The Great Connections Seminar

The Great Connections Seminar
Discussing ethics

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)