Honors English, Larry Correia, literary criticism, Mark Twain, Marxist indoctrination, Monster Hunter International, Morgan UT, Plan 9 From Outer Space, political indoctrination, Social justice, The Great Gatsby
Larry Correia is an author, primarily of science fiction. Prior to turning to writing full time, he owned a gun store, and remains a firearm instructor. If you have not found his Monster Hunter International series, by all means, take the link. I have them all and anticipate each new book. Good writing and great story telling. You’ll thank me later. He also blogs at Monster Hunter Nation.com, and I recommend it. He doesn’t post daily, but there is a great deal of good material there, past and present.
Most recently, Correia posted Who Needs High School English When You Can Have Social Justice Instead? As regular readers know, I strive to be as accurate and transparent as possible, and point out the kinds of Marxist, racist indoctrination common in the schools of blue states/cities is not necessarily so in red states/cities. However, it is clearly more prevalent than any Normal American would prefer. Correia lives in Utah, not normally known as a bastion of wokeness, but he fights it too:
The following is the letter I sent to my local high school community council today. Here I have redacted all the names, and I don’t normally talk about my location online, but I did leave the school’s name because I want the locals to know what’s going on, and they know who everyone involved is. (to prevent confusion there are two Honors English teachers, the long time one who nobody has any complaints about, my older kids had her and loved her, and this newer one)
My son is in (redacted) Honors English class at Morgan High School (Utah). Recently her teaching methods have caused some controversy. As a professional writer I would like to address her curriculum—which appears to be far more about leftist indoctrination than English skills—and as a parent, the principal’s lackluster response to our voiced concerns.
I became aware of this issue when I was approached by some other parents. They told me that the school’s response had been to “blow them off” as if they were too ignorant to understand what constituted effective English education. They asked if I would attend the parent’s meeting to add the perspective of someone who makes his living writing.
I’ll not post Correia’s entire letter. This article is in part to introduce you to Correia, and also to give me an opportunity to comment and expand upon his writing on this topic. Take the link. The whole thing is worth your time.
After I was approached by these parents, I asked my son about this class. To give you an idea how bad it is, (my son) told me that “it sucks”, he had learned absolutely nothing, but he was getting an A because he’s good at “telling the teacher whatever she wants to hear.” My son wasn’t learning any English skills at all, but rather how to play a political game.
I was appalled to hear that they would be spending the entire trimester on a single book, The Great Gatsby. Three months? I have nothing against The Great Gatsby, but to put this in perspective, it is only 47,000 words. My copy is 210 pages. The audio book is only 4 hours long. By novel standards it is extremely short. My smallest novel is more than double that, and my average is triple. Basically I’ve written longer books in less time than this class is being forced to analyze what’s basically a turgid novella.
It doesn’t matter how good a book is though, because tortuously analyzing any book for three months would make it awful.
I’ve never been fond of Gatsby. I found it tedious when I read it in high school, and even more so, though I could better explain why, when discussing it in college as part of a potential high school curriculum. Given the breadth of other works of American literature available, I chose to teach other works to my Junior English classes. However, even if we read the book in class, spending more than a few weeks on it–and that’s one week of writing time–would be an egregious waste of time. Correia’s son was in an Honors class, which would require the kids to read the book out of class, so any competent discussion could take, at best, 3-4 days.
You might think I am exaggerating for political effect. I’m not. My son was happy to show me some of his homework, and the assignments are simply absurd. Here’s an example.
Parents often get an incomplete picture of what’s happening in the classroom, and particularly of a teacher’s methods and intentions. Parents complaining about their child’s research paper grade always changed their tunes when I provided the handouts revealing they had three months to produce a three page paper and all of the in-class time they had to construct it, step by careful step. Any cautions I had about what Correia was saying went away when I saw this:
This is actually even more nefarious than it looks, because once you delve into each of those links, even the innocuous sounding ones are pushing a hard left perspective. Most of them are about how society is terrible somehow and you should feel bad for benefiting from it. None of these ‘lense’ help the kids get better at writing or communicating. They are designed to squash dissent and force rigid conformity through public shaming.
Of the eight types of “analysis” the teacher listed, all are deconstructionist, inherently political, forms of time wasting. With very few exceptions—I often taught Plan 9 From Outer Space early in a semester as a means of demonstrating bad art as a way of helping kids more easily identify the qualities of good art—teachers must teach only good art. That allows them to help kids develop their critical abilities, the better to affirm and exalt the truly good, and encourage lesser works to be better. There is nothing inherently wrong with mere entertainment, but few works in any art form are truly good, and if we can’t tell the difference, we can’t build and maintain a healthy society. Demanding any work conform to a narrow, inherent political and hateful ideology misses the entire point of good art. Judging from this handout, the teacher is obviously incapable of teaching Honors English, and is only interested in Marxist political indoctrination—in Utah(?!).
These ‘literary approaches’ do not promote greater understanding of books. On the contrary they try to shoehorn in a bunch of political nonsense, which isn’t in the actual work, and they fabricate messages the authors never intended. The kids aren’t learning to write. They are learning to ‘deconstruct’ writing, which is totally backwards.
The number of readers in America is plummeting. People don’t read for fun like they used to, and why should that surprise us? Classes like this teach kids that reading should be a horrible, dreary slog, where you can’t just enjoy a work, you have to deconstruct it and look for all the secret symbolic meanings which are usually just a figment of some professors’ wishful thinking. Sometimes the curtains are just blue.
As regular readers know, one of my continual complaints is kids—indeed, most adults—aren’t readers. Those that do not read lack introspection, imagination and the ability to understand what they read. Mark Twain said:
The man who does not read books has no advantage over the man that can not read them.
They lack empathy and insight. Reading exercises the mind and gives flight to the spirit. It buttresses and increases intelligence, and with the right kinds of fiction and non-fiction, provides education apart from and beyond formal education. As Twain also said:
I never let my schooling interfere with my education.
Non-readers lack patience, and the ability to focus their attention, an absolutely essential life skill and the foundation of success. From the first day of every school year, I reminded my students how difficult, and how important, learning to pay attention is. It’s a lifelong pursuit, which, as well as the value of good literature, any Honors English class should be teaching.
As for the school’s response, I’m unimpressed. I have now been to two meetings, one for parents, one community council, both of which are held at difficult times for anybody who works a normal job to attend, but even then there was a good-sized group at each. I believe the first one had thirteen parents, and the one at 6:30 AM(!) today I saw many of the same faces.
Both meetings consisted of parents rattling off story after story about this one particular teacher, most of which hit the same consistent themes, and some fun new ones, like how she told the kids not to talk about her lessons with their parents. Gee whiz. I wonder why?
As regular readers also know, there is no excuse for teachers trying to hide their curriculums from their employers: parents. Teachers telling their kids to hide what they’re doing from their parents deserve no benefit of the doubt. The attempt at concealment denotes not only deception, but a guilty conscience. They know what they’re doing is wrong.
Keep in mind any principal taking parent complaints must be cautious. It’s easy to criticize, and complaints are often made without context or with only one very limited side of the story. Principals, having hired every teacher, also tend to have something of their reputation and ego on the line. However, there is no excuse for political indoctrination in the place of necessary curriculum. Teachers have so little time in class as it is.
Then this morning’s community council meeting was interesting. Once again, parents voiced their concerns about this specific class, but were each allotted only two minutes to speak. Then the Principal spoke, and it was preposterous. He opened by reading us the dictionary definition of “discrimination” and then launched into a whole bunch of platitudes and circular logic, which was basically a thought terminating cliché about how the parents might be the real problem here, because by wanting English taught in our English classes instead of social justice, maybe we are enabling hate and genocide.
Yeah. He actually went there.
I’ve no knowledge of the people about which Correia writes, though I do trust his ability to provide an accurate account. It sounds—and Correia makes this point—like this principal is as hopeless as the Marxist teacher. He concludes with this:
It’s time for people to quit beating around the bush and be honest. Utah is ‘nice’ in that as a culture we try to avoid contention, but in doing so we abdicate our responsibilities. Our tendency toward conflict avoidance might make us feel good about ourselves, but it is our kids who lose because of it. So I will spread the word about this to every MHS parent I can. If we need to escalate this through official channels and up the chain, great.
Because if we are forced to choose between our kids and your job security, the kids are going to win.
And so it should be for parents everywhere.
Parents have needed to be involved in their childrens’ education for far more decades past than just the current “screaming” issues. Parents typically do not, for any number of reasons (excuses?). I sense a large part of that is that parents themselves, when they were children, left that environment with mixed results.
Take us Boomers for example. Our parents were products of an agricultural/Great Depression generation that downplayed education of females as their role was family, and preferred trade skills for males… with less emphasis for a college education. In general, teachers were classroom authoritarians, so as adults there was a built-in apprehension of challenging education “authority”.
I agree there is a problem… but it’s not a new problem. It’s just turned more political because that’s who we are as a society these days.
He’s also a certified accountant. ^.^
(Yes, I *am* making shameless use of that to push my want-to-be-writer daughter into doing accounting classes as a job-until-writing-pays.)
Mike McDaniel said:
Considering I just had my taxes done, I heartily encourage you daughter into accountancy. They’re making far, far more than most writers. I’m published, but only one book, and getting that done was a minor miracle. most don’t understand only a small portion of those published actually make a living at it, and fewer still make a really good living. Having a skill that will put bread on the table is priceless.
She’s got a better ‘in’ on the money angle than most– we follow the Mad Genius Club blog and she’s been reading Indy books from Cedar Sanderson since she could read, and respects the work that goes in for very delayed reward! — but *anything* with irregular pay you’re going to want a Town Job, just like old farms use to need!
Mike McDaniel said:
Oh dear. How our “white supremacist” attitudes about work and reality date us!
one of the biggest problems in politics we have is that almost no news time is spent on local politics. When it’s time to vote for school board, for example, it’s a random pick. All time is spent on national politics. The old saying, “the most important politician should be the one within buggy whip distance” does not apply and it should. The bad guys have been getting away with corrupting local politics for quite a while. We need to fix that.
Mike McDaniel said:
You’re quite right. Many don’t realize local elections are won or lost with a handful of votes. A few people really can make a difference locally.
Michael Blair said:
Both of my kids are free of the government school system but both my wife and I agree if we had to do it over again, neither one would have gotten anywhere near a public school. The way things are today, I would discourage any kid from either attending college or joining the military (that coming from a retired Marine). Encourage going to a trade school, become a mechanic, carpenter, plumber, electrician, whatever, and open your own business and become self sufficient. Their will always be a need for a good carpenter or mechanic. An “elite” with a degree in Gender Studies or “Social Justice” not so much.
Perhaps the next election you can find a qualified tradesman to run for elected office.. like the presidency. The White House can likely use a good plumber or sheet metal worker.
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear Michael Blair:
Indeed. A skill others need is invaluable.
Thanks for the series reference. Just downloaded them all to my kindle. We’re headed overseas and I’ve got to have something to read for a 10 hour flight. This makes at least 3 different series of books you’ve recommended and I liked them all.
Mike McDaniel said:
I’m glad you liked them. They’re certainly not the masters, but are lovely guilty pleasure reading, and even have a few insights worthy of consideration.
ps: I working through a new series/author I’ll share in the new future.