Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts

What would you say if you found out that our public schools were teaching children that it is not true that it’s wrong to kill people for fun or cheat on tests? Would you be surprised?

I was. As a philosopher, I already knew that many college-aged students don’t believe in moral facts. While there are no national surveys quantifying this phenomenon, philosophy professors with whom I have spoken suggest that the overwhelming majority of college freshmen in their classrooms view moral claims as mere opinions that are not true or are true only relative to a culture.

A misleading distinction between fact and opinion is embedded in the Common Core.

What I didn’t know was where this attitude came from. Given the presence of moral relativism in some academic circles, some people might naturally assume that philosophers themselves are to blame. But they aren’t. There are historical examples of philosophers who endorse a kind of moral relativism, dating back at least to Protagoras who declared that “man is the measure of all things,” and several who deny that there are any moral facts whatsoever. But such creatures are rare. Besides, if students are already showing up to college with this view of morality, it’s very unlikely that it’s the result of what professional philosophers are teaching. So where is the view coming from?

A few weeks ago, I learned that students are exposed to this sort of thinking well before crossing the threshold of higher education. When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board. They read:

Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.

Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.

Hoping that this set of definitions was a one-off mistake, I went home and Googled “fact vs. opinion.” The definitions I found online were substantially the same as the one in my son’s classroom. As it turns out, the Common Core standards used by a majority of K-12 programs in the country require that students be able to “distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.” And the Common Core institute provides a helpful page full of links to definitions, lesson plans and quizzes to ensure that students can tell the difference between facts and opinions.

So what’s wrong with this distinction and how does it undermine the view that there are objective moral facts?

First, the definition of a fact waffles between truth and proof — two obviously different features. Things can be true even if no one can prove them. For example, it could be true that there is life elsewhere in the universe even though no one can prove it. Conversely, many of the things we once “proved” turned out to be false. For example, many people once thought that the earth was flat. It’s a mistake to confuse truth (a feature of the world) with proof (a feature of our mental lives). Furthermore, if proof is required for facts, then facts become person-relative. Something might be a fact for me if I can prove it but not a fact for you if you can’t. In that case, E=MC2 is a fact for a physicist but not for me.

But second, and worse, students are taught that claims are either facts or opinions. They are given quizzes in which they must sort claims into one camp or the other but not both. But if a fact is something that is true and an opinion is something that is believed, then many claims will obviously be both. For example, I asked my son about this distinction after his open house. He confidently explained that facts were things that were true whereas opinions are things that are believed. We then had this conversation….

By Justin P. McBrayer – New York Times –

Education programming 101: destroy logic

Once upon a time, in medieval universities, new students enrolled in the Trivium. It was the foundation curriculum. It was required. Its parts were: grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

Grammar: the interior construction of language.

Logic: the valid and invalid connections in the course of a formal argument; the method of proper reasoning; the deductive links in a chain, at the end of which appears a conclusion.

Rhetoric: oral and written presentation; the use of language to make a case; the capacity to persuade, even in the face of counter-argument.

Today, the subject matter of the Trivium is not only downplayed. It has been shattered.

When the intensive handling of ideas is seen as a laughable goal for education, indoctrination is plugged in as the only alternative.

The mind of the student shifts from being an active force to being a container.

The destruction of logic perverts rational thought at its core and inserts ideology masked as insight.

The actual meaning of an idea is firmly placed on the back burner. Instead? Praise or attack the people who forward ideas.

This strategy has gained great prominence.

“The revered Founders of the Republic? Shysters, con men, slaveholders, monopolists who saw rebellion from England as the way to win greater power for themselves, at the expense of everyone else living on American soil.”

Therefore, the argument continues, and this is crucial, the Founders’ IDEAS, as expressed in the Declaration and the Constitution, were rotten to the core. The ideas can be dismissed out of hand as coming from “a bad source.”

By Jon Rappoport – No More Fake News –

This article focuses on the death of logic in schools.

The Most Violent People on Earth!

By Laurie Endicott Thomas – OpEdNews.com –

Who are the most violent people on Earth? Think carefully before you answer. The correct answer is two-year-olds: people in their “terrible twos.” Toddlers hit. They bite. They pinch. They scratch. Toddlers also throw screaming tantrums when they do not get what they want. Sometimes, they throw tantrums when they do not even know what they want.

Fortunately, two-year-olds are generally too small and weak to inflict much damage (as long as you keep their fingernails trimmed). Even more fortunately, human beings tend to become less and less prone to violent outbursts as they grow. To study aggression in toddlers, you count the number of violent acts per hour. To study aggression in teenagers, you count violent acts per week. To study aggression in adults, you count violent acts per year. If we want a peaceful society, we must figure out how to get teenagers and adults to stop behaving like toddlers.

Toddlers are violent because they don’t know any better. Toddlers are like tiny drunks. They lack the serenity to accept the things they cannot change. Toddlers lack the verbal skills to get other people to change the things that can be changed. Toddlers lack the self-control to hold up their end of a bargain. As children develop those skills, they become less violent. Adults can help children by teaching them rules, such as no hitting, no biting, no pinching or scratching, no screaming. These rules have to be taught and learned. When adults neglect to teach these rules at the proper time in a child’s development, we say that the child is spoiled. Robert Fulghum summed up the importance of these rules in his poem All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. The poem spells out the rules that little children should learn: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. And so on.

It’s shocking that so many older children and even grownups violate the rules that they should have learned in kindergarten. School-yard bullying and even major crimes boil down to a failure to follow the rules that Fulghum spelled out. People do need to learn those rules from kindergarten. But to become a responsible adult, they must learn a great deal more. They must learn a set of lessons that the ancient Greeks put together 24 centuries ago. The ancient Greeks developed a curriculum of seven subjects that provide a well-rounded education. Their word for it gave rise to our word encyclopedia.

The Greeks’ well-rounded education consisted of seven subjects. There were three language arts: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Grammar is the study of how words are altered and combined to form meaningful sentences. Grammar helps you learn how to say exactly what you mean and to understand exactly what other people are saying. Logic is the study of how sentences are combined to form reasonable and compelling arguments. Logic deals with concepts like all, some, and none and concepts like if-then and therefore. Rhetoric is the art of persuasive speech. It teaches you how to use your words to get what you want. The ancient Greek curriculum also had four arts of number, space, and time: mathematics, geometry, music, and astronomy. Mathematics deals with numbers. Geometry deals with number and space. Music deals with number and time. Astronomy deals with number, space, and time.

The ancient Romans embraced the Greeks’ well-rounded education. The Romans called these seven subjects the liberal arts: studies appropriate for free men, as opposed to slaves. Free men were expected to think for themselves and to participate in making decisions that affect themselves and others. In contrast, women and children and slaves were just supposed to do as they were told.

 
Continue Reading