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The Arts

By "Bitchen" Ric Johnson

Most people, when judging the social relevance of it, consider Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 to be about the evils of censorship. At least that's what I was taught in high school, and it's what's on the cover of the book.

Well, I didn't read the book in high school. (I mean, I said I did, but I doubt I scored well on the quiz.) I've recently discovered audiobooks and decided one day to listen to it on tape. Unfortunately it wasn't read by Frank Muller but hey, I thought, it's supposed to be a classic. So I checked it out of the Allen County Public Library.

So I'm mowing the lawn, listening to the Bradbury classic and when Montag asked Beatty, "Yes, but what about the firemen then?" Beatty's response made me stop the lawn tractor right there and run the tape back to listen to it again. I had to be sure. Did he just describe outcome-based education?

You be the judge. Read the following two quotes. The first being a fairly simply worded generic explanation from an OBE supporter the second being the quote I just referred to. I'll join you when you're done to chat some more.

Outcome-based education (OBE) is a theory which claims that education is more relevant when students are graded on what they know and how they demonstrate it, with less emphasis on standardization and memorization. OBE instruction allows students to work at different paces, as long as they strive to perform a set of predetermined outcomes.


I'm still here. Go on, read the other one.

With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers,and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word "intellectual," of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally "bright," did most of the reciting and answering while the other sat like so many wooden idols, hating him. And wasn't it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours? Of course it was. We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no moutains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man's mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?

From Farenheit 451 by Rad Bradbury

Shocking, isn't it? "We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal." Hmmm. Ring a bell? "As long as they strive to perform a set of predetermined outcomes."

The major basis for the Firemen to burn books in 451 was so that all could be "happy." No one smarter than one another, no books that offend anyone. This is the seed for liberalism in general, not just in education. This novel isn't about right-wing radical conservatives censoring books that offend them, this book is about dumbing down everyone to the same level, so no one is ever offended!

To call out differences in people's intellect, gender, or race would be unfair. Let's burn the books that educate! Let's burn the books that offend! Let's burn the books that are politically incorrect.

Liberals (like those who taught in my high school) have been beating America over the head with Fahrenheit 451 as the Apocalypse of Censorship. It's not. Censors would never ban everything. What's the point of excluding books from a library that is empty? If I reject bad apples, I get good apples and I stay healthy. If I reject all apples, I starve. It makes no sense that a story about burning all books would be about censorship.

What makes more sense is that the story is about leveling the performance standards in schools and not encouraging gifted students to exceed. Or that it's about mainstreaming kids who can't keep up and slow the whole class down to save them from the stigma of "special education" and all the unhappiness that it surely causes.

You think censorship is bad? Try OBE.

All content (except public domain such as Usenet and where otherwise noted) is copyright 1997-2009 'Bitchen' Ric Johnson