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.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, July 30. 2015
It's not educational quality that has declined so much as it is the capability of students seeking higher ed. Credential inflation. Schools trying to keep their seats filled with paying customers: George Washington University Ditches SAT, ACT Scores, School was worried tests were driving away promising students.
GWU annual college cost/yr: $64,300.
Friday, July 24. 2015
The bubble. Higher ed has been a booming industry since they lowered standards and since government began subsidizing them with loans, grants, etc.
What percent of colleges are glorified high schools, selling degrees? Too Many Colleges?
Tuesday, July 14. 2015
Is any greed uglier than the greed of government and non-profits?
Thursday, July 9. 2015
Monday, July 6. 2015
When it comes to taxpayer-supported higher ed, it gets much more complicated: The truth about 'holistic' college admissions
Friday, July 3. 2015
I have never been quite clear about what "studying" littacher means. (I do know the difference between aggressive reading and passive diversionary reading.) However, there are a few "critics" - I think of them as "illuminators", who are wonderful to read on the topics of books and authors. Books about books, which are literary works in themselves. Harold Bloom is one, another is John Updike, and I can list a few more who I enjoy like Edmund Wilson, Lionel Trilling, Walter Benjamin.
I also enjoy learning from experts about how stories (or songs or pictures or poems) are structured, the hidden architecture.
In the end, people do love well-told stories and well-depicted ideas and things, regardless of the medium. When stories, for example, are very well-written and constructed, the delight in the words adds a lot to the tale (eg rosy-fingered dawn). Craft, talent, inspiration, penetrating intelligence, wide knowledge, insight into human nature, magic - the things most of us lack but admire and even envy.
I would take a class with Bloom, but what about "studying littacher" in an ordinary high school or college? This via Schneiderman's Are Literature Departments Doomed? (but not his view):
Wednesday, July 1. 2015
Tuesday, June 30. 2015
Student Ratings Bait Profs Into Lowering Standards, Of course. The customer is always right.
It's a conspiracy. For example, how many As did your kid get? Yeah, they all do.
Saturday, June 27. 2015
Sunday, June 21. 2015
Wednesday, June 10. 2015
I do understand that it is a form of rapid, rigorous education and job training but it is also man- (or woman-) building. I could have needed that, but my Dad was my DI in life. Tough SOB and never satisfied. Tough love all the way. That creates a love-hate thing, quite normal and good. Have to be tough and demanding to make a boy a man and a girl a woman. Even if they hate it, it's a life-long inner support system.
Should our high schools and higher ed instill more demands and discipline instead of more comforts and leisure pools? I think so. American ed could learn a lot from the USMC. American education pampers the kids with sensitivity and comforts, leaving them unready for tough demands of the real world and with little knowledge of the customs and courtesies of adulthood.
Is it too triggering? Few college profs have the satisfaction that those DIs have.
Thursday, June 4. 2015
Tuesday, May 26. 2015
University Administration Bloat: The Tail the Size of the Dog
When I went to boarding school, every administrator also taught (except the clerical staff). Even the head librarian taught (Russian). Every coach taught. The Headmaster taught. When I went to college, every dean taught. The college president taught.
Saturday, May 23. 2015
A depressing story. Clearly what the schools compete for is uncompetitive underprivileged African-American applicants. Is it a good idea to privilege one skin category over another?
Saturday, May 16. 2015
From the article:
I think this is far less true today than in the past. However, admission to a highly-elite school demonstrates something of value and speeds up the vetting process. My advice: Save your admissions letters but go somewhere you can afford.
Wednesday, April 8. 2015
A major essay from a Maggie's hero, Roger Scruton, with a survey of the evolution of the modern university. He begins:
Tuesday, April 7. 2015
The NYT seems to feel that the Success Academies are too hard on the delicate snowflakes, but I think this is what education was like in the US until John Dewey and the progressives got to it. Also, what parochial schools and many private schools still are like. It seems to work well.
The emphasis on testing seems a bit excessive, though.
Monday, April 6. 2015
Wednesday, March 25. 2015
One of my proposals is for kids to learn stuff anyway they can, with degrees issued by degree-offering institutions following oral and written examinations.
You can tell quickly whether a person knows their stuff in an oral exam. You can ramp up your questions to determine the limits of their knowledge and thinking. If some kids need to be spoon-fed their education, so be it. There's been enough of this overly-costly "college experience" nonsense.
You can almost do that today, but you still have to pay. One of the brightest fellows I know got his BS in Physics from a highly-prestigious university in three years without ever going to class, while playing drums in a touring rock band. Picked up the syllabi, and showed up for exams.
What's your opinion?
Thursday, March 19. 2015
That was our ironic term for my all-boys boarding school. Since then, times have changed and the ruling class ain't what it usta be (and never was), but I'll tell y'all about it here, if you are interested. (No, it's not Groton)
The history of American education is fascinating to me. I'd like to write the book but it seems like too much work and my writing has no zip to it, no flair, wouldn't sell. I wish I could write like Michael Lewis.
Private boarding schools (prep schools) are a relatively recent development (late 1800s) in the northeastern US and California, but had a long history in England. Prior to that, children of the prosperous in the US were mostly home-schooled (tutors) to prepare them for college.
Public education in the US, since the mid-1800s, was based on the Prussian/German model, as are American universities. The older American private secondary schools, however, were modeled on English private ("called "public") schools. But, as always through human history, the brightest and most talented kids were/are self-educated in the end.
My school was as much about the cultural experience as it was about the information and skills acquired - but those were high-level too. In fact, they tried to pack in everything you might need to begin adulthood in a time when college was considered adulthood. Four years of this would make much of college today redundant.
Below the fold, I will tell you about it all and how it worked well even for kids like me without superior IQs.
Continue reading "Secondary Education for the Ruling Class"
Tuesday, March 17. 2015
Who is "we," pardner? While attacking straw men, bringing race into a non-racial discussion, and demonizing "individualism", he seems to be arguing for a top-down, one-size-fits-all, centrally-organized system of primary and secondary education in the USA. He suggests that it be oriented ideologically, and claims it would be "for the common good." He is a Bismarckian with that Prussian control attitude towards the masses.
Thus it's a little dissonant to read his views, coming as they are from the president of hippy-dippy, free-spirit, granola-ridden and hugely expensive, and private, Bard College. But maybe it's not odd.
I'd bet home schooling drives him nuts. As usual with Liberals, "I know how to deliver your pursuit of happiness and I would like to shove it up your butt." I hate hearing the elites and the experts pontificate about what "we" should do. I'd rather hear myself pontificate about freedom and free choices in life. Even the freedom to apply to the somewhat offbeat Bard College if you want to.
Monday, March 16. 2015
Saturday, March 14. 2015
The guy annoys me a lot, but it's a good intro (in series, automatically) to several of the common fallacies we can all fall into: The Guide to Some Common Fallacies.
This brings to mind something I have been thinking about. I think colleges (and high schools) ought to offer lots of one or two-month courses, as my prep school did. These were mostly ways of applying basic knowledge to real life.
We had lots of short course options: intro to logic, public speaking, argumentation and fallacy, etymology, the Parthenon and Greek architecture, opera history, local geology, basics of meteorology, ornithology, paper-making, the math and science of sails and sailing, human anatomy, emergency first aid, typing (was required), the natural history of New England woodlands, intro to the American legal system (by a local lawyer), how doctors think and diagnose (by a local doc), the life and music of Brahms, Freud's main theories, What banks do and the math of banking, Adam Smith's life and work, ballistics and firearm design, geology of the sun, the US Constitution and the Federalist Papers, etc. etc., - along with the usual full trimester things and the required daily sports and daily chapel (which was, in effect, a 4-year Bible study). Wonderful. In four years, you could do a lot of them.
(We all had to be on a dirty jobs crew throughout the year too. Slave labor saved the school money, and protected us privileged boys from being complete spoiled brats. Dishwashing, leaf-raking, mowing the sports fields, serving at faculty tea, vacuuming the dorms, cleaning the chapel, and so much more!)
With the short courses, you had to learn it fast, which was good brain-training. The masters got to chose their own offerings from their own interests and hobbies. 10 kids per class, max.
Our required trimester courses? That's another topic, but they were good indeed and there were no choices at all. It's a shame that few colleges are as fine and as demanding as was my prep school. Gosh, it was fun, and they improved my Skeet skills too. The things that make preppy preppy, I guess. Not brains necessarily, but exposure, discipline, and training.
Monday, March 9. 2015
How to Get the Best Return on Investment For College. They mean Bismarckian, ie practical for society's interests and your work/career. Germans always thinking about society's interests.
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