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Forwarded by Sherman Dorn from the AERA-F list: A_Coulson wrote: > > Greetings, > > An unfortunate review of my book _Market Education_ appears in the Winter > issue of the History of Education Quarterly, and I couldn't possibly let it > go unanswered. In the hope that you might enjoy the exchange, I present my > response below. I haven't yet received permission to reprint the original > review, so I'm afraid you'll have to find it in the library for the time > being. For convenience I have reiterated the reviewer's main points in my > reply. > > I regret that I won't likely have time to follow up in the next few weeks, > as I am preparing for an impending conference. > > Best wishes for the New Year, > Andrew > > Andrew J. Coulson > Senior Research Associate, The Social Philosophy and Policy Center (BGSU) > Editor, www.SchoolChoices.org > > --------------- > > Reply to Christine Lugg's Review of > Market Education: The Unknown History > (in HEQ vol. 39, no. 4) > > Ms. Lugg's review of _Market Education_ is engaging, and her use of metaphor > and hyperbole is effective on an emotional level. The reference to "magic > mushroom sauce" is especially colorful. But rhetoric is not reason and > metaphor is not evidence. In support of her sweeping condemnation of the > book, she objects to just two of its 1,100 citations and takes issue with a > single aspect of just one of the dozen historical case studies presented. > Even if all three of these objections were valid they would amount to > nit-picking rather than to the "egregious" and "systemic" flaws she claims > them to be. As it happens, however, both of the sources that displease her > are corroborated by primary evidence, and her charge against the case study > is misguided. > > The first source to which Lugg objects is a harsh critique of the National > Education Association by a Christian publishing house. For Lugg, whose > current field of interest is the critical study of religious conservative > education reformers, the publisher's name alone is apparently enough to > dismiss the source as worthless. But a good historian is not one who ignores > controversial sources, he is one who treats them with appropriate caution > and uses them only to the extent that they can be substantiated by primary > or reliable secondary sources. In keeping with that practice, I cited the > book in question for a single verifiable statement of fact: that, during the > mid 1930s, the NEA's Department of Superintendence drifted away from what > are normally considered educational issues and became preoccupied with > political and economic ones, such as the merits of central planning and > collective ownership of the means of production. Here are a few quotes from > the 13th annual report of the Department of Superintendence: > > "The earlier individualism of the competitive, laissez-faire system > simply does not fit the corporate, closely integrated society of the power > [read "mechanized"] economy. Until many of these hang-over ideas and ideals > are cleared away we shall continue to be crippled in our attempts to create > the necessary new social procedures and accompanying institutions" (Childs, > 1935, p. 121). > > "The time has come when our social philosophy must be made to > correspond to the world in which we now live. This involves among other > things the frank acceptance of the collective economy" (Childs, 1935, p. > 122). > > "Community services such as health, education,. travel, and recreation > could be indefinitely expanded to the advantage of all.. The state is the > only agency which can adequately support and administer these services for > the community as a whole" (Childs, 1935, 130). > > "New methods of distributing social income will have to be devised.. > Neither can the device of "free" competition in the open market be > exclusively trusted to fix the remuneration of the individual" (Childs, > 1935, p. 131). > > "From the standpoint of magnitude of operations and numbers employed, > many of our large privately owned corporations are, in fact, public > undertakings. To place these huge enterprises under public ownership, > thereby restoring ownership and control of the tools to those who actually > work with them, need in no way lessen the amount of private initiative and > personal liberty" (Childs, 1935, p. 132). > > "It is no longer a question of economic planning and control versus > free competition and private enterprise under laissez faire. For better or > worse laissez faire is dead" (Childs, 1935, p. 133). > > The overwhelming bulk of the 1935 issue of the D.O.S.'s report is dedicated > to similar discussions, and they are also prevalent in the 1937 and (to a > lesser extent) 1936 issues. The anti-NEA source I cited was thus correct in > its statements regarding the Department of Superintendence, and I gave it > the citation credit it was due. Had I not consulted this controversial > secondary source, I would not have thought to look at the Department's > reports, and my research would have been the poorer for it. > > As it happens, though, Lugg's discomfiture did cause me to notice an error > in my citation of this material: I mistranscribed the last word of the > Department's name as "Superintendents" rather than "Superintendence." I have > notified the publisher of the error and expect it to be corrected in > subsequent editions. > > The second source to which Lugg objects is a book by Christopher Klicka, > head of the Home Schooling Legal Defense Fund, a vigorous defender of home > schooling and vociferous critic of the public school system. Mr. Klicka is > also a conservative Christian. Once again, Ms. Lugg would have us ignore > this source. She dismisses it not simply as useless, but implies that its > use contaminates _Market Education_ with its purportedly noxious and > hallucinogenic properties (see her reference to "magic mushroom sauce"). > > With whatever respect is due to Ms. Lugg, I do not like mushrooms, magic or > otherwise, and I avoid including such fungi in my scholarly work as > uniformly as I avoid including them in my diet. I do not cite works, any > works, with wild abandon, but rather treat them with care and skepticism. > The Klicka book is referenced in _Market Education_ because it was my > initial source for a few simple, relevant, and verifiable facts. In > particular, it drew my attention to the NEA's resolution on home schooling, > and to a 1991 Michigan appellate court ruling--Clonalara v. State Board of > Education, (496 N.W. 2d 66). It was correct in its presentation of these > facts, as readers may confirm for themselves. The latest (and relatively > unchanged) version of the relevant NEA resolution is available on the > internet at the following address: > http://www.nea.org/resolutions/99/99b-67.html. The Michigan ruling is > equally a matter of public record. > > But for Ms. Lugg, the use to which a source is put, the manner in which it > is treated, and its verifiability in primary material do not seem to matter. > For her, the name of the author or the publisher seems enough to judge its > use. If historiographers were to adopt her methodology tomorrow, I'm sure > our productivity would increase dramatically. Imagine how quickly our work > could be put together if all we had to do was look at the publisher's or the > author's name and then jerk our knees to the unreflective opinion of our > choice? I suggest however, that producing heaping quantities of nonsense is > not so valuable as producing a more modest amount of sense, and so I intend > to stick to my own rather more meticulous and time-consuming practices. > > In the other of Ms. Lugg's principal jibes, she objects to my decision not > to discuss the role of private slave tutors in the education of 5th and > early 4th century BCE Athens. Indeed, she rises to self-professed > indignation at this purportedly grave omission when stating that one of my > sources mentions these tutors. Here is what that source, Henri-Irenee Marrou > (1965, p. 79-80) has to say on the matter over the period in question: > > "Mais ce mepris, la violence meme avec laquelle il s'exprime nous > attestent que la chose [l'education scholaire] existait, que, par une > technique educative appropriee, un nombre croissant de parvenus faisaient > initier leurs fils aux techniques qui d'abord avaient ete le privilege, > jalousement garde, des seules familles bien nees, des Eupatrides. > "Pour une telle education, qui interessait un nombre toujous plus grand > d'enfants, l'enseignement personnel d'un gouverneur ou d'un amant ne pouvait > plus suffire. Une formation collective etait inevitable, et c'est, > j'imagine, la pression de cette necessite sociale qui a fait naitre > l'institution de l'ecole. L'education particuliere ne disparaitra pas du > coup. mais une fois cree, l'education collective ne tarde pas a devenir la > plus normalement repandue." > > Which translates to > > "But these misgivings, even the violence with which they were > expressed, attest that the thing [schooling] existed, that, by a suitable > pedagogical approach, a growing number of the common people were initiating > their sons in the disciplines that had formerly been the jealously guarded > privilege of the few families of noble birth, the Eupatrides. > "For this kind of education, which attracted an ever growing number of > children, the personal instruction of a tutor or lover could no longer > suffice. A communal preparation was inevitable, and it is, I imagine, the > pressure of this social necessity that gave birth to the institution of > schooling. One-on-one instruction did not vanish in an instant.. but once > created, communal [school] education wasted no time in becoming the norm." > > Personal tutors did exist in classical Athens but they were always > restricted to a small segment of the citizenry, in contrast to the more > widely enjoyed schooling that arose in the 5th century BCE. Their role, > furthermore, declined still further in significance as the 5th century wore > on and gave way to the 4th. Ms. Lugg's implication to the contrary is > incorrect. And to forestall any objection to my omission of a discussion of > Greek Love, this was practiced equally in Sparta and Athens, the two > contemporary societies contrasted in this section, and is unlikely to have > had a differential effect on them. > > Upon her mistaken understanding of classical Athenian education, and upon > little else, Ms. Lugg proffers a charge of presentism. Like most > historiographers, my judgements are affected by the period in which I live. > Like some, I make no effort to disguise this fact and openly share my > judgements with the reader. I condemn, for instance, the slavery and > widespread sexism of classical Athens, despite the fact that both of these > failings were virtually universal to ancient societies. While I make no > pretense of perfect objectivity, I do present the context of the periods and > places I cover with breadth and deliberation. Consider this one example from > the summation of the section on Athens (Coulson, 1999, p. 49): > > "Of course, Athenian social and political life was plagued at times by > many of the same flaws that confront us today and that we have battled > against in our own recent past: slavery, sexism, and belligerent foreign > policy among them. But their ideals and the success with which they > approached those ideals are truly astonishing when we remember that they > were building their society virtually from scratch, whereas we have had two > and a half thousand years of good and bad examples to learn from. It is hard > to establish how much of their achievement can be attributed to their > approach to schooling, but we can say this: Athenian parents had complete > discretion over the content and manner of their children's education, and > these children went on to create a culture responsible for some of the > greatest advances in art, science, and human liberty in history." > > Included in Ms. Lugg's expansive definition of presentism is the supposedly > fallacious idea that the past can shed light on contemporary policy > questions. Her blanket condemnation of this idea is unsubtle, unreflective, > and unsupported. A cautious and systematic approach is required, of course, > and I adopted such a strategy in the writing of _Market Education_. My > approach was not to make direct comparisons between obviously very different > times and places, but to look for consistent patterns that are exhibited > across them. In this way, the diversity of the periods studied becomes a > positive asset: any system of educational governance that consistently > produced good (or bad) results across widely varying social and economic > settings may have something very interesting to teach us. I consider results > to be good when they are viewed as such by both the people of the time and > place in question, as well as by the contemporary public. Establishing a > rough idea of the public's goals at various points in history, or even > today, is not trivial, but neither is it impossible. To this cross-national > and pan-historical distillation process I add comparison studies of > contemporary cultures (e.g. Athens and Sparta) and longitudinal studies of > transitions between different educational systems (e.g. Rome, Islam, the > United States). > > Having spent five years in the research of this book I am convinced of the > soundness and usefulness of this approach. Naturally, some may differ in > their appraisals, and I am happy to debate my methods and their > implementation with anyone who cares to offer an intelligent and informed > commentary. I am still waiting. > > Remarkably, Lugg is not content to restrict her splenetic remarks to the > book she was charged to review, but feels the need to pile calumny on the > character of its author. The extent to which Lugg believes herself privy to > my authorial intent would cause fits among the most moderate > deconstructionist. Based on nothing in particular, Lugg decides that I had a > pre-existing agenda to destroy public schooling and sought out only those > historical and modern examples which would support my supposed jihad. This > presumptuousness would be outrageous even if it were not patently > contradicted by the book's Table of Contents. Given that it is, it reaches > into the realm of the surreal. > > Consider some of the periods given the greatest attention in _Market > Education_: 19th century England, 19th and 20th century United States, and > late 20th century Japan. These are the very same periods to which apologists > for state schooling draw attention! Japan is said to be a model of central > educational planning, and state schools are supposed to have brought > literacy and learning to the otherwise unlettered, uneducated masses in the > UK and the US. I don't ignore these beliefs, I confront them and confute > them with precisely the sort of hard evidence of which Ms. Lugg's review is > so entirely devoid. > > This having been the second amateurish and ham-handed "academic" review of > _Market Education_, I am beginning to wonder if someone has dropped agent > orange on the groves of academe. Is there no one capable of producing an > intelligent and well-informed critique of _Market Education_, or even of > producing a slip-shod critique that is at least free of childish sneering? > Is academia bereft of competent scholars interested in broad-based > international and historical studies of school governance structures? I > don't doubt that I've made a few errors along the way, but I shan't discover > them if my critics confine themselves to producing unthinking spitballs > instead of reasoned reviews. > > Andrew J. Coulson > Senior Research Associate, The Social Philosophy and Policy Center (BGSU) > Editor, www.SchoolChoices.org > > References: > > Childs, John L. "A Preface to a New American Philosophy of Education," in > _Social Change and Education_, the 13th Yearbook of the Department of > Superintendence of the National Education Association. Washington, D.C.: > NEA, 1935. > > Coulson, Andrew. _Market Education: The Unknown History_. New Brunswick, NJ: > Transaction Publishers, 1999. > > Marrou, H. I. _Histoire De L'Education Dans L'Antiquite_. Paris: Editions > Du Seuil, 1965.