The Everyman Strategic Perspectiveby Chris Corlett
At the 2014 International Strategic Perspective Conference, I introduced the idea of Education as the “everyman strategic perspective.” Our conferences provide participants with a perspective of current trends useful for planning over the next twelve to eighteen months. This article begins a multi-part series building upon some of the ideas and concerns revealed during the aforementioned presentation beginning with an explanation of this author’s meaning of an “everyman strategic perspective.”
Koinonia Institute aspires to be both available and attainable for the “every man.” From its inception, KI promoted an affordable program which could be accessed 24/7 from any part of the world both to challenge the Biblical knowledgeable and to nurture the Biblical novice. KI was designed to equip every man, woman and even youth for the ministry to which God was calling them. Furthermore, education is common to the human experience — throughout our lives, we never cease learning and often find ourselves in the role of teachers, whether professionally, parentally or parochially.
Dutch mathematician and chess grandmaster Max Euwe opined, “Strategy requires thought, tactics require observation.” In our busy and hyper-informed 21st century lives, we are confronted with all sorts of fifteen-second observations masquerading as news or data. Economist Roger Brinner features on his website, “The plural of anecdote is not data.” Most analyses of education rely on a couple of stories “when I was a kid” along with a video shared through social media. To develop any useful strategy for understanding or addressing the educational challenges of tomorrow, KI purports to be that sort of think tank which provides for informed and investigative dialogue among its members through which participants can be like the “sons of Issachar who understood the times.”
Perspective in this usage can be defined as “the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship.” The requirement of multiple witnesses is infused throughout the Bible; surely the phrase “two or three witnesses” is familiar to our ears. [see Deuteronomy 17:6; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19; 1 John 5:8; Revelation 11:3] In today’s court system, the testimony of credible corroborating witnesses provides evidence which compels the jury or the judge to side with the prosecution or the defense who is introducing into evidence said testimony. KI through its three tracks — Berean, Issachar, and Koinonos — equips members to develop this type of perspective.
And so, education serves as the everyman strategic perspective. Our schools are currently a prominent issue covered by the news media. Every president of the United States aspires to be heralded as the education president. Current key talking points in American politics, concerning education, center on the Common Core State Standards initiative Not to mention the rising cost of tertiary education and the burgeoning student debt needed to pay for it. Yet, unfortunately there is something more sinister going on and we unpack this by looking through history both long ago and in the past century.
Education professionals and engaged parents share a growing awareness and concern of the dubious goal of current education reform. The phrase “college and career readiness” is infused throughout the reformers rhetoric and this mantra serves as a euphemistic catch phrase that camouflages a more disturbing trend. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is well invested in Achieve Inc which dedicates an entire webpage to this idea. But what does college readiness mean? The state of Massachusetts permits a student with an overall high school GPA [“grade point average”] of 2.7 to substitute it for passing a college-administered placement test. Since a B generally equates to a 3.0 GPA, this effectively concludes that every B minus student in Massachusetts is college ready. And for most college students, their four year degree prepares them for a career like teaching or business administration. I endured as a public school teacher in New York State, the transition of high school mathematics from an educational discipline to an employee’s skill. Though high school mathematics arguably changes the least among all the areas of study, the state curriculum (and consequently textbooks and assessments) changed four times within three decades! These changes were defended first to make mathematics more inter-disciplinary and ultimately to make mathematics students career ready. Beware this vacuous mantra of “career and college ready” or its more transparent cousin, “job ready.”
Liberal (Latin: liber or “free”) education equipped a free citizen for participation and contribution in civic matters. Classical liberal arts education included the seven subjects divided into the trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric) and quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.) In the mid–1980’s, school districts across New York State developed mission statements and most included in some form the idea that students would “become confident, competent contributing citizens with a lifelong thirst for learning.” In the move from classical education to progressive education as well as in the move from mission to reform, the message is similar. Replace sound reasoning and rhetoric with dutiful workers and tax payers.
Read the following words and consider who authored it. Its source will be revealed after the paragraph.
“In our dreams, we have limitless resources and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present education conventions fade from their minds, and unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, editors, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have an ample supply…The task we set before ourselves is very simple as well as a very beautiful one, to train these people as we find them to a perfectly ideal life just where they are. So we will organize our children and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way, in the homes, in the shops and on the farm.”
The General Education Board, founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1902, provided grants to rural schools and the passage comes from one of its publications titled “The Country School of To-morrow”. Rich private foundations have a long history of trying to influence educational policy and affect educational reform to create citizens, rather workers, in their preferred image. This disturbing trend continues today in Bill Gates Achieve Inc and its funding of the Common Core State Standards initiative. Many wondered why Exxon Mobil ran television advertisements supporting Common Core a couple of years ago. Perhaps Rockefeller’s ideals in the early 20th century persist today — Exxon has its roots in Standard Oil for which Rockefeller is famous!
Next month we will look at the vilification of parents and the victimization of children as part of the reformers’ playbook. In the meantime, we will wisely monitor the data and the details of education which, when combined with a Biblical world view, equips the believer to “… live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus 2:12b
Available for purchase along with the entire conference at https://resources.khouse.org/individual_sessions/dlkicda10r/ ↩
At the 2102 Strategic Perspectives International Conference, Michal A. Teoli received as an eighteen year old his Silver medallion! ↩
The heptadic structure of classical education! ↩
The trivium served as antecedent for the quadrivium and this hierarchy contributed to the etymology of “trivial.” ↩