I listened on Idaho in Session to the JFAC Budget Committee hearings and the questioning of the Presidents of Idaho’s State Funded Universities. The President of the Idaho State Board of Education Kurt Liebeck admitted that the State Board of Education “hasn’t spent one second talking about Critical Race Theory (CRT)”. I doubt that Mr. Liebeck knows what (CRT) is nor does he know the difference between curriculum and pedagogy —and he should.
I come from a family of teachers. Teachers and teacher-coaches changed the trajectory of my life. I will be forever grateful to them not only for the nuts and bolts of teaching me everything about organic chemistry. English, math, reading and writing, but also guiding me in helping to form my personality and develop a “code” for living and helping me in my “faith journey”. The nuts and bolts of education can be defined by a “curriculum” —a listing of content of what needs to be taught. But education is just as much about process as content, and this is what pedagogy addresses which defines a methodology and manner of instruction. What is addressed by writing a curriculum does not approach what is taught in the classroom. The ideology of a teacher is what pedagogy is all about. I remember little about chemical equations, and it would take me weeks to go back and begin to be facile in calculous, but I very much remember the mannerisms, methods, and discipline that I observed in the teachers that taught me those subjects.
Pedagogy and the idea of “hidden curriculum” are closely related. A hidden curriculum is a set of lessons “which are learned by observation” in classrooms such as norms, values and beliefs that cannot be described in a curriculum or set of rules.
In answering questions from Rep. Ron Nate —an academic economist he, Dr. Tromp the President of BSU purposefully evaded his questions by focusing the discussion around curriculum and not pedagogy. It is the same type of difference that defense attorneys use when making clear the difference between a “standard of medical care” and a “standard of medical practice” in medical malpractice cases. What is written down that should be done is not actually practiced —in medicine or in the classroom. Rep Nate knew this, but members of the committee objected to his line of questioning before he could make his point. Collectively they and the chairmen didn’t have a clue about what was going on.
There are few people in society that hold more power over a young person’s future than a college professor. In many classes —especially in the humanities but now also in STEM disciplines grades and recommendations for graduate schools and employment are determined by how a student in class reacts to a political narrative brought forth by the teacher. Try explaining to a biology teacher that you believe in “creationism” and the student risks being ridiculed. Tell that same story to a physicist or chemist and you may find someone that agrees with you. Better ask the right professor for the grade or the recommendation or you the student could be very disappointed. If one were to ask students at BSU or their parents if they believed in God and the predicate by which they live their lives is grounded in Biblical principles the overwhelming majority I would bet would say yes. According to a study conducted by The Pew Foundation several years ago when asked the same questions academics were divided 50/50 on the issue. In another study 90% of College Professors in the humanities stated that they held liberal, progressive, or socialist views.
All the people in Idaho desire for their children is to be exposed to all points of view. I believe the people in Idaho innately desire for their children to be part of a Socratic method of teaching —not only imparting knowledge but strengthening logic. Teach not what to think but how to think for yourselves. Don’t push a single political agenda please. Plato felt very differently about education. He believed children belonged “to the state” and not to the family. He believed students should be segregated into hierarchies of learning —trades. Aesthetics, and philosophy (including science). Sounds like the same philosophy of Thomas Dewey and the National Education Association (NEA) and the Idaho Education Association (IEA) for that matter. Let’s see which Idaho politicians will be accepting of campaign contributions from those organizations and then see how those politicians vote on education issues.
The real issue for me is that in most of our academic communities the people who have been hired and who rise to the top in tenure almost uniformly embrace a political and moral philosophy that is very different than what is practiced by the people that pay their salaries. We want the people who are entrusted with teaching our children to reflect more the values of our families. We want them to teach curriculum and not discriminate with tools of pedagogy. We don’t want them to agree with our values but just respect them and we want them to be accountable if they don’t.
The Curriculum at BSU or any other Idaho College doesn’t have to show or define the words Critical Race Theory (CRT) for it to be part of what is taught and learned. Mrs. Tromp knows that. Mr. Liebeck and many of the members of JFAC don’t. My hope for Idaho parents and citizens would be that their children will be able to be exposed to the same types of teachers and teacher-coaches that I was exposed too. In the end pedagogy is more important than curriculum.