Ted Byfield has me so pissed off this week that I'm reprinting his entire column here, with my comments in italics, just to show you what a dumbass he's become. Go look at the original for yourself here if you must, but Ted doesn't sound any saner surrounded by newspaper web site graphics than he does on my blog, or surrounded with padded walls... which is where he apparently composed this week's lump of angry old right-wing stool.
The Canadian news media, so it seems, are finally getting on to a story that broke about 50 years ago, which they missed at the time and have been missing ever since. I know, because I was one of the reporters who missed it.
Judging by the stuff appearing of late in the North American media, we are beginning to discover that our school system has been fairly well ruined by crackpot ideas, introduced in the 1950s by reformers of supposedly unchallengeable authority.
-What "stuff appearing of late"? Even crackpots can cite their sources. We can't even tell from this who the crackpot in question is. Not like you've ever needed help, Ted.
They were in fact challenged at the time by older, life-long teachers who protested that these new concepts were hair-brained, if not downright insane. The changes would assuredly result, they said, in a steady decline in standards, and a whole generation of people incapable of either governing themselves or being governed.
-The expression should correctly be "hare-brained" but I'll let this one pass. As for "a whole generation of people incapable of either governing themselves or being governed"...holy crap, Ted, that's the most fascist thing I've heard you say yet. Was that you running through The Reichstag with a pack of matches?
Well, we of the media of that day knew that those old fogies were living in another era. They were incapable of change, out of touch with reality, and fit only to be pastured so that they could not stand in the way of "progress."
-"Old fogies? Living in another era? Incapable of change? Out of touch?" I'm sure you hate your home country enough that you've blocked any memory of your Canadian public school French, so get someone to tell you what "le plus que change, le plus que meme chose" means.
The newspaper editorial writers, as I recall, eagerly embraced the new concepts and urged their adoption. They too wanted their newspapers to be wholly identified with the new society those new schools were intended to create. Little did they know that these wonderful new concepts would result one day in a major decline in literacy and a resulting decline in newspaper readership. They were in effect electing their own assassins.
-And here they thought they were upgrading public education to beat those pesky Russkies and their damned Sputniks. Suckers! That's why we all speak Russian today, Ted. But thanks for doing your part to show today's young'uns that the mainstream media isn't chock full of out of touch old wing nuts.
Many zillions of words have been used to describe this educational revolution, usually attributed to the philosopher John Dewey and the coterie of new thinkers who surrounded him at the University of Chicago. What they wanted was painless education. Above all, learning must be fun, and freed of all sense of coercion and fear.
-Heh. "Zillions." Way to show off the education Ted. But seriously: Dewey died in 1952, so they may have been "new thinkers" then, but they sure as hell weren't new by the time I hit kindergarten.
The SPCA occasionally has to deal with dogs raised in an environment that doesn't believe in a "painless education" that was "freed of all sense of coercion and fear." They usually have to be put down because they're crazy and vicious. Kind of like the way you and your son, Link Byfield, allegedly ran Alberta Report magazine.
The practice of pass and fail must be eliminated, teachers must cease being authority figures and become instead friends and guides; examinations must be abolished; grading standards like A, B, C and D and percentage figures done away with. All this was in order to produce a new kind of society in which human evil and competitiveness would gradually disappear.
Those old teachers said it wouldn't work, that the competitive element in human beings is innate, not learned, and the inevitable result would be a disastrous decline in educational standards.
Every last one of those old teachers is no doubt dead by now, but all through their last years they were forced to watch their forebodings come appallingly true. Too bad they weren't around last week when kin Canada children and youths went back for another year in school, accompanied by a moaning media chorus describing our educational system as an obvious disaster.
-You may be right on this one, Ted (again, sources?). I'm sure anyone who taught you in school was worm food by the Nixon era. At least our system is producing better results than the tortured monstrosity of the US Public Schools. But telling your true Target Market (I'll bet you get more hits on World Net Daily than any Canadian site) that the neighbors are dummies is always a winning strategy with the rubes.
One national newspaper deplores the "social pass" as producing tens of thousands of so-called high school graduates who can scarcely read and write. Another bewails the fact that young people simply are not becoming adults. They acquire one academic credential after another, often living with their parents until they're 30, and never getting a permanent job.
-You know, I Googled the exact phrase "social pass" with "schools" and "Canada" and guess what? There are NO NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS referencing what you're talking about... except in your columns. Specifically, this one I'm quoting here and this bit of naked Canada-bashing. This is what in journalism is called "bullshit," as I recall from Junior High.
Now, we're told, a distinguished psychologist proposes putting most people to work at age 12, with a knowledge of the basic three Rs and nothing more. It will make them grow up, he says. This is hailed as a revolutionary new concept, never heard of before.
-Yeah, it's so revolutionary that I CAN'T FIND WHO/WHAT THE HELL YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT.
In fact, it isn't new at all. One of those old-style teachers, who died in the early '50s, was Sir Richard Livingstone, a classics professor, educational philosopher and chancellor of Oxford University. He was Dewey's contemporary but held very different ideas. Livingstone defined what he called "educable ages" of human beings. We are most educable, he said, when we're very young, least educable in the teen years and early 20s, and become highly educable again as adults.
-Whew. Finally, a reference. An incredibly obscure one, admittedly, but a reference nonetheless. Typing "Sir Richard Livingstone" and "education" into Google gets around 900 hits... including your column and (now) this blog. By contrast, Googling "Paris Hilton" and "immaculate conception" gets over 26,000 hits. Have your nurse explain to you who Paris Hilton is and why that's funny.
He therefore proposed that the high school system be abolished except for the very brightest of students, and that the money thereby saved be directed instead into community schools for adults. People would normally continue their education through their adult life.
-I swear, Ted, I've searched and searched for the book/paper/fever dream/cocktail napkin you're referring to and I can't find it. Sources?
In effect, he was abolishing the whole concept of the teenager, the adolescent. If nearly everybody at 12 or 13 joined the work force, they would in fact become part of the adult world. Later they would go back to school as adults to actually learn something and be eager to learn it.
-Now we're on to something. You just want to abolish teenagers, don't you? That'll keep the little pricks off your lawn.
We scoffed at the time. Do away with high school? Preposterous, we said. Today, more than ever, it sounds like a good idea.
Ted, I took a journalism unit as a part of English class in Junior High. Not enough to make me a journalist, but enough to remember at least a couple of the basic principles. I recall a couple of kids failed (yes, they got failing marks!) because they didn't cite their sources or back their opinions with any confirmable facts. I'm sure these kids are now off having healthy productive lives as something other than professional journalists.
What the hell is your excuse, Ted?
UPDATE: Eugene Plawiuk at Le Revue Gauche has done a thorough job of finding where Ted's ideas came from, and drags them out into the light.