(Guest post by Greg Forster)
Below, Sandra Stotsky observes that the new national standards demand a reduction in the amount of literature taught in K-12 in order to facilitate more reading of nonfiction.
Stotsky makes a strong case that this demand is equally unnecessary (since schools have already pushed out literature in favor of nonfiction), unjustified (since there are no grounds for the view, being adopted in the name of national standards, that assigning more nonfiction in K-12 English classes will help prepare students to read college textbooks in math, economics, physics, psychology, etc.) and disastrous for real education (because literary and imaginative education is as essential to decent human life as it is neglected by the government school monopoly).
But let’s not overlook a more fundamental point: when we decided to have national standards, nobody told us that it would mean forcing schools to assign less literature. But that’s what’s happening.
Why? Friedrich Hayek outlines it in The Road to Serfdom. Even a small amount of government planning must – must – inevitably either metastasize both quantitatively and qualitatively, or else fail to accomplish its purpose.
Government planning, however small, must metastasize quantitatively. Government gets our consent to plan A. But if A must be planned, that requires control of B. And that requires control of C…
It must also metastasize qualitatively. For government to plan A, government must determine the scheme of values that governs A. This requires not only a mandatory, government-imposed view of the value of A; it requires a mandatory, government-imposed view of the value of everything. In order to plan A you must determine where A stands relative to everything else, and that means government controls not just your view of A but your view of everything.
To the extent that we prevent planning from metastasizing, it fails. To the extent that metastasizes, it succeeds – and we lose our freedom.
Image HT Ukuleleman