When teachers put on display an abysmal ignorance, what can we do?

Here’s one idea: Ditch the ‘B.Ed’ degree and make them meet the arts and science standards

If anyone had read in the newspapers 20 years ago that some teachers’ union had decided to declare war on Sir John A. Macdonald as a racist exterminator of the native peoples, they would have assumed it must be some kind of a joke. Which in fact it is, though the elementary teachers who actually passed such a motion earlier this month expect it to be taken seriously. The public effect, however, is not to question the deeds of Macdonald, but the sanity and historical knowledge of these teachers. Have we actually put such people in charge of our children? How could this have happened?

It’s all part of the wonderful transformation in our schools, you see. It has been going on for more than nearly 65 years, almost totally ignored by the general news media. It has produced two dominant results. A steady decline in our standing on international tests, and a deliberate suppression of any significant parental role in education.

Away back in 1953, Professor Hilda Neatby, a University of Saskatchewan historian, analyzed the “progressive” revolution then being launched. In her highly controversial book, “So Little for the Mind,” she declared the movement “not only unintentionally anti-intellectual,” but also “quite deliberately anti-cultural” and “ferociously amoral” in its recommended methods of discipline.

The Neatby book was carefully ignored by the new educational establishment and by the news media. Miss Neatby herself searched the newspapers for their response and discovered two editorials on it in the Victoria Times Colonist, and one columnist’s comment in the Globe and Mail. Nothing else. So the revolution continued largely unobserved.

In 2007, I wrote a little book describing the radical changes in our schools, calling attention in particular to the almost total elimination of history from the curriculum. The progressives loathe the subject because it is rooted in fact, which to them is a delusion. Feelings are real to the individual; facts are not real at all. This philosophical dogma is the basis of their revolution. There must be no such thing as true and false, good and evil, beauty and ugliness. It’s all subjective. As one result we have produced what is probably the most historically illiterate generation ever.

Which, of course, is what led to this bizarre incident in Ontario where the unions representing elementary school teachers voted to ask the school boards of the province to rename any schools commemorating Sir John A. Macdonald because he was “the architect of genocide against indigenous people.” The fact that he is also the man chiefly responsible for creating our country might also stand against him, as well as the charge that he drank too much. The meeting was closed, but the teacher who offered the motion later said that it was keenly debated but nevertheless passed with a substantial majority.

Even the Globe and Mail couldn’t swallow this one. In an editorial that read as though it was addressed to a kindergarten class, it patiently weighed how the “good” that Macdonald did far outweighed any “bad.” It then dismissed the teachers’ motion as “the height of ignorance,” and warned that if we cease cherishing our founding figures like Macdonald, there will very soon be no Canada.

However, what the editorial did not do is answer, or even raise, the dire implication of such a motion. If a majority of the people teaching our children can pass a motion which exhibits “the height of ignorance,” then surely we must have a problem of somewhat greater dimension than the naming of public buildings.
You have to wonder what goes on between the ears of these people. Have they not noticed that we have a great many natives around us, more and more of them , and some very accomplished. How could there have been a genocide? What do the statistics show? Well, as a matter of fact they show that there are 14 times as many natives in Canada now as there were in Macdonald’s day. Some genocide!

Maybe the Globe should pursue this. Having discovered “the height of ignorance” among the people to whom we entrust our children, what are we going to do about it? For starters, how about abolishing the soft “B. Ed” degree, instead requiring would-be teachers to gain a bachelor’s degree in sciences or the arts and have teacher trainees understudy as aides to real pros in the public system?

Possibly also, the Globe might devote more attention to what is taught in the schools. Force the curriculum creators to abandon this tedious gobbledygook that they incessantly talk, come down to earth and tell us what they’re actually doing. And how about publishing the results of departmental examinations. Sound preposterous? Well, they used to do it, all the time. All of this may be “extreme,” but no more extreme than the air-headed stupidity that produced and then passed this motion.

Ted Byfield was founder and publisher of Alberta Report news magazine, general editor of Alberta in the Twentieth Century. a 12-volume history of the province, and general editor of The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years, a 12-volume history of Christianity. His column on education appears in The Christians.com, a web journal. He has recently authored two little books on modern pedagogy: Why History Matters and The Revolution Nobody Covered. You can order both copies here.


3 thoughts on “When teachers put on display an abysmal ignorance, what can we do?

Add yours

  1. Dear Mr. Byfield:
    Thank you for a cogent and accurate analysis of this most disturbing trend, that is of the knowledge deficiency so prevalent in many young teachers being graduated by Faculties of Education in this country. You are absolutely sot on when you call for the end of the B.Ed. It is not a necessary degree . We have many knowledgeable students who have a BA or BSc in a meaningful discipline, who could take a one year Normal School training led by teachers with a proved record of success in the classroom and principals who have led successful programs. Follow that one year with a one year paid internship and perhaps we can restore some competence to the classroom.

    Of course, as you say, there must also be a knowledge based curriculum in core subject areas, which are carefully designed to ladder a student from grade 1 through grade 12 so that their knowledge and skill base will articulate with the needs of post secondary entry and/ or the workplace.

    Neither of these fundamental conditions for success are now in place.

    Stuart Wachowicz


  2. This is too simplistic of an answer to a complex problem.
    What is missing overall might be wisdom, not just knowledge.
    I’m sure social media will go wild on this one.


  3. The unions of Ontario elementary school teachers are willfully ignorant of the Genocide Awareness Project. Apparently the contemporary killing of 100,000 young Canadians annually is irrelevant.


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