Neither a cudgel nor a cause: A case for education for the common good | Byron Turner | 9 Min Read

December 1, 2023

America is at an inflection point. In our politics, this is obvious, but now as in the past, education reflects the social goals and political interests of those who involve themselves in the public sphere. Originally the province of idealists who believed in the perfectibility of man and who sought to uplift both the individual and society, the goal of education shifted to the isolation and repression of those deemed unworthy. These historical examples offer critical lessons for the educators of today and a choice about what type of nation we want to uphold. Examples proliferate throughout American history, marking cultural and ideological shifts.

In the first generation after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, a young Yale graduate, Thomas Gallaudet, came across his young, deaf neighbor, which led to him becoming the founder of Deaf education in the United States. The girl, Alice Cogswell, fortunately, had a wealthy father who sent Gallaudet to Europe to research methods of teaching the Deaf. Gallaudet first went to England and met the Braidwoods, a family of charlatans who were teaching deaf children of wealthy families just enough to be able to sign their names and maintain familial wealth.…

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Byron Turner

Byron Turner began his career at Humboldt State University as a student activist and later a Lecturer. He’s the author of Created Equal: Sex and Gender, believed to be the world's first multimedia, computer-based “textbook.” He has taught or counseled students at every level from elementary to graduate school, including three years at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont. He’s recently retired from teaching high school history.