Many of the parents who allow their children hours of TV and who read little, if anything, besides the newspapers contribute nonetheless vociferously to that chorus that decries the schools for failing to turn out readers. This irony is seldom lost on educators.
But even among educators, “criticism” is generally taken to mean “rebuke,” or “expression of dislike” lined up along partisan, usually political, differences. The ancient honorable notion that criticism can be non-antagonistic critique, an objective comparison to some commonly recognized standard, is, more often than not, forgotten.
The deepest, most pathetic irony in education is this: a conference of educational leaders will more often than not turn into a celebration of non-communication, a values-clarification workshop writ large, each person revealing his or her "philosophy," neither expecting nor offering criticism, incapable of even simple rebuttal or defense, respecting each other's right to his or her own opinion, indeed, respecting each other like crazy.
Exercises in civility and understanding "where everyone is coming from" complete the ritual; critical examination is foregone and people finally got down to political "brass tacks."
Are we surprised that our educational leaders, professed "change agents", uplifters and reclaimers, ultimately engage in but one perennial pursuit: bandwagoneering?
To examine these issues further, see CRITICAL ASSESSMENT AND VALUES IN EDUCATION