This is just a bit of musing about consensus. It isn’t really about teaching, although that’s the vehicle I’ve used.
Suppose there is an important issue where almost everyone adopts one of two standpoints, but one standpoint is far more widely publicised than the other.
- C is the consensus - widely publicised.
- A is the alternative - much less widely publicised.
I think only C would be taught because our nationalised education has become part of what we mean by consensus. For certain issues, the consensus is a consensus because that’s what we teach children. It’s a necessary but not a sufficient criterion of certain types of consensus.
Suppose C is easily shown to be invalid in that it cannot be used to make reliable predictions about the real world. Clearly C will still be taught in schools because if it wasn’t it would no longer be the consensus - it would have failed a necessary criterion.
I see this as a logical argument about consensus rather than teaching. Neither do I see it as an argument about data such as the content of a real syllabus. Once the premises are accepted, the conclusion follows, but are there any other conclusions?
Obviously, unless we say that the consensus is always valid, then at least some of what we teach children must be invalid and known to be invalid by some people, almost certainly including some teachers.
But the people who know this don’t count unless they change the consensus from C to A. Otherwise C will be perpetuated in schools, possibly until there is nobody left who understands A.
Two conclusions and a question:-
- Some teachers some of the time know they are teaching rubbish.
- The consensus doesn’t have to be valid, it just has to be the consensus.
- Truth will out? Why? How?