P is for Progressive, T is for Traditionalist, Z is for Zealot

The change of religion in Scotland, eager and vehement as it was, raised an epidemical enthusiasm, compounded of sullen scrupulousness and warlike ferocity, which, in a people whom idleness resigned to their own thoughts, and who, conversing only with each other, suffered no dilution of their zeal from the gradual influx of new opinions, was long transmitted in its full strength from the old to the young . . .
— Samuel Johnson, A Journey To The Western Islands Of Scotland [1775]

Old Andrew writes of a recent case in Scotland where a teacher was barred from teaching for two years because, for example, she “did not refer to success criteria” and “failed to recap the learning intentions at the end of the lesson”(!)

Well, to some extent I have been there, done that and got the t-shirt. I have been on the receiving end of the ‘support’ that doesn’t feel particularly supportive. However, it has never reached the disciplinary stage; in part, I suppose, because I learned to ‘play the game’ and stick in a few card sorts and the like. Teacher, know thou thy observer!

But I feel I have known what might be termed the “epidemical enthusiasm” of True Believers in the now defunct ‘Axis of Old-style-Ofsted’ model. And, yes, there was indeed a time when it seemed that many who favoured that model conversed “only with each other” and that there was no hope of any dilution of their zeal.

It is depressing to think that these discredited ideas still hold sway in parts of our education system.

That said, it seems to me that this is not automatically a consequence of progressive ideals; rather, it seems to me a consequence of a totalitarian mindset — an inability to trim one’s ideological sails to the winds of empirical reality, especially when one is in a position of power or authority.

And that, I think, is something that each of us — Positive Traditionalist* or Positive Progressivist* alike — needs to guard against.

*See @heymisssmith’s excellent post for further explanation of what I think is a useful expansion of the traditionalist vs. progressivist terminology.

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3 Comments

Filed under Education, Society

3 responses to “P is for Progressive, T is for Traditionalist, Z is for Zealot

  1. When I’m in power, I’ll tell them what to do.

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