Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is Rod Dreher a liberal?

After criticizing a proposed requirement for those training to be teachers at the University of Minnesota to "accept theories of 'white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression'; 'develop a positive sense of racial/cultural identity'; and 'recognize that schools are socially constructed systems that are susceptible to racism ... but are also critical sites for social and cultural transformation,' Rod Dreher writes:

To be clear, if this were a private university or a religious college, I would find this obnoxious, but only that. But this is a public university. I would be appalled if the school tried to force future teachers to sign off on some right-wing cultural agenda as a condition of their education too.

Once again, Mr. Dreher is trying to appear to be the moderate good guy who avoids both extremes, and advocates a "neutral" learning atmosphere, where all source of controversy is excluded--namely morality and culture. What is the purpose of education? If it is merely to impart vocational education, why should the state be involved at all? If there is more to education than the acquisition of art or techne, namely, the acquisition of morals, than does the state not have the competence to determine that education? Putting aside the question of whether book learning is the right approach to moral formation, let us pose the question to Mr. Dreher: if the right-wing cultural agenda (which Rod Dreher is supposed to believe in) is the correct and true one, then why shouldn't it be imposed on teachers, who have a major influence on the raising of children? And if it cannot be imposed, then should not people who do not have the right character and beliefs be excluded by parents from having any sort of contact with their children?

Only a purely "technical" education can be moral-free, but it seems to me that teachers need more than the art of teaching and expertise in the skills they seek to impart. Teachers cannot but be a transmitter of some tradition or culture or values, given the amount of time they spend with children. To withhold such transmission is not only to starve children of the spiritual formation that they need, but to give them the impression that there is nothing deeper to human life.


FIRE

2 comments:

The Western Confucian said...

I think he is, a liberal that is. He's also a neocon. I repeat myself.

papabear said...

I suppose a possible paleo reading is that Rod Dreher is advocating a value-free education in public schools because public institutions and the government cannot be trusted to teach about morality, and therefore government should stay out of it. But, since he does not explicitly say this, the liberal reading is a possibility as well.