The Great Connections Seminar

The Great Connections Seminar
Discussing ethics

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The essence of leadership

"How great leaders inspire action." Fabulous TED lecture by Simon Sinek - summarizing the fundamental importance for organizations of having a purpose which encapsulates a moral vision.

Hattip Lucy Hair and Eric Rhodes!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The wisdom of the "gap" year

According the the Wall Street Journal's "Delaying college to fill in the gaps," more students are exploring the real world before heading off to college. Good for them! After the long infantilization of most schooling, some real-world experience will help them learn what's possible and good for them.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A reader of this blog asked me about, a start up that seeks to provide an easy way for anyone to offer an online course. What a great idea! It has a vast array of courses offered already. Right off the bat I like the featured course "Ideas come from everywhere." And it's free!

It's an innovative permutation on the autodidact features of the internet, which is a truly liberating development of technology. Now, anyone with even some small access to a computer anywhere in the world has the world's knowledge at his or her fingertips. The market for knowledge is liberated.

With so much information available - and ambitious people around the globe - individuals will be able to bootstrap themselves into some levels of expertise formerly available only through schools.

This means, schools will have to offer something special to be worthwhile. But most are market dinosaurs.

What's going to happen?

Hattip to carterson2

Are Doctoral Degrees Worth It?

Research with some surprises summarized in this article from The Economist "Doctoral degrees: The disposable academic."

Once again, I point a finger at government money which has encouraged a ridiculous amount of degree inflation. Do you ever wonder how Borders, Starbucks, and Whole Foods manage to have so many intelligent and highly educated people working for them?

Hattip to Stephen Hicks.

Friday, December 3, 2010

New thinking on the "problems" of adolescence

A must-read article, "The Myth of the Teen Brain," re-thinking the way we think about adolescence.

I do think that some behavior of adolescents is highly influenced by their growing brains and rapidly fluctuating hormones - and that hotheadedness and foolhardiness has evidence of this since ancient times. But we should use Occam's Razor before proposing that something is "caused" by brain changes.

Maria Montessori thought that adolescents were striving to become adults and needed to do real work while they learned - that's why she thought they should attend high school on a farm that they worked.

The Hershey Montessori Farm School is a model of what she proposed. Students learn subjects like chemistry, physics, geometry, biology and botany while cooking, constructing buildings, and caring for animals and plants. They run a bed and breakfast and a business, selling their produce.

Hattip to Jim Peron.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Inside the Teenage Brain

If you've ever wondered why adolescents do some of the odd, impulsive things they do, you'll like this article,
"Inside the Teenage Brain." It summarizes some of the neurological findings on brain development and how it reflects in behavior.

For example, one small study seems to show that teenagers rely on an older, pre-mammalian part of the brain, the amygdala, to understand facial expressions, whereas adults use the reasoning cortex.

Most important, the use-it-or-lose-it feature of the brain implies that the earlier adolescents work on reasoning skills, the better.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why are there Shadow Scholars?

This week the Chronicles of Higher Education featured an article that's been widely read around the internet: "The Shadow Scholar":

"In the midst of this great recession, business is booming. At busy times, during midterms and finals, my company's staff of roughly 50 writers is not large enough to satisfy the demands of students who will pay for our work and claim it as their own.

You would be amazed by the incompetence of your students' writing. I have seen the word "desperate" misspelled every way you can imagine. And these students truly are desperate. They couldn't write a convincing grocery list, yet they are in graduate school. They really need help. They need help learning and, separately, they need help passing their courses. But they aren't getting it."

"It is my hope that this essay will initiate such a conversation. As for me, I'm planning to retire. I'm tired of helping you make your students look competent."

Searing words.

My question: why is this happening? The author puts some blame on professors who can't/won't judge what's going on. Yes, that's a problem, but part of a bigger issue.

My hypothesis: this is a long-term effect of progressive, egalitarian education and  the degree inflation caused by government-financed education. Progressive education teaching methods have left teachers incompetent and students ignorant.  Now that "everyone" must have a college degree to get the most basic of jobs, many academically incompetent students are trying to graduate college, or even get graduate degrees.

For many, many students, learning has very little to do with going to college - getting through and getting the degree does. The Shadow Scholar is one solution.

Many of the ESL students he mentions could be very bright and even succeed in business or other fields that don't require mastery of English. In the big picture, going to college may be a complete waste of time and money for them, as well as other students, except for the fact that they need a degree to get most less-than-basic jobs.

Evidence in the article to support my thesis: business is booming in the recession. Why? The Feds are pouring money into student loans so out-of-work people can "go back to school."

It's a sorry, sorry situation.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Superman's arrived at some charter high schools

 Interesting study of charter high schools in Chicago by the Illinois Public Policy Institute here.

"Waiting for Superman" has put the spotlight on charter schools as an innovation tool. I'd love to see what goes on at some of them myself.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is High School Making Your Kids College Ready?

 The Chicago Tribune found 8 of 10 public high school juniors in Illinois scoring below the college readiness measures of the ACT test, reported in this article. "The nonprofit ACT company stands by its readiness scores: at least 18 in English, 21 in reading, 22 in math and 24 in science. The top possible score is 36."

This includes students from high schools of high repute, like New Trier, where 94% go to college. Even there, 38% of juniors fell short of the readiness scores.

"In Lincolnshire and Naperville [posh and highly-regarded programs], more than half of juniors scored too low to reach the targets in English, reading, science, and math, though several hundred met three of four benchmarks, usually missing in science."


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Students Don't Know How to Think About Google

Lead research anthropologist for the Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries Andrew Ascher found that students are highlyunskilled in performing searches.

“Student overuse of simple search leads to problems of having too much information or not enough information … both stemming from a lack of sufficient conceptual understanding of how information is organized,” he said. Even computer science students!

Read about his study of their use of Google and other tools in this Inside Higher Ed article.

"“they’re not getting adequate training as they’re going through the curriculum,” he said.

"Asher moved swiftly through a few slides featuring excerpts from interviews with students, each eliciting both chuckles and gasps from the audience of librarians and technologists. “I’m just trusting Google to know what are the good resources,” responded one sophomore biology student."

This alarming result--even among students who are academic achievers is what you get when education focuses on information and testing at the expense of cognitive development and independent thinking.

Another researcher suggested they get instruction on how to do searches. But the real problem lies in the fact that their minds are not conceptually organized--they don't know what is relevant or connected to a topic or idea and what is not. This is the serious deficit of education.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Employees Learn More, Forget Less With Videogames

Much maligned in education and by teachers everywhere, read about a new study metastudy examining 65 studies and over 6,000 videogame trainees which finds that people learn better with videogames.

"A University of Colorado Denver Business School study found those trained on video games do their jobs better, have higher skills and retain information longer than workers learning in less interactive, more passive environments."

"games work best when they engage the user, rather than instruct them passively. She found 16 percent of the games she studied were too passive and no more effective than other teaching methods," said researcher Traci Sitzman.

Active engagement is key to the success of the Montessori Method also, using learning materials and self-directed activities.

To give teachers critical of videogames their due, students sometimes play these games so much that they miss important opportunities for real-world exploration and social interaction.

On the other hand, I've seen plenty of children work closely together on strategy and logical implications while playing videogames as a group, or online together.

Videogames can enable a person to engage in complex, multi-faceted, and/or exciting, dangerous activities, developing important cognitive and physical skills while remaining safe. They can develop skills through games that would be much more difficult to gain in the real world as a child or adolescent.

Bottom line: technology can result in good or ill, depending on how you use it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

College Tuition Rises with Pell Grants

When will colleges be accountable to the market? In the midst of our major recession, they're hiking tuition fees again. As I reported in a previous post, if you want to see how out-of-whack college tuition is, compare it to inflation:

When I went to Northwestern University in the '70's, the tuition was a very high $3,000 a year;using 2 inflation calculators, I estimated that,last year, if tuition rose with inflation, if should have been between $12,000 and $16,000 a year. What's current NU tuition?


Here's a story from the Chicago Tribune that names what's going on: "Tuition, Pell Grants Rise in Tandem."

The "free" money of Pell grants drives their uneconomical use, and thus increases prices.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The decline of creativity in the United States

Valuable article from The Virginia Gazette about the research of William and Mary Psychology professor Kyung Hee Kim on creativity.  It has good suggestions for how to foster children's creativity - one's all parents should try to implement.

Read this and then listen to the Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, talk about their experience in Montessori school:

Hattip to Bert Loan.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting for Superman

I recently saw the movie "Waiting for Superman" about public education.  It's by Davis Guggenheim, director of "An Inconvenient Truth." Consequently, you'll understand that it's quite artfully done, and it's loaded with information. 

Families desperate to get their children into lottery-selected charter schools scream and cry - when they win a place, or lose. It's pathetic and depressing. The message is powerful: children in public schools are being robbed of a good education by the system. The New York Public schools, the DC Schools, the Milwaukee schools, and the teachers' unions are featured.

Although not strident, the director seems to lay the blame on teachers' unions. And it's astonishing to hear that the DC union leadership did not even allow the members to vote on maverick DC Superintendent (recently resigned) Michelle Rhee's proposal to give merit pay. I'm surprised the membership didn't rebel - but then, what does that say?

However, I'm of two minds about this movie: the movie won a Sundance Film Festival award, and, apparently, the New York Times , theWashington Post, and other mainstream media outlets have taken an interest in it - unlike other worthy film attempts on the same topic, such "The Cartel." It's getting the problem to the attention of more people.

But the director makes NO MENTION WHATSOEVER of the school choice movement, i.e. vouchers or credits allowing students to go to private school. 

This, while Guggenheim admits at the beginning of the movie that his own kids attend private school

This, while he interviews the superintendent of the Milwaukee schools, which have a very successful voucher program!

This, while ignoring the successful voucher program in DC!

Within the world of his movie, it's public schools or charter schools for those who can't afford an alternative.

He can't be that ignorant. So why is he ignoring school choice? "Don't bother to examine a folly, ask yourself what it accomplishes."

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Old Dead White Men" Hip Hop Curriculum for Oklahoma

Read about the "Flocabulary" history program which Oklahoma implemented with federal tax money.  

And example of the text: "White men getting richer than Enron. They stepping on Indians, women and blacks. Era of Good Feeling doesn’t come with the facts."

Flocabulary’s CEO and co-founder Alex Rappaport told “Without engagement and motivation it’s very difficult to learn, so our main purpose is to create materials that will motivate the students that are least likely to succeed with traditional methods.” 

More leftist indoctrination under the guise of an "edgy" curriculum which will get the attention of the students!

Hattip to Bob Meier

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Slate Crowdsourcing Project to Design 21st Century 5th Grade Classroom

Slate launches a crowdsourcing project to design a 21st century classroom. Anyone can read the parameters and contribute here.

I'll be curious to see if anyone comes up with something entirely innovative; many of the suggestions so far we already do in Montessori schools.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Hand as the Instrument of the Mind

"Using advanced tools such as magnetic resonance imaging, researchers are finding that writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate. The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development."

"How Handwriting Trains the Brain," in the Wall Street Journal, you can read about a "new" discovery we've known in the Montessori world for 100 years.

“The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” 
“The human hand allows the minds to reveal itself.”
“The mind and the hand are prepared separately for written language and follow different roads to the same goal.”  Maria Montessori 

Hence, the thousands of "hands-on" Montessori materials in a Montessori school. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

College Starts in High School

Story about a new trend, high school students enrolling in college courses:

"A record number of Illinois high school students enrolled in college courses this fall, racking up credits that fulfill high school requirements and also get them started on a college transcript, state records show."

Doubtless this is a new income stream for colleges. Is this also related to the dumbing-down of high school? In other words, students take college courses for a real challenge?

Many of the American Founders attended college at the age of 16 - James Madison nearly made himself sick by taking double classes at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton). At The College of the United States program, we will welcome qualified 16 year olds for the full college program.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rankling Rankings

happy with it. Here's the story on the controversy from Inside Higher Ed, including a link to the study and a downloadable database of its information. You might be interested in what kind of criteria they use.

At least the problems show how difficult it is to rank such programs - in contrast to the way it might seem from the college rankings at U.S. News & World Report or others like it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

TED as the New Harvard

  Fastcompany article about the tremendous success of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference and videos and how people are learning from them all over the world.

"These two things -- great ideas and the human connections they create -- make TED a unique phenomenon."

A liberating education.

Hattip to Stephen Hicks.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits

This New York Times article reveals what good research shows actually works when studying. Result:

Moving locations and mixing up what you study. Not the usual advice! But very much in line with what goes on in a Montessori classroom!

I love what it said about cramming:

"Cognitive scientists do not deny that honest-to-goodness cramming can lead to a better grade on a given exam. But hurriedly jam-packing a brain is akin to speed-packing a cheap suitcase, as most students quickly learn — it holds its new load for a while, then most everything falls out.

“With many students, it’s not like they can’t remember the material” when they move to a more advanced class, said Henry L. Roediger III, a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “It’s like they’ve never seen it before.”" (emphasis mine)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Explaining Postmodernism

I just read Professor Stephen Hicks of Rockford College's 2004 book, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault for our book club meeting last Wednesday. As one review says, "should be in every student's backpack."

I'm taken with the brilliance of his softball approach to an ultimately devastating critique of Postmodernism and its progeny in history, literature, art, science - but most notably in politics. 

Dr. Hicks briefly reviews Postmodernism's philosophical predecessors in Rousseau, Hume, Kant and others, and the path to present-day ideas in remarkably clear exposition any intelligent layman can understand. He then explains the internal "logic" of the Postmodernist positions, starting with their epistemology,  which led to political correctness, identity politics and radical gender feminism. He also unearths why they use any manipulation of ideas and any ad hominem to silence opponents, especially those from the pro-reason, pro-liberty, limited government right.

At the climax of his argument, he answers the question: if Postmodernists believe there is no objectivity, no right and wrong, and that the values of all cultures are relative - why do they ALL believe in collectivism and statism? His careful historical and philosophical scholarship, combined with devastating logic, prove Ayn Rand's contention that irrationalist philosophies are systems of rationalization for beliefs and actions which the irrationalist does not want to admit. The book is a paean to philosophy's power.

Other members of our book club were shocked to read about how these ideas are affecting colleges and universities - and terribly worried for all the young people who's minds are being mangled by the Postmodernists. 

If you want to understand what's happening in our culture and politics today, read this book! You can find an online PDF of it at Dr. Hicks' website here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Induction and Modern Science

See the excellent slides of Professor Milo Schield, Augsburg College, who gave a talk on the problem of induction and its consequences to modern science at our Great Connections Seminar July 18-25, 2010:

1. Induction in Science
2. Formidable Challenge of Young-Earth Creationism
3. Resolving the Problem of Induction

He shows how the creationists are using the weaknesses of postmodernist science to undermine the theory of evolution. All with the tools of modern philosophy. What's happening to science at the fundamental level is scary and infiltrating the schools like crazy.

Thank you Dr. Schield!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Do you have to agree with your professor?

 "In response to the question, "On my campus, there are courses in which students feel they have to agree with the professor's views on the topic at hand in order to get a good grade,' 44.3 percent said yes. The answers, of course, don't prove that such agreement with a professor is in practice essential to being graded fairly, but the very fact of that perception should be of the most urgent concern to all faculty who care about critical thought and intellectual diversity...I hope that ACTA will keep the public informed of the response (or non-response) of colleges and universities in Illinois to that devastating finding."

That's Professor Alan Charles Kors, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, University of Pennsylvannia, quoted in the Association of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) journal in response to ACTA's report card on higher education in Illinois.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Too complicated for words

Terry Teachout talks about James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Pierre Boulez and the research of Fred Lerdahl in this article. Lerdahl argues that modern art is too complicated for the human mind to comprehend.

My only complaint: he doesn't add that it's too complicated on purpose, the purpose being to make one feel that one's mind is incapable of comprehending, as a demonstration of pedestrian reason's impotence.


Hattip to Joan Fencil.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"The End of the Best Friend"

Frightening story about the deeply intrusive spread of egalitarianism by "child-rearing experts"- sounds like 1984 or "The Comprachicos."

"For many child-rearing experts, the ideal situation might well be that of Matthew and Margaret Guest, 12-year-old twins in suburban Atlanta, who almost always socialize in a pack."

Hattip Michael Richard Brown.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Plan B - Skip College

Interesting New York Times article about researchers and public policy thinkers who see the revival of vocational training as a superior life-path for a large segment of students.

"Perhaps no more than half of those who began a four-year bachelor’s degree program in the fall of 2006 will get that degree within six years, according to the latest projections from the Department of Education. (The figures don’t include transfer students, who aren’t tracked.)

For college students who ranked among the bottom quarter of their high school classes, the numbers are even more stark: 80 percent will probably never get a bachelor’s degree or even a two-year associate’s degree.

That can be a lot of tuition to pay, without a degree to show for it."

Hattip to Don Hauptman.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shining Eyes

Fantastic TED talk by music expert Benjamin Zander about how to teach understanding and appreciation of classical music. His comments on "shining eyes" should be the sine qua non of all teachers.

Hattip Liz Parker!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Father Guido Sarducci on College

Saturday Night Live's Father Guido Sarducci on his Five Minute University: “In five minutes,” he suggests, “you learn what the average college graduate remembers five years after he or she is out of school.”

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rating the "Top" Colleges and Universities

Related to my previous post on forgotten history, take a look at the Association of College Trustees and Alumni - ACTA's - project to evaluate learning at the top-rated colleges and universities at the What Will They Learn website - it's not pretty.

For $38,361 tuition at my alma mater, Northwestern University, a student is not required to take any classes in economics, history, mathematics, science, or literature - only foreign language. University of Chicago requires courses in all but economics, history, and foreign language. The question is: what are they learning?

Another unhappy finding - the graduation rates at many of the institutions are abyssmal. Economically, these institutions are taking in millions in federal loans, yet their customers are not getting the full product. If a business did this, wouldn't everyone scream?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What happened in history class? The Great Unknown Depression of 1920.

Unemployment at 11.7%, the stock market plummeted 50%, top income tax rates (thanks to Woodrow Wilson) were at 77% - and America was in the Great Depression of 1920. Although I never heard of it before yesterday!

Why not? It wasn't long enough???? We see the selective education we get.

President Warren Harding's free-market policies got us out of this depression in 18 months, and into the Roaring '20's.

Here's an article from Cato that discusses it - and I recommend Glenn Beck's April 12th show for it's summary of the issues.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Myth of Public Education

Through a Google alert, I came across this blog entry about liberating education. The first sentence stopped me:

"Since the creation of the Idea of Public Education, or Education for all, that education has slowly been moving away from the way Plato and Socrates would have envisioned it."

I'm not sure if the author is referring to public education in the U.S. or in general. However, here's what Richard Hofstadter, most definitely NOT a conservative or libertarian, says about public education in America in his 1962 book, Anti-Intellectualism in America, Chapter XII "The School and the Teacher":

"The criticism made by Horace Mann about one of the nation's best school systems [Massachussetts]...after 1837 are illuminating. Schoolhouses, he said were too small, and portion of the community was so apathetic about education that it would do nothing for the school system, but the wealthier portion had given up on the common schools and were sending their children to private institutions...'the schools have retrograded with the last generation or half generation...' 'more than eleven-twelfths of all the children in the reading-classes in our schools do not understand the meaning of the words they read.'"

Apathy of some parents, wealthy children going to private schools, complaints of decreasing standards, poor reading skills - sound familiar???? Mann was saying this in 1837.

Hofstadter continues "The complaints continued, and the plaintive note spread from New England to the country at large. In 1870, when the country was on the eve of a great forward surge in secondary education, William Franklin Phelps, then head of a normal school in Winona, Minnesota, and later a president of the National Education Association, declared:

' [In the elementary schools] children are fed upon the mere husks of knowledge. They leave school for the broad theater of life without discipline; without mental power or moral stamina...Poor schools and poor teachers are in a majority througout the country...They afford the sad spectacle of ignorance engaged in the stupendous fraud of self-perpetuation at the public expense...Hundreds of our American schools are little less than undisciplined juvenile mobs.'"

Except for the comments about the poverty of the schools, he could be talking about today!

Hofstadter goes on for another page and a half with even more quotes from other experts, at later times in our history, with the same kinds of complaints. 

I had to ask myself: why the same kinds of complaints since the beginning of public education? Since we have poured billions in recent years into public education, poverty of the system is obviously not the problem.

No - the root cause  is at the very heart of a government-run service-system:  a disjunction between the interests of the customer (parents and children) and the interests of the provider (the government, whether of a village or the whole country), embodied in the government bureaucracies.

The government employees running public school systems do not have the discipline of the market brought to bear on them - of satisfying their customers or failing - exercised on free-market businesses. Hence, they've been a problem - and had very much the same problems from day one until today.
Fortunately, the public is catching on to the problem - at least about education.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Father-Daughter Bond, Page By Page

 Great story about the cultivation of a father-daughter relationship through reading.

Hattip to Don Hauptman.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Montessori Way

My review of Tim Seldin and Paul Epstein's book, The Montessori Way, on the Montessori approach to education, in which I connect biological, social, and political issues.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Engineer's Incisive Take on Deconstructionism

Read Chip Morningstar's trenchant analysis of deconstructionism. A naive engineer-scientist, he encountered it in spades at the Second International Conference on Cyberspace in Santa Cruz, CA, April 1991 from the humanities types attending the conference.

Shocked and perplexed by the mumbo-jumbo so many were taking seriously, he devoted serious time reading up on it. His analysis is dead-on.

Remember, this is the theory that many, many, many humanities professors use to teach our children, in high school and college - the brighter, the more likely they will be introduced to it and their minds deformed.

Hattip to John Enright.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Philosophical Baby

Researcher Alison Gopnik talks about the amazing findings on what babies grasp.

Hat tip to Anja Hartleb-Parsons.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sam Adams on Education

Samuel Adams

letter to James Warren
"If Virtue & Knowledge are diffused among the People, they will never be enslav'd. This will be their great Security."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cultivating Failure

Passionate article about the latest crazed trend in California - chef Alice Waters' movement to make kids work in school gardens because "Gardens help students to learn the pleasure of physical work."

The article's point: these are largely immigrant and poor students who desperately need the knowledge and skills that will enable them to get better jobs than their parents. The author thinks they shouldn't be spending so much time doing physical labor - like their parents.

I couldn't agree more with the point, and I find Waters' Progressive approach is out of touch with their needs. It's too bad she didn't institute these gardens in schools - mostly populated by upper middle class students - where the parents are too busy to let their children play outside and learn about nature. Working in a garden, especially with a knowledgeable teacher to guide them, is one of the best ways to learn about biology and botany. Hands-on science, filled with the essential of science: first-hand observation.

First-hand observation and its attendant skills are sorely needed by most students these days, whether they go to an inner city public school or a upper class private school.

And, if these urban garden programs organized the work around science, as we do in Montessori classrooms, the immigrant and poor students would flourish. I'm not sure if the author realizes that many immigrant and poor students, once in the city, get little experience of nature.

Hattip to Aleks Kulczuga

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Homeschooling a Crime in Europe

I almost flipped reading this article in the Economist about a German family that needed asylum in the U.S....because they were homeschooling! The implications are mind-boggling.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The American Founders' Study of History

"The founders’ immersion in ancient history had a profound effect upon their style of thought. They developed from the classics a suspicious cast of mind. They learned from the Greeks and Romans to fear conspiracies against liberty. Steeped in a literature whose perpetual theme was the steady encroachment of tyranny on liberty, the founders became virtually obsessed with spotting its approach, so that they might avoid the fate of their classical heroes. It has been said of the American Revolution that never was there a revolution with so little cause. Whatever his faults, George III was hardly Caligula or Nero; however illegitimate, the moderate British taxes were hardly equivalent to the mass executions of the emperors. But since the founders believed that the central lesson of the classics was that every illegitimate power, however small, ended in slavery, they were determined to resist every such power. Even legitimate authority should be exercised
sparingly, lest it grow into illegitimate powers. (pp. 118-19) Prof. Carl Richard, The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome, and the American Enlightenment

Quoted in:

(Hat tip John Enright)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Professor Is A Label That Leans To The Left"

 This New York Times article reviews new research into why the Academy leans left. The researchers' conclusion: typecasting, which influences a young person's idea about what they want to be. The article reviews some other recent theories, also.

While I'm sure "typecasting" influences some, I'm waiting for someone to research the numbers of highly qualified academics who consider themselves libertarians, classical liberals, or economic conservatives and have not been able to get jobs in Academia. I know far too many, and their stories, for it to be a fluke.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Hollywood and Howard Zin's Marxist Education Project"

I shuddered when I read Michelle Malkin's report on the latest indoctrination efforts by leftist activist professor Howard Zin "The People Speak." Not only will this be aired on the History Channel, but Zinn has launched a related nationwide teaching project "Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change." Here's a few choice principles they promote:

"There is no such thing as pure fact."

In the "Rethinking Mathematics" part of their curriculum, "Short lessons, provocative cartoons and snippets of statistics" emphasize "racial profiling, unemployment calculation, the war in Iraq, environmental racism" etc., etc., etc.

It's a teacher's job to encourage students to "reach beyond [American] chauvinism" and "nurture student empathy" for U.S. enemies, such as the jihadists who attacked New York City on 9/11.

Parents - watch your children!

Monday, January 11, 2010

College Press Run by Students - Montessori-Style Pedagogy

According to Inside Higher Ed's, January 11, 2010 article, Champlain College is opening a new press, to be run by the students. It's going to use technological bells and whistles such as podcasts and Facebook fan pages, but it's aim is to give writing students practical experience in publishing.

Although I doubt the project creator, Tim Brookes, realizes it, this is exactly the kind of activity which teachers help students to create in every classic Montessori classroom. And for the same reasons. If students are to become successful as adults, they need to develop practical knowledge and skills. Good thinking Professor Brookes!

Obvious, but often ignored in current education.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Are "Learning Styles" Relevant to Teaching?

Some new research about student "learning styles" puts into question the belief that different students need to be taught different ways. The research implies that there is an optimal way to teach each subject, no matter the style of the learner. Some researchers dispute this article's conclusions.

I'm waiting for someone to have a unified theory of human learning to resolve these issues!

Hat tip to Iris Bell for the article.