Gramsci, not grammar: even the teaching of English has awakened
We cannot reform education without fundamental reform of our educational institutions. They are rotten through and through with radical politics.
Consider how Oklahoma’s universities and public schools teach English. English shouldn’t even be a political issue. English teachers should teach students to write well and eloquently, to read some of the books that beautifully express the character and ideals of our country, and to make a habit of reading good books for fun. The job of an English teacher is not to tell students what to think about politics.
The institutions responsible for the education and professional development of English teachers in Oklahoma no longer believe in it.
Radical politics and activism
For example, take a look at the web pages of the English department at the University of Oklahoma. OR English sets the tone for the education of Kindergarten to Grade 12 English teachers in Oklahoma. This should give Oklahoma English teachers a love of books for themselves. Instead, OU English teaches radical politics.
Radical engagements begin on the OU English homepage, with the de rigueur “Statement on Black Lives Matter.” It includes a pledge to engage the department even further in radical policy: “Teachers in OU’s English Department Join Black Lives Matter in Condemning Systemic Racism and Oppression in Our Community and in the United States . … In order for us to make necessary and meaningful reforms, we commit to engage in self-study and in-depth reflection on policies and practices that demean our colleagues and students of color, including those that flow from our departmental structures, our program and our pedagogy. , and our relationships with each other.
This commitment doubles OU’s existing commitment to radical politics. OU English courses already include:
English 4333: Black Arts / Black Power. “In our discussions, we focus on cultural exchanges and intellectual engagement between local struggles for civil rights and the broader global movements for decolonization and the rise of the industrial prison complex and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
ENGL 2283: Critical methods – “Gothic and psychoanalytic theory”. “We will examine how the conjunction of psychoanalysis and the Gothic allows us to study the strange dimensions of capitalism, empire, racism and misogyny.”
ENGL 5453: special subjects: “difference” in writing, research and pedagogy. “We will investigate constructions of difference – through lenses such as race (including ‘whiteness’), religion, class, queer and gender theories, and studies of disability – and examine how writing, research and pedagogy are theorized to address them (or not). “
OU English adds to this growing number of radical courses a multicultural requirement for its English majors that institutionalizes the identity politics of the modern radical left by putting a race quota in its reading requirements.
As in the English departments of the country, the teaching of composition in OU English is particularly politicized. In the arc of the first year composition course, students are trained to “work to intervene in a public problem”, that is, in the basics of protest civism, which is Saul Alinsky’s community organization in barely disguised.
For example, English 1213 asks students to “seek out the worldview of an indifferent or resistant stakeholder [on the public issue], by creating a profile and a proposal to persuade this stakeholder in the next mission[.] Assignment 3: students develop an argument for the stakeholder that they analyzed in the second assignment[.]”
Meanwhile, the introductory composition course for graduates, English 5403: Introduction to Rhetoric and Writing Studies, “asks questions about the role that the RWS scholarship – our scholarship – could and should play in today’s environment which makes critical race theory illegal and where we are still far from equal justice.” English 5473.01: Rhetoric and writing of women teaches students how to “approach issues of power and privilege, protest and resistance, education, work and work, civic engagement and embodied identities (racial, ethnic, physical, sexual, etc.) ) ”.
In short, Oklahoma writing teachers are learning to value Gramsci more than grammar.
OU English still contains courses that appear to offer simple English instruction, such as Joyce Coleman’s Medieval English Literature and Henry McDonald’s Investigation of American Literature. Coleman, in addition, heads the OU’s Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, which maintains a traditional scientific focus. (I have read and benefited from Coleman’s work in my own research; OR is fortunate to have a scholar of his caliber.)
But these courses are generally taught by older teachers; when the old guard retires, the true English instruction at OU English will die.
English in middle and high school
Any English teacher who manages to come out of college with an uncorrupted love of literature will face an even worse challenge: the demands placed on their professional organization. New National Council of English Teachers (NCTE) NCTE Standards for the Initial Preparation of English 7-12 Teachers (Initial License) now requires that ‘applicants apply and demonstrate knowledge of learners and learning to foster inclusive learning environments that support consistent, relevant, standards-aligned, differentiated, and anti-racism / anti-racism / anti-racism / anti-racism teaching to engage learners of the 7th to 12th year in ELA ”. English teachers in Oklahoma who just want to teach their students to write well and love good books are out of luck.
These traditional-minded teachers will also have little interest in Oklahoma English Newspaper, the official publication of the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English (OKCTE), co-edited by Jennifer Williams and Michelle Waters. You don’t have to look any further than the table of contents to see how far the rot has spread.
Williams, who also sits on the OKCTE board of directors, once informed us that “White people suck America’s life away, denying our country any chance for greatness. “She decided to rethink the literary canon:” I’m done with the dead, the Whites… I’m not going to center them in all their precious White masculinity, cishet. … I was one of those people and teachers who… wanted my students to speak “correct” English. It was the first thing I let go. ”
Waters, who is also on the OKCTE board, also believes ideological indoctrination is the job of an English teacher.
Alas, it is the same in all disciplines, not only social studies and English, but also science, mathematics, the arts and foreign languages. The Woke establishment aims to redefine education as political indoctrination and then make it a dismissal offense for not complying with it. They were all too successful.
Oklahoma is facing an unprecedented situation. Americans traditionally delegate substantial autonomy to different professionals, based on the sound theory that professionals know their own businesses better. But education professionals have abandoned real education for radical politics and thus lost the trust of the citizens. Oklahoma people who want their children to be educated properly must reclaim the power they have delegated to these professions.
We do not yet know precisely how this is to be done. But we know it’s a job we have to do on our own.