Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Failure of Utopian Solutions

Not just Utopian, but Comprehensive. That's one of the Left's favorite terms. It's the idea that you can - FINALLY - fix the problems of those aggravating "Little People", with a solution that is imposed, top-down, by the Smart People (trademark pending).

Then, the Elites can go back to ignoring those Peons.

There is a major difference between the thinking of those with post-high school education, the Elite, and those whose children will be affected. In K-12, in the past (much less now), the emphasis was on the acquisition of useful skills. Such skills were:

  • Basic ability to read and write - generally not dense and deliberately difficult literature. The students might read Hemingway short stories, or Old Man and the Sea. Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. But, not Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. Even the often-assigned Moby Dick was generally reserved to upper-level Honors classes, not the guys that would be heading to a manufacturing job.
  • Basic math, what has been called numeracy. Facility with operations, some Algebra, Trig, Geometry for the college-bound. The others concentrated in the practical math used in real life, augmented with hands-on application in Shop class or Home Ec.
  • Citizenship - this was primarily American History, Civics, and Geography. In high school, European and/or World History. It wasn't watered down, as it is today. Students could explain their Constitutional Rights, along with using maps to get around (well, at that time, this was a terribly useful skill - still may be, if EMP ever gets us). They could place major events in correct time periods, as well as identify major historical figures.
Few of these skills are taught today. When the same subjects are available, few of those educated "back in the day" would recognize them. They have been watered down, made deliberately different from what their parents and grandparents had been taught, and generally designed to force students to completely trust their teachers' authority on those subjects.

In college, the knowledge is generally theoretical; a funny segment from Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School will demonstrate the distinction between the content taught and the real world.

That professor assumed that the kind of business that is worthy of study is that which is Large, Directed from On-High, run by the Smart People, and using the Lesser People only as unthinking grunts.

When, in fact, many of the more successful businesses are started by those with experience in that field, often as a start-from-the-bottom worker. Their hard-earned expertise enabled them to design a business that was both efficient and profitable.

You see that on Shark Tank. Those that start a business without having worked in a field related to it (preferably on the shop floor) have the WORST ideas. Many of them have not thought through how to get that business from early days to a reasonable profit. MANY of those run by women are set up to work (kind of), only with cash infusions from their husbands.

Educational solutions are often run the same way. Few of those involved have worked as a teacher, or only for a few short years. They won't scale up (work outside of the committed few teachers). They expect that teachers will gladly give up every other aspect of their lives, outside of a classroom. That's not a reasonable model.


Sunday, June 09, 2019

A Strategy That Needs to be Followed by ALL Accused of Racism

Bring their actions to light - either in the news, or in a courtroom. Do NOT give up or give in.

Gibson's is a bakery in Oberlin, OH. It is a small town, with a large Gown (Oberlin College). To lose the business of the college brings a destructive drop in sales.

Which is what happened after a Black underage student tried to shoplift some wine. He was confronted by one of the family, and subsequently - along with 2 female friends - arrested.

Oberlin got involved, in great part because the Dean of Students, Dean Raimondo, got personally involved in revving up the protest activity. She did this, not as an individual, but as part of her administrative role. I think it's fair to say that, without her butting into the dispute, it might have burned out quickly.

BTW, the students involved in that incident admitted their guilt (one quite reluctantly - saying that Gibson's "MIGHT" not be racist). That reluctant students was corrected by her attorney to the agreed-upon statement, to which she assented, that released Gibson's from culpability.

I'd urge you to read the many-part coverage of the trial. It highlights the poor showing that the SJWs make when confronted with the malicious actions that they blithely took, in the heat of righteousness.

As more and more judges get appointed in the Appeals Courts by Trump, expect that this, and similar verdicts, will be upheld. We may be nearing the time when, as in the Book of Amos:

It can be quite expensive, and that's where online assistance can help. GoFundMe and other crowd-sourcing apps can provide some of that money.


Friday, June 07, 2019

School Bell Blues

American schools are heading into another year finished - and, for some kids, they truly are finished.

As in, education done. Not on track to graduate. Not making progress.

Many blame the Common Core framework, which has - so far - mostly affected Math and ELA (what educators - as opposed to teachers - call English Language Arts). I've mostly seen the results at second-hand, when the kids come into science class woefully deficient in basic math skills.

I taught Chemistry and Physics my last 4 years in teaching. Before that, I taught Physical Science as well. In upper-level science courses, those students who are enrolled have a base competency in math - not necessarily proficient, but not coming in clueless about fractions and decimals, as too many of the Freshmen taking Physical Science do.

I will say that MOST high school students are purely awful at writing in their native language. Not only is their grammar confused and lacking, but the logical flow of their PARAGRAPHS - not full-on essays, but paragraphs - is quite deficient, if not completely absent.

This MIGHT be bearable, if their handwriting was clear enough to be read. Their printing more nearly resembles hieroglyphics than the English alphabet - and, I'm not even mentioning the MANY kids who incorporate 'gangsta' pseudo-letters into their writing. In that urban script, E is formed by a stylized 3, among the other alternative forms of the script, and the print is often quite elaborate, using a font that looks similar to Olde English or Germanic type.

I'm not even going to talk about their answers - some of them apparently believe that preceding a phrase by "because" transforms what follows into an evidentiary reason.

Which, it does not.

But, Common Core does not appear to have lived up to the hype that introduced it. Jay P. Greene (who is the endowed professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas) has written on the fallacy that led to this effort to impose a national standard/curriculum.
One thing that should be understood with respect to nationalized approaches is that there is no evidence that countries that have nationalized systems get better results.  Advocates for nationalization will point to other countries, such as Singapore, with higher achievement that also have a nationalized system as proof that we should do the same.  But they fail to acknowledge that many countries that do worse than the United States on international tests also have nationalized systems.  Conversely, many of the countries that do better than the United States, such as Canada, Australia, and Belgium, have decentralized systems.  The research shows little or no relationship between nationalized approaches and student achievement.
 He does make some points about the lack of agility inherent in a national system. If changes are needed, it will be like stopping an 18-wheeler - it's NOT gonna happen fast.

So, what's the answer to this problem?

First, parents need to take responsibility for getting their kids ready for school. That means involving them in a variety of REAL-LIFE activities, such as:

  • Learning to count by handling buttons, coins, beans, or other cheap objects that are identical/similar.
  • Same as above for identifying colors, size, and shape. All of these are things the PARENT can do. You don't need fancy pre-school or tutors, just a parent who is willing to sit down with the kid, and work with them.
  • How to clean up after oneself - pick up your own mess, assist others with their messes, handle a broom and dustpan, use a sponge and towel, put trash away in a bin.
  • Teach your kid to show respect for other humans. Using Please and Thank You, not snatching things that they desire out of other peoples' hands, and "using their indoor voice" - i. e., not screaming like a demented person. In short, basic manners, which a 5 year old should have mastered.
  • How to sit down and shut up when necessary.
  • How to carry on a simple conversation, without curse words, or screaming. Displaying an interest in other people - whether or not they actually ARE.
That's just a quick list.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Turkish Islamacists - Are They in YOUR Neighborhood?

Check out this information about the Gulen schools, that have taken advantage of our charter school rules to bring in Islamacist teaching in publicly-funded American schools.

This list is as of several years ago, but many of the schools are still operating. Those who know of the Horizon Science Academies in Cleveland think of them as being ineffective and needing to be shut down.


New Short Story

I was inspired by my mother (with Irish heritage).


Leftism for Beginners - Marcuse

This section of my book took some time to complete. Not only did I have to do a lot more research, but part-way through, I broke my leg.

Nevertheless, I Persisted (to use the favorite meme of the Left).

But, it's finally ready for consumption and criticism. I'm putting the pdf on my Google drive here.


Friday, May 24, 2019

Health Update

The leg is healing - slowly, very slowly. Every morning, I wake up stiff as an 80-year old woman who'd been on a 3-day drunk.

Sore. Really sore.

Den comes into town (I'm in Cleveland right now) today, and I'm going to return to sensible eating and exercising. Much as I hate it when he nags, I do seem to need a prod to get started.

Today isn't too bad. When the weather isn't changing, it's a huge improvement. Unfortunately, in both SC and OH, changing weather is the norm.

Next week, on Wednesday, I return to the ortho guy; I expect to hear that I'm ready to take off the boot, and return to limited movement and PT. That will be the hard part - the day after PT leaves me feeling like I'd been hit by a car.

And, I HAVE been hit by a car, so I know what it feels like.

Speaking of health-impaired people, check out this cartoon about Pelosi.


The Failure of Utopian Solutions

Not just Utopian, but Comprehensive. That's one of the Left's favorite terms. It's the idea that you can - FINALLY - fix the pro...