This blog will try to understand conservatism, traditionalism, and “fundamentalism” in American education.
It will not attempt to attack these ideas. But it will also not promote them. Readers who want to read inspiring culture-war polemics should look elsewhere.
We will try to make sense of some widely shared ideas that don’t make sense to us. For instance, what do conservatives really think about issues such as
- sex ed?
- prayer in schools?
- teachers unions?
I don’t identify as a “conservative” of any kind. But for a living [see my work website here] I research and write about the history of conservative activism in culture, politics, and education. In these blog posts, I won’t try to make the case for or against these notions. I’ll only try to understand the thinking behind traditionalist, conservative, “fundamentalist” beliefs about education.
There are plenty of other places to read defenses or attacks on conservative school activism. The folks at Exodus Ministry or Answers in Genesis push fundamentalist policies. Free-market wonks at places such as the Heritage Foundation press for more market reform of education. Higher-ed conservatives in the National Association of Scholars or at Minding the Campus battle for sensible conservative fixes to college leftism spinning out of control. Traditionalists at forums such as The Imaginative Conservative bemoan the wasting death of true education.
On the other side, skeptics such as Richard Dawkins or Bill Nye “The Science Guy” attack creationism without really trying to understand it. Liberals in organizations such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State fight against heavy-handed religion in public schools and the public square. Education scholars like Michael Apple or Ira Shor analyze conservatism, but only in order to discredit conservative policy.
In contrast, this blog will try to understand conservative education policies from the inside out.