Monday, January 26, 2009
To me, it's one long argument for teaching people how to have a higher level of awareness and thinking about everything they do.Check your premises!
(Hat tip to Anja Hartleb-Parson.)
Friday, January 23, 2009
Beginning with the very young children (3-6 year olds), students work individually on materials which develop their senses and motor abilities and their independent powers of observation, analysis, and integration - the essence of reasoning. Group work is not encouraged for the very young, who are just forming their minds, as it is in Progressive schools. However, children can work together if they want to.
Furthermore, well-trained Montessori directresses are very respectful of individuals, their styles of learning and living, their interests, and their ideas.
(We call Montessori teachers "directresses" or "directors" because they more guide the children than instruct them, the materials do the instruction).
Group work become a bigger component of the curriculum as the children get close to adolescence; as students develop, they need to learn how to work with other people to prepare them for adult life.
However, the children are encouraged to work at their individual best: not compete with each other. Human beings are naturally competitive, but it is very distracting to develop self-motivated learning habits when competition is emphasized, especially for the very young.
The ugly head of social pressure rears up to tear the young mind and heart away from the inherent joy of learning.
All these elements serve to encourage even the most timid child to be independent in their thoughts and actions, a welcome respite from the kind of social pressure I talked about in my previous post.
That's not to say that Montessori schools are immune to social pressure - I've seen plenty of teachers promoting their scientifically unsubstantiated or unexamined views on the environment and nutrition, among other topics, through special projects and lessons.
Fortunately, the many aspects of Montessori which encourage factual observation and reasoning mitigate against this.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
My friend, Donald, received this disturbing story from a friend of his:
"On Monday 01/19/09 my daughter baby sat at the neighbors', right next door…
It was an Obama victory party for children. All the participants live nearby.
Daughter had to help the kids decorate Obama cookies and muffins.
There were "find Obama" games (?!!!) and, quizzes with questions like:
What is: Obama favorite food?, Favorite music? .......
Then a photo sessions with a full size cutoff of the "ONE". Everyone took turns posing, hugging and kissing the cardboard likeness.
They gathered all the children in the living room and sang some previously rehearsed Obama praising tunes, such as:
♫I've a crush ♬ on Obama♪....
Then the adults took turn for the children.
It seems that they did not perform, this song.
Finally, a joyous Obama conga line through the house.
A just off-the-plane Italian au pair stood by beffudled. Muttering "we not do that in my country!".
[My daughter] came back shaking her head.
She mused about similar events with McCain or Bush songs.
Interestingly, [she] wondered why she was needed as she mostly stood watching around along with the au pair. She concluded that the "mom" just wanted to give her some "business." ...
...Quote of the day:
“The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But under the name of Liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without knowing how it happened.”
- Norman Thomas, Socialist Party presidential candidate, 1940, 1944 and 1948 explaining why he quit running for president. "
It seems that parents and teachers all over the country were organizing children to participate in Obama adulation. It puts me in mind of an article by Ayn Rand called "The Comprachicos."
"Los Comprachicos" were evil people who monstrously disfigured children to become performers and beggars - as in the recent movie "Slum Dog Millionaire." In the article, she compares what the Comprachicos did to the social pressure to conform put on toddlers and very young children in Progressive school classrooms.
She argues that such pressure is cognitively maiming, making it difficult for all but the strongest to maintain their independence. Unlike the original Comprachicos, however, the scars from this "operation" are invisible, all on the inside.
Today, this "operation" goes on at all levels of education. The videos of organized presidential adulation are a testament to what's happening.
"To preserve one's mind intact through a modern college education is a test of courage and endurance, but the battle is worth it and the stakes are the highest possible to man: the survival of reason," Ayn Rand.
(Hat tip to Donald and his friend.)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
At Mason district schools near Dayton, Ohio, criticisms and caricatures of the incoming or outgoing Presidents will not be allowed today, based on whether they make others feel “unwelcome or uncomfortable,” reports the Dayton Daily News.
So much for free speech in the public schools. Political correctness deep-sixes tolerance once again. (Hat tip to John Welsh.)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
At first, I could hardly believed this worked, because the human body is so complex, but, apparently, they're able to use this technology to weed out "sure-fire losers." "...high speed processors and other technological advancements are enabling relatively small-scale simulations--of particular organs, for instance--to be integrated into increasingly complete software-based 'virtual humans'..." It's saving the companies millions and reducing human risk.
What an amazing application of reason and creativity!
But it made me sad to think of the field of education, in contrast, which mainly uses the same methods it did 100 years ago.
Sure, schools continue to adopt new material technologies, like the Internet, web-casting, and white boards, all well and good. Hopefully, the new Prado Museum Google Earth project will be tapped, also. But in terms of method - lectures, tests, memorization of data - are centuries old!
We're just damn lucky that the researchers who graduate from mostly traditional schools are able to develop such a high level of creativity.
(I'm terribly sorry, after 20 minutes of searching on the Journal's website, I was not able to find the article - saw it in hardcopy only.)
"Spain's Prado Museum has teamed up with Google Earth for a project that allows people to zoom in on the gallery's main works, even on details not immediately discernible to the human eye.
Diego Velazquez's "Las Meninas.""
What a fabulous new way to learn!! Here's some more info:
"The initiative, announced Tuesday, is the first of its kind involving an art museum. It involves 14 of the Prado's paintings, including Diego Velazquez's "Las Meninas," Francisco de Goya's "Third of May" and Peter Paul Rubens's "The Three Graces."
"There is no better way to pay tribute to the great masters of the history of art than to universalize knowledge of their works using optimum conditions," Prado director Miguel Zugaza said.
Google Spain director Javier Rodriguez Zapatero said the images now available on the Internet were 1,400 times as clear as what would be rendered with a 10-megapixel camera.
"With Google Earth technology it is possible to enjoy these magnificent works in a way never previously possible, obtaining details impossible to appreciate through first-hand observation," he said."
Sunday, January 11, 2009
We're starting to sound more and more like France! (Hat tip to Don Hauptman.)
Saturday, January 10, 2009
But most of the information you can get about them is:
1. What executives at other car companies think about these vehicles,
2. The average driving skills test score of those who bought them.
You decide on a Toyota, you fill out the paperwork to buy one - but then you have to HOPE that the Toyota company will let you!
Sounds nuts, doesn't it?
That's the apt way that Diane Auer Jones summed up the college admissions process for selective colleges during a speech at at the National Association of Scholars conference yesterday.