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
Tuesday, September 2. 2014
You like to read serious books. You like to think about them, and to write essays about them. Should you be a literature major in college? Or just read the canon on your own, along with some of the classic critics?
Or, if you enjoy eloquent instruction and guidance, why not just take a Great Courses on Literature? They are wonderful, and the price (and probably the high quality) cannot compare with college.
The English major has lost its way; here is a path back.
Sunday, August 31. 2014
Thursday, August 28. 2014
Wednesday, August 27. 2014
That's an assertion by AVI, but I don't know whether he refers to high school or college students. Presumably every college-bound kid would have taken Alg ll in high school, if not AB Calc (most do that too, it seems). He also says:
I'm not sure what I think about this. How much math is enough to make a person functional and numerically-literate, and how much to be considered well-educated? I think all of these areas are excellent training for rigorous and critical thinking. It's basically a logical language, and seems best approached that way.
I have heard experts say that around 5-10% of high school grads are truly eager and ready for rigorous higher ed. The rest are just postponing adulthood.
Tuesday, August 26. 2014
(A good, non-academic intro is Tom Sowell's Basic Economics (2nd Edition): A Citizen's Guide to the Economy.)
We all seek all of the kinds of basic literacy we can attain: Moral, Religious, Mathematical and Scientific, Historical, Literary, Artistic, Recreational, etc., but it's a never-ending pursuit because life is so full of riches. Most of us join the heavenly choir before the job is done. Either that, or begin to forget what we once knew and need to start at the beginning again.
For example, at lunch I have been trying to figure out how Hannibal fed his 90,000 troops, plus the elephants and horses, during his march from Carthaginian Spain over into what is now called Italy around 218 BC. I learned about it once, but have forgotten. Talk about logistics...
Prof. Jacobson found this: New study finds economic illiteracy correlates with political preferences. I find that basic economic illiteracy is rampant, and thus is replaced by emotion.
Monday, August 25. 2014
In three years, any ordinary, motivated kid can get through the HS basics: Essay-writing, grammar, basics of research papers, math up to or through Calc 1, American History, World History, Bio, Literature-reading, Chem, Physics, Civics, and whatever.
Why not just complete HS requirements as quick as you can, and then leave?
I still do not understand the mission of Middle School.
Sunday, August 24. 2014
We noted in our piece on Visiting Colleges that responsible parents can decide what their kids need to learn in college, even if they go somewhere with minimal core requirements.
This should not be left to the kids to decide, because 1. It's too important 2. We know better than they do what they need to know to be educated adults with an openness to the richness of life, 3. We should have our own ideas about what we want our own kids to know (eg, any kid who doesn't know basic geology is a bore), 4. Colleges, in their pandering to students, tend to not want to tell them what they need to know, and 5. Who pays the piper calls the tune.
Here's an example of Mom and Pop's Minimum Required College Courses for a Liberal Arts education, regardless of major or interests (these can be met with High School APs or equivalent too):
Math and Science: Math through at least first year calc (BC calc), Statistics, Bio with lab, Physics with lab, Chem with lab, Geology intro, Astronomy
General: History of Western Thought (or Western Civ, or whatever it might be called), Art History Survey, Music History Survey, a political science course, Micro and Macro Economics, a Bible-based Christian Theology course, Intro to Accounting (if you can find something like that in a fancy college. If not, take over the summer at a local college. It will be a huge help to anything a person does in life, including volunteer jobs.)
History: American History, European History, Classical History
Literature: Shakespeare plus 2 other lit courses
This is a minimal foundation for "lifetime learning" and reading. A young person with this foundation ought to be able to discuss almost any subject that comes up - if maybe only superficially - and to know how to learn more about it efficiently when they want or need to do so. Corny but true.
nb: Before you debate me on this, note that these are minimal requirements. You ain't eddicated if you don't know this stuff. Of course, you can get it all at Great Courses.com, cheaper and better and without exams.
Thursday, August 21. 2014
Wednesday, August 13. 2014
Monday, August 4. 2014
Wednesday, July 30. 2014
A while ago, a reader made the point that schoolteachers rarely teach kids to read and to do basic arithmetic these days because most people learn these things from their moms and/or dads, at home.
In a society with essentially-universal literacy, is it a school's job to do those basic things anymore?
Thursday, July 24. 2014
A few reasons. First, my younger son loves sports and sports analysis. Statistics were something he followed from an early age. My older son did not. Secondly, my older son had different teachers and slightly different math programs. These programs mimicked the comedian's schtick:
I had an extremely difficult time helping him learn his math based on the program offered by his school. I was unable to learn the principles they were making him learn, how could I provide any assistance?
My younger son's experience, on the other hand, engaged a teaching method similar to that mentioned in the first four paragraphs of the article. He was using life experience and discussion with friends to learn the basics. The math program he was taught was significantly different from his brother's, the methods similar to those I from which I learned (I know the way I learned math was different from public school kids - my Catholic school was outperforming other local schools on standardized tests for years).
Ultimately, it's important to realize math is the basis of logic and reason. A deficiency in math skills may go a long way to explaining why so many Americans think they can get something for nothing from the government. Common Core may have fine intentions, but its implementation is a disaster, and is heavily politicized. It is unlikely to solve the issues it is designed to fix.
Wednesday, July 23. 2014
Few kids would turn down an Ivy scholarship, but, after your first job out, you are on your own and nobody cares about it anymore except for you and your narcissistic needs. Done right, wonderfully life-enriching, speaking as an older Dartmouth fellow from the era when your Ivy BA meant something; many things, really. Lots of social signalling and networking, because everybody likes a Dartmouth lad (or lassie). Those were the good old days when elitism gave you a leg up in the sport of life. Clubs, jobs, friends, grad school, social acceptance, deals, etc. Of course, being a Col. or above in the US military offered similar perks. Respect.
It reminds me of the oldie, "Don't send my boy to Harvard, the dying mother said, Don't send my boy to Harvard, I'd rather see him dead, but send him to Columbia, or better yet Cornell, but as for Pennsylvan-i-ay I'll see him first in hell."
He begins, In the spring of 2008, I did a daylong stint on the Yale admissions committee...
Tuesday, July 22. 2014
Thursday, July 17. 2014
A Conservative case: The case for allowing these debts to be erased via bankruptcy.
Makes some sense, as long as that doesn't get dumped on the taxpayer. Of course, having a bankruptcy on your credit report will not do much for your future prospects.
Tuesday, July 15. 2014
It's not so much the drinking that bothers me - it's that he was not doing his job and it sounds like he still is not. For him, it's all about him. I would not want this jerk "teaching" my kids anything. Since I am sure he is in a government teaching union, he can't be fired.
Related, Narcissistic Personality
Monday, July 14. 2014
Wednesday, July 2. 2014
It's bogus to compare nations, really. It's apples and oranges. In America, K-12 has tons of immigrants who are not yet acculturated and do not have excellent English. And when it comes to college, America aspires to send everybody there, not just the scholarly. Why? Don't ask me. A credential I guess. Thus it makes no sense to compare with places like Finland or Singapore, or places like the UK with high bars for university entry and without mass-market schools.
As Schneiderman asks, How good are American universities? How can you tell?
The main NYT article is Americans Think We Have the World’s Best Colleges. We Don’t.
Tuesday, July 1. 2014
I recently had a conversation with a multi-multi-millionaire who recently sold his second business start-up at age 43.
He is a humble guy, good golfer. He told me that he was advised that he was not "college material" - and "I am not", he says. "I am not a scholar, not intellectual, not very smart but I am energetic, and strong on practical and common sense. I learned my math at work because I had to." He became an apprentice (I can't say in what area) and in ten years owned a rapidly-growing company with 130 employees and two warehouses.
He told me his future plans too, but I want to keep it short and confidential.
Anyway, it raised the question for me: What is "college material"? Or is that term obsolete?
Monday, June 23. 2014
Wednesday, June 4. 2014
It's not as if the country had been begging Washington to tell them what to teach in school. Nobody asked for that. If the federal gummint thinks that we the people are retarded, then they should consider their own election.
Sunday, May 25. 2014
He would get the brownshirt treatment today
Dear graduates: Don’t follow your dreams (A commencement speech for the mediocre) - The brutal truth is that most people can't pay the bills by "living their passion." So what can we do instead?
We are all mediocre, but in different ways.
Admiral McRaven says - First thing to do: make your bed! Good, useful lessons from the boss of the USN Seals. "You will fail often." That is true:
Saturday, May 24. 2014
Choice Schools Work Better Than Public Schools
Related, re Newark and Zuckerberg: The Problem with Top-Down Education Reforms
Thursday, May 22. 2014
It's time for a new free speech movement on the campi.
Sunday, May 18. 2014
There is no single form of higher ed. It's a topic about which I have posted a number of times: Seven Competing Views of Higher Education
It's a good, brief summary. I wouldn't use the word "competing," though. "Coexisting" captures it better.
Seven Competing Views of Higher Education
Seven Competing Views of Higher Education
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