Why do so many bad ideas seem natural to voting Americans?
Joe Brewer and George Lakoff have published a new analysis that looks at the importance of “cognitive policy” – the process of constructing the assumptions that underlie actual material policy decisions.
Conservative cognitive policy over many years has resulted in the following ideas being promulgated to the public:
- Successful wealthy people merit their success. Those who are not successful and wealthy donâ€™t deserve to be.
- Success is a matter of individual talent and discipline. Social factors do not enter in and government is a hindrance, not a help to this success.
- Accountability works from the top down; those lower on the hierarchy are accountable to those on top. Hence, the schools, the teachers, and the students are accountable to those political leaders who allot funding to the schools. But political leaders and taxpayers are not accountable for providing adequate funding for teacher salaries, school maintenance, and social factors that affect education.
- High standards will separate out those who merit success from those who donâ€™t, and rewards and punishments should be based on performance â€” of the students, the teachers, and the schools.
- Morality comes from conservative religion, and so conservative religious education will help instill morality and should be publicly supported.
- Education is, or should be, a market phenomenon, in which competition benefits consumers. This involves three metaphors: The students are consumers of their education, and will benefit from consumer choice (hence vouchers and charter schools). The public is the consumer of educated students, and competition will produce better products (students). Knowledge is something that can be delivered whole from teacher to student, like FedEx delivers packages.
- The main purpose of education is financial success in the market. Thus education should be tailored to the needs of business.
- Government is wasteful and ineffective, and so cannot produce quality education. Thus, education should be privatized whenever possible.
All these ideas are part of a conservative worldview. Teaching to the test is a material policy that helps to inculcate many of these ideas, as does defunding â€œfailing schools.â€
Any of that sound familiar?
Worth the read, top to bottom….