JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE IDEA THAT OBAMA’S ELECTION SHOULD HELP RAISE GRADES   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DANIEL FINKELSTEIN IN THE TIMES

It would be nice to think this idea had some validity, but I fear it is just one more illusory notion from American social science.

We get, at least, an average of one of these notions a month from the United States’ vast body of second-rate academics in soft subjects.

Many of these notions become widely accepted, especially in American primary education, before there is any real authority in their testing.

Another example of this sort of thing is the notion of multiple intelligences, seven different ones. There are printed posters in many American grade schools and an entire literature promoting this concept as though it were a proven fact.

This notion discussed by Daniel is comparable to the American experiments of the efficacy of prayer in healing. Then again there’s the boosterism, widely practiced in American ghetto schools, with banners and literature and songs about how you can be anything.

Well, America is given to these enthusiasms. The history of the Great Awakenings – great national waves of wildly enthusiastic Christian revivalism which occurred several times – and the popularity of tent revival meetings are really other aspects of the same phenomenon.

Americans, many of them, are always ready to believe in some form of redemption or in some desperate quest to find it. Moby Dick, America’s first great novel, remains a true story of the national character.

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