Friday, December 23, 2005
Vacations and Imperfect Essays
I'll be gone a few weeks from the blog scenario. I hope everyone has a merry happy jolly Christmas, or any other "holiday" they may conjure or adore.
Remember, Santa Claus died for our sins...or something like that, but that was years ago and I've got to catch a plane tomorrow.
Have a great New Year,
Cliff, at the Promethean rant enterprise
Before coming to Japan to teach I had experienced the American government schools' education establishment in all its grandeur. What follows are my observations on just how pathetic the entrenched doctrines of Ed-land have become.
I had hoped to refine this particular essay more before the holidays but mundane matters intruded. Proof reading of this version has likely left it with more than a few errors but I want to get my points across regardless while away during the Christmas holiday (a holiday that is no longer even permitted to be recognized in many public schools -- even though the schools are compulsory). I would have liked to have included more links. The internet is full of some excellent criticisms of contemporary education in all its expressions (teaching philosophy, licensure standards, teacher quality, and bureaucratic coercion - to name a few issues which plague contemporary education).
Some may view my appraisals as mere "sour grapes" from someone who didn't see eye to eye with the institutions of modern teaching. They may have been right several years ago but now my bitter view of American public teaching is meaningless to my personal life. I now have a great job teaching English in Japan which I enjoy thoroughly. It was the incompetence, bogus egalitarian philosophies, and bland atmosphere of Ed-land U.S.A. that ultimately put me in my current fortunate circumstance here in Japan so I can't say things haven't worked out well for me personally.
I wrote this essay because I still think it's a crime that those who dominate America's schools have destroyed them as institutions of learning for the sake of promoting their personal "higher causes" -- imposing social/political philosophies and usurping authority from parents for the greater glories and goals of the state.
Future generations of Americans deserve better.
"Ed School Follies" is the name of a book by Rita Kramer regarding the sorry state of those academic factories where new "educators" are churned out each year to carry on the legacy of John Dewey's social planning scheme of "teaching" America's children.
Anyone who has been a part of this folly can verify that the books conclusions are quite accurate:
"The people who become 'educators' and who run our school systems usually have degrees in education, psychology, social sciences, public administration; they are not people who have studied, and know, and love literature, history, science, or philosophy. Our "educators" are not educated. They do not love learning…" -- Pg. 222
People like me come to Japan each year to teach English for a variety of reasons. I didn't know what to expect from my own decision to come here five years ago. I looked upon it as an open-ended adventure that would at least offer an alternative to the stale disappointments that a "career in education" held in the U.S. for someone who had jumped through all the bureaucratic hoops of Ed-land and their phony system for imposing socialization.
I'd always wanted to be a history teacher since the days of my own time served in the government "learning" stockades (excuse the autobiographical aspects of this essay but I feel they validate the nature of my stance). My ideals regarding the goals and purpose of education were, and continue to be, quite simple; learning is the acquisition of new knowledge - a student should leave a classroom knowing more about a given subject than they did when they entered the class. Defining the concept so simply would surely keep a person from ever getting into a classroom in most schools in the U.S.
I'm not really old enough to say, "Things were better in the schools when I was young," No - actually, the government schools have sucked for quite some time now. Of course now, a lesson in WWII history will feature a focused discussion of the Japanese internment in the U.S. and a math class may address issues form global warming to "alternative" lifestyles or ethnocentrism but, on the whole, public schools are still bureau chambers of statist incompetence and vapid exercises in "socialization" (which can more accurately be described as promoting social-ism).
To be fair, some teachers are good or at least certainly mean to be (their inept context aside). I had some excellent history teachers when I was in school, which is why I came to enjoy the subject and, furthermore, wanted to become a teacher myself.
Any curious and passionate individual who imagines the excitement of a career in teaching will have an abrupt awakening as soon as they hit their first - required - college Ed School class. Mine was at the University of Colorado in Boulder, in the 90's - it was a total joke -- Pathetic!
Yes, the rumors and stereotypes are true. Descriptions I've both heard and read from across the country are as I experienced them, from Ed School to the public school classroom and administration.
Ed Schools are bland, bureau-workshops dominated by a clique of elitists who think they are revolutionaries. You can't get more middle class or paradoxically more out of touch with middle-American values and ideals. The average Ed drone in most school systems is essentially a hippy with a suburban façade of neatly trimmed revolutionary chic.
Standards in Ed School are amazingly low and one is exposed to little or no genuine scholarship or practical benefit. I still want to laugh when someone says they have a masters or doctors degree in "Education" because I know what that means. They've likely written a series of papers and a dissertation on such topics such as, "Homophobia in today's schools," "The Chicano and Chicana transgender experience," or "Teaching the Native American Experience and American Imperialism." These are not actual titles -- that I know of -- but they are not caricatures either. In both style and substance, Ed-world "scholarship" is just one big leftist rant. What one won't commonly find in the writings of Ed-world are topics which actually address basic teaching or learning - that's not what these people are about. I don't know, but I'm going to guess - quite confidently - that Michael Moore's film, "Fahrenheit 9/11" has been shown often in Ed-Schools across the country - it certainly wouldn't be out of character for these clowns from the left's sleepy revolutionary wanna-be crowd.
Two of my Ed-school classes stand out for their blatant proselytizing of Marxist theory and consistent hammering away at "capitalist injustice." There are few Ed Schools in America that do not require students to read Jonathan Kozol's (a big fan of Fidel Castro) Savage Inequalities. Of course, such reading (much of Ed school reading is on par with Kozol's Marxist rant) has nothing to do with "teaching" per se or how future teachers can enhance their student's knowledge of subject matters.
On one absurd occasion, a guest speaker of Ed-world fame came to our University Ed School and lectured us on - basically - Marxism. His gimmick was to start his talk by turning on a light switch and then telling us (in what he apparently thought was a dramatic fashion) that his simple act of turning on a light was an act of "oppression." After a few minutes of dry dogmatic analogy we were supposed to see the relationship between struggling coal miners and our supposedly selfish act of turning lights on. Judging from his well trimmed manner and academic income, I'd guess he had turned on more than a few light switches, so I'm not really sure why he felt so confident in chastising us for our petty bourgeois comforts. Anyway, as is typical in Ed Land, there was very little he had to say that related to the idea of teaching children (beyond recruiting a new crop of revolutionaries for the failed and withering Marxist ideology.
The more flaccid among Ed School instructors are merely guardians of pop-political correctness. References to post-modern philosophy, wimpy cliché concerns for "diversity," "tolerance," and "social awareness" pepper the stale air of Ed-land - the stuff that puts even mildly aware eyes rolling upward.
(Accurate) generalizations aside, there were some smart, enthusiastic, and "nice" people among fellow "future teachers" but, on the whole, most were sheep by every condescending definition I can think of; not too bright, not too skeptical (of what they were being fed), and definitely not too good in their potential to inspire young minds. Teaching is what many do to augment the family income. It's a job - like working at Wal-Mart. If teachers can convince themselves that they are, "making a difference" then at least their ego can maintain some dominion. I have no doubt -- because they often said it -- that they wanted to "make a better world." I seldom heard a fellow future teacher actually say they wanted kids to learn more about a given subject. I rarely heard them express any enthusiasm at all for the very subjects they were going to be teaching. I have serious doubts as to whether most of them could help to foster more knowledgeable students. On a scale of passion, they're somewhere between lawn furniture and office supplies. In keeping with trendy Post Modern views, the very idea of factual information worthy of being conveyed or learned was constantly ridiculed by the instructors of Ed School with the same fervor and self-righteous arrogance I've become all to familiar with from the left in general.
It's no secret that the best teachers -- those who actually teach as a "teaching strategy" -- usually leave the profession within a few years, if not after a few classes in the college Ed-schools. The old saying is true, "Those who can't do; teach" -- and I would add that, those who can't teach; teach teachers.
I'm trying to keep this recollection relatively short. Suffice it to say there are numerous scenarios which occurred in my experience in Ed-land that were downright laughable. The whole enterprise was akin to a self-help seminar amongst the helpless. The pathetic egalitarian political philosophy of so many teachers today can be seen in an instance in one of my Ed school classes where a student/future teacher proudly proclaimed her radical idea (endorsed by most in this brigade of sleeping sophists) that, "In my class all students will get an "A," adding that, "If all students don't get "A's," the teacher is doing something wrong!" No doubt, she had a rude awakening shortly after getting her first job in Ed-land's circus of nonsense. Odd that she could buy into the "different learning styles" fad, but couldn't fathom the presence of enough diversity of temperament that some kids just might not be "A" performers in a certain subject or class.
The scary part of it all was that these lukewarm pseudo-socialists who didn't know what a socialist was or why they were ones by default, were going to continue feeding power (votes, money, and "guidance") to the service of powerful Ed unions and bureau-policy hacks.
During and after the folly of Ed School one must take a variety of tests to become fully "certified" / licensed to teach, as well as taking a semester of student teaching. The student teaching experience alone can make or break a prospective teacher, depending on the chemistry of styles between the student teacher and the approved drone they find themselves "working with." This procedure and my own experience with it would, in itself, require another long essay to fully describe. My own "cooperating" mentor was a nice lady but our styles ultimately clashed and the entire experience ended on a somewhat sour note. The kids were about twelve years old and at that borderline age they were, admittedly, fair game for more "child" oriented instruction. The school district's standards had determined that a sixth grade history class would be devoted to the study of Canada and South America (classrooms of kids that knew little if any of their own country's history). At one point we spent the better part of three days coloring totem pole images and gluing them to the cardboard center of paper towel rolls to produce our very own totem poles - "making learning fun." The project was a cute exercise in leisure and the kids got a chance to socialize while "demonstrating their creativity." Call me old fashioned, but I think we were wasting our time, the kid's time, and the taxpayer's dollars. Although twelve is fairly young, do we really want to treat them this young when students of prior eras could easily read and understand a novel like, The Last of the Mohicans. In today's classroom, such a novel would be beyond the comprehension of many, if not most, students. It appears that the same "educators" who think that six year olds should be learning about "alternate lifestyles," also think that twelve year olds are too young to appreciate the intellectual act of taking notes and objective tests.
The classes I student taught in had approximately 25 students. In addition to the regular teacher and myself were; a teacher for the hearing impaired (for one hard-of-hearing student), and a teacher to help the kids who were hyper-active, too ethnic (sarcasm intended), or "troubled" in one way or another (odd, that such varieties of kids fell under the same jurisdiction). By coincidence, one of the assistants mentioned was also a former candidate for president on the Socialist Party ticket. (During one class period, she shared with students her fond memories of a trip to Cuba she had taken, with the cliché mention of that country's "free health care" - of course).
Anyway, returning to the issue of "certification" or licensure, or whatever they call it now. The concepts all "look good on paper," but ultimately permit any fool with an appropriate grin into a public school classroom as a teacher. It would also be accurate to say that they need to "follow the party-line," at least in spirit.
Rewind… Now, why did my high school history teachers impress me so? To be sure, such types would not likely be hired in many of today's schools. I need to first note that a subject like history is ultimately an intellectual discipline. It's "about" reading, writing, thinking, and discussing. It's not a "hands-on" discipline, as one teacher described his "techniques" of games and group "projects."
My high school history teachers basically; lectured (yes, we took notes), accompanied their lectures with slides, documentaries, and occasional genuine history relics (these teachers really liked their subjects). That's it. On our end, the students would do assigned readings, write occasional essays, ask questions, and engage in class discussion regarding what we had learned. Oh yes; we were tested (on facts) and, there was a right or wrong answer.
None of these "techniques" could land a history teacher a job today in most schools (today, half of middle school history teachers didn't even major in history). Aside from some vaguely insincere reference to "liking kids" and planning "group activities," today one must often show a "portfolio" of games, gimmicks, and projects that they've used to "make learning fun." My descriptions are not caricatures. This is really the way these -- very uninteresting -- people think and conduct the business of teaching.
After expending considerable time, money, and effort to the pathetic causes of Ed-world's politically correct circus of bureau-decorum I, like many teachers, began the tedious process of applying for a job in various school districts. Again, sorry to generalize, but most Ed-administrative staff I encountered were rude, unfriendly, and downright haughty. They often appeared deeply annoyed at an applicant's mere presence. On more than one occasion, an Ed-world bureau-clone would be casually talking with another staff member leaving me unacknowledged for several minutes. Eventually, acting intruded upon, they would ask what I wanted and then told me to leave my resume' in some large stack of others' (who would never be called).
I should note, and you'll just have to believe me on this; my dress, manner, and speech were all more than proper during these encounters. These bureaucrats - like many government workers - were just plain rude in the way one would expect from people who don't have to produce a service or product to anyone's satisfaction, they were and are career parasites.
To make this long story short; while waiting to possibly be hired full time, I substitute taught, taught after school classes for "problem kids," and taught summer school sessions. I even secured a semester-long full-time position at a local high school, ultimately keeping a "seat" warm for the school's volleyball coach who hadn't yet finished his student teaching (even with the new "politically correct" fever so rampant in today's schools there is still time for the more traditional bias of passion for sports - over education).
While I don't wish to overstate the case, I had more than a few students compliment my teaching style and "technique" (which you will recall was ultimately a simple common sense transmission of knowledge). In teaching history I made a point of exposing students to the varieties of art, music, architecture, daily life and philosophy of different times and places, going so far as to show slides of the fashion in different paradigms (in essence, I threw in a course in The Humanities). As recent ago as last summer, while on vacation in the U.S., a former student who I initially didn't recognize (I've been in Japan now for five years) told me how much she enjoyed my class during the one semester I actually had my foot in Ed-world's door. I'd often find it difficult to reconcile my popularity and success with many students with the indifference, and often resentment, I'd receive from "the system" itself. It would be fair to say that an intelligent grasp of one's subject is threatening to some teachers (whose knowledge is often weak at best).
The final straw for me was another wasted "interview." Another typical position in which the decision had already been made as to who they'd hire, but they had to go through the motions and treat some begging applicants as if they actually had a chance of getting the job. What made it the "final straw" for me was the predictability of it all - the same bland bureaucrat administrator, born and bred on Ed-school philosophy and suburban socialist-lite illusions. A guy that could have just as easily been an insurance salesman or bureau of motor vehicles functionary asked the magic question, "What do you do to make learning fun?" I wanted to puke! There was, of course, a "right answer" and a "wrong answer" - in so many words.
I don't even remember what I said in response to the question; some lame, worthless improvisation to match their lame worthless cliché question. I didn't dare say that I lectured and assigned readings for later class discussion and gave objective tests over the material covered. At this point, I didn't care. I knew in that split second that my hopes of becoming a public school social studies teacher would never materialize. I wanted to simply look at the pompous bureau-clown in front of me and say, F__k You (!) just for the utter joy of seeing one of Ed-land's flaccid drones spark to attention. These people really do think their mission is to "make learning fun" and "create a better world." Any Ed-world fad or politically correct psycho-social gimmick they can come up with will earn them a pat on the back in their own minds (and the right to demand more money), but actually teaching kids anything of substance or practical application; forget it, they don't have a clue.
So, I'm now in Japan. For me, everything worked out just fine. I regret that I can't share my passion for History and The Humanities with kids but don't regret teaching the less profound subject of English conversation at a Japanese language school.
My story is not unique. Every year thousands of potential teachers give up or, after serving a few years, drop out. I dare say, the best ones are first to be crossed off Ed-world's list of compliant sheep, veins and brains clogged with politically correct insincerity and social planning ideals. As in the last several decades, real learning will occur only as a child's leisure passion, or begin the day they walk out the door of the government's schools. The classroom itself will merely continue to monopolize time and money and produce nothing but self satisfaction to the drones of Ed-world.
The free market provides customers with freely chosen products and services. Government schools are, of course, not a free-market by any definition. Governments provide a style of education that merely promotes allegiance to more government, and sheep with deadened minds.
Left-land and Ed-land are a team. Like much of the media and academia, their true mission is to destroy the strength and substance of individualism and free society, their communal con-game's goal being the usual imposition of "planned" society and some wimpy fantasy world of "cooperation" and "diversity" (e.g. ideological conformity).
A century ago, John Dewey made clear his goal of utilizing the public schools to produce an obedient, compliant, and not too educated citizenry. His goal has been achieved, and his achievement has been our loss.
A bureau-clown with a degree in "Education" will often ask, "What do you do to make learning fun?" The wrong answer -- which in my own case would be the honest one -- is; "I lecture, present material in an orderly and understandable fashion, assign readings, show slides and videos, bring historical relics to class from my collection, spark class discussions, give objective tests, and rouse young minds to enthusiasm for the magnificence of past era's art, music, fashion, architecture, and social /political circumstances. I wouldn't necessarily call it "fun" but it is enjoyable, and most of the kids actually learn the subject."
What one is supposed to say (to get a job) is, "I foster a cooperative environment that nurtures individual learning styles and promotes tolerance for diversity and an awareness of preserving nature from the ravages of corporate greed and traditional value systems. I utilize group activities and let the kids 'teach themselves.' There is no right answer and there is barely a question. Material needn't be presented in any particular sequence or with any priority or assumptions regarding their degree of quality or importance. "
- "Teaching to the test"
This is what Ed-clones call instruction that can be used by the student to successfully take a test over the information covered. The point being that such information is -- in the eyes of the "educator" -- useless and unnecessary.
- "Do you teach the child or the subject?"
This is the common rhetorical question made in Ed-land that seeks to imply that teaching one's area of expertise to students is somehow neglecting the students themselves - that the teacher must choose between sides of a conjured dichotomy.
- "Teaching the Whole Child"
Another classic total crock (which is related to the previous item). Their point being that good teachers are supposed to be wizards who "nurture a student's emotional needs" and involve themselves in everything from a student's sexual orientation issues to whether or not they're offended by the presence of a flag in the classroom. The insinuation they're trying to make with this cliché is that teachers who actually increase a student's knowledge of a subject are somehow neglecting their more important roles as nannies and psychoanalysts.
The phony and patronizing nature of this word, as it is used in Ed-land, is well known by almost everyone by now. Lip-service and instruction regarding an ever growing list of "marginalized" people has become the cause celebre' of teachers too incompetent to actually teach all their students a simple subject. Hint; when anyone mentions, "diversity," they're probably promoting the cause of conformity -- with heavy left-wing political overtones.
This essentially means; don't utilize lecture, reading, writing, or thinking in a classroom. Popsicle sticks and glue would be considered "materials" in a "hands-on learning exercise." In my student teaching class (again, maybe the teacher can be cut some slack because the kids were twelve years old), making totem poles out of cardboard paper towel centers was a "hands-on" method of learning about the native peoples of North West America.
- "Learning to Learn"
I have no idea what this means [!]. It's essentially more Ed-land BS. Although there are genuine methods within philosophy that utilize logic to enhance one's knowledge, I can assure you that this is not what Ed-school drones are talking about when they use this Ed-world cliché. Ask any kid how they've "learned to learn" and they'll probably laugh at you (which means they've at least learned on their own to see through nonsense).
- "Critical Thinking skills"
In Ed-land, this means that kids have developed a depressive radical skepticism regarding their nation, their family, notions regarding the existence of god or good and evil, and the very meaning of life itself. "Critical thinking" in today's schools would, of course, "question" the war in Iraq but not the policy of appeasement towards brutal dictators. When you hear about "critical thinking" in a classroom you can be certain that there will be a neat divide between what is to be looked at critically and what is to go unquestioned.
- The "Rote Learning" straw man
This is a big one. Ed schools, and teachers in general, like to pretend that there is some traditional teacher out there who is the norm and bores his or her classes with lectures, facts, and information. This phony concoction is often accompanied by the phrase, "drill and kill," in which students are imagined reciting meaningless facts which are deadening their minds. Check out a local school classroom today and you'll search long and hard for any remnants of rote learning or drilling of information. You definitely won't find much concern for or even belief in - facts. "Progressive Education" has had a firm lock on America's schools for decades and each year they try to pretend that the enemy is some imagined boogeyman that's making kids learn facts through rote memorization.
- The post modern world of "no facts"
Related to the previous contrivance in Ed-land, is the Ed-school's fascination for post-modern philosophy and its accompanying left-wing worldview. The world they see as void of absolutes is so lost in radical relativism that they dare not teach a child that some questions even have a right or wrong answer. This phony world, free from facts, fits nicely into Ed-world's "multi-cultural" template as well, where all peoples, lifestyle choices, and styles of government are okay as long as they are not American, bourgeois, traditional, or worst of all, capitalist. Some dedicated nut-cases of Ed-land will dare argue that even math and science absolutes are invalid (there is no "right answer"). Of course, one can argue such things with a degree of speculative validity when discussing metaphysics in a university philosophy class but -- call me crazy -- I think it's okay that kids learn that weather is caused by measurable factors of heat, humidity, and pressure - and not the gods and goddesses of some long dead tribal culture.
- The pervasive need for more money to do less teaching
Ed-land has hit the jackpot. The teacher's unions (which are something way beyond mere "unions") have scored big. The average per pupil expenditures in America has continually risen over the last few decades (in spite of pervasive phony claims of "cut backs") and the payroll's of school districts are clogged with ever more teaching "staff" yet, each year they cry for more. To turn them down is to, "not care about children." While kids today can give opinions regarding slavery, racism, war, AIDS, and environmental calamity, they literally can't read or write with the degree or quality that existed in prior eras. While the system (Ed-schools, unions, and bureaucrats) clogs school districts with counselors and "diversity specialists" the classrooms roll on with the "progressives'" usual stale standards; making a "better world" by weaning a child from his or her own parent's authority and dumbing them down while doing so.
- "Addressing individual learning styles"
This is Ed-land's phony implication that a teacher can somehow provide individualized instruction to a class of several kids. By acknowledging the obvious, that some kids are more visceral vs. analytical, or creative, Ed-land claims they can somehow "meet the needs" of such psychological variety. They seem to miss the obvious point that, if a teacher is "meeting the needs" of a particular "style" they will automatically be not addressing the other "styles." While individual instruction (i.e. home schooling - which Ed-world hates) could perform this ideal concern for "unique learning styles," it's absurd to even imagine that a teacher can effectively pull such a stunt off in a classroom of 15 or more kids. Add to this the phony claim that Ed-world makes (at other times) that "all kids are equally creative" etc.
We used to address "different learning styles" quite effectively - by simply teaching distinctly different subjects! In gym class the system addressed the visceral "learning style." In English, a student would…learn English (e.g. learn to read and write English!). It may also be argued that, if a student is indeed a "visual learner" (likes to watch TV) it is all the more reason for them to compensate for their less acute skills in writing, reading, or thinking rather than indulge the "style" they're supposedly good at already.
- "Interdisciplinary Teaching" (Bureau-mind's wet dream)
This is a confusing mess of a concept that only a clown from bureau-mind could love. Teachers "collaborate" so that various subjects as diverse as math, physical education, and literature are "coordinated" by each subject's teacher while addressing a common theme. To really pull such an abstract project off requires an incredible investment of time and the miracle that each teacher can easily "work together" and agree on a common "coordinated" strategy - this delusion is the ultimate cluster f__k of Ed-school philosophy.
- "Every student is creative / every student is smart"
More of the typical egalitarian / communal nonsense one could only expect from a sub-cult in left-land. While it may be good to begin a class with such positive assumptions, the reality is that kids, like adults, have a variety of capacities. Not every kid is a natural born artist or athlete. The leftist sympathies of Ed-world can imagine this phony ideal all they want, but reality begs to differ. Eliminating grades or giving everyone automatic high grades to foster some illusion that they are all model students is one of Ed-world's most ridiculous fantasies. In the real world, a student who is aware that they have fallen short in a given subject is either motivated to study and applies themselves harder or they face, with self-honesty, the possibility that they may have to become an accountant instead of an artist. Honesty serves a valuable purpose in schools just as in life. Ed-land's conjured egalitarian conformity accomplishes nothing for anyone and sways students far from an honest appraisal of self or others.
- "Classroom management techniques"
Ed-land's belief that schools without clear standards of order, discipline, or consequence can be none-the-less "managed" by some non-existent "techniques" to con kids into smiley-face obedience. Every honest teacher knows that, in today's schools, there is virtually nothing that can be done to elicit or compel good behavior from some students. The result has been classrooms where a mere one or two students are able to disrupt or completely thwart any attempts at teaching or learning. Another result has been a "teacher shortage" exacerbated by many teachers leaving the profession after only a couple of years (if not during their actual student teaching before even getting a job in Ed-land).
- Teaching awards for the best gimmicks
I've seen it more than once; teachers who are highly acclaimed because they've come up with some witty new project or gimmick. Such awards are not based on kids' or parents' actual appraisals, and are definitely not based on a result of students with increased knowledge; they're just more self-congratulating gestures to promote evermore bizarre and confusing gimmicks rather than actually teaching a subject.
- "Self Esteem" and becoming a cog in the social wheel
Another paradox from Ed-school philosophy; a concern for so called self-esteem rests side by side with a pervasive desire to view students and people as mere servants of the collective. Everyone must "share" everyone must "sacrifice" everyone must obey - but feel good about themselves "as individuals" while doing so -- another sham, born and bred in Left-land and implemented daily in Ed-world.
* Note : The links in this essay are to relevant essays or articles that I have come across. They're a small sampling of the many articles one can find regarding the corruption and incompetence of public school philosophy and its administration.
Comic Relief (from a widely circulated e-mail - author unknown)
The History of Math Teaching since 1950:
1. Teaching Math In 1950
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?
2. Teaching Math In 1960
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
3. Teaching Math In 1970
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?
4. Teaching Math In 1980
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
5. Teaching Math In 1990
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers.)
6. Teaching Math In 2005
Un hachero vende una carretada de madera para $100. El costo de la producciones es $80.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
"Questioning the Patriotism" …of the Un-patriotic
"America is an imperialist aggressor."
"Stop the 'occupation for oil and greed'."
"Iraqis were better off under Saddam."
"Cold rooms, loud music, sleep deprivation, and sexual 'humiliation' is 'torture.' Human shredding machines and rape rooms are 'internal matters'."
9/11 was a case of 'chickens coming home to roost'."
Let [the terrorists in Iraq] 'determine their own government'."
"Baathists and Islamic fascists who target civilians in the hopes of gaining power to establish a ruthless dictatorship are 'freedom fighters'."
…"Are you questioning my patriotism?"
Libertarianism Yesterday and Today, and Conservatism...Mostly Today
Pre-holiday -- that would include Christmas -- pleasures and errands have kept me from posting more in depth comments on current issues. This next week, I need to put any blogging time I have (this is only a hobby) into the essay I will be posting over the Christmas and New Years holiday -- an essay regarding my experiences in the American public school anti-teaching machine.
(This is a reprint of comments made -- with some alteration -- at another site earlier this year, regarding Libertarianism)
As someone who typically considers himself a libertarian (with increasingly conservative sympathies*), I have to acknowledge that libertarian philosophy is, indeed, idealistic and probably impossible to really implement.
My stand for the ideals of libertarianism is made out of a guarded concern for what non-libertarians seem to want.
If political realities could somehow be magically frozen and those of us in Japan or America were stuck with massive ineffective bureaucracies, considerable taxation and wasteful expenditure, and stupid rules regarding personal behavior, I could certainly live with it. Admiration for government waste and petty coercions is hardly the gulag.
The concern most libertarians have -- and I certainly can't speak for all of them -- is that statist and collectivists "don't know when to stop."
The United States has spent well over 5 trillion dollars on a largely ineffective "war on poverty," and we're still told every year that "we're not doing enough." (That's one minor example).
Today, when I hear the rants of those who favor collectivist / statist schemes, I realize that their demands (they are never mere hopes or requests) are no different than what I heard as a high school student or what I'm sure my father (and his father) heard during their lives -- "more laws, more rules, more state control."
I'm a libertarian because libertarians ultimately say, "less laws, less rules, less state control."
No one can "prove" that I should be a slave to a collectivist ideal and I can't "prove" that I should be left alone, none the less; I choose to be left alone.
* I find myself increasingly “conservative”-- like many people -- after 9/11 as a response to the manner the left in general has taken after the attack on America. Their response has been far beyond their usual disagreement with the nature of Capitalist society and limited government and has extended itself to stances that often boarder on treason. When I say treason I do not mean disagreement or mere opposition to war or the President's policies, I'm referring the stance many on the left now take; sympathy and support for an enemy (Islamo-fascism) that openly states their hopes of destroying the United States and bringing massive suffering and death to its citizens. To support such a horrid worldview and openly seeking to undermine efforts to defend the country from attack is despicable. The left's obvious and bitter hatred for American society, culture, and its common citizens has grown far beyond the pale…… In all honesty, libertarians aren't taking a very strong stand in this regard, and conservatives are. As I've mentioned often before, by conservatives I certainly don't mean Christian religious fanatics or corrupt corporate stereotypes in smoke filled rooms. I mean those who believe in a limited and decentralized constitutional government that defends the individual freedom of its citizens (and not the legal concerns of foreign thugs). This stance defines many libertarians and conservatives and is definitely far removed from the realms of statism and appeasement which defines the left.
p.s. In addressing the libertarian view, I need to take issue with the word, "selfishness" as an ideal libertarians support. While it may be an accurate description of the desire to pursue one's own freely chosen objectives, the word is unfairly loaded in meaning and often implies, to some, a kind of aggressive, cruel, or "heartless" disposition and outlook. Wishing to pursue what one feels is best for one's self and for those one values is a common sense way to live. One can call such behavior "selfish," but a self-interested person can be quite decent, sociable, and compassionate. I've met many self-described "compassionate" people from the collectivist/statist crowd who are downright mean (not to mention phony).
Like Ayn Rand said, "You must first say, 'I' to say, 'I love you.'"
Boortz says it like it is…again
…“It's not that Democrats don't think we'll win in Iraq, it's that they don't want us to. An American victory in Iraq would be vindication for George Bush. The left's hatred of Bush runs so deep; they're willing to abandon our troops and Iraq to the Islamic terrorists just to win political points. The Democrats politicization of this war is shocking and outrageous.
There are genuine public policy debates and disagreements out there, but when it comes to the cut-and-run strategy in Iraq there is no reasonable way anyone can look a the Democrats "let's call it a day and go home" proposals and not recognize the dangers that lie therein. If the US announced that we would be "redeploying" American troops in six months the Islamic terrorists and insurgents would immediately understand that victory is theirs. All they would have to do is lay low for a few months, let the Americans leave, and then move to seize control of the fledgling Iraqi government. Shortly after the Americans withdrew the terrorist factions would be fully in charge in Iraq. Terrorist training camps and weapons development would follow. Not only would the terrorist elements realize that they had won, but the Iraqi people would have to face the realization that once again the United States had failed to fulfill their promise of a stable and freely elected government for Iraq. Those in Iraq who cooperated in any way with the Americans would be marked for execution. As soon as the intentions of the United States were made know millions of Iraqis would suddenly express their opposition not only to the American presence, but also to the new government of Iraq. The people of Iraq would know that their continued safety would depend on their being on the winning side, and the winning side would be that of the insurgents and the terrorists. al-Zarqawai would be the new de-facto leader of Iraq. In the meantime, any move towards representative governments in Syria and Iran would be over. All progress made in the Middle East over the past four years would be erased overnight.
Democrats know this ... all of it. Yet they don't care. They are driven by their blind hatred for George Bush and the bitterness that still exists over their being removed from control of the Congress by the voters in 1994. Hatred robs you of logic and rationality. The left's hatred of Bush, and, in some cases, America, deprives them of the ability to see the consequences of their actions. Their hatred has made them politically and mentally unstable. If we don't recognize this dangerous pathology soon, we'll all suffer for it.
Remember...when a Republican is in the Oval Office....Democrats thrive on bad news. What's bad for America and bad for the Military is just fine for the left.”
More Media techniques to help the cause of Islam-fascism
A brief note regarding something I’ve noticed in my regular reading of articles by Reuters and the Associated Press.
As I had stated before, on a few occasions, I do not believe there is a well orchestrated or planned conspiracy to skew the news to the left’s favored talking points – it’s simply automatic. It’s what happens when you have a bunch of college educated (often indoctrinated) spoiled brats who want to be genuine intellectuals but have settled for a close second in the pseudo-intellectual field of journalism. Some in the field have become the mere equivalent of used car salesmen who write. Honesty and precision are certainly not the standard, “getting their message out” is.
I’ve noticed a recurring theme regarding the reporting on speeches made by Bush or prominent members of his administration regarding Iraq. In an article headlined as being about a particular speech, a mere few quotes from the speech are printed. More often than not, most of the speech is summed up by the reporter, (i.e. “Bush claimed….”). After this brief reference to the speech (what the article is supposedly about) there is often a lengthily list of quotes from critics – usually considerably longer than what was actually stated in the speech itself. Also there is the usual list of statement to the effect that the war was begun on the grounds of “weapons of mass destruction which were not found [as if this is new news].” In addition to this regular feature of speech coverage we get the usual current soldier body count of course – something that typically has nothing to do with the speech. Either in the article itself or in a separate article -- usually highlighted -- next to it or actually embedded in a darkened or outlined box, one will find any bad news the journalists can find to completely juxtapose any positive statements Bush or his staff have made.
Japan’s Daily Yomiuri English edition recently had an article headlined; “Bush cites improved Iraqi economy.” The AP article began with four short paragraphs of Bush’s quotes and a journalist’s telling the reader what Bush had said. Beginning the anti-Bush news, “Bush’s speech came amid new violence in Iraq….” The rest of the article consisted of eight paragraphs of criticism, quotes by Bush’s critics, and what ever bad news they could get together to counter the few weaker statements made in their chosen excerpts from Bush’s speech. The article ended with, “…they gave him a cool reception. Some in the audience interrupted to applaud when Bush said the U.S. would not run from Iraq, but most sat stoically during the entire speech.” As an additional cute trick (as referred to earlier); a separate article in a darkened box embedded within the article on Bush’s speech, declaring, “Suicide attack on bus kills 30.”
Amazingly, an article supposedly about a speech the president made regarding the Iraqi economy had become a lengthily anti-war rant with a brief preface of cherry-picked quotes from Bush’s speech.
Not the first time, not the last. Watch for this stuff. It’s downright pathetic.
A brief excerpt from a “glossary” of Ed-World terminology (from an essay on my experiences in Ed-land U.S.A., to be posted over the holidays while I’m away from my computer and weekly postings):
- “Classroom management techniques”
Ed-land’s belief that schools without clear standards of order, discipline, or consequence can be none-the-less “managed” by some non-existent “techniques” to con kids into smiley-face obedience. Every honest teacher knows that, in today’s schools, there is virtually nothing that can be done to elicit or compel good behavior from some students. The result has been classrooms where a mere one or two students are able to disrupt or completely thwart any attempts at teaching or learning. Another result of this bureau-incompetence has been a “teacher shortage” exacerbated by many teachers leaving the profession after only a couple of years (if not during their actual student teaching before even getting a job in Ed-land).
A Comic Commentary from Promethean Visions:
Critiques on the market economy and other insights...
Promethean Quotes from The Promethean Observer:
"The difference between a pack animal and a socialist is that a pack animal is less dangerous to those around it."
Sunday, December 04, 2005
International Euphemisms…that mean the same old thing
I recently read a newspaper article that repeated the now oft cried concern that nations must “respect international law.”
The generic reference to “nations” of course meant The United States, or -- I suppose -- anyone else that dares lack obedience to international anything. International law is not some magical hyper-just tangible institution. In essence , much of what is called international law is no more than the usual demands of intellectuals and bureaucrats to further plan society and increase their influence over sovereign nations while perusing the standard socialist obsessions -- "equality [of result]" and punishment of success and individualism.
There have always been agreements between clans, tribes, and countries to facilitate their self interests and arrive at mutually beneficial circumstance but, today’s media obsession with “international law,” like its newfound excitement over “multilateralism,” has become just another euphemism for centralized (socialist) political authority. Opposing views which support individualism and autonomy are simply written off as invalid, as are many ideals that could be called “conservative.”
Everyone knows that Bush and Blair et al. “defied international law” by enforcing several U.N. resolutions against one Iraqi fascist dictator and the self-interested sympathies of France, Germany, China, and Russia.
The standards of internationalism, several NGO’s, and socialist governments are worthy of serious skepticism by anyone who truly values individuality and freedom. Mega-bureaucracy and socialist “planners” of course have a “better world” in mind for all of us “uncooperative” types (perhaps we could work in the rice fields and “learn to share”?).
Laws in general are a necessary evil and more than a few are required to maintain stability between nations. The encroaching concept of international law today, however, has little to do with clerical decorum or smooth functioning in mundane matters, and more to do with the same old goals collectivists have always sought to impose upon humanity – obedience to centralized authority and the left wing world view… “for a better world.”
Some laws are made to be broken; most to be merely laughed at…or scorned.
A brief excerpt from a “glossary” of Ed-World terminology (from an essay on my experiences in Ed-land U.S.A., to be posted over the holidays while I’m away from my computer and weekly postings):
- "Addressing individual learning styles"
This is Ed-land’s phony implication that a teacher can somehow provide individualized instruction to a class of several kids. By acknowledging the obvious, that some kids are more visceral vs. analytical, or creative, Ed-land claims they can somehow “meet the needs” of such psychological variety. They seem to miss the obvious point that, if a teacher is “meeting the needs” of a particular “style” they will automatically be not addressing the other “styles.” While individual instruction (i.e. home schooling – which Ed-world hates) could perform this ideal concern for “unique learning styles,” it’s absurd to even imagine that a teacher can effectively pull such a stunt off in a classroom of 15 or more kids. Add to this the phony charade that, at other times, Ed-world will tell you that “all kids are equally creative” etc.
We used to address “different learning styles” quite effectively – by simply teaching distinctly different subjects! In gym class the system addressed the visceral "learning style." In English, a student would…learn English (e.g. learn to read and write English!). It may also be argued that, if a student is indeed a "visual learner" (likes to watch TV) it is all the more reason for them to compensate for their less acute skills in writing, reading, or thinking rather than indulge the “style” they’re supposedly good at already.
A Comic Commentary from Promethean Visions:
Insight and Delusion
Promethean Quotes from The Promethean Observer:
"There were clearly too many cars driving around 50,000 years ago. Environmental justice can now be served by rolling back global warming temperatures to the “natural” levels of the last great ice age. To fully “return to natures plan” we can even clone a few wooly mammoths and send Native Americans back to Asia (across the frozen land bridge they were thought to have migrated to the Americas across before the last great period of "global warming."). The fact that Ohio will be covered in a massive sheet of ice will have to be overlooked for the sake of a higher (and paradoxically unnatural) need -- unchanging nature."