Let Them Eat Sight-Words

November 21, 2014

Marie Antoinette, on hearing that French peasants had no bread to eat, suggested, “Let them eat cake.” This quip perfectly captured the cruel indifference which many people attributed to the French monarchy. A few years later, she was punished for her hauteur: execution by guillotine. The famous quote was probably never uttered. Real or not, it’s a handy symbol for an arrogant elite, indifferent to the suffering of the people. When you read in the newspaper that the US has 50 million functional illiterates, the disdainful... Read article

Public School Education — There’s Bad News And Good News

November 12, 2014

The bad news is that John Dewey’s “progressives” are winning big. They mobilized every educational front group and every pedagogical gimmick to achieve the goal of controlling what goes on in the schools, as a way of achieving a fundamental transformation of America, to coin a phrase. The educational front groups include the National Council of Teachers of Math, the Common Core Consortium, National Education Association, International Reading Association, National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, and... Read article

The K-12 Lobotomy

November 19, 2013

An acquaintance sent this note: “My sister tells of teaching math to college freshmen. The question was: If X plus 5 = 10, what is the value of X? It took her an entire week to get the kids to finally say ‘5.’ So the following Monday, just on a hunch, she gave them another problem: If Y plus 5 = 10, what is the value of Y? And no one could answer!” Remember, these students have been admitted to a community college. Presumably, they studied Algebra around the ninth grade. The teacher is an experienced veteran who... Read article

Education: “Hello, Dumbness, My Old Friend”

October 23, 2013

Title is riff on the famous line by Simon and Garfunkel, “Hello, darkness, my old friend.” Like the original, this article is a sad song about darkness. It’s common to hear critics and reformers complain about the poor results achieved in public schools. Still, most people assume that school officials are well-intentioned. Surely, they try their best. But statistics are relentlessly negative. Some critics venture to suggest the experts have dirty hands. That is, the schools intentionally use techniques that keep children... Read article

Dumb Education Versus Smart Technology

October 4, 2013

If you like irony, you’ll love this. That was once a time when schools did not have pencils and paper. Chalk and blackboard were luxuries. Books were a rarity. Classrooms, by today’s standards, were slums. But today’s students are surrounded by thousands of books. Paper, pens and pencils are everywhere. A tsunami of computers and other electronic devices flows through each school. Plus, there are hundreds of websites specializing in each individual subject. Khan Academy will teach you a hundred subjects all by itself.... Read article

When Is Drill And Kill Not Drill And Kill?

September 25, 2013

If there is one true cancer in the land of education, according to our Education Establishment, it’s the torture known as “drill and kill.” Progressive educators always hated Drill and Kill. It hurts the child, we are told, and is the end of genuine learning. For the last hundred years, our Education Establishment condemned the direct transmission of knowledge from teacher to student. These elite educators are constantly in a rage that students might be forced to prepare for a test in the traditional sense,... Read article

The Education Establishment Is The Real Problem

August 29, 2013

The only thing most Americans agree on is that the public schools are mediocre. As to why this happened and what we should do next, there is a total bedlam of beliefs and opinions. People have a hundred theories to explain our ed problems. But here’s the bizarre thing: people don’t want to blame the obvious culprits, that is, the people in charge. In every other field of human endeavor, when things don’t work out, bosses are fired; then new people with new ideas are brought in. That’s a universal... Read article

Three R’s Good. Two I’s Better.

August 28, 2013

Education necessarily begins with Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. This is like saying that walking begins with crawling. Ever since there has been such a thing as a formal school, teachers first focus on words and numbers. Allan Tate, a fairly famous poet and critic during the middle decades of the 20th century, said: “The purpose of education is not happiness; it is not social integration, or political system. Its purpose is . . . the discipline of the mind for its own sake; these ends are to be achieved through the... Read article

How The Reading War Became A Religious War

June 8, 2013

The Reading War was a fight over how reading should be taught. Unexpectedly, this conflict also became a religious war. Progressive secular humanists declared that their method (Whole Word) was scientifically best. They claimed the opposing method (phonics) was favored only by irrational religious extremists (read: Christians). The logic for those claims is convoluted. Probably there is no logic, merely propaganda. Psychiatrists would also probably speak of “projection.” The progressives listed all the bad features... Read article

A Busy Executive’s Guide To Why Public Schools Are Dysfunctional

March 6, 2013

The bleak statistics are well known. This country has 50 million functional illiterates. We don’t compete well on international tests. Students reach college not knowing what 7 x 8 is. The Pentagon complains constantly that more than half of our teenagers are not fit for military service. Major corporations spend billions on remedial classes, teaching adults basic information they should learn during their school years. Why, why, why? It’s all very mystifying for most people. What is so difficult about teaching kids... Read article

Rolling Back Barack

October 21, 2012

One of the country’s best known handicappers, Wayne Allyn Root, predicted several months ago that Mitt Romney would win the presidency by a landslide. The first debate suggested that Root might be right. A month ago Rush Limbaugh discussed how the Left would deal with such a defeat. Rush predicted the Left would ruthlessly disown Obama, toss him rudely under the bus, and focus on saving Liberalism. The Left would insist that their own ideas were doubleplus good. Any bad results were entirely Obama’s fault. Hopefully,... Read article

The New York Times Won’t Report The News

October 11, 2012

The New York Times (and liberal media generally) have two ways of dealing with news they don’t like. Stories can be ingeniously “spun” so their significance is dimmed. The  main facts might be mentioned; but the emphasis is expertly shifted and important details are placed toward the end. Opposing testimony is featured throughout. The “spun” story, a murmur of its prior self, is then buried on a back page. A more radical, more Orwellian technique is to pretend that the story never happened. News is thus “disappeared.”... Read article

VIP’s Criticize Obama

September 23, 2012

President Obama seems to inspire a historically high level of criticism and suspicion, for example: Thomas Sowell, author and columnist, says: “Barack Obama is one of those people who are often wrong but never in doubt.” Headline on European Union Times site says: “French Leader Sarkozy Slams Obama, Warns He Might Be Insane.” ad for $40? Bettina Viviano, Hollywood producer who worked for Hillary in 2008 campaign, says, “We were always told that Bill was going to tell the truth [about Obama’s ineligibility]…... Read article

Teachers: Are You Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

August 30, 2012

Why do we have such depressing education statistics? One reason is that ed schools teach a lot of Mickey Mouse and skimp on what teachers need to know. Teachers are specifically told not to do all the obvious things that teachers have traditionally done through the centuries. There’s a lot of talk about being more passive, about becoming a guide or facilitator. Did anybody tell you to learn a lot and take charge of your classroom? (You probably weren’t even required to major in the subjects you will teach — surely... Read article

Progressive Education’s War On Knowledge

August 3, 2012

An educational futurist, in a video on Edutopia, objects to the teaching of data and information. That’s the sort of thing, he sniffs, that Google can find. The futurist wants a high-tech classroom where students work only on sophisticated projects, such as “Is there life on Mars?” The futurist scorns traditional ways of teaching. For one thing, teachers wasted a lot of time on trivial stuff. His voice almost shakes with incredulity: “Teaching kids that ‘In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue’–why on earth... Read article

The Real Problem In Our Public Schools

July 31, 2012

Don’t trust what you see in the media about education. Almost every discussion is a distraction or a lie. School size, class size, the place of unions, teacher training, vouchers, charter schools, budgets — there are a lot of things that people argue about. Everybody has a theory; every parent has a horror story. But these debates don’t seem to advance much from year to year. You can probably go around the country and find good schools on both sides of these issues. One school does X; the next school doesn’t... Read article

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