Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Daily Brew (06.0124)

Tuesday's Brew*
Flavor du Jour: The State of Education

Teach Your Children Well
by David, Special Corresblogdent from Third World County

The inhabitants of Utopia have two games rather like chess... the second is a pitched battle between virtues and vices, which illustrates most ingeniously how vices tend to conflict with one another, but to combine against virtues. It shows what ultimately determines the victory of one side or the other.
~ Thomas More, Utopia

When Lyn invited me to submit a guest post, he suggested I begin with a couple of introductory sentences describing third world county and myself. Are you kidding me, Lyn? heh. Let's just leave it at, "third world county is an attempt to mollify the voices in my head" and there are a lot of 'em. What do I blog about at TWC? Easy: darned near everything. See my mini-bio and "about this blog" posts (linked above).

Let me just pick one recurring theme that underlies much of third world county: our current culture in America - politics, the arts, education, you name it - is highly over rated, half-baked, lame.

Take education. While most Americans are quite proud of their education, perhaps through high school and college and maybe even grad school, by any objective criteria, education in America is turning out subliterate (and even illiterate) idiots at an alarming rate. (note: pdf file linked)


Over 50% of college graduates in recent years can't read and understand what any literate person would consider simple literature: the arguments in editorials, simple tables showing the relationship between exercise and blood pressure, and more. Simple stuff. 2-year college grads fare even worse. And that's even with colleges offering remedial reading courses for high school graduates admitted without the requisite skills to have graduated high school 30 years ago.

And what do educrats tell us the solution is? Pour more money down the rathole of current educational fads. "No Child Left Behind" (which Jerry Pournelle very rightly calls "No Child Gets Ahead"), reading programs still corrupted by the gastly "look-say" approach, mainstreaming kids who simply don't have the mental horsepower to handle it in public school (for their self-image, it's preached, among other demonstrably kooky theories), and on and on: all failed pet theories that now have lives of their own and seemingly cannot be extirpated from public schooling without tearing the rotting edifice down and expunging it root and branch...

Or not.

Consider an application of the More quote above. The vices that have combined to corrupt public education in this country almost to the point of complete destruction of genuine public education - greed, sloth, gluttony, avarice, pride, envy - do have antidotes. Greedy, prideful and avaricious educrats and administrators and politicians who seek to enhance their own power regardless the true costs to the Republic or individual citizens can be countered if enough parents were to be generous with their time, deny their own sloth and buckle down and accept the primary responsibility for ensuring that their children at least learned to read.

For many, it would require a little humility, as well: admitting that they don't read well or much... and taking the time and putting in the effort to amend their own lacks.

Envy and gluttony are two things parents ought to counter in their own lives in addition to their own intellectual sloth. Parents serve their own sensual pleasures and teach their children to do the same by catering to their children's entertainment desires, among other things. And they
double their failures as parents by failing to assure that their child's school doesn't continue to do the same.

Lazy teachers showing videos, because reading and teaching is too hard must be held accountable by parents who have also eschewed the video babysitter. (BTW, my children graduated high school without once being required to read a Shakespearean play in an English class, although they were both shown videos of some of Shakespeare's plays. Didn't sit well with me... but in my sloth, I did not confront those teachers directly. Well, at least they had me dosing them with The Bard at home... *sigh*)

Administrators schedule "character assembles" filled with unrooted pablum... because parents are too lazy or uncaring to assure solid moral and ethical values are taught in the home and don't attend the vapid assemblies themselves - assuming they would even notice how empty such "character assembles" are, since, after all, most parents today are themselves products of years of dumbing down by public schools.

And that's just the schools. It's no better in the land of the Mass Media Podpeople, where almost everything from the "news" to "reality TV" to night time drama and sitcoms are designed, it seems, to chip, chip, chip away at the very foundations necessary to a democratic republic.

BTW, note that although I paint a grim picture (and it's much worse than these few paragraphs can paint), I do not counsel despair but more involvement. Granted, most parents today are in the position of not knowing how much they do not know, how poor the education they and their parents paid for and recieved has been.

If they could, I'd counsel every adult parent of a child in school today to sit and talk and listen, really listen to their parents' parents for a while. I slowly came to the realization of how poor my educational experiences were in gradeshool and high school as I talked with my grandfather. Literate? I could sit and listen to him quote, with feeling and understaning, page after page of Tennyson or Scott or the Bible. His understandings of math and geometry he taught me effortlessly as he showed me how to do carpentry right. And on and on. A fount of knowledge and wisdom.

Just a rural Texas ranch kid. One of twelve. A man's man, but literate, with a wider scope than just building things with his hands, hunting, fishing and all the life of the vigorous outdoors he loved so well.

And as a high school kid 40-ish years ago, I learned just how poor the offerings I was getting in school were then.

Take charge. Turn the tube off. Quit the neverending kids soccer, baseball, football circuit. Read a book. Now, read a book that challenges your mind. (May I suggest The Founders Constitution?) Pass that gift to your children. Read a challenging book with them.

YOU teach your children well, because the schools won't.

Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence. ~ Abigail Adams

Teach them well.

We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other. ~ John Adams

Copyright 2006, Third World County

(* Note: The Daily Brew attempts to engage ideas and address contemporary themes with truthful and relevant principles for the purpose of positively impacting our culture. Thank you, David, for permission to post this original piece at Bloggin' Outloud, lgp)

Source of Photo: Blackwell School
Educating: Don Surber, Right Wing Nation, Common Folk, Adam's Blog, Stop the ACLU, Basil's Blog, Conservative Cat, Peakah's New Digs

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Keep it clean and positive. (And sorry about the word verification, but the spmb*ts are out in full force!)