The Great Connections Seminar

The Great Connections Seminar
Discussing ethics

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Practicality of the Liberal Arts

Excellent, well-articulated statement about the immense value of the liberal arts from my friend and co-instructor, Andrew Humphries:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Con of the Common Core Standards

          Good post by veteran teacher R.D. Hughes, "Common Core Standards and the Destruction of Mind and  Freedom."  Now, I'm a big proponent of teaching the classics, because these books are mostly so well-written, with such great examples of thinking, and so influential, that knowing them deeply teaches and informs the reader. Broadly speaking, I think it's a good idea to use these works as central to the curriculum.

On the other hand, I know that each individual learns differently, and has different needs and interests, so that good teaching requires the subtle art of taking this into account while presenting the student with a rich array of important knowledge. This individualism is one of the reasons I'm a major proponent of the Montessori method and have worked to bring that educational philosophy up to higher education.

I've thought for years that the No Child Left Behind program was a Soviet-style, top-down system, which has wreaked havoc on education. Ironically, this program was pushed by conservatives who wanted to correct the frightening mess caused by progressive education, which had no apparent standards (if you've ever read "The Comprachicos," you realize progressives do have "standards" or shall we say goals, but they're not to enlighten and inform.) Unfortunately, as traditionalists, the conservatives didn't seem to understand how to individualize what they wanted to see happen and their program is now dovetailing with this new turn.

So, it's awful to read about how a basically good idea, i.e. that there is a core body of knowledge and skills which are important to learn, is now being used in this Brave New World style. But the details he discusses here! Couldn't agree with him more.

Unfortunately, the bureaucratic nature of centralized education leads even the most well-intentioned to this kind of system. See this post by Michael Strong, an expert on Socratic Practice and individualized education, for a searing story of his attempts to work with the education bureaucracy and an analysis of what's wrong.