Comparing Modernist and Postmodern Educational Theory

Comparing Modernist and Postmodern Educational Theory

From Xenos Christian Fellowship website

Author: Dennis McCallum

  Modernist Theory Postmodernist Theory
Knowledge Educators ideally should be authoritative transmitters of unbiased knowledge Educators are biased facilitators and co-“constructors” of knowledge.
Culture Culture is something students should learn about, but can also be a barrier to learning. Students from diverse cultures must be trained in a shared language, or medium of communication, before teachers can transmit knowledge to them. The modernist goal of unifying society results in domination and exploitation, because unity is always based on dominant culture. All cultures are not only of equal value, but also constitute equally important realities. Minority students must be “empowered” to fight against Eurocentric enculturation.
Values Traditional modernists believe that educators are legitimate authorities on values, and therefore they should train students in universal values. More liberal modernists argue that education should be “values-neutral.” Teachers help students with “values clarification”–deciding what values each individual student will hold. Values can, and should be separated from facts. The most important values are rationality and progress. Education should help students construct diverse and personally useful values in the context of their cultures. Values are considered useful for a given culture, not true or right in any universal sense. Since teachers cannot avoid teaching their own values, it’s okay for teachers to openly promote their values and social agendas in the classroom. Important values to teach include striving for diversity, tolerance, freedom, creativity, emotions and intuition.
Human Nature Modernists generally believe in a stable, inherent self that can be objectively known. In addition, since humans are thought to have a stable essential nature, IQ tests, and other similar “objective tests”, can be used to discover students’ innate intelligence. By giving them mastery over subject matter, teachers enhance students’ self-esteem. Education helps individuals discover their identities. Individuals and society progress by learning and applying objective knowledge. Students have no “true self” or innate essence. Rather, selves are social constructs. Postmodern educators believe self-esteem is a pre-condition for learning. They view education as a type of therapy. Education helps individuals construct their identities rather than discover them. Individuals and society progress when people are empowered to attain their own chosen goals.

Is this a fair comparison? Does one refer to an integrated people of diverse cultures, whereas the other emphasises the retention of individual cultures in a multi-ethnic nation?

More importantly, the self is a social construct. The family and society, impacting on the innate core propensities of the child, progressively give it self-esteem, and the ability to survive economically.  At the same time, the child is enabled to adapt effectively to its varied societal environments. This process is everywhere the same except in ‘command’ societies.

Is it not true that human and societal behaviour is everywhere the same, and for the same reasons? Beware those who seek to divide people and society according to their prejudices!  

‘Religious pluralism’ in secular schools

How dare religious separatists seek to indoctrinate primary school students in secular state schools in sectarian religion! Church attendances are continually falling. Many parents do not marry, or have their children baptised. Non-religious private celebrants increasingly conduct marriage ceremonies. Only after death can a religious service be expected to occur. This situation defines modern, white, ‘Christian’ Australia, no matter that Roman Catholic (camouflaged as ‘right wing’) politicians are in (temporary) control of federal parliament.

For those who believe in sectarian religion, there are religious schools available in our capital cities for their children. They may even attend church regularly, taking their children with them. Churches exist everywhere for those whose children are seen to need to learn about the benefit of religious affiliation.

Religion is to be lived, and not to be used as a weapon. The ‘forest’ religions of Asia – Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, etc – are lived – without challenge to one another. Only the 3 ‘desert’ religions – and their doctrinal sects – adopt a competitive approach to those who are ‘not of us.’

Taking doctrinal religion into public schools in Australia, using laypersons who are not trained in the art and skills of teaching, would be a retrograde step in a nation doing rather well in integrating the wide ethno-cultural diversity of recent decades.

Do continue to pray as you wish – in your own places of worship or at home. But do not shove divisive doctrinal theology down the necks of innocent and impressionable children. Children need a broad education which emphasises the unity of humankind. Our teachers have done an excellent job so far. Do not interfere with that.

Way back in the 1970s, I drew up an outline of a program for educating primary school children about religion – what it is about, what it means, and so on. This was accepted by: my school board (of which I was chairman); our teachers; all the priests in the national capital, Canberra; and by the A.C.T Schools Authority. In drawing up this outline, I had consulted experts in Flinders University, and other prominent people involved in religious education.

I heard nothing more after I had moved on. Any change, especially emanating from outsiders, is traditionally anathema to the practitioners and protectors of a prevailing paradigm.

Separate legal rights for minority populations? (1)

A number of Moslem mullahs want sharia law (a law of Islam) to be introduced in Australia, a secular Western nation in which religion and law are kept separate.  The bulk of Moslems in the country are relatively recent arrivals.  Since Islam has no separation between religion and law, are these mullahs seeking a separate legal and cultural existence for members of their religion in a modern, multi-ethnic, multicultural, cosmopolitan nation?

Way back in history, it would have been normal for a tribe, which is a collection of extended families bound by blood, to find itself living in proximity to another tribe with different cultural traditions.  They may even co-exist, especially if they were nomadic.  Indeed, it is also likely that some nomadic tribes camped on the outskirts of agrarian settlements.  The normal pattern of human conduct – contest or co-operation or tolerant co-existence – would no doubt have then applied.

However, with the creation of modern nation-states with implicit tribal boundaries, the entry of ‘outsiders’ or foreigners would be subject to control by the rulers of such states.  Border control now applies universally.  Normally, immigrants with divergent cultural values and traditions would remain on the fringe of the host society, as ‘them, not us’!  As long as religion-derived cultural differences are upheld by both host and immigrant communities, co-existence (hopefully peaceful) is all that can be excepted.

In a migrant-collecting nation such as Australia, which offers equal opportunity to all immigrants irrespective of origins, cultural traditions, or religious affiliations, separate and parallel ethno-religious legal structures need to be avoided.  Official policy is integration (as in a fruit salad), not total assimilation or absorption (as in a blended soup).  Immigrants (first generation Australians) may, in order to access the prevailing equal opportunity (known as the ‘fair-go’ ethos), give up certain practices (such as wife-beating or spitting) or even amend some of their cultural prejudices.

The second-generation (the local-born) would unconsciously be bonding closely with the host people.  The latter would themselves have evolved over time through the integration of earlier immigrants.  The third generation would, without any divisive interventions by priests or politicians, now become part of the host people.

This is the first part of one of my articles in www.ezinearticles.com.  My core question is as follows.

Has the war of civilisations commenced?  Prof. Huntington of the USA prophesised that, in the foreseeable future, the great civilisations of mankind are likely to engage in war against one another.  It does not need much imagination to realise that cultural wars will not need armaments of the traditional kind.  The wars, ideologically-driven, will be tactical.  The first of such wars will probably be between the West and Islam, probably because of the way Western colonisers treated the Moslem peoples over the last two or three centuries.

Read Part Two.

 

Religious jokes (2)

Maria, a devout Catholic, got married and had 15 children. After her first husband died, she remarried and had 15 more children. A few weeks after her second husband died, Maria also passed away. At Maria’s funeral, the priest looked skyward and said, “At last, they’re finally together.” Her sister sitting in the front row said, “Excuse me, Father, but do you mean she and her first husband, or she and her second husband?” The priest replied, “I mean her legs.”

 

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Jesus, Moses and an old man go golfing. The first one to tee off is Moses. He smashes the ball and it is heading right for the water hazard before the green. Moses raises his club, the water parts, and the ball makes it to the green. Jesus gets up to swing, cranks it out, and it is headed for the water hazard. Jesus closes his eyes and prays. The ball skips across the water and lands on the green two feet from the hole. The old man’s turn comes and he drives the ball. The ball looks like it is going to drop directly into the water. A fish jumps from the water hazard swallowing the ball, as an eagle drops from the sky, grabbing the fish. As the eagle flies over the green, a bolt of lightning strikes the eagle, making it drop the fish. As the fish hits the green, it spits out the ball and the ball falls into the hole, making a hole in one. Jesus looks at Moses and says, “I really think I’m leaving Dad at home next time!”

 

Hijacking Western democracy

Democracy is the power of equal votes for unequal minds,’ an utterance attributed to Charles the First of England in the seventeenth century, can be countered by Abraham Lincoln’s ‘No man is good enough to govern another man without that man’s consent,’ in the nineteenth century.

Thus, in time, it came to pass that, in developed Western nations, citizens became entitled to vote in near-periodic  elections, to elect those who would govern them for a specific period (but with some flexibility of duration). The votes would be cast for political parties, in the main. Hope, optimism, and opportunism by individuals and some small parties would be constrained, almost inevitably, by the evolution of 2 major, but ideologically opposed, parties.

Those qualified to vote do not vote for the individuals who are offered to represent them in each electorate. Instead, they vote for their party of choice, since their electoral candidates are chosen by the party leadership, not by electors. No duty statements citing requisite qualifications, work experience, and aptitude for the job are involved. A genius or a donkey – how could electors know? How prescient was R.W.Emerson in the nineteenth century when he said ‘Democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors’?

Worse still, in most Western nations, voting is not compulsory, thus making it easier for the entrenchment of those who achieve control of the major parties.

Yet, it is this form of democracy, known as Western democracy, which is being sold, or required of, developing nations everywhere. The prime objective of this marketing effort is to replace tribal leadership of the traditional, historical, and generally durable kind with the tribal leadership of political parties. It is, of course, easier in a Western democracy to replace a political party, or a party leadership, with another; except that this would be akin to replacing Tweedledum with Tweedledee from ‘Alice through the looking glass.’

In the event, could not one honestly assert that, when voters are given the opportunity to change governments, it is effectively only on marginal issues? What might these marginal issues be? Seeking to protect the environment, feather-bedding needed foreign investors, subsidising some of the wealthy, non-specific foreign aid, some middle-class welfare, and so on?

In Australia, it is on human rights that the people are not represented by the major political parties. A national bill of rights is denied, as this would seemingly interfere with the rule-by-authority practice of certain churches. Voluntary (repeat, voluntary) euthanasia is not permitted even when the best of palliative care is seen to be clearly inadequate to counter the most severe pain in specific cases; but family pets can be ‘put down’ (that is, killed) without challenge.

The mantra evoked by opponents of voluntary euthanasia refers to ‘killing,’ the ‘slippery slope,’ and the implied mendacity of the descendants of those who might be seeking relief from a terrible existence.

It is difficult to understand why the stance of the Christian churches involved in relation to this issue, as well as the issues of birth control and abortion, is supported by a majority of politicians of all colours in Australia, when about 30 % of the Australian population denies institutional religion, and the dogma-driven religionists account for a lot less than a quarter of the nation’s population.

Clearly, the Australian federal parliament has fallen under the control of religious conservatives on both sides of the political divide. The media is, of course, careful not to draw attention to this. Thus, the political leaders of under-developed or ‘emerging nations’ will take heart in the operational exigencies of Western democracy as marketed by the leading Western nations.

As said by a William Penn in the eighteenth century, ‘Let the people think they govern, and they will be governed.’

 

(The above is a slightly modified article previously published in www.ezinearticles.com. Australians will not be free from governance by unrepresentative political parties until minority parties and individuals replace the union-controlled and big-end-of-town-influenced parties.) 

Denial of freedom for religious reasons

A minority religious community (a Christian one) has successfully denied freedom of choice in certain key areas of Australian social policy to fellow citizens not sharing their dogma. With an exaggerated emphasis on the procreative aspects of women, restrictions in these areas of social policy impinge upon all residents, irrespective of their divergent religious beliefs and associated values.

How had this minority been able to have its religious dogma-based values over-ride the clear boundary between faith and politics which should apply in a modern democratic Western nation?

Is Western democracy, as practised in Australia, the allegedly superior version of accountable government, now being sold with much vigour to non-Western cultures in Asia and the Pacific, responsible for this unrepresentative and unbalanced outcome?  Isn’t Western democracy secular, with diverse communities of believers free to practice, or not, their faith (with all or some of the associated dogma)?

What is the rationale, ethical or legal, for denying members of other Christian sects, or of other religions, or non-believers in institutional religion, or even atheists and agnostics, freedom of choice as to how they live their personal lives, and without interference in the lives of others? Who should decide, and on what criteria, that a right or practice unacceptable to a religious minority should be taboo for all citizens? What can one say about a political process which enables this inequitable outcome?

In a secular society displaying a variety of religio-cultural value systems, should not freedom of choice according to personal conscience be granted by legislation, and indeed captured by a national bill of rights?  How does a Western democracy based upon representative government permit the oppression of alternative values as recently applied in the former Soviet Empire?

(The above is a modified half of an article of mine published in www.ezinearticles.com titled ‘Denial of freedom of choice.’)

 

Freedom of choice

The durian is a tropical fruit whose extraordinary pungent odour and piquant taste have divided people into true lovers and decided haters over the centuries. Those who relish the egg yolk coloured squishy flesh swear that it is a wonderful delicacy. But there is nothing delicate about its impact. On the other side of the fence are those who are disdainful of the powerful aroma emanating from it.

Yet the fruit has not been legislatively banned. No one seems to have sought to have it declared obnoxious. This might reflect the tolerant philosophies of ancient Asian cultures. There is freedom of choice: one does not have to eat the fruit just because it is there, or because others desire it.

Now imagine this situation. In an inland town, the local Council-owned swimming pool offers, for a single month preceding the summer holidays, free entrance and lessons. The reason? Each summer, at least one child drowns in the sea about 3 hours’ drive away. Is it probable that anyone might reject this offer on the ground that their offspring might drown in the pool while taking lessons? Is it also possible that someone might deny the children the opportunity to drown-proof themselves, arguing that swimming in a pool with foreigners is not within their cultural parameters?

That is, would they reject a service, much-needed by many, on tribo-cultural grounds? Indeed, might they then argue that the free service should be disallowed because it runs counter to their traditional beliefs?

Then, there are those of a certain religious persuasion who will not accept blood transfusion; but do not deny access by fellow residents to this procedure. In a comparable manner, another religious community rejects meditation as a practice, claiming certain adverse probable outcomes; yet another community will not join the nation’s military or work for the government. Neither religious community, however, denies the right of members of other religious persuasions to meditate, fight for the nation, or work in government administration. That is, they accept freedom of choice as the right of fellow citizens, especially in an officially secular nation.

(The above is an extract from an article of mine published in http://www.ezinearticles.com. titled ’Denial of freedom of choice.’)