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Why Independent Thinkers Are Repugnant to Religious Zealots and Rick Santorum

Posted on Feb 22, 2012
Gage Skidmore (CC-BY)

Former Sen. Rick Santorum speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., last October.

By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout

(Page 3)

Education as a critical moral and political project always represents a commitment to the future and it remains the task of educators to make sure that the future points the way to a more socially just world, a world in which the discourses of critique and possibility in conjunction with the values of reason, freedom and equality function to alter, as part of a broader democratic project, the grounds upon which life is lived. This is hardly a prescription for political indoctrination, but it is a project that gives education its most valued purpose and meaning, which, in part, is “to encourage human agency, not mould it in the manner of Pygmalion.”(10) It is also a position that threatens right-wing private advocacy groups, neoconservative politicians and religious extremists because they recognize that such a pedagogical commitment goes to the very heart of what it means to address real inequalities of power at the social level, and to conceive of education as a project for democracy and critical citizenship while at the same time foregrounding a series of important and often ignored questions such as: “Why do we (as educators) do what we do the way we do it”? Whose interests does public education serve? How might it be possible to understand and engage the diverse contexts in which education takes place? In spite of the right-wing view that equates indoctrination with any suggestion of politics, critical pedagogy is not simply concerned with offering students new ways to think critically and act with authority as agents in the classroom; it is also concerned with providing students with the skills and knowledge necessary for them to expand their capacities both to question deep-seated assumptions and myths that legitimate the most archaic and disempowering social practices that structure every aspect of society and to take responsibility for intervening in the world they inhabit.

Education is not neutral, but that does not mean it is merely a form of indoctrination. On the contrary, as a practice that attempts to expand the capacities necessary for human agency and, hence, the possibilities for democracy itself, the public should nourish those pedagogical practices that promote “a concern with keeping the forever unexhausted and unfulfilled human potential open, fighting back all attempts to foreclose and pre-empt the further unraveling of human possibilities, prodding human society to go on questioning itself and preventing that questioning from ever stalling or being declared finished.”(11) In other words, critical pedagogy forges both critique and agency through a language of skepticism and possibility and a culture of openness, debate and engagement, all elements that are now at risk in the latest and most dangerous attack on public education.

The attack on public schooling and critical pedagogy is, in part, an attempt to deskill teachers and dismantle teacher authority. Teachers can make a claim to being fair, but not to being either neutral or impartial. Teacher authority can never be neutral, nor can it be assessed in terms that are narrowly ideological. It is always broadly political and interventionist in terms of the knowledge-effects it produces, the classroom experiences it organizes and the future it presupposes in the countless ways in which it addresses the world. Teacher authority at its best means taking a stand without standing still. It suggests that, as educators, we make a sincere effort to be self-reflective about the value-laden nature of our authority while taking on the fundamental task of educating students to take responsibility for the direction of society. Rather than shrink from our political responsibility as educators, we should embrace one of pedagogy’s most fundamental goals: to teach students to believe that democracy is desirable and possible. Connecting education to the possibility of a better world is not a prescription for indoctrination; rather, it marks the distinction between the academic as a technician and the teacher as a self-reflective educator who is more than the instrument of a safely approved and officially sanctioned worldview.


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By colinday, March 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment


I read the entire essay (or at least what was posted to Truthdig, which I assume is the whole essay). The essay neither answered my questions nor stated how to deal with apathy.

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By Shenonymous, February 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm Link to this comment

colinday, your two questions are rhetorical.  You can answer the
question about what Giroux means by reading his entire essay.
And if people are apathetic, well that speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

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By colinday, February 28, 2012 at 6:20 pm Link to this comment


Is that what Giroux means by democracy?

If students are not interested or cares about equalitarian society, or social justice, they might be asked what kind of society they do value, would prefer, and how would they have it managed.

Are you considering people who are socially/politically apathetic?

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By Leefeller, February 28, 2012 at 2:42 am Link to this comment

Purge the torpedoes and shiver me timbers, Truth Dig just had a High Colonic and now lets all hope they are done with the Rosa Water and Momma Mia playing the Bag Pipes?

Hey John Best, yes ‘conservative’ is like many words, it has been constipated into something which it was not, sorta like ‘fundamentalist’ and many other words morphed to generalize from their original meaning and intent. The Republicans love to use the word ‘socialism’ like they know what it really means, when really they do not have a clue, except what they have been indoctrinated to believe.

Nice post She, had one hell of a time finding this thread, when I sign in to comment, apparently I am forced to do a title search instead of going directly back to the link and the original article,... maybe I am special?

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By Shenonymous, February 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment

colinday – since democracy is the name given to a number of forms
of government and procedures which have legitimacy because they
have the consent of the people they govern, we further understand
that because a government has been democratically elected that does
not mean it will be a good, just, or competent government.  And we
also know that some body politics have used the democratic process
to secure liberty, and there have been others that have used it to
promote equality, nationalism, or other values.  Liberty and equality
are antithetical, and can only become compatible with negotiation.  If
students are not interested or cares about equalitarian society, or social
justice, they might be asked what kind of society they do value, would
prefer, and how would they have it managed.  How would they insure
their own right to choose, whatever that might be?  If there is not to be
a democracy, then there might not be any need to have all of a society’s
(or nation’s) citizens educated for embedded within the word democracy
explicitly is the word ‘all.’

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By colinday, February 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm Link to this comment


I agree with Giroux that the Republicans would have a negative effect on public education, but is his the only alternative? As both a teacher and student, I am nearly as appalled by his views that democracy is the standard of cognition as I am by Santorum’s theocratic approach to education.

All those who question that, need to do some investigation as to
why public education was constructed in the first place

From Wikipedia

By instilling values such as obedience to authority, promptness in attendance, and organizing the time according to bell ringing helped students prepare for future employment. Mann faced some resistance from parents who didn’t want to give up the moral education to teachers and bureaucrats.

To borrow a term from a previous poster, Giroux takes a Manichean approach to educational policy. His statements about the evils of the Republicans have much truth to them, but he fails to show that his own policies are the only alternative.

As for getting better teachers, we still have to decide what counts as better in teaching. Having students be critical thinkers may be improvement, but what happens when they criticize democracy? Or if students do not care that much about democracy and social justice?

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller, I have two problems with this statement, “Which evolved last, the conservative or the Neanderthal”.  First, these days, what they call a ‘conservative’, or a ‘true conservative’ is at least a laisse faire economic liberal, and a social radical similar to the worst dictators.  The word ‘conservative’ has been perverted like everything else. Second, Neanderthals were supposedly a mellow, peace loving sort.  It’s really not fair at all to neanderthals.

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By Shenonymous, February 26, 2012 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

Yes they do, colinday.  Giroux’s opening complaint is that Right-
wing fundamentalists want to wreck the American public schools
system completely and leave education to parents.  I think he is
right.  We have only to listen to the Republican candidates for
POTUS, Mormon, Catholic or Protestant, to hear what they think
of public education.  A worse nightmare of ignorance in this
country can’t be imagined. 

All those who question that, need to do some investigation as to
why public education was constructed in the first place. Then check
the relative ranking of the quality of knowledge American students to
other countries in the world.  With all the wealth in this country, it is a
travesty how low in comparison our students are. 

Boyarski brings up an important problem, and I agree that poverty is
one of the reasons public school is necessary, but that should not
minimize the fact of the other problems of making sure teachers are
well-qualified, the school administrators are responsive to students’
needs and faculty, and school districts understand what good curriculum
and decent teaching facilities are.

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By Leefeller, February 26, 2012 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

Chicken and egg analogys always bothered me because the conservative mind almost without failure, compares the chicken to something,.... which seldom has diddly squat to do with an egg or a chicken or anything else relating to the chicken for that matter!

Of course the chicken came fist, isn’t it obvious?

If I attempted to compare something which may have been first or not, I would ask it differently; ... ‘Which evolved last, the conservative or the Neanderthal’?

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By colinday, February 25, 2012 at 9:39 am Link to this comment


I did consider the possibility that they could arise together. Also, Giroux and Boyarski are correct that there are problems in education.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm Link to this comment

I do. (suit myself) there are plenty of extremely knowledgeable people who write to something other than the lowest common denominator, yet are not so pretentious or arrogant so as to write for a clique of snobs who like to hear their own voices. 

I also like the causal effect of ingesting ice cream being likely to cause of a nasty water skiing accident.  Apparently the incidences of these things correlate highly.  ;>)

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By Shenonymous, February 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment

colinday, your four questions can be answered if you just put in a
little time googling, and reading. 

And now for a frolic into the Chicken/Egg debate.  As to the biological
dispute, Chicken is the answer:  See the Genetic Study Solves Which
Came First ... article at

However, there is the other application in informal logic of the
classic Chicken/Egg question and simply said:  It is a circular cause
and consequence logical fallacy where the consequence of the
phenomenon is claimed to be its root cause. This is also known as
the chicken or the egg fallacy. 

Or said with a more extended explanation, the Chicken-and-Egg Fallacy
that has been associated with inductive logic asks “Which came first, the
chicken or the egg?”

That age-old question is used to classify problems for which there are no
easy answers and what does it have to do with inductive arguments?  If
you’re creating a logical argument, using two events, you can’t take it for
granted that because the two things regularly happen together, one
causes the other. That’s the chicken-and-egg fallacy. It follows this
general symbolic logical form:

A and B regularly occur together.
Therefore, A is the cause of B.

This fallacy assumes that one event must cause another just because
the events occur together. The assumption is based on inadequate
justification; there is not enough evidence to inductively draw the
causal conclusion.

A frequent examples of chicken-and-egg fallacy is the relationship
between TV/movie violence and real-life violent behavior or violent
computer wargames and the the violence children do who play such
games.  Many people believe that a person’s violent behavior is the
result of watching TV/ movie or playing computer wargame violence.
Other people contend that if someone is a violent person, he or she
will create, watch, and enjoy violent programming. So, do TV/movie
or computer wargame violence cause real-life violence, or vice versa?
Or is there no causal relationship between the two? The simple fact is
that some people are violent, and some entertaining TV shows and
movies contain violence.The similar relation exists with the computer
wargames and actual violence.  There simply is not enough evidence to
assert a connection, since many people watch violent TV shows/movies
and many children play computer wargames and never become violent

How can falling into the chicken and egg fallacy be avoided?  Since it
means drawing a conclusion without enough evidence presented to
show any cause-and-effect relationship, it can be avoided by paying
careful attention to the sequence of events.  If A happens after B, A
can’t possibly cause B.  Is it possible that there’s something else that
could have been the cause?  Giving more thought about the evidence
presented. it has to be decided whether it is or it is not enough to draw
the conclusion.  Are we having fun yet?  I’m ready for a chicken omlette.

Boyarski’s new TD article sheds some other kind of light on the problems
in education.  I think he has a point.

What is Progress, suit yourself.  You are the captain of your own time. 
I think it is a matter of just how cultivated one has become through their
education that determines the degree that one can apprehend the
writings of a learned recognized education expert.  He doesn’t write for
the least common denominator in reading skills.  Giroux’s bio gives his

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By colinday, February 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment

I have some questions about Mr. Giroux’s critical thinking.

1) Are theocracy and democracy the only alternatives?

2) Is democracy a standard of critical thinking? Physics may have political consequences, but should we accept or reject claims in physics on the basis of those consequences?

3) To what extent is critical thinking a skill that can be taught? And if it can’t be taught, can public schools inculcate critical thinking in students?

4) There is also a chicken-and-egg problem: Does democracy precede the establishment of such an education, does such an education precede democracy, or do they arise together?

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 24, 2012 at 6:15 am Link to this comment

And Shenonymous….life is short.  There is competition for my time, and if the man can say what he has to say in a more succinct and direct manner, I’m all for that.  Now I have to get off to work…...see you all at lunchtime, have a great day.

Oh, what happened to OM?

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 24, 2012 at 6:12 am Link to this comment

Night Gaunt, you mis-understood me…..I said ‘Christian Dominionist’ is an oxymoron.  They don’t go together.  No real Christian would consider imposing their religion on another.  Lead by example, not by iron fist would be a more christian approach.

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By Shenonymous, February 23, 2012 at 11:38 pm Link to this comment

It is amusing there are those who find some fine writing so difficult
to read and not understand.  It makes the writer’s point, which I’ve
now said three times.  What a hoot.  Teaching students the ability
to think reflectively and judiciously is Giroux’s main thesis.  This is
not a skill anyone is born with and needs the guidance of wise
mentors.  It doesn’t take a magnifying glass to notice that wisdom
is not the natural condition of most of the general public.  Critical
pedagogy clearly is Giroux’s best answer to teaching students the
ability to “reflectively frame their own relationship to the ongoing
project of an unfinished democracy.”  The only ones who might be
stirred to action to reform would be those in the teaching profession
who understand the necessity of critical pedagogy.  I read his essay
and didn’t nod off one nanosecond.  No congratulations required. 

Giroux reminds us it is the danger of democracy that frightens the
hell out of the radical Christian evangelicals, neo-conservatives and
right-wing nationalists. 

As he aptly put it, “democracy cannot function without an informed
citizenry and that, in the absence of such a citizenry, we have a public
disinvested from either thinking reflectively or acting responsibly.”  This
is the essence of this essay.  Democracy means a government chosen by
the people for their welfare. 

Just as a reminder, democracy is a political system for choosing and
replacing a government through free and fair elections, it is the active
participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life, it means
protection of the human rights of all citizens, and it is the rule of law, in
which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens. This is what
the neo-conservatives hate.

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By Night-Gaunt, February 23, 2012 at 11:21 pm Link to this comment

John Best asks, “What IS Progress”? I must disagree in your sweeping statement that Christianity=Dominionist. For one things there are a wide variety of Christians. An Dominionism is a more recent brand. An even it is divided into 3 major branches coming from the root of 19th century British Israelism or also called Christian Reconstructionism. It is what Hal Lindsay calls a “substitute gospel” where they rephrase an reinterpret parts of the Bible to fit their view that they are the new Israelites or “Chosen People.” So already your hypothesis falls apart. But then you are really taking the scatter gun view aren’t you? It is both easy an sloppy to do. has a far more detailed analysis of the whole movement with history an recent adherents plus other sites to go to for additional information. One major difference is that there is no “rapture” (Hal Lindsay) but that the earth must not only be evangelized but conquered to make it ready for their JHVH to return. (One that is Aryan an like a warrior, not the Prince of Peace as you know him.)

Do your self a favor an educate yourself. You need it in this area. Being ignorant can be remedied, stupidity cannot.

Hint: Shenonymous is very thorough an worth reading even if you may disagree with her. Disagreements are fine, flaming out isn’t.

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By gerard, February 23, 2012 at 10:20 pm Link to this comment

magginkat:  Don’t apologize!  You pointed up an important language problem—and language is always important. We should all thank you for bringing it up. It might be called the most important tool we have in understanding each other—especially when we are not dealing face to face, or when we are trying to talk to someone using English as a second language—bless their hearts! since we are so very negligent in learning other languages ourselves!

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By Magginkat, February 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm Link to this comment

I didn’t mean to start a ‘word’ war.  Thanks Gerard, you stated it much better than I did and yes I agree, this commentary is hard to read without nodding off. I think the article would have been fine if he had stopped shortly after the first two pages (paragraphs?).

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 23, 2012 at 8:29 pm Link to this comment

Gerard, you are right.  That mess deserves to be re-written.  I’ll take an initial stab to get the ball rolling…...

“If we want a citizenry capable of sorting the important issues from the crap, the Democracy and accompanying economy will have a certain strength.  To acheive that end, certain teaching methods which include critical thinking, are absolutely required. 

On the other hand, if we want brain-dead consumers, a corrupt shadow of a Democracy, and the sick economy which follows the wasting of our most powerful resource, our students, then, we adopt other teaching methods, namely…....(help here)”

Well, a problem with the above is that critical thinking is not just pedagogy if it is at all….it’s certainly a significant body of content.  Any time now Shenonymous….....  ;>)

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By gerard, February 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm Link to this comment

As an example of a piece of fairly turgid prose that absolutely refuses to stir anyone into action toward reform, here’s an uninterupted quote from page 2 to point up my criticism.  what it says is very important, and deserves to be more clearly said.If you can read it without nodding off, I congratulate you:
  “The most obvious answer is that critical pedagogy believes in forms of governing that respect both teachers and administrators on the one hand, and students on the other. That is, it supports those institutional conditions that extend from decent pay to equitable modes of governance that make good teaching possible. Second, it argues for modes of education that extend the capacities of students to both critique existing social forms and institutions and transform them when necessary. Put bluntly, it insists that knowledge is crucial not merely to thinking critically, but also to acting responsibly in the service of civic courage. What the critics of critical pedagogy refuse to accept is that as a moral and political practice, rather than an empty and sterile method, critical pedagogy offers the promise of educating students to be able to reject the official lies of power and the utterly reductive notion of training as a substitute for an informed mode of education. Paraphrasing Bill Moyers, critical pedagogy is, in part, part of a project whose purpose is to dignify “people so they become fully free to claim their moral and political agency.”(7) In this instance, critical pedagogy opens up a space where students should be able to come to terms with their own power as critical agents; it provides a sphere where the unconditional freedom to question and assert one’s voice, however different, is central to the purpose of public education, if not democracy itself.(8) And as a political and moral practice, pedagogy should make clear both the multiplicity and complexity of history as a narrative in which students can engage as part of critical dialogue rather than accept unquestioningly. Similarly, such a pedagogy should cultivate in students a healthy skepticism about power, a “willingness to temper any reverence for authority with a sense of critical awareness.”(9) As a performative practice, pedagogy should provide the conditions for students to be able to reflectively frame their own relationship to the on-going project of an unfinished democracy. It is precisely this relationship between democracy and pedagogy that is so threatening to conservatives such as Santorum, Sarah Palin, and other religious advocates of the new theocracy as the only mode of political governance and learning.’”
  I rest my case.

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By Shenonymous, February 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

kerryrose, I really like your sense of humor.  I think I always have
appreciated your posts.

What is Progress – If you read my earlier post on pedagogy you
would see that pedagogy is the art of teaching which includes
methodology, and that the word in Latin means education.  No,
education does not presuppose pedagogy nor does it presuppose
a “good” education, as your assessment with the home schooled
kid testifies.  And yes, it is truly superlative how well we can disagree
without acrimony or spitefulness.  It is a very healthy sign that there
really is civility incipient as it might be.  I’ll have a cup of tea in
jubiliation!  It was also really good that you noticed and shared
your observation.

Both you and Night-Gaunt have made some good points.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 23, 2012 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment

Night Gaunt,
At the risk of being the ‘broken record’ (there’s a term rooted in the past) I propose that ‘Dominionist Christian’ is an oxymoron.

I think they say Jesus said something about spreading the gospel, or womthing to that effect, but I don;t thing jamming it down peoples throats quite reconciles

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By Night-Gaunt, February 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment

Some of our earliest universities were religious based when accredited. Though some of them have become secular as time has gone on. An now the corporations have moved in just as they have done so in our military an of course the Corporate Mainstream Media. Most of them are also of the hard line of the Dominionist strain of Christianity. Though they do have trouble from wanting more profit over proper theology.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm Link to this comment

Ahem…. if methodology is so well implied by the use of the word ‘teaching’, the word pedagogy becomes superfluous, so I vote to put i on the rack and make it justify it’s existence. 

Night Gaunt, isn’t it interesting that can have a little tiff amongst ourselves, without rancor, but among the extremists, there is no tolerance for dissent. 

How the hell did we ever accredit these religious ‘universities’?  So many of them were actually started by churches that the seeds of destruction of American education were sewn long ago.  But it all seemed OK till this damn evangelical-fundamentalism-fanaticism came along.

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By kerryrose, February 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment

John Best

The word ‘teaching’ presupposes method and practice.

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By Night-Gaunt, February 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment

There are still a few royals out there. Not just in the UK but in Sweden an Spain an Japan. So some won’t let go of the god based leadership. Even if some of them have more ceremonial roles. Like keeping a horse around even though you have a motor car.

By gerard, February 23 at 11:38 am Link to this comment

Magginkat makes a good point—Giroux’s use of the word “pedagogy” too often for easy understanding.

This little tiff over the use of the word “pedagogy” is explanatory to the anti-intellectual mien of our adversaries. Also as a way of deflecting from what they really are afraid of most. Intelligent people who not only question but question them well an deeply. That scares them to the very marrow since their ready made answers written for them by the Reich wing think tanks fail them beyond the first level of interrogatory.

For those authoritarian followers of fundamentalist Christians an authoritarian leaders in the oligarchs an plutocrats an militant white supremacists it is okay to question outside of their theology when such disagrees with their own. But you must never turn that questioning eye to their own theology an way of living. A one way mirror in the way questioning is used by them.

75% of home schools are in hard line right wing Christian homes. An from there they go to their own colleges too. They have set up a whole alternate system of civilization in relation to education in science, legality, social society an govt. All sent through their lens of their version of Christianity. It isn’t boding well for us. But then this group will always be in the minority (35%) unless they get their wish to take over. Our still shaky economy could be their way in to take over “temporarily” till the crisis is over.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Pedagogy is the method and practice of teaching, it is not ‘teaching’.

I’ve run across a good home schooled kid too, her parents were both professors. One Geology, one English.  The other home schooled kids were not so lucky, and will pay for their parents ignorance all their lives.

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By allen, February 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

BigB writes:

“We used to laugh like hell at Rick back here in PA, before we realized that he was SERIOUS.”

Just curious.  Did Santorum speak in the same terms he is using now when he was running for the Senate from Pennsylvania?

If so, should we who live in neighboring states be concerned that a fair number of Pennsylvania voters apparently found his message (when he was running for the Senate) appealing?

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By kerryrose, February 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment


I do not take myself very seriously and try not to self deceive.

My article is certainly gobbledy gook, but I can still not gobbledy with the best of them.  Give me a couple years and I’ll get there.

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By Shenonymous, February 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm Link to this comment

Are you saying, kerryrose, your upcoming Academic Education
article is full of self-important nonsense and are not full of

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By LT, February 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“That’s why knowledgeable people
like Rich Santorum and other Christians don’t want
their children in public schools.  They want their
children following the principles of Christianity
which doesn’t include homosexuality.”

Bull. They’ve been going after defunding public education since Brown vs. The Board of Education.

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By kerryrose, February 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment


Sure, Shenonymous.  You can read my article in the May, 2012 issue of a leading Art Education journal.  I will link to it when it is published.

It is good intentioned attempt to engage K-12 teachers into applying a transformative pedagogy in the classroom.  Do I think it will save the world?  No.  Do I think it may help my career?  Yes.  Do I think it is a worthwhile unit?  Yes.

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By Shenonymous, February 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

Maybe so, kerryrose, February 23 at 12:43 pm, having done my
post-graduate work some 10 years ago, I’ve read a great deal of
Academic Education journals and have found they are not full of
self-important nonsense and are not full of gobbledygook.  Would
you please cite some journal articles that are?

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By Leefeller, February 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

Pedagogy is a word which should be dusted off and spanked.

Come on folks, stuffy seems to be a matter of perception or more like a personal handicap lacking tolerance.

Some words though stuffy but when used by me are really endearing, and used quite frequently especially of late, for instance n endearing word, utilized with Pedagogy intent,  for conservative stereotypical addressing,  usually includes the mandatory word ‘ass hole’....  when discussing republicans.

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By Shenonymous, February 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment

What is Progress you act as if pedagogy is only one thing.  There
are several theories of teaching, but remember the word means
education.  That covers a very large subject.  Before criticisms
come tumbling in research to a degree more than the ordinary
cosmetic kind of thinking ought to be made.  Again, this part of
your post is another demonstration of Giroux’s thesis.

As much as I abhor home schooling, I do know of one case where
the young woman was home schooled and went on to be admitted
to a decent college then made her way through graduate school,
mainly because she was brilliant on her entrance exam.  She had
figured out that her provincial home schooling education had just
skimmed what was called the domain of knowledge and supplemented
on her own what she felt was missing from a liberal education.  Heck she
was already trained to be autodidactic. She graduated cum laude.  So not
all home schooled will fall into the abysmal abyss.  But for the most part,
WIP, I think you are right.

I’ve been in the academic field in one capacity or another at various
levels of teaching for thirty years from pre-K to graduate school and
have not seen but one account of pedagogical arrogance.  He didn’t
last as long as he thought he would!  My colleagues in all the schools
where I’ve taught have been very keen on the quality of the content of
the courses or classes they taught and their manner of delivery of that
content, as have I been.  It is too easy to take pot shots at targets one
does not have much first hand knowledge. 

Seems to me the point of this article is to make sure first of all that
education take its place as one of the major spheres of human activity
and that within the content of the curriculum critical thinking takes a
major role as well.  I am still an active teacher and this mental process
of making distinctions, analysis, and evaluation that involves directed
reflection in order to reconcile empirical evidence with common sense
is what I see as the most important bedrock in building a country that
encourages its citizens to have the capacity to live up to the most that
they can.  If there is some criticism in that, then we are not in the same
world and it won’t make a bloody difference.

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By kerryrose, February 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

As a Doctoral student in Education I can assure everyone that Giroux is simply writing using the language that is acceptable in current academic writing. ‘Pedagogy’ is simply the academic word for teaching.

At least Giroux’s writing is interesting and socially relevant. Try slogging through some Academic Educational journals to hear a lot of self important nonsense masked in gobbledy gook.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

Pedagogy is used extensively by the teachers and school administrators I’ve known.  Frankly, it’s a slight problem, as it is frequently used to emphasize the style of teaching over content.  Yes, we do not adequately emphasize content.  The joke has been for at least 30 years that if you flunk out of math or science or engineering, you can always become a teacher.  This is horribly sad, as knowledge of pedagogy is used to exclude exceptionally competent individuals from the ranks of educators. 

So, I have no issue with the word itself, but I am wary of those who wield it as a weapon against those outside their profession. 

Like every damn issue, we must look at all faults without favoritism to any party.  Pedagogy over content, and exclusion by certifications which are over-reliant on pedagogy and less so on content is a huge, huge problem.

Has anyone ever seen the so-called ‘calculus’ a high-school math teacher is required to take?  It’s called ‘baby calculus’, and it is a joke, like the ‘baby-trig’, ‘baby-algebra’ etc, etc leading up to calc.  This failing of the university system, to emphasize pedagogy over content, is at the heart of the problem. 

Now, so as to offend everybody…...can you imagine a home schooled kid who’s not even schooled by a pedagogically certified professional and who’s mommy may not even have a higher education?  We are jumping from the frying pan into the fire.  Home schooling will do more to destroy this country than any terrorist could dream.  Instead of getting our very best from whatever social class to which they were born, we will get an aristocratic privately schooled class, and a bunch of arrogant morons who think they’re special.  That is not the equal opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness for which many generations of Americans have fought and died.

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By Shenonymous, February 23, 2012 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

Obviously I disagree, strenuously, gerard.  To try to relegate the
word pedagogy to some dusty shelf shows exactly how ignorant
are you and those who do not like “stuffy” words.  Oh please, let
us not attempt to elevate the vocabulary!  As if you knew the mind
of Giroux is beyond amusement.  It demonstrates exactly what he
and Big B. and a few others are talking about. A little more educated
sophistication could be a good thing instead of the pablum kind of
education that has been going on far too long this country.  The
very kind the Fundamentalists and other oppressors of the mind

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By gerard, February 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

Magginkat makes a good point—Giroux’ use of the word “pedagogy” too often for easy understanding.
Either he’s unaware of its overtones, or he has a purpose.  The only positive thing about the word, so far as far right anti-public-education radicals is concerned, is that it ends in “-ogy” as in “theology” and “doxology” and might therefore resound in religious minds.  But I doubt that was his purpose.
  In fact, his use of the word is probably oounter-
productive.  It’s a “stuffy” word associated with teaching “techniques” which tends to de-emphasize that all-important requirement for good teaching—the ability to relate to students’ needs and abilities—no two alike! 
  The simple fact is, there’s “big government money” in public education and priveat “enterprizers” are eager to get it transferred over into their pockets and into the hands of the 1%.

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By Shenonymous, February 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

Big B makes the excellent argument that has been voiced several
times on Truthdig.  He is correct to be another reminder of the
forces at unrelenting work to control the population to their
nefarious will and it cannot be said often enough given the short
attention span of ordinary people to swallow the garbage with which
religions, oligarchs, plutocrats, and royal elitists propagandize them. 
They have not been taught to evaluate for truth value the information
that is carefully prepackaged for them to absorb.  And where is this
taught?  It is taught in our public schools.  In those places where the
Ultra-Right Wing Conservative Republicans do not want government to
certify that quality critical thinking education is available to all citizens
from the earliest age through high school.  There are some Republicans
who want to do away with public education altogether!  And we can see

Outraged puts in clear perspective the intentions of the fanatical anti-
social anti-democratic Christians.  There is toleration on the side of
liberals since it is part f their ideology to be tolerant and this includes
Ortiz’s “liberal atheists.”  Haidt must be read also with squinty eyes
and not ingest the stylized garbage that he offers as well. 

A complaint was made about the many times Giroux used the word
pedagogy. It struck me as a case of mental constipation.  For the
ignorant, pedagogy is training in the art of and how to be an effective
teacher.  The term comes from the Greek paidagogeo, which means “to
lead the child.”  The Latin derivation is “education.”  It commonly refers
to the correct use of teaching strategies of instruction, or styles of
instruction (a short description on instruction theory may be found at
Wikipedia—what can’t be found there???), which is a valuable, if often
truncated, resource for those looking for cursory information about
various topics.).

The importance at this critical time in our national society of cognizance
of the magnitude can’t be minimized that a vigorous and coercive assault
is being directed toward general education in our country.  It is up to
you and me to make sure the public becomes informed of what is being
denied to them.  The only way a generally minimally educated public can
resist oppression, suppression, and repression is to become educated
and educated by those who have learned the skill and art of teaching
the valuable content it would take to put them in that place. They must
be able to fathom what will be the consequences of remaining ignorant. 
Better Giroux repeats the word pedagogy a hundred times than provide
superficial advice based on shallow all too often journalistic drivel.

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By omop, February 23, 2012 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

Rick Sentorum examplifies the personification of a “Much ado about nada”.

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By Outraged, February 23, 2012 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

Re: Aaron Ortiz

Your comment:“Christian parents are not evil. That is my point. You don’t understand them”

As “John Best” points out there are Christians and then there are Christians.  Right wing Fundamentalists and their right wing counterparts in business are not the same as what one might call a Christian generically. And THEY have declared war on what they consider Satan’s influence in our educational system.

As Giroux states, “Right-wing fundamentalists such as Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum hate public schools, which he suggests are government schools wedded to doing the work of Satan, dressed up in the garb of the Enlightenment.”

They are deliberately attempting to undermine the public school system.  They have been attacking public schools for at least a decade and have made great gains. There wasn’t any “war” regarding the beliefs of Christian Fundamentalists in the public school system.  But the Fundamentalists and their business counterparts are waging a war against any description of the world as we know it and attempting to put their religious tenets in its place.  It’s happening all over the country, in district after district.

They are not content to stop there. They run for school boards and make all types of unconscionable policy changes (such as fake science and revisionist history texts) and draconian rules which turn school attendance into incarceration. They defund education again and again using the “tighten our belts” mantra, after it has been sufficiently crippled it will be an easy kill. In my own state this is exactly what is going on. WI Governor Walker has taken 1.6 billion from our schools then proceeded to hand that money over to corporate interests. As a result WI lost jobs and became 50th in the country for net job growth. All the while our right wing Gov. is claiming that we have to “balance the budget” and “tighten our belts”:

“Gov. Walker can’t tell the truth about his record of failing our public schools and he’s trying to lie his way out of it,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Parents, teachers and students are living the results of his disastrous $1.6 billion theft of public education dollars every single day.”

”“Scott Walker is promising another $1.5 billion massive corporate tax break for big business that will require massive cuts to education, health care, police and fire fighters,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “This newest promise brings Scott Walker’s tax break, loophole and shift total for big business and the rich to over $5 billion.”

I understand “both sides” well. To claim that these right wingers, Christian or otherwise have a “side” is without merit.  They are on a mission to destroy public education in America and have declared war on it. Santorum is claiming that Satan is in control of education! Who do you think he is “calling to arms”.....?

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By kerryrose, February 23, 2012 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

I watched Santorum’s face as Ron Paul decried the US war machine during a Republican debate.

It was very instructive.  Santorum was not angry, or cynical… he was absolutely perplexed.  His mouth hung open… complete shock.  He cannot, nor apparently is aware, that any critical narrative is possible against the dominant authority.

It is possible that he is just a real dumbbell.

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By Magginkat, February 23, 2012 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

I know Mr. Giroux is quite the academic but really is it necessary to use an oddball word pedagogy so many times when he could have just as easily used the word teach/teaching/thinking, at least part of the time? One biographical selection found on the Internet describes him:

Henry A Giroux is well-known for his explorations of critical pedagogy, neo-liberalism and the condition of young people.

I guess I am being nit-picky in my old age but Giroux describes his pet word this way:
“...pedagogy has to be understood as a form of academic labor”——-Academic labor?? I would consider it to be academic torture as this writer used the word pedagogy/pedagogical at least 31 times in this commentry. Yes, I counted (but may have missed a couple) because it was so irritating.

Other than that I highly recommend the reader comment left by Big B

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By Leefeller, February 23, 2012 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

‘There is nothing more feared by this group of fundamentalists than individuals who can actually think critically and reflectively and are willing to invest in reason and freedom rather than a crude moralism and a reductionistic appeal to faith as the ultimate basis of agency and politics. What Santorum and his appeal to theocracy longs for is a crowd of followers willing to lose themselves in causes and movements that trade in clichés and common sense.’

Key words for me in the above paragraph is; ‘lose themselves in causes’.  For causes are required to forgo concepts such as critical thinking and utilizing something called truth,  for the cause is all encompassing. I am taking this from Eric Hoffers works and find this essay worthy of further reflection.

Damn our nation is being buggered by manipulators who have myopic goals for all of us.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 23, 2012 at 9:22 am Link to this comment

There are Christians, and then there are those fanatic evangelicals who call themselves Christians.  One must ask if the values they would impose through law would actually be more Old or New Testament leaning.  Vengeful, like capital punishment, or ‘brothers keeper’ sort of New Testament action.

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By Lee Paxton, February 23, 2012 at 8:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great article.  Organized religion, in any form, is one of the great threats to the 1st Amendment, free speech, & democracy, enough said.

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By Aaron Ortiz, February 23, 2012 at 8:49 am Link to this comment


Christian parents are not evil. That is my point. You don’t understand them, I think.

Only evil people would constantly and deliberately lie to their children. Their parents want to home school them because they love them and want to protect them.

I find the current culture war sad because people on both sides do not realize they are being manipulated by their own side’s media just as much as the other side is being manipulated by theirs.

Step out of the war. The culture war, as all wars is stupid. Peace comes from understanding and making a friend out of your enemies. Rage is a counterproductive strategy.

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By Shenonymous, February 23, 2012 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

Giroux does Americans a huge service.  Most Americans are
intelligent but are not intellectuals, meaning they do not spend
much time in deep thought about and understanding abstract
ideas and theories, through the study and gaining broad
knowledge of social and historical human actions and inter-
actions. For instance, how many ordinary people know what is
meant by the “Manichean view of the world”?  Giroux points out
and is actually giving a thunderous warning about the serious
place our democracy is in from the actions of a political power
that can choke off and retard the mental development of the
entire general population.  This is not a new impulse, though,
and Giroux makes it clear this has been a festering canker from
a reaction to the rational insights of Newton, Pierre Bayle,
Spinoza, Bacon, and John Locke, that humans have the capacity
to reason about religion, social, political, and economic issues. 
If commoners can ponder rigorously and critically about the world
how much power would they be able to take from the privileged
class, the elites.

This is a very important essay with critical repercussion is it isn’t
taken as urgent to yours and my life.

One obvious way to do that is to go through the essay, only
because it is a treatise on hand that actually gives food for such
thought, and deliberate on each of the points he has made for
evaluation of their approximation to truth and then reflect on what
we can do about them if the are calling for our action.  There are
plenty of good minds that dwell here on TD to actually do some
gainful work on what is a terrible contagion that is taking over our,
yours and my, country.

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By PRGP, February 23, 2012 at 7:06 am Link to this comment

All religions are psychotic delusion founded in fear and control.  Grow up humans.

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By DonSchneider, February 23, 2012 at 6:46 am Link to this comment

So Americas fundamentalists on the right want the function of public education to
expand from its societal charge of producing docile workers, to now producing
docile believers who will, out of necessity, become docile workers !  Having
suffered through the stultifying system in the 1960’s I must now tolerate the
Christian right’s demand that my grand children be acculturated to the mind
numbing propaganda of christian fundamentalism !  What happened to the facade
of a separation of church and state ? Pedagogy of the oppressed ! Hmmm ! where
and when did I hear that before ?  Yes we HAVE digressed to the 1950’s on the
wings of the fundamentalist vultures !

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By Outraged, February 23, 2012 at 2:38 am Link to this comment

Re: christian96

Your comment:“The article does a poor job telling why Rick Santorum and other Christian people choose home schooling.”

No it doesn’t. It tells it EXACTLY as it is.  Christian home schoolers purposefully withhold the FACTS from their children in order to advance the LIE that is their religion. They skew the facts, they buy books that teach lies, they teach their children to hate anyone unlike themselves even going so far as to present them as some type of “blemish” or evil and that if they suffered some horrible fate, it is simply okay, because they were unworthy in “God’s” eyes. They teach their children to hate under the guise of “God’s love”.

Re: Aaron Ortiz

Your comment:“I think the problem is that neither side is willing to really understand the other, and assumes the other is “evil”.”

NO! Absolutely not. What a ridiculous assertion.

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By Aaron Ortiz, February 22, 2012 at 11:03 pm Link to this comment

I think the problem is that neither side is willing to really understand the other,
and assumes the other is “evil”. This is called “the myth of pure evil” among

Worse, are those who really think they are open minded, but are blind to their own
bias. This is simplistic realism, and is the cause of much of the culture war.

I recommend the book “The Happiness Hypothesis”, written by a liberal atheist
psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, but helpful in understanding the point of view of the
religious conservatives in current culture war and how easily we humans delude
ourselves (among other very enlightening research).

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By christian96, February 22, 2012 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment

The article does a poor job telling why Rick
Santorum and other Christian people choose home
In February 1988, 175 organizations met to discuss
a strategy for manipulating mainstream America into
accepting “homesexuality” as an alternate lifestyle.
Shortly after the conference , activists Marshall
Kirk and Hunter Madsen published their strategy for
selling homosexuality to America.  Published in May
1989, “After The Ball: How America Will Conquer It’s
Fear and Hatred of Gays” laid out, with candor and
in explicit detail, the homsexuality strategy for
winning over America. They would accomplish their
objectives by using books, magazines, art, music,
fashion, television, movies, to spread their propanganda.  They would portray homosexuals living
among straight families like they were equal. The
homosexuals were depicted as happy, laughing, wearing
flashy clothes, drinking margaritas, etc.
Kirk and Madsen weren’t secretive about their agenda
saying, “The campaign we outline in this book, though
complex, depends centrally upon a program of
unabashed PROPAGANDA, firmly grounded in long-established principles of psychology and advertising.”  Have you seen the commerical of a
man with a beard living among remote frigid conditions who calls himself “Peggy?” Most average
Americans watch this commerical and laugh not realizing they are being conditioned with propaganda.  The hollywood homosexuals have just
about succeded in getting the Homesexual Lifestyle
accepted into many American institutiions including
public education.  That’s why knowledgeable people
like Rich Santorum and other Christians don’t want
their children in public schools.  They want their
children following the principles of Christianity
which doesn’t include homosexuality.  If alive today
Jesus would tell homosexuals what he taught the
women caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go and sin NO MORE!”(John 8:11)

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By gerard, February 22, 2012 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment

One huge unresolved problem for public schools is that for most people public education ends at high school graduation after basic skills have begun to show proven results through practical application.
  The next four years of college, almost irrespective of choice of a “major” field, offer practice in practical application of those skills, whether generally in the field of relationship development, or in chosen fields of academic interest.
  This means that those who graduate from high school and enter directly into the “working world” will (at an early age) be necessarily influenced by the need to conform to regulations and limits dictated by their fields of employment. Whatever intellectual experience they gain beyond social and workaday opportunities in that structured environment will be heavily influenced in free time by television, radio and social contacts—in other words by “popular culture.” This limitation is further compounded by the fact that “popular culture” is controlled by commercial interests that are not geared toward further public education. The universal assumption is that “infotainment” is enough.
  But—American society (to make an example of only one society specifically) has rapidly “morphed” (and continues to “morph”) into complexities whose possibilities and demands are both much more sophisticated—and offer far more opportunities for learning and participation—than people equipped with a high school diploma can appreciate or use to advantage. 
  The gap creates a social and intellectual vacuumm that is a real impediment to a democracy, because a minority of citizens are much better prepared for full participation and a majority are left to sink into the habit of conforming and resisting change.  Rather than anticipating the future, they are left behind to struggle to maintain “things as they are”.  For them, change is always a threat.
  The result is a kind of “class stagnation” that confines large numbers of people to a real (though unrecognized) second-class citizenship which unfortunately leads in most cases to second-class lives—and ends too often in unconscious resentments.
  The fact that this “class” division is largely unrecognized only increasess problems of lack of mutuality,  loss of social cohesion and ability to anticipate change and choose wisely for future benefits for the general public welfare as opportunities for change arise—as they inevitably do.
  It follows that one thing we could do would be to increase awareness in high school of the inevitability of change, and introduce fundamental tools of evaluation of possible democratic change as related to the future, and the individual’s democratic responsibility to react to possibilities with an open and self-informed mind.
  Efforts to resist and resent change are a waste of time and effort.Following “leaders"and “orthodoxies” is often counterproductive.It might be important to
give high school students some deliberate help in
recognizing this obvious fact of life and help them acquire some competence in their judgment and their ability to anticipate the future without dread.

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By Big B, February 22, 2012 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

We used to laugh like hell at Rick back here in PA, before we realized that he was SERIOUS.

Organized religion has always counted on an ignorant following. How else could you sell their product? The dead coming back to life? Consuming the body and blood of said resurrected diety? walking on water, then turning it into wine? The only thing sadder is that educated big business oligarchs are able to, in the 21st century, use the same bullshit guilt trip on a willing and eager populace of fundamentalist wackos. They find their “mega” churches and reap the benefits of a preacher telling them every sunday about the “gospel of prosperity” and push that old phony axiom about “american exceptionalism”.

Elitist royal families have claimed kinship with gods all throughout human history. Olny after the last one has his or her head roll into a basket can humans reach their full potential. Faith in invisible men is holding us all back.

I think it may have been E.O. Wilson that suggested that mankind would have landed on the moon in 1100 if it had not been for the catholic church.

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By Michael Whitehead, February 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Please use the term Taliban Leader Rick Santorum,
whenever using this person’s name.

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