Monday, December 21, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
One element I liked: the research on reading tests the commonly-held view that the brain functions "modularly" with little interaction between different modules. That theory has always flown in the face of human experience but it hasn't stopped it's advocates, who seem to argue that the experience of wholeness is an "illusion."
Monday, December 14, 2009
As usual, that genius, Maria Montessori, had the answer - decades ago:
"It is not the accumulation of a direct knowledge of things which forms
the man of letters, the scientist, and the connoisseur; it is the
prepared order established in the mind which is to receive such
knowledge. On the other hand, the uncultivated person has only the
direct knowledge of objects; such a person may be a lady who spends a
great part of the night reading books, or a gardener who spends his
life making material distinctions between the plants in his garden.
"The knowledge of such uncultured minds is not only disorderly, but it
is confined to the objects with which it comes into direct contact,
whereas the knowledge of the scientist is infinite, because,
possessing the power of classifying the attributes of things, he can
recognize them all, and determine now the class, now the
relationships, now the origins of each; facts much more profound than
the actual things could of themselves reveal." Maria Montessori, The Advanced Montessori Method, 1917
Hat tip to Rachel Davison for the Montessori quote
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Currently playing only at the Quad Cinema in Greenwich Village, you can see a trailer at their website. I'm planning to get the DVD!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Here's a few excerpts from their webpage:
"Alinsky spends a lot of time critiquing the idea that "The end does not justify the means." What end? What means? He feels that there are circumstances where one can and should use means that in other circumstances would be unethical. "
Nice! And the NEA is recommending this book!! These are the people teaching your children! What can they justify doing to them? What have they justified doing to them? If you have any doubt that some of these people are willing to sacrifice the interests of children to further their desire for power and their collectivist ends...whether it be indoctrination, censorship, totalitarian control, or brutality, the following will straightened you out.
The NEA website goes on, reveling in Alinsky's New Left ideology at it's most strident. They comment, and then quote from Alinksy:
"'Liberals in their meetings utter bold works; they strut, grimace belligerently, and then issue a weasel-worded statement 'which has tremendous implications, if read between the lines.' They sit calmly, dispassionately, studying the issue; judging both sides; they sit and still sit.'
"'The Radical does not sit frozen by cold objectivity. '"
Ah, here's the window where Alinsky throws objectivity out. That means throwing out facts, reason, logic, and rational argument. Then he continues:
"'He sees injustice and strikes at it with hot passion. He is a man of decision and action. There is a saying that the Liberal is one who walks out of the room when the argument turns into a fight.
"Society has good reason to fear the Radical. Every shaking advance of mankind toward equality and justice has come from the Radical. He hits, he hurts, he is dangerous. "
Such as the radicals of the American Revolution? No, they were paragons of restraint, care for the individual, prudence, and the Enlightenment striving for objectivity. Alinsky is not thinking of them, he is thinking of the millions brutalized and slaughtered under totalitarian communist regimes when he says:
"'Conservative interests know that while Liberals are most adept at breaking their own necks with their tongues, Radicals are most adept at breaking the necks of Conservatives."
Remember, since the ends justify the means, a "Conservative" could be anyone the Leftist Radical wants out of the way. That's how it has worked in every communist regime across the globe - it wouldn't be any different here.
"'Radicals precipitate the social crisis by action - by using power. Liberals may then timidly follow along or else, as in most cases, be swept forward along the course set by Radicals, but all because of forces unloosed by Radical action. They are forced to positive action only in spite of their desires ...'"
Celebrating and recommending Alinsky, the NEA has laid the gauntlet down - they will stop at nothing. Is there any wonder that in so many places, American education is not educating students, but indoctrinating them, straight-jacketing their minds with political correctness and destroying their ability to reason?
Once that's done, the Radical doesn't risk as much danger from resistance, as the sheep go to the slaughter.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." by Thomas Jefferson, I came across this entry about the abyssmal ignorance of Oklahoma high school students on the "Leftagenda" blog:
The author criticizes "No Child Left Behind," which is a failed, statist, top-down program for raising school standards implemented by the Bush presidency. In addition to Medicare Part D, I think it is one of the worst programs implemented by the Republicans - with good intentions. My teacher friends call it "No Child Left Standing."
However, what struck me was Leftagenda's apparent failure to undertstand that the causes of our students' abyssmal ignorance reach much farther back than the Bush administration - back to the leftist university-implemented teaching programs which emphasize "social justice" over reasoning and knowledge, and egalitarian ideas of "self-esteem" over achievement.
Too bad Leftagenda is ignorant about that.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
"9 October 2009
Editor, The New York Times
To the Editor:
Ever-loyal to leftist dogma, Paul Krugman believes that there is no domestic
problem (be it fact or fantasy) whose solution does not require more
government spending. And so it is with the alleged poor shape of American
higher education ("The Uneducated American," Oct. 9).
But how is it that wide swathes of our lives work so well without such
spending? Grocery retailing, for example, receives no handouts from
government and yet serves customers with extraordinary efficiency and
creativity. Ditto for restaurants, hardware stores, the press,
language-learning software suppliers, and myriad other industries not
suckling at the state's tit.
Why, then, can education - a service that yields enormous benefits to those
who purchase it AND one, like churches (another successful industry!), that
is largely tax-exempt - thrive only as a charity case?
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030"
(Hat tip to Don Hauptman)
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
“A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing…than…communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Now, the Educational Testing Service says it has just the thing. The ETS, which runs the Graduate Record Examinations, will soon offer a supplemental assessment of graduate-school applicants on those personal characteristics that could help students tackle advanced studies."
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
William Butler Yeats
“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child's intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim is not only to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core. We do not want complacent pupils, but eager ones. We seek to sow life in children, rather than theories, to help them in their intellectual, emotional, and physical growth, and for that we must offer them grand and lofty ideas to explore.”
June 1st: "A professor at Florida Atlantic University says she may end her 40-year membership in a professional association, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, because it requires people who seek to present papers at its annual meeting to sign a disclaimer promising not to “insult the rightful dignity and social equity of any individual or group.”"
From a Robin Wilson article at the Chronicles of Higher Education.
Yet, again, forcing "social justice" down everyone's throat.
Hat tip to Sara Pentz.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
"Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865."
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The Great Connections:
Mastering the Intellectual Tools that Transform
a College Education into Lifetime Success
The First College of the United States Seminar
for High School and College Students
Saturday, July 25-Sunday, August 2, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Charter schools can always face that problem, too, but they face a more imminent one with public funding. Read about it in Kevin Ferris's article in the Wall Street Journal reporting on the financial tenuousness of charter schools.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Last Wednesday, April 1st, I was the guest of Jimmy Wales at a MacArthur Foundation monthly President's Luncheon. This foundation, which gives out $1 million "genius awards," often to unsuspecting recipients, had invited Jimmy to tell them about Wikipedia.
As a result of that luncheon speech, I believe Wikipedia is the largest project in the world to foster rationality and objectivity, indirectly teaching people everywhere how to think better.
My friendship with Jimmy goes back to the '90's when he lived here in Chicago and belonged to my discussion club, the New Intellectual Forum. Money he earned on the Chicago options and futures exchanges enabled him to start Wikipedia.
Before the luncheon, MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton commented that it was the most well-attended President's luncheon he'd ever held - just about every staff member of MacArthur wanted to hear what Jimmy had to say. And it's not hard to understand why since just about everyone with a computer uses Wikipedia. Founded a mere 8 years ago, it is now the largest encyclopedia in history. According to a Nature study, it has a very high rate of accuracy.
Jimmy explained how Wikipedia works as a world-wide collaborative project, which can be edited by anybody able to access the Internet. Wikipedia's enormous reach so far includes over 2.8 million content pages in 253 languages. It's administered by a small paid staff of 25 people, and a large group of self-organized volunteers. You can read more about it here.
The organization's goal is to bring the sum of all human knowledge to every person on the planet with Internet access.
The results of this worldwide collaboration are astonishing and fascinating. For example:
- Slum children in Delhi learn from it to pass their 11th grade exams.
- The Dutch, a relatively small language group, have a high number of pages. Jimmy commented that he thinks it's because the Dutch love to argue - and that's why they have to be so tolerant!
- Rather than reduce the need for travel, Jimmy has to go all over the world to understand Wikipedia's collaborators and their contexts. And they love meeting each other in person.
That's because of the structure which Jimmy and his executive collaborators incorporated into the system. He said "There could have been a different outcome if I hadn't insisted on a certain structure of reasonable, fact-based, civil interchange instead of anything goes."
He'd seen plenty of "anything goes" in the early days of the Internet on Usenet groups. Flaming arguers tended to take over discussions, pushing the reasonable people out. For some years, he hosted the Moderated Discussion of Objectivist Philosophy, precisely to encourage civil interchange.
These experiences seem to have informed his judgment in developing Wikipedia. The result now is engagement of millions of people across the planet in rational and objective discourse. Through Wikipedia, Jimmy is spreading the habits of Enlightenment thinking to people and places which may never of heard of Aristotle's logic.
In addition, Wikipedia empowers the individual rather than authority, and encourages peaceful collaboration and trade (of information). The requirements of their engagement with Wikipedia is guiding millions to habits of mind and interaction which are the bedrock foundation of civil, free societies.
What a way to go Jimmy!
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Linguistics researcher Daniel Everett talks about the Amazon Basin's Pirahã people's hyper-empirical language. Their grammar would likely be cumbersome when trying to express something complex, but, surely, it would reduce any tendency to think in floating abstractions!
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
We cannot change what nature gives students in terms of basic intelligence. However, we can use methods of education that nurture the abilities and habits of mind known to foster creativity and productivity such as:
- Objective reasoning skills, not just in science and math, but all domains of knowledge, including such areas as art, history, and literature.
- Connecting information and ideas from one domain of knowledge to another (the way highly creative people do) by:
- Studying works that are cross-domain, such as Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, a work of moral philosophy that founded the study of economics
- Raising awareness of cross-disciplinary connections by pointing out the relationships between material from different domains, for example, how the development of banking influenced the development of art during the Renaissance in Florence.
- Modeling careful observation of the facts and encouraging student's careful, first-hand observations
- Modeling enthusiasm and curiosity in what is being studied and encouraging student's questions
- Modeling the search for the relationship of any idea to the facts on which it rests, for example in discussing climate change, ask students to think about questions such as "is climate change bad or good? On what facts and ideas are you determining that it is good or bad?"
- Studying works infused with deep questions about meaning and purpose, which connects knowledge to living by:
- Always asking what any given fact or idea means to human life
- Asking of any knowledge: to whom is this information valuable and how will it be used?
- Presenting a broad array of information, ancient and modern, as Matthew Arnold put it, "the best that has been thought or said," in the works of the classics and extraordinary works of contemporary times.
Through these works, students wrestle with timeless ideas, useful in any era or place. They engage their minds with those of the best thinkers in civilization, and with ideas that are extremely influential even today. The classics include works from philosophy to economics, mathematics to literature, history to science and are often cross-disciplinary within themselves. Simultaneously, the skill of their authors serves as examples of the highest in creative thinking.
Properly schooled to think deeply about these works, a person economically recognizes the patterns, trends, and influences of these ideas everywhere in our culture, from art to business, from job trends to medical discoveries.
Studying the classics, students can come to an appreciation for the creative individuals who made our great civilization possible. Further, reflecting on concepts that we take for granted will raise students’ analytic thinking skills.
One small example: Did you know that there was a time when people were confused about how something could be one thing now and another thing in the future? How could something be an acorn now and yet the very same thing is an oak tree later? They could not figure out how that worked. I’m sure you all take for granted the idea that something can actually be one thing yet potentially another—like a baby is potentially an adult human.
However, it took the genius of ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle to resolve this problem with the identification of the concepts of “actual” and “potential.” Try to imagine our world without these ideas—it would be hard enough to think about the growth of a plant, how could we think about science and technology or civilizations?