Critical Pedagogy Hits Home

There’s been some talk about it lately and it’s been in the news, but it’s also been in your home town school for some time.  Here is a history paper, handed out in my son’s history class, complete with syntax errors, inexplicable asterisks, bad grammar, omitted words, and miss-numbering.  The kids were told to memorize it.  Keep in mind the title of the piece – “U.S. History”  This is all American.  Everything below is what made/makes us tick;



U.S. History
Philosophies — Foreign and Domestic


“What Made/Makes Us Tick”


1. Capitalism – Pure*** vs. Regulated


An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.


OK, right there; no mention of property rights, the acknowledgement and protection of which result in capitalism.  “Corporately owned” IS privately owned, but they must make a distinction.



Pure capitalism over time results in poverty, worker abuse, environmental destruction, a two class social structure, and governmental control by the wealthy.  All economic, political and social norms were control directly ad indirectly by the wealthy.  Even the presentation of religious views were seen through the eyes of the capitalistic values.(2-


Karl Marx would be giddy with pride seeing what our public schools are teaching my kids today.  There’s so much wrong with that one paragraph I don’t know where to begin.  For one thing, “governmental control by the wealthy” defines a corrupt government.  The acknowledgement and protection of property rights, which defines capitalism, does not lead to governmental control by the wealthy.  That’s a contradiction in terms, but you’re not supposed to notice.  Corrupt politicians lead to governmental control by the wealthy, and for that they should be arrested.



Regulated Capitalism – has produced our nation.  Government regulates what industry can do within limits.  Environmental impact (air quality), worker safety, fair pay, fair trade, and business dealings are regulated by law.


The Fascisti would certainly approve of that statement, and they were committed Marxists.  Notice throughout this whole piece that there is no mention of human rights, or of America’s founding principles.  That would blow the whole thing though, wouldn’t it?



2. Expansionism


The belief that the nation must grow to acquire natural resources, new areas of trade, and living space. (Safety Value Theory – Turner Thesis)


3. Manifest Destiny (New Manifest Destiny)***


— Similar to Expansionism.  This was the belief that God had pre-determined (destined) the United States to expand.  It was an outgrowth of the Puritan ethic [God rewards those who work hard and live an exemplary life.]  The term eventually meant that the U.S. would eventually control the land from coast to coast.  This belief system motivated the “Western Movement.”  The acquisition of land and the displacement of Native Americans became justified in part by this belief system.  The Mexican War, the Southwest land, Northwest Territory, and Alaska are also acquired with belief system as the driving force for America to expand.


Nearly every country that ever existed has practiced some version of Manifest Destiny or Expansionism.  The American government did some terrible things to the Indians.  The innuendo I get from this is that there are wrongs remaining to be righted, which is actually being said elsewhere, complete with the “R” word (revolution) in the above linked video, as part of a school curriculum.



4.  Whiteman’s Burden – Anglo Saxonism***  The term is taken from a poem by Rudyard Kipling in which he states is was “the white man’s burden” to colonize the other nations for their benefit.  In practice it was the belief that:


God had chosen the Anglo-Saxon race to colonize the “less fortunate” peoples of the world.  In so doing they were to bring them education, the Christian faith, a Puritan work ethic, capitalism, health care, and the other “benefits” of our culture.


Ah, so America really IS racist!  Crap!



5.  Imperialism***


–,The control of one nation over another nation or territory for the purposes of acquiring natural resources, trade, and/or military advantage.  This is the core of U.S. expansion.  The acquisition of Hawaii, Cuba, and the Philippines are examples of imperialism.


Notice how they slipped trade in there, like trading with people in another nation amounts to Imperialism.  We bastards!  Those poor victims!



6.  Rugged Individualism


— The belief that individuals are to provide for their own needs without the help of others.  “I can do it myself.”  This was the pioneer spirit and the belief of the nation in the 1800s.  It worked against the average person during the latter part of the Industrial Revolution as corporations controlled the variables of life.  Working harder did not mean greater rewards for the worker.  It meant greater profits for the corporation.


The ideal of self sufficiency worked against the average person, eh?  So you’d be better off relying on others.  Notice too the repeated use of the word “worker”.  “Workers of the World Unite” then, I guess.  There are those evil corporations again, and the use of “profits” as an epithet.



7.  Social Darwinism


— Applying the theory of Darwinism, survival of the fittest, to political and social life.  The strong must survive to benefit the entire nation.  No sympathy for the weak, (poor, workers).  Laws and social customs were for the benefit of the fittest (rich, industrialist, upper crust of society).  When you combine the philosophies of Social Darwinism with imperialism, and Manifest Destiny., the world created was a tough one for the average person.


The Nazis were Social Darwinists, or I would say “Socialist Darwinists”.  Let’s be clear.



8.  Humanitarianism


— the belief that mankind should help others just because they can.  “Social Gospel” of the latter 1800s.


“Just because they can”, mind you.  Not because it’s the right thing to do.  Not because there are rich people who are, you know, actually human.



9.  Liberty/Freedom/Self-determination*


These fundamental beliefs began to take on a new meaning for many of society as the end of the century approached.  The empathy to “occupied countries” overseas and to the oppressed at home gains attention of a wider spectrum of society in the late 1800s.


Again no mention of rights, rights protection, or founding principles.  Instead it’s all up for grabs, depending on prevailing theories.



9. AMERICAN IMPERIALISM


It is easier to define American Imperialism by contrasting it with Imperialism.


Imperialism is centered on Social Darwinism, Manifest Destiny, and White Man’s Burden.


There were never, ever, anywhere, any non-white Imperialists then.  You racist, you.



American Imperialism tempers those beliefs with humanitarianism and the beliefs of self-determination, freedom and liberty.  Our present foreign and domestic policies are motivated by this belief.


There you have it.  We’re an Imperialist nation.  Damn us all to hell.


This history lesson is a self-contradictory and confused jumble of omissions, lies, half truths and truths.  Would Karl Marx strongly disagree with any of it?

4 thoughts on “Critical Pedagogy Hits Home

  1. I am still trying to remember when we “acquired” Cuba and the Philippines.

  2. My son brought home something very similar last year. When I reviewed it with him I was both angry and disappointed; so I corrected it. With footnotes. I then sent copies to the school board, the superintendent, the school principal, and to the teacher. The teacher apologized for the sloppy work of her TA, I heard nothing from the others.

Comments are closed.