Aug 11, 2014
Longer ago than I care to remember, I spent three years working for a Washington-based national education organization. I liked the people, enjoyed my job, and had the pleasant feeling that I was contributing to a worthwhile cause.
I also learned a couple of things. One was that professional educators love innovation, or at least the idea. Another was that there’s a vast education machine—not only schools and teachers but administrative bureaucracies, groups like the one I worked for, unions, producers of textbooks and other materials, university faculties, foundations, think tanks—for whom innovation is almost literally their bread and butter.
Since that now distant era, the education machine has continued to busy itself with devising and implementing innovations—new ways of teaching this or that, new standardized tests, new technology—all said to hold the key to revolutionary change for the better. Alas, reality often falls short of expectation, and the performance of large numbers of students in American public schools has remained cause for concern.
Parenthetically, one might note that a providential lack of resources has generally spared Catholic schools much of this foolishness. Nevertheless the church schools have suffered a comparable problem of their own—the long reign, now mercifully ending, of catechetical theorists with a liberal agenda who seized the upper hand in religious education after Vatican II.