We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Saturday, October 31. 2009
A reminder of Heather MacDonald's Why Johnny’s Teacher Can’t Teach, from City Journal in 1998.
That essay was linked by George Leef's comment on the Send Fewer Students to College topic. Leef concludes:
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You know B., we had some pretty good comments on this subject already, down on your previous post on the subject. Maybe you could man up and respond to them instead of using your 'editor' position to sway one way or the other. Let's have dialog and not direction, what do you think?
IMO, I think the Barrister isn't "swaying one way or the other"...he's started with one premise and the sway is contained in the comments. It's been interesting, to say the least.
I'm sure he doesn't want to be a moderator but just might jump in, when he feels the time is right. Then, again, maybe not.
Well, of course, he isn't swaying, least not in my direction. The B's jumping in depends much on how deep his boots might sink, seems to me. Ankle deep okay, but knee, forget it. He need not bother.
I discovered all types, over there. I'd leave B. behind if given a choice.
On your behalf you make a point that is valid to you. It would seem to boil down to two choices: the Barrister's to join the dialog or yours to leave him behind.
Personally, I've discovered all types on both sides of this issue as well. I'm very seldom a "fence sitter" but there are issues/points of view that can be raised on both sides of this fence that are quite valid to those who raise them. Unfortunately, a dialog concerning a topic such as this will not usually lead to concensus; agreeing to disagree may be the result even if a dialog is not present.
This is true Luther. My years haven't, as of yet, made me complacent enough that I often make that a choice of mine. There are times that a "status quo holding pattern" can be stragetically beneficial. I attempt to recognise both sides of issues and tend to move in a positive direction away from "status quo" stances.
As always, I appreciate your comments! Cheers.
The hosts of the Farm obviously made a decision in the beginning that they'd not engage debate with the commenters. I don't know how they can resist, myself. If I had a blog, I'd love nothing better than to defend my positions, and... change them because the great commentary we sometimes get. The blog moves much too fast for any decent debate, and that's a shame. The amount of scrollery one has to go through to find a still vigorous debate is a pain.
As to KRW's points - yes, kind of cheap to start a new post on a debate/dialogue that is still festering; as well, it is a rather sleazy way for the original poster to 'enter' the debate: By using another's words. How about some original thinking from the hosts.
"...reality of higher education rather than its lovely facade..."
'lovely facade'. I'll have to read the article now to see how the author manages this stupid statement.
So would it be too difficult to bring a popular topic that generated considerable discussion back up with the same comments but additional context added? Topics that are months/years old are brought up again frequently. Why not one that is just days old? If there's an issue as to refreshing the discussion, start a new thread of comments without the old ones and a summary of the old comments (with a link back to that page so no one whines about misstatements).
Just a suggestion.
Garry: " As a player involved in sports, do you not think that it balanced out the academic element of your college experience?"
Would you mind answering this?
No. I do not play competitive sports. I despise the yelling, the anger, the evanescence of it. I enjoy singular sports - kayaking, climbing, and fox hunting. Yes, I am aware I am in a minority, and I have enjoy that, too.
On a campus of 15 thousand students, how many do you think play sports?
At any rate, I'd like to know how sports facilitates learning.
The answer to the question is a subjective one. It doesn't necessarily apply to everyone but, IMO shouldn't be simply excluded as not necessary. I'm very much a 'lone wolf' type "A" person who enjoys the challenge of both individual sports and the pleasure of being part of a team orientated effort. I enjoy both, equally. It's the challenge to do better and the enjoyment of competition that feeds me. To quote that famous commentator (@ Maggie's)..."I don't give a rat's ass..." about that trite expression..."
'It's not whether you win or lose; it's how you play the game'. Oh, I play the game clean but I play it to win, within the rules. And like most, I've lost a good many of those exercises. I think there is only one thing harder than learning to be a good loser...that's being a good winner. I've impressed that thought on my sons (now 18 & 17). Those wins stand out and are to be treasured. Sports are a exercise in emotions, challenges and learning about yourself....that's what it's about, IMO.
Those who have played at a competative level would maybe appreciate those thoughts better than one who hasn't. That being said, many sports can provide similar experiences. Take kayaking for example. I don't know if you enjoy the recreational or whitewater version but that is great exercise and a pleasant way to spend time. While I've never kayaked, I was a canoe instructor at a summer camp when I was 15 and enjoy the water. But I digress.
How does this apply to the academic end of things. For me, it burned off my energies and emotions and helped to, IMO, put me in that "learning zone"...allowed me to put on my 'learning hat' so to speak. It worked for me.
Not all people need it. Some can spend their days in lectures and enjoy that. I couldn't. The academics were only part (a large one, albeit) of who I was or what I did.
My time in school (K- 13) was spent at a time where the educators believed that sports/physical activity was an important part of the curriculum. I am a product of that environment and I believe they were correct. Once college is reached it does take on a different perspective. Of course, very few of 15,000 students would play sports. There aren't that many positions, even if they wished to.
In closing, the "yelling & anger" (I prefer frustrations) do get to be a little much, even for me but they are a part of the game. As for its evanescence....it doesn't fade but, rather, stays with you, inside, as a memory (both good and, sometimes, not so good). IMO, it is part of a balanced learning environment/experience if it aligns with you.
Thanks, Garry, for your comprehensive and personal response. You nailed it with this:
"Those who have played at a competative level would maybe appreciate those thoughts better than one who hasn't."
Competition does not have to involve a team. Internal competition can be as vigorous as any sport. I prefer mental competition, and that most often is internal competition.
I white water kayak, ski, hunt (fox), climb, mountain bike... While those activities involve others, there is no competition. I do my best because that's how I was raised. I know no other way than to do my best. I have found working with a team to be extremely frustrating because of the varying levels of competence and the satisfaction others have with their incompetence. It drives me nuts to put it bluntly.
No, I do not believe for a minute that sports helps academics. I wish I knew what old thread it was on, but I have a very funny story about my senior year in college when my jock friends found out I was the fastest runner on campus and took modern dance for four years to fill the school's P.E. requirement - shirking their wildness for field hockey and whatever else there was.
I remember your comment about your being a fast runner.
Big time sports do not assist academics, as the 20-30 hours per week take away from study time. No one claims that working a 20-30 hour per week job assists in academic performance, aside from the monetary benefit. So why should big time athletics help?
Exercise does assist in academics. When I was an undergrad I ran 3-6 miles a day, which helped clear my mind and body for additional study. But that adds only 5-7 hours a week.
It is the same reason that elementary school students do better after getting their ya-yas out at recess. Running, not talking, I mean.
Great point about the 'working' 30 - 40 hours a week! Exactly.
And thanks, Meta, for your response. We'll agree to disagree on the sports thingy. But I'll certainly agree that competion doesn't have to involve a team. But personally, I never got/get involved in competing with myself mentally/internally. That's not my game. But focussed on doing the best I can?...always.
I would mention one point on your comment on being frustrated with the team(s) you had involvement with. I'm assuming these weren't sports related. I, also, can relate to such non-sport encounters. They can be frustrating. From my sports perspective, members had to compete to make the teams I played on. Each played to his best and accepted the outcome. It is a very satisfying thing. And it built on the confidence my parents instilled in me and that I developed from within.
My only real non-sport team involvement (that also had a strong individual component) also had a try-out element to it. And incompetence wasn't allowed. It was my 29+ year career (I early retired) as an Air Traffic Controller. Now...that was fun!
"I never got/get involved in competing with myself mentally/internally. That's not my game."
If you have an analytical mind, you weigh this with that, compare this with that... and on and on. I don't consider it competing with myself in the least. It is how I think. My mind is also extremely fast at association so metaphor plays a huge part of my thinking. It is a pleasure 97% of the time. When I get an awful song from the 70's looping through my mind, it's not so fun.
I could have played any sport I wanted as I have been blessed with coordination and whatever else it is that earned me the number one spot in the physical fitness tests we had to take in New York state where I went to high school. Beginning my 9th grade year I won top honors over 10th, 11th, 12th grades and kept it up. Athletics Summa Cum Laude. :) To use my favorite expression: I did not give a rat's ass.
Ironically, both my children chose singular sports, and I cannot tell you how relieved I was that I did not have to attend any games. My son is a pro mountain biker, road racer, a cross rider. Both were in ROTC in high school, and with PT, they were in good shape for their future endeavors - which match mine.
I believe there are individuals who have no need for competition. The few times I found myself 'competing' for anything, I got disgusted and took over whatever we were competing for and got it done. It's just the way I work, and in most cases, my natural ability to size up the problem and figure it out was very much appreciated. I don't mean to sound snotty at all. When you think about it, life is competition from the time you're born until you die. I just don't 'feel' it as competition. My mind troubleshoots with ease, if that's a better way to describe it.
Garry - forgot to mention this and it struck me when I read it.
You were an Air Traffic Controller. Nice mind you have there. Your mind is one of the sharpest out there, so I know you're just rhetorically jousting for the most part trying to convince us what Gringo basically dissected for us into pure logical rat's assery.
Now you're baiting again...tch tch.
I also have a very quick, analytical thought process that problem solves at the drop of a nanosecond.
I've decided I won't nibble at your bait! Now that the sports thingy is in orbit shall we return to the original premise of the posts: "Send fewer students to college".....that's how this exercise started in the first place!
Gag. You made me go read that article. Those NRO people are prima donnas. Anyway, here:
From the NRO piece:
“One surprise in the Winters piece is that he apparently is unfamiliar with the fact that colleges are already graduating large numbers of people who can't find work other than the kinds of jobs that are learned just through some on-the-job training.”
And our current unemployment rate is what??
“The trouble is that colleges are more interested in keeping students content than in forcing them through the "boot camp" many badly need. For example, rigorous criticism of student writing is mostly a thing of the past because few professors want to fight the "How dare you say that my writing isn't good!" battle.”
“If students who graduate from high school today were as well educated as high-school grads (and maybe even 8th graders) of a century ago, “
Right. And the syllabus for each class today is the exact same as it was 100 years ago, and the NEA has refused to allow ANY new knowledge in ANY discipline to be added to today’s curriculum. A century ago, the NEA said, “This is where we stop knowledge.”
“Getting K-12 (sorry, now it's P-12, isn't it?) to work better is very hard because the education establishment likes things just as they are, especially with teacher-licensure requirements...”
Teacher-licensure is difficult. Look it up: I can’t remember all the tests a would be teacher must pass in order to be hired. There is probably no other organization in this country that works harder to find new ways of teaching to match the fast-paced information flow and the plethora of studies done in the last twenty years on how students learn. The NEA doesn’t have a thing to do with this. As for firing a bad teacher, it’s done every year. Where do people get the idea that schools can’t fire a teacher?
“Nor have I ever seen anyone from the establishment camp acknowledge that standards and expectations at many schools are so low that students often graduate without having to improve on the human capital they took from high school. Winters, as Robert notes, writes as if the typical student's college experience is one of high intellectual engagement that significantly adds to his human capital, giving him "knowledge and skills that employers prize." That's true for some, but for many others, college is mostly an extended vacation.”
First point: Not the students’ fault. If the school has low standards, U.S. News & World Report will tell on them. Someone needs to report those bastions of higher education that have low standards.
Second point: So? If Johnny wants to party, that’s his business. Why is this guy whining about something that has been going on since the one-room school house days?
“If you think about the reality of higher education rather than its lovely facade, you have to drop the belief that we need to send more students to college”
What lovely facade? With these guys who use qualifiers such as “many”, “some”, and “most” in writing these ridiculous diatribes about how bad education is, and with Maggie’s Farmers poo-pooing education at every gratuitous opportunity, that ‘lovely facade’ is busted. Busted, I tell you.
Do not go to college because many, some, and most of you students are too dumb. Just like your parents.
OH WAIT!! Do go to college for the sports! It's great because the entire student-party-body will come out and boost your self-esteem by screaming their guts out for you.
"Where do people get the idea that schools can’t fire a teacher?"...Well I got it in the 5th grade when, after maybe an hour or two (rarely two) of instruction in Math and "Maps", Mr. Hudson would pretty much spend the rest of the day just sitting there reading his paper and drinking his coffee. Maybe he'd take us out on the playground twice a day, or show us the same films about the Bermuda Triangle or "Rusty and the Falcon" over and over and over again. So long as we didn't make much noise, he left us alone...or a couple of other teachers I knew of by reputation in high school...somehow I wasn't "lucky" enough to have them. But, hey, that's just me.
You seem to be all hung up on this self-esteem thingy & sports. When you're zoned in, you don't hear a damned thing........
Meta ... How about 'mens sana in corpore sano'? I know I always learn faster and more accurately when I feel good....
At least I did when I felt good.
Yes. Always do my best when I feel good. Chocolate cake works for me. I have also done some of my best work of my life during periods of clinical depression. My natural tendency to think analytically increases during bouts of depression. The brain rules!
Im new to the forum and just wanted to introduce myself, my name is David and I'm form Canada. I've been a long time lurker who has finally decided to make an account and contribute.
Jump in!...the water's not always deep but, at times, a little chilly!!
An Ontario Canuck