shrillness on the part of “presenters,” “facilitators” or “trainers,” as they style themselves. Often, the presentations are insulting because they plainly assume that teachers are idiots. Of course, it’s possible the presenters are idiots, but if so, they’re making tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars recycling the failures of the past, so perhaps they’re giggle-headed all the way to the bank.

One of my favorite such presentations consisted of no less than three “facilitators” who breathlessly told us that if we did not have scissors, we could adapt by tearing paper. They also told us that when dealing with students that do not speak English, we should “speak loudly and slowly.” I saw it so clearly even then:

“WHY CAN’T YOUUUUU UNDERSTAAAAAAND ME? WHAT’S WROOOOONG WITH YOUUUUUU?”

Needless to say, that “presentation” changed everything for me.  Not so much for non-English speaking kids.  It only made them wonder why the teacher was yelling at them, really slowly.

While that sort of thing is merely idiotic, it is not actually, actively, destructive. The Daily Caller provides background on a relatively new kind of in-service training: 

A professional education consultant and teacher trainer argued at the White Privilege Conference (WPC) in Philadelphia that great teachers must also be liberal activists, and described in detail her goal for destroying the ‘white supremacist’ nature of modern education.

“White supremacist”? Would that include teachers that don’t happen to be white, or are they brainwashed by white privilege?

Heather Hackman credit: hackmanconsultinggroup.org

Heather Hackman
credit: hackmanconsultinggroup.org

Heather Hackman operates Hackman Consulting Group and was formerly a professor of multicultural education at Minnesota’s St. Cloud State University, where she taught future teachers. On Friday, Hackman was given a platform at WPC to deliver a workshop with the lengthy title ‘No Freedom Unless We Call Out the Wizard Behind The Curtain: Critically Addressing the Corrosive Effects of Whiteness in Teacher Education and Professional Development.’ The long title masked a simple thesis on Hackman’s part: Modern education is hopelessly tainted by white supremacy and the ‘white imperial gaze,’ and the solution is to train prospective teachers in college to be activists as well as pedagogues.

In fact, Hackman argued teachers shouldn’t even bother teaching if they aren’t committed to promoting social justice in school.

‘Education is not about the mere reproduction of knowledge,’ Hackman said. ‘Education is the practice of freedom. And as a result, we have to have [teaching] students becomes activists as well as teachers.

Ah! Excellent! So we should be teaching kids to revere the Constitution and celebrate the most free society mankind has ever known—America? Not so much; this is about social justice, if you please.

Creating educators who are proper activists, Hackman continued, means training them to not only to encourage diversity but also to engage with the systemic oppression she says is pervasive in the entire educational system. In Hackman’s telling, virtually everything associated with being a good student in modern education is actually just a tool of racist white supremacy.

‘The racial narrative of White tends to be like this: Rugged individual, honest, hard-working, disciplined, rigorous, successful,” she said. “And so then, the narrative of U.S. public education: Individual assessments, competition, outcome over process (I care more about your grades than how you’re doing), ‘discipline’ where we care more about your attendance and making sure you’re not tardy than we care about your relationships  … proper English must be spoken (which is just assimilation into standard U.S. dialect), hierarchical power structure, and heavy goal orientation.

So, we must do away with rugged individualism; everyone must become a meek and compliant follower of the progressive elite, superhumans like Hackman. Honesty is right out—too honest. We certainly can’t have hard work—that’s for whiteys, and look what good it’s done them. Self-discipline is obviously harmful and destructive to a socially just order, as is academic rigor. Besides, people that are rigorously learning and studying tend not to have time for the latest social justice cause and protests, nor do they have time to write lists of whining demands. We certainly don’t want to become successful. That would be a betrayal of the cause. We can’t look or act anything like whitey, even if we, like Hackman, are–you know– whitey.

Most importantly, we cannot care about attendance in class. Being responsible and reliable, living up to one’s commitments and being on time are obviously wrong. Any right-thinking progressive can see that.

Hackman’s natural solution, then, is to train teachers to move away from all these aspects of white privilege in education. She routinely touted the benefits of collective assessments (measuring student learning at the class level instead of determining whether each student knows the material), as well as eliminating all school grades entirely.

Hackman said when she was a professor, she freely employed these methods with her own students. She once let a student complete an essay assignment as a graphic novel, and allowed students to write in non-standard English or even foreign languages she herself couldn’t read.

‘If I don’t know [your language,] frankly, that’s my issue,’ she said. ‘All I need to know is that you’re thinking about it, I don’t really care how you do it.

None of this is new; rather, it is the natural deconstruction of progressive educational thinking. It has not yet reached its ultimate expression, but Hackman would use it to cause great, if not final, damage.

Ironically, “class level” assessment, is a feature, not a bug, of the “accountability” movement. It should be remembered that it was George W. Bush who was taken in by Teddy Kennedy in creating the now thankfully defunct No Child Left Behind Act. That same kind of betrayal of conservative principle and individual responsibility—it is no accident Hackman rails against it—led to the mandatory, high-stakes testing craze that now cripples education across America.

This too is no surprise and is a natural outgrowth of the Progressive tendency to classify everyone in victim and/or political groupings useful to progressives. Eliminating grades, except the scores on high stakes tests which provide useful data with which to beat teachers and politicians over the head, is also a progressive article of faith. Only then can each individual—member of an approved progressive category/group—fully realize their desires and abilities to serve progressive needs.

One might reasonably ask how any teacher can know that a student that cannot speak English—in America—has learned anything. They cannot, but Hackman cares nothing for the traditional role of the teacher. She is far more advanced, far more modern. Why, students may speak or write gibberish to her, and she will see that as the thoughts of the elite and transcendent as long as it’s vaguely progressive gibberish. Hackman, however, recognizes that her brilliant and far-thinking ideas have not yet found currency in most of American education:

But Hackman acknowledged in the current white supremacist system, there is some expectation that teachers will know conventional English and possess other basic knowledge. As a result, she admitted modern activist teachers should try to learn those things sufficiently to get a job, but only for the purpose of infiltrating schools to change them from within.

‘My long game was, get you in, get you tenured, get you in that system and change that system,’ she said.

Of course! it’s all about fundamentally transforming education, turning schools at all levels into political indoctrination camps, vehicles to instill group-think and unquestioned obedience to the elite like Hackman who alone know how to lead the downtrodden on the glorious path to Progressive Utopia. If that takes a bit of lying and stealth, if that takes ignoring actually educating kids, that’s a small price to pay for the wonders of the bright future Hackman and those like her will build.

As a teacher of English, I often find myself debating those that decry proper speech and writing, preferring instead the laziness and lack of attention to detail that alternate forms of communication enable. How hard is it to capitalize the first word in every sentence, to use punctuation at the end? How hard is it to actually pronounce consonants? How much effort does it take to avoid using “good” as an adverb? Most of my 15 year-old students manage it.

Of course, Hackman’s intentions are more insidious. She, like all Progressives, recognizes that control of the language is a large part of ultimate control of life. Naming and defining confer considerable power, thus it is necessary to wrest control of standard English away from teachers and the productive people that have learned from them. Thus does teaching kids to be lazy, irresponsible, unreliable, and undisciplined reflect social justice, which encompasses anything progressives want it to encompass, and is good in and of itself.

Imagine sitting in a teacher “training” session, hearing this, and watching people in the teacher audience nod in agreement:

The need for change is pressing, Hackman said, because the current white supremacist school system is literally killing off non-white Americans.

‘Inside, I am screaming,’ she said.

I’m sure people like Hackman regularly scream about a great many things:

Your time has come,’ Hackman said. ‘If I was a white faculty member and unwilling to get with the program, I do not have any business in teacher education … We do see you, Super-Whitey. We’re coming for you.

Actually, rational Americans, parents of school kids, should be screaming, and” coming for” people like Hackman, and any school administrator that would hire her as a teacher, or as a trainer of teachers.  And that’s me: Super-Whitey.  I come to school every day just as white as the day before, and I don’t do anything to make myself less white.  The horror, or as Elmer Fudd would term it: “duh howwuh.”

Show me a successful society peopled by the lazy, irresponsible, unreliable, undisciplined, uneducated, perpetually angry and aggrieved. Oh, that’s right: you can’t. Any such society would soon collapse under the crushing weight of its own entitlement and incompetence. In such a society, who, pray tell, will be providing the largess under which everyone will live. We know who the consumers, the takers will be, but who will be the producers?

It certainly won’t be Hackman or anyone subjected to her “teaching.”

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