Friday, 31 October 2008

Poisonous tolerance

If you want to understand how our society and particularly our schools, have been largely robbed of the ability to transmit any sense of order, meaning and respect to the young, you need to look at the work of Carl Rogers and his like. These are the psychologists who brought non-directive (later called client-centred) therapy into the school system. So disastrous were their theories that they practically destroyed a large teaching order of nuns, and resulted in the closure of schools.

But the ideas are very seductive., and have been imported wholesale into our thinking about education, particularly in areas such as drug awareness, and sex ed. I got excited when reading Rogers’ Freedom to Learn: it seemed so humane and tolerant. But it is actually a poisonous tolerance that robs children of their ability to benefit from the knowledge, experience and accumulated wisdom of civilised society (and particularly, the Church). I discovered, thanks to The Hermeneutic of Continuity blog (link in sidebar) an interview with Wiliam Coulson, who worked with Rogers as his right-hand man for many years. This reveals how the approach works in practice and is fascinating, if tragic reading.
You will find the article at


George Carmody said...

I have just read the Coulson interview and it's scary stuff. One can see the link with "child-centred education". The problem is that if you fall back on your knowledge and experience and reject anything outside the "real you", the world becomes a very lonely place and that way lies madness.

Ben Trovato said...

Yes, Coulson is a great witness - a bit like Nathanson on pro-life issues: more powerful for having been in the enemy camp for so long and then done an about-turn.