The Dangers of Paralyzing Denial: From Jeffrey Epstein to Public Schools

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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People Don’t Want to Know the Truth, Even When it’s Undeniable

Lionel Nation, a lawyer and radio host, argues that Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes are so staggeringly repulsive that most people won’t be able to deal with them. Better to look away. (Nation speculated in August that this aversion may save Epstein. Now that Epstein is officially dead, this aversion may save his friends and accomplices.)

In a video, Lionel Nation explains the power of extreme evil. Most of us cannot confront it. We especially don’t want to admit we have been so stupid to have elected leaders who would allow such criminality.

Nation insists that your mind will run the other way. Epstein’s crimes are “so rancid, so horrible, what you’re going to need to do is shut your mind. It’s ungodly what is going on.” (Nation mentions trafficking, adoption, incest, extortion.) Most people can’t stand to know. They cover their ears. They change the subject.

Cognitive Dissonance

It’s easy to have an equivalent reaction about our public schools. They are filled with destructive theories and methods that make the public blink and look away. Millions of Americans seem to think it’s better to make excuses for malfeasance, and to accept the bureaucracy’s official alibis for perennial decline, than to deal with the fraud.

Probably the psychological theory of cognitive dissonance is helpful here. When we hear about irregularities and crimes, we know that something should be done, some proper legal remedy. But what if the crime is particularly horrific? It’s so much easier to downgrade the crime and minimize its impact.

It’s simpler to blink and change the subject. Here is the all-purpose response: What the heck, this kind of thing probably goes on all the time. Here is another antidote: Political enemies are exaggerating everything. Or you think this thought: It’s probably worse in other cities, countries, and cultures.

Minimize the Problem

So you hear that the US has 50 million functional illiterates? How do you live with that? It surely takes years and years of effort to produce this tragic decline. Many elements of our government and society have to work together to steal literacy from millions of children.

How do you excuse it? I’ve never met an illiterate person…Maybe in some of those southern states they have this problem but not where I’m from…Yeah, if only parents would cooperate in the education of their children, we wouldn’t have these problems…I didn’t raise those kids, I don’t feel personally responsible…The society seems to be doing well, so why worry about the ones who can’t read?

See how it works? Minimize the problem. Push it as far away from yourself as possible. Put the genie back in the bottle and deny all those nasty rumors about a corrupt and ideologically motivated bureaucracy.

Better to downsize the monsters stalking the landscape. Oh, those are merely shadows. Mirages. Mistakes of the mind. People are desperately eager to make adjustments so that reality can be our friend again.

Pretend Methods and Tolerating the Intolerable

We hear such creative excuses. Well, maybe you need phonics but some people say sight-words work almost as good. Arithmetic the old-fashion way is boring for many kids, so maybe we should stir them up with newfangled ideas. When I went to school we memorized dates, places, multiplication tables, but maybe kids today can be motivated in other ways. Each child learns differently!

The very best minds in education have devoted themselves to devising pretend-methods. These don’t work but that’s not the main victory. These imposters are cunningly marketed. The great gimmicks make it easy for people to tolerate the intolerable.

If you seriously want reform, you have to look directly and unblinkingly at the main offenders. Sight-words keep children from learning to read. Reform Math and Common Core Math stop children from mastering arithmetic. Constructivism prevents children from learning foundational knowledge. There, with just three theories, you devastate the typical school. But there are many more.

Don’t Look Away From the Failures

If, on the other hand, you tolerate the endless tyranny of these gimmicks, you are part of the conspiracy.

Curing American K-12 is a two-step process. Get rid of the many bad progressive ideas introduced in the last 75 years. Bring back the traditional ideas, proven over many centuries and still embraced around the world. If you want children to learn something, you have to be serious about teaching it. No empty fads, no overwrought schemes.

Children know even less about the topic than you do. They don’t want to be mystified and annoyed by ponderous pedagogy of the sort favored by Common Core and Constructivism. Instruction should be direct, simple, and if at all possible, fun. That’s the formula for recovering excellence in American K-12. Imagine how you would like to be taught any new subject. Bingo! Do that.

Most of all, don’t look away from the failures. The more grotesque they are, the more you know they are intentional and should be defeated.

Author Profile

Bruce Deitrick Price
Bruce Deitrick Price
Bruce Deitrick Price is a guest contributor for NRN. He's an author, artist, poet, and education reformer. Price explains education theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org. His new book is "Saving K-12 - What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?"