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Dave Scotese
05-20-2009, 08:16 PM
I've been reading a lot of non-fiction. I have three kids and I work from home, so we enrolled in CAVA, which is a homeschool program. I started reading about education and have come to view school as quite damaging. If non-fiction is tolerated here, I'm interested whether anyone has read anything by John Taylor Gatto or Grace Llewellyn.

Great literature helps the human race make progress toward healthier lives for those it touches - spiritually (as opposed to religiously), socially, and intellectually. I think the two authors I mentioned above have done and continue to do great work in this way, but as I said, it's non-fiction.

My dream is to help popularize their work and the work of others who have a good sense of how destructive school is.

backline
05-20-2009, 09:33 PM
We home-schooled our youngest son, after I became aware that the local schools had lost control of the grounds and spent most of the time trying to baby-sit the students assigned to their care.
Our youngest was able to graduate with a High School diploma and go on to College, something none of his siblings was able to remotely approach (for various reasons).

I'm grateful my wife was able to shoulder much of the actual daytime hours spent. I think the greatest educational benefit was the extensive traveling we were able to do. The National Parks Service, and other resources, were also a great thing in our son's education. Today he is a well rounded individual with a broad base of experiences. He also relates very well with others.
Before he left Verizon Wireless he was a top salesman making more income than I was after 30 years on my blue-collar job.

I'd say it's a successful alternative. I can't think of any detriments that would apply to our son, concerning home-schooling (AKA as Alternative Family Education, around here).

Dave Scotese
05-21-2009, 01:30 AM
Interestingly enough, I had an idea before I turned negative on school itself. My idea was that kids in high school should be teaching the kids in grade school. Now that I understand what school is all about, I think a simple "babysitting" service would be ideal. Grace Llewellyn provides many examples of teenagers doing useful things with their lives while opting out of school - though I haven't gotten to that part of her book yet. Perhaps running a babysitting service is one of them.

In Dumbing Us Down, Gatto describes community and how compulsive schooling kind of crowds it out of the lives of people - parents and children alike - by disallowing freedom of association: kids are kept away from adults except for "certified educators", including their own parents, and also kept away from kids of different ages for the most part, and forced to spend time with the other kids in their class.

The Comedian
05-21-2009, 03:34 PM
I have a great faith in the school system with some criticisms that go along with that faith, however.

Unfortunately, I have not read the books that you have written of here or I would eagerly participate in the discussion.

Apocrypha75
05-23-2009, 04:21 AM
We home-schooled our youngest son, after I became aware that the local schools had lost control of the grounds and spent most of the time trying to baby-sit the students assigned to their care.
Our youngest was able to graduate with a High School diploma and go on to College, something none of his siblings was able to remotely approach (for various reasons).

I'm grateful my wife was able to shoulder much of the actual daytime hours spent. I think the greatest educational benefit was the extensive traveling we were able to do. The National Parks Service, and other resources, were also a great thing in our son's education. Today he is a well rounded individual with a broad base of experiences. He also relates very well with others.
Before he left Verizon Wireless he was a top salesman making more income than I was after 30 years on my blue-collar job.

I'd say it's a successful alternative. I can't think of any detriments that would apply to our son, concerning home-schooling (AKA as Alternative Family Education, around here).

I don't have children myself and live in the UK but I find the concept of home schooling very interesting. When I look back upon my own 'standard' schooling I can see the flaws and how we were battery hens, rather than students; being force-fed the bare essentials and not allowed to wriggle or explore outside a religiously enforced curriculum. My teachers were also less than enthusiastic and let 'text books' do the teaching.

I would imagine home schooling to be a much more rewarding experience where the adult in the scenario also stands to gain much: in terms of further education through the teaching of subjects in which they only have a rudimentary understanding themselves; the additional time spent with the child, which no doubt enhances the parent/child bond further and finally, knowing that you are taking responsibility of equipping your child for the life that lays before them.

I know the experts will go on about the socialising aspects of schooling, but I (and I speak from experience) fail to see the benefits of a schooling system where bullying can become a dominant force and de-rail the educational process; I even experienced bullying at a faculty/teaching level. With knowledge and understanding (two automatic results of a decent education) children would be better equipped to deal with the the less rewarding aspects of social interaction (bullying, prejudice etc) and would have the confidence (another side product of a great education) to counter the unfortunate problems that sometimes surface in the playgrounds and classrooms.

I think the way forward is a combination of home schooling ( for education ) and traditional schooling (for team building, interaction etc) -- or something like that. Obviously other social commitments would need to change to allow this to happen (working hours etc) but that is a discussion for another place and time.

I guess I'm jaded and some of you guys may have had an exemplary experience in regard to your own state run schooling, but I like to see progress and I personally feel schooling is stuck in a traditional rut. :)

meh!
05-23-2009, 06:40 AM
When you say a 'combination' that seems to really just have in mind what I would consider the ideal upbringing. Going to school and having family that is interested in learning. The most important thing your school or family could do is foster your own desire to learn.

That said, I disagree with actual homeschooling on principle.

Apocrypha75
05-23-2009, 07:22 AM
When you say a 'combination' that seems to really just have in mind what I would consider the ideal upbringing.

That's what I was going for. The ideal upbringing. :)



Going to school and having family that is interested in learning. The most important thing your school or family could do is foster your own desire to learn.

So true, yet i'd be interested to see how many parents make a significant contribution to their children's education (beyond helping with the odd bit of homework etc). I think the main consensus in society today is that 'learning' happens in schools and it is left as such. If a child happens to go to a school where 'learning' is hindered by rogue elements among the pupils or a disaffected staff, and that child's potential is destroyed as the ultimate result, then it is a tragedy.

My suggestion is that a shift occurs where the lion share of education/learning occurs at home and the part of the schools as the hub of learning is depreciated; although enhanced in it's role as a platform to encourage socialisation/interaction/debate etc. I think in a lot of cases kids play up at school by challenging teacher authority and getting away with it. I think the authority challenge would still occur in a home schooling environment, but it is less likely that the child would get away with it; purely because of the relationship with the parent (the cat is never away for the mouse to play). As a by-product I would guess that more (genuine) learning takes place in a home schooled environment than in in the typical school setting.

You might make a case that some parents aren't fit to educate their own children. I'd make a case that some teachers aren't. I think if socially ingrained that if/when you had children you would be required to educate your child at home for so many years, rather than farm them out to a state run institution, the effect might be dramatic.

I must admit, I do not want my own chequered schooling history to take precedent here,as I fully acknowledge other people have had much better experiences. I am merely throwing some ideas out there regarding changes in the 'tried and tested' schooling, that could benefit kids that fall through the cracks at school and even increase the potential of those that don't.



That said, I disagree with actual homeschooling on principle.

I respect that. but why do you disagree with it?

Dave Scotese
05-23-2009, 09:30 AM
When you say a 'combination' that seems to really just have in mind what I would consider the ideal upbringing. Going to school and having family that is interested in learning. The most important thing your school or family could do is foster your own desire to learn.

That said, I disagree with actual homeschooling on principle.

I'm curious too. What is the principle?

Dostoyevsky
05-23-2009, 01:39 PM
Even though its been 8 years since I attended school in a non-university setting the experience is still fresh in my mind. Unfortunately in Florida most English classes before high school are geared towards teaching children how to pass the "FCAT", a state standardized test with no educational value whatsoever in which average school scores determines funding.

The required reading in high school English classes these days seems to be centered around Politically Correct bull****. I remember a reading list composed of Native Son, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Invisible Man, Maya Angelou and other similar books. I dont mind one or two of these books being on the reading list but having a reading list composed of books about "diversity" is killing the diversity of the reading list.

I dont plan on home schooling my children when I eventually have some in the future because the social interaction is too important IMO but I definitely plan on supplementing their education at home.

Dave Scotese
05-23-2009, 05:48 PM
I dont plan on home schooling my children when I eventually have some in the future because the social interaction is too important IMO but I definitely plan on supplementing their education at home.


A healthy social life requires much more that indifferent daily acquaintanceship with three hundred people born the same year you were. It starts with a solid sense of self-esteem and self-awareness. It builds in time -- time to spend with other people in worthwhile, happy activities where no one loses, no one is forced to participate, and where conversation and helping one another are not outlawed.
- Grace Llewellyn, in The Teenage Liberation Handbook, how to quit school and get a real life education.

However, I understand your point. I have three daughters and they all participate in a cheerleading and gymnastics program. The age-differentiated relationships they have there are far more stable and helpful than the nearly non-existant (usually antagonistic, if they existed at all) ones they had at school.

curlyqlink
05-23-2009, 07:40 PM
Great literature helps the human race make progress toward healthier lives for those it touches
Does it? Is that the purpose of literature, a kind of aid to cultural hygiene?

I'd say one of the blessings of literature is that it helps force one to be honest. To face up to things that he would prefer not to face. Or would never have dreamt of facing.

As for home schooling, I would think it would promote insularity. Defend a young mind from facing ideas deemed "offensive". Which, to my way of thinking, is the exact opposite of the purpose of education. The exact opposite of the purpose of the arts.

higley
05-23-2009, 07:49 PM
It depends on the school and the child. As an only child, and considering my personality, I can only imagine how socially handicapped I'd have been had I been home schooled, or even not enrolled at a daycare at a young age. Then again, both my parents worked and I was raised in an excellent school system so I am speaking from that perspective. My schools offered things my parents couldn't, and my parents sought to supplement my learning by encouraging me to pursue academic interests outside of class.

Out of curiosity, your phrasing suggests that you came to view school as destructive only after you read this particular literature.

backline
05-23-2009, 08:32 PM
...If a child happens to go to a school where 'learning' is hindered by rogue elements among the pupils or a disaffected staff, and that child's potential is destroyed as the ultimate result, then it is a tragedy...



That was the exact situation with our youngest son, which is why I dis-enrolled him.
As we home schooled him there were many events and projects where the kids in the program came together, and their were also social opportunities at the school that our son could attend.
In our case, Alternative Family Education was still administered by the local school district. There was a circuit teacher who monitored his progress and made sure he covered what he would have covered in corporate classes on campus.
He had no trouble entering and socialising in College, and as I said he is very people oriented now, and has made a good living in sales so far.

I should also point out that he was in regular school until Jr High when a transfer into another school opened up some untenable situations.

Free education in Public Schools is a great concept, depending on how it is administered. When it is derailed by any of an increasingly distracting trend societally, and the legal system hamstrings authority, the individual students suffer, if not all, ultimately.

Dave Scotese
05-23-2009, 11:38 PM
Does it? Is that the purpose of literature, a kind of aid to cultural hygiene?

I'd say one of the blessings of literature is that it helps force one to be honest. To face up to things that he would prefer not to face. Or would never have dreamt of facing.

As for home schooling, I would think it would promote insularity. Defend a young mind from facing ideas deemed "offensive". Which, to my way of thinking, is the exact opposite of the purpose of education. The exact opposite of the purpose of the arts.

Hygiene... You funny! But yes, facing ugly truths is one of the major ways that literature improves the health of a life.

And, yes, tragically, many parents homeschool their children in order to protect them from "offensive" ideas. Despite this, the average homeschooler seems to be in a better position than the average public-schooler - according to standardized tests first off, but then also if measured in terms of being successful and satisfied with their own lives once they have "grown up".

As for my own kids, I found that school protects them from way too many "offensive" ideas that I think are excellent opportunities for learning. One of the most striking is historical controversy, such as the authorship of the Declaration of Independence. Of course, the worst example of an "offensive idea" that school "protects" children from is the idea that children learn better without school than they do with it. Who went to school to learn how to walk? Or talk?

If you happen to read any Llewellyn or Gatto, let us know what you think. I think it may change your ideas on insularity a bit.


It depends on the school and the child. As an only child, and considering my personality, I can only imagine how socially handicapped I'd have been had I been home schooled, or even not enrolled at a daycare at a young age. Then again, both my parents worked and I was raised in an excellent school system so I am speaking from that perspective. My schools offered things my parents couldn't, and my parents sought to supplement my learning by encouraging me to pursue academic interests outside of class.

Out of curiosity, your phrasing suggests that you came to view school as destructive only after you read this particular literature.

We took our kids out of school before I ever heard of Llewellyn or Gatto. I had suggested it to my wife because of my own past:

I learned my trade - software - before school offered to teach it.
I was tutoring college students in math classes I never took - after getting a C and a D in lower level math classes. I was able to understand the concepts, but I never bothered memorizing them. This highlights one of the problems with school: it teaches you more to pass tests, than to solve real-world problems using specialized knowledge.
My college degree is in cognitive science, where I discovered that people learn by doing, and what we do in school is not real life, but rather dealing with fellow immature students and avoiding punishment from authorities and getting busy-work done so we can watch TV or go out with friends.
School attendance is not voluntary. If the parents or children don't like it, they have to go through hoops to get out of it. This kind of captive audience always degrades the effectiveness of any endeavor.
School is not funded by people who willingly purchase the service, but rather through taxes. This is another aspect of an endeavor that tends to degrade its effectiveness.

After taking our kids out, I heard of Gatto's Underground History and started reading it online, then bought the book. It's an ugly truth and learning it pissed me off, so now I'm doing whatever I can to encourage others to do their own exploration on the subject, and to protect their own children from the "combine" (from Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, courtesy of Grace Llewellyn).

What strikes me about these anti-school writings is that so many of the unpopular ideas they put forward match up with ideas I came up with on my own.

kiki1982
05-24-2009, 05:44 AM
I don't regard school as something damaging, but education shouldn't stop in school or when the child gets out of it for the day. It shouldn't stop with homework. If a child is to become a socially able person who has interests apart from hanging around on the streets with friends, hanging in front of the tv or playing computer games, it is upposed to have parents who foster other interests apart from what is done at school.

But I disagree about home schooling. There is no parent, who can truly teach his/her kid(s) on a high school level for every subject. That is, of course, why teachers need to have a qualification in the subject they teach (or that is the meaning in the system anyway). I am great at languages, I know four and a fifth a little, and my husband knows 11. If I or he had had home schooling, I would have known 3 (German my parents didn't know), and I would never have become interested in it having had no adequate source for it. My husband had known nothing but English, as his parents are monolingual and not intelligent to say the least. I am crap at physics, yet I would not want to deprive my children of any knowledge, even if they had to learn until they collapsed for a test. It serves a purpose, because we get to understand how electricity works, 'communicating barrels', the tube of Torricelli and all that stuff. I couldn't understand it and was crap at exams, and every exam of that subject was a scary thing, but some of it stayed in my mind, and I am thankful for it. Had I been fostered only in what interested me (which can also be done, by the way, in a Montessori school), I would have had a serious deficiency in my education and knowledge of the physical world. Until 18 I was bombarded with knowledge in Dutch, French, English, German, Maths, Physics, Biology, Geography, Chemistry, Religious Education, History, Physical Education, Computer Science, Latin (only 2 years), Greek (only 6 months), Technology, Drawing (doubtful quality), Technical Drawing, Music, Esthetics (Arts nd the history of it). I think that is it. My parents had never been able to teach me all that.

I was also an only child, like Higley. I would have been deprived of any serious social contact and the experince of a group all the time. Home schooling looks interesting, but as I said, there is no parent who can teach all those subjects. I am an intelligent person, and my husband too, but I am modest enough to acknowledge that even an Einstein would not attempt this list.

Furthermore, there seems to be a class of home schooling advocates who oppose Darwin's theory and go for Creationism. Nothing against religion, as I am a Catholic, but there are bounderies to religion and it should not be mixed with reality. Allowing those people to do home schooling damages the eductaional level of their children and society is saddled with ignorant people.

That is not to say that children do not need to learn outside of school. I regularly went to exhibitions of art (both modern and classical), history, my father was a great reader, my mother a great musician. I had musical education from the age of 8 in a music academy, but I learned to play the recorder by myself, although I advanced much more when I had a teacher. My parents never wearied of helping me with homework, taking me somewhere, handing me material, but they would never have considered to do any home schooling, because they are of the same opinion as I.

Going to school is stepping out of the knowledge of your parents and it hands you a lot more possibilitie to learn and discover other subjects than the subjects your parents are good at. A parent cannot teach Chinese if he doesn't know it. A teacher can. I would have been stuck with Duch and at best French. My father doesn't know any German and my mother does very bad German, her only knowledge resulting from singing Bach. Fortunately I had a very good teacher and discovered a flair for the language. So much, that I went to study it after. I had no help from home, as I did better than my two parents at it. My father was a crap teacher, so asking him something (about Maths mostly), I rather didn't because he used to solve it for me and to say it was simple. For him maybe, but not for me, naturally.

My fetish for literature I did not get from my father, but from myself. I discovered adult literature because of a book review for school (you see it does work!). Up to that point I hated reading books, because, as I understand now, it wasn't interesting enough psychologically. I could find nothing in children's books, so I didn't read. Because of that one book, I discovered there was something to read. Had I had nothing but my own fancy, I would still be at the same stage. It was because of being coerced into reading, that I chanced to take that book and that I discovered a great love for reading... My French teachers didn't do much for reading and I have to thank Dumas himself for writing so very accessibly.

Besides, learning as you like as a child and in an ideal environment, with a teacher all to yourself, or at least not to share with 20 others, is a bad image of the world, because in the real world, one gets coerced into doing a lot of things with people one doesn't like. Even as an independent worker, one is bound by laws one cannot change. Had I not been coerced in doing things I didn't like (Physical Education, Physics, Chemistry and the like) and at a time I didn't like , I had never understood the concept of the necessity to do them when and despite I didn't like them.

And yes, I was bullied at some point (not really badly). But that passed soon, and I had a regular group of five friends. I think I have lost them now, as I find that they have become too conventional and as I have moved abroad. Being a loner, I don't mind so much. We have great neighbours, so they are all interested in a talk...

But I suppose education in Belgium is not really so much focussed on the passing of tests, but rather your knowledge is tested. I am not aware of state-written tests, but the level of education is high compared to the US f.e.

The thing is, look for a good level school. If you child gets bullied, and that totally wrecks its life, then by all means do disenroll it, but do not take it entirely out of school. Just look for another school. Foster its talents, but sometimes a little coercing doesn't go amiss. I don't want to make myself any illusions of being an admirable all-rounder who perfectly knows any subject. Until I meet one such a person (which will never happen), I do not consider home schooling an option.

Dave Scotese
05-24-2009, 01:03 PM
Had I had nothing but my own fancy, I would still be at the same stage. It was because of being coerced into reading, that I chanced to take that book and that I discovered a great love for reading...
How would you know this? Why would you make that assumption about yourself? Are you still learning? Are you still in school? Do you still have a teacher?

Foster its talents, but sometimes a little coercing doesn't go amiss.
Sometimes. But I think the question is - what's your best guess - coercion goes amiss more often, or freedom does? On this point, just from reading this one post from you, I think you sell yourself short, and you project that deficiency unfairly on others.

There are four situations to keep track of:

Coercion that produces outcomes better than average.
Coercion that produces outcomes worse than average.
Freedom that produces outcomes better than average.
Freedom that produces outcomes worse than average.

If we limit this to school, since no one "old enough" is coerced into school, we can only use the young as examples. So we can then use homeschoolers as the Freedom example and public-schoolers as the coerced examples (although homeschoolers are still coerced, they are coerced less). Most measures of success show a higher score for homeschoolers than for public-schoolers. I haven't heard of any study the finds the ratio of homeschoolers with poor outcomes to homeschoolers with good outcomes, but comparing that ratio to the same thing measured for public-schoolers would help too. Maybe there's some in the books.

Your post also suggests that you don't consider learning something that kids can do without a teacher (you consider parent vs school as "the teacher"). Is the necessity of a teacher one of your assumptions?

stlukesguild
05-24-2009, 01:24 PM
I've been reading a lot of non-fiction. I have three kids and I work from home, so we enrolled in CAVA, which is a homeschool program. I started reading about education and have come to view school as quite damaging. If non-fiction is tolerated here, I'm interested whether anyone has read anything by John Taylor Gatto or Grace Llewellyn.

The first problem with both Gatto and Llewellen is that their ideas are nothing new. One can largely dismiss Llewellen's ideas as rehashed hippy-dippy versions of what Rousseau put forth a good many years ago in Emile and the concepts of Dewey... which have never been practical on a large public institutionalized scale. Llewellen bases her arguments on a mere three years experience as a teacher and then throws out ideas like this? :

"A healthy social life requires much more that indifferent daily acquaintanceship with three hundred people born the same year you were. It starts with a solid sense of self-esteem and self-awareness. It builds in time -- time to spend with other people in worthwhile, happy activities where no one loses, no one is forced to participate, and where conversation and helping one another are not outlawed."

- Grace Llewellyn, in The Teenage Liberation Handbook, how to quit school and get a real life education.

Building student "self esteem" has been a favorite concept of progressive education for ages. Unfortunately it ignores most facts: American students have plenty of self esteem. They think far more highly of themselves than students from anywhere else. The problem is that this self esteem is often disproportionate, misplaced, or undeserved. In one study example students taking a math test were asked before testing began how well they knew their subject and how well they thought they would do. The American students invariably stated that they knew their subject very well and would do extremely well while students from Korea, Japan, and Germany... all who actually did far better on the test... were far more honest about what they felt they didn't know.

This sense of false self esteem is in part the result of continual efforts of progressive educators to promote "feel good strategies" in which no one ever makes a mistake, gets something wrong, or fails. T-ball replaces baseball so that the kid who can't hit a pitched ball can still get a hit. Teachers are prodded to offer positive comments even on wrong answers or poor tests. Words like "don't" or "no" are to be avoided... even red ink should be avoided when marking wrong answers as they may demoralize the child. Absolute bunk... and the result is a false sense of accomplishment that has nothing to do with the realities all students will eventually face in the adult world where competition rules and corporations and employers don't give a rat's [email protected] about your fragile sense of self esteem.

Gatto is a figure to be taken a bit more seriously. The model of modern public education is indeed based upon the concept of creating a large population of workers able to function within our industrial society. Such was the basis of classes in rows, bells, lining up and all going to the bathroom at the same time, and the past efforts to "correct" any bad habits such as left-handedness. Gatto may overstate the case is his arguments suggesting that all the failings of public education (the boredom, the lowering of standards, etc...) are the result of some grand draconian plan for churning out continual good consumers... although I suspect their is indeed something of the desire of the wealthy to keep everyone in their place involved in allowing such poor conditions and lack of resources to be even acceptable in the poorest schools in the nation.

Unfortunately, the abandonment of public education and the move to home-schooling or private schooling will only intensify the problem of the gap between the rich and the poor. Of course this solution is favored by many conservatives because it affords them an escape from the unpopular ideas presented in public schools (evolution, multiculturalism, religious tolerance). Public education also represents a huge potential for profit for those establishing large private schools.

Just how prepared is the vast percentage of our population to undertake home-schooling? Certainly wealthier families may get by on a single income while one parent remains home and teaches the children... but even then, how prepared are they to tackle a broad array of subjects... especially as the child becomes older? Where does this leave the middle class who depend upon two incomes... or the huge percentage of single-parent families? Where does this leave the poor urban parents who in many cases are not well educated themselves? Yes, there are some teachers who are unqualified to teach, but let's be honest about just how many parents are seriously qualified to replace them. Let's also be honest when we consider the fact that a student in public school has access to a number of teachers... many of whom specialize in one subject or another... as well as other specialists just as social workers, guidance counselors, therapists, psychologists, etc... Public education has many problems, but abandoning it is not the solution.

Before jumping on Gatto's (and especially Llewellen's less than scientifically grounded) ideas, it might due to look at a few alternative viewpoints. I would especially put forth E.D. Hirsch's The Schools We Need (and why we don't have them). Hirsch was a great champion of a liberal idea of public education... the notion that all children should be given an equal access to the quality education needed to succeed in our society. Hirsch, however, noticed that many of the liberal/progressive educational strategies (such as Llewellen's "feel-good/no losers" approach) actually had the exact opposite effect... especially in the poor schools which needed it the most. Hirsch discovered that the Italian politician and theorist, Antonio Gramsci (imprisoned by Mussolini) had recognized the problem of progressive education as early as the 1930s:

"The new concept of Schooling is in its Romatic phase (ala Rousseau) in which the replacement of "mechanical" by "natural" methods has become unhealthily exaggerated... Previously pupils at least acquired a certain baggage of concrete facts. Now there will no longer be any baggage to put in order... The most paradoxical aspect of it all is that this new aspect of school is being advocated as being democratic, while in fact it is destined not merely to perpetuate social differences, but crystallize them in Chinese complexities."

The "romantic" progressive concepts of schooling avoid the learning of "facts" because it is feared these will perpetuate stereotypes... the notion that one writer, one artist, one historical personage is more important than another. This is them combined with the lack of any real federal or national standards resulting in a system in which almost every school has its own curriculum... makes its own choices about what books to read and what facts to present. When this is combined with No Child Left Behind which led to schools focusing upon teaching strategies for taking tests, the result is an absolute mess in which we cannot be certain that a child in this school at this age will be expected to have mastered the same knowledge and skills as a student in another school just around the block... let alone across the country.

Hirsch recognized that in order to succeed in education and in our society one must accumulate a certain agreed upon body of knowledge. One cannot master reading... let alone "higher order thinking skills" such as analysis, comparison, synthesis, etc... without a body of concrete facts. Progressive educators argue that a curriculum based upon such facts is inherently bound to be racist, sexist, nationalistic. The problem is that the alternative handicaps those very students it claims to assist. The reality is that public education is not the end-all/be-all. Once a student has mastered certain facts, reading, math, etc... he or she is certainly free to branch out and explore other alternative ideas and voices... and certainly higher education should be expected to offer just that. At present, however, higher education needs to begin at a remedial level... teaching many of the basic skills and body of knowledge that should have been mastered inelementary and secondary school.

Of course Hirsch's plan is not a cure-all. Public schools in the US especially face many challenges (poverty, gangs, violence, drugs, sexual/physical/emotional abuse, lack of parental involvement, etc...). The notion of a strong and clear curriculum stating what should be learned by grade 4... by grade 5, etc... enforced by a federal government that does not pass laws and then push the responsibilities off on the states would certainly be a solid start.

Most measures of success show a higher score for homeschoolers than for public-schoolers.

The problem with these studies is that they are inherently skewed. The homeschoolers already have the advantage of engaged parents. The public scores of the public schools are certainly not helped by the scores of the large number of students whose parents are not involved and who have no interest in learning. Such a comparison is not unlike the other commonly quoted fact: Students who are held back a grade do worse than those who never failed. This is often used in support of the idea of social promotion. Of course it ignores the fact that what should be compared is the success of students who should have been held back until they had mastered the skills needed to move on (and not the success of all students who were never held back) with those who were given the extra needed time.

I haven't heard of any study the finds the ratio of homeschoolers with poor outcomes to homeschoolers with good outcomes, but comparing that ratio to the same thing measured for public-schoolers would help too. Maybe there's some in the books.

There probably are such studies. Again... considering the fact that the parents are the most important element in a child's learning, I have little doubt that home-schooled students probably do better on a whole. The problem, however, remains that such an option is an impossibility on a large scale. There are far too many parents unable to home-school their children properly for it to be put forth as a practical alternative excepting on an individual voluntary basis.

Dave Scotese
05-24-2009, 02:46 PM
The first problem with both Gatto and Llewellen is that their ideas are nothing new.

I think you must mean that they have already been refuted in the past. Not being new generally qualifies something as already proven useful (hence its existence in the present). But you haven't provided any refutation. So what are you getting at?


One can largely dismiss Llewellen's ideas as rehashed hippy-dippy versions of what Rousseau put forth a good many years ago in Emile and the concepts of Dewey... which have never been practical on a large public institutionalized scale. Llewellen bases her arguments on a mere three years experience as a teacher and then throws out ideas like this? :

[COLOR="DarkOliveGreen"]"A healthy social life requires much more that indifferent daily acquaintanceship with three hundred people born the same year you were. It starts with a solid sense of self-esteem and self-awareness. It builds in time -- time to spend with other people in worthwhile, happy activities where no one loses, no one is forced to participate, and where conversation and helping one another are not outlawed."

It sounds like you haven't read any Llewellyn except the bit I quoted. More on this later...


Gatto may overstate the case is his arguments suggesting that all the failings of public education (the boredom, the lowering of standards, etc...) are the result of some grand draconian plan for churning out continual good consumers...

Not sure what you're talking about. The history book he wrote shows pretty clearly that there was no grand plan - just lots of not-so-useful-to-students minority interests that find their way into any coercive institution by lavishing favor on the perpetrator of the coercion.


Unfortunately, the abandonment of public education and the move to home-schooling or private schooling will only intensify the problem of the gap between the rich and the poor.

You are absolutely right, and you qualify it quite well below...


Just how prepared is the vast percentage of our population to undertake home-schooling? Certainly wealthier families may get by on a single income while one parent remains home and teaches the children... but even then, how prepared are they to tackle a broad array of subjects... especially as the child becomes older? Where does this leave the middle class who depend upon two incomes... or the huge percentage of single-parent families? Where does this leave the poor urban parents who in many cases are not well educated themselves?

Exactly. They are not prepared to undertake homeschooling. Well, teenagers are, but not the parents. And they are not prepared to tackle a broad array of subjects either - no one really is, not these days when our knowledge is so vast. Forcing parents to take responsibility for their kids rather than sending them off to school would certainly be a hardship for many middle class families, and even moreso, the poor urban parents. This is an excellent qualification of your earlier point.

This is why I am encouraging people to read these books. When parents understand how much more valuable their children can be to them if the time school takes away is given back, they will start choosing to let the kids start learning on their own rather than being forced to attend school.

The danger here is that many who kids are old enough and on the verge of giving up on their ability to learn could use such new freedom to complete the process of giving up and become the low quality kind of people that are associated with dropping out of high school. This is what makes Llewellyn's book so important. These kids have to get the chance to rediscover their ability to learn without teachers before it's too late. This ability is what school destroys the most. Look through the thread and you'll find that nearly everyone who doesn't support homeschooling holds an implicit assumption that learning cannot take place without a teacher. Take a critical look at yourself and you'll see that you have learned plenty without teachers. We're born with that ability.


Before jumping on Gatto's (and especially Llewellen's less than scientifically grounded) ideas, it might due to look at a few alternative viewpoints. I would especially put forth E.D. Hirsch's The Schools We Need (and why we don't have them). Hirsch, however, noticed that many of the liberal/progressive educational strategies (such as Llewellen's "feel-good/no losers" approach) actually had the exact opposite effect...

Here's a list from Hirsch:


* LESS whole-class teacher-directed instruction
* LESS student passivity, sitting, listening, receiving
* LESS attempts by teachers to cover large amounts of material
* LESS rote memorization of facts and details
* LESS stress on competition and grades
* MORE experiential, inductive, hands-on learning
* MORE active learning with all the attendant noise of students doing, talking, collaborating
* MORE deep study of a smaller number of topics
* MORE responsibility transferred to students for their work: goal-setting, record-keeping, monitoring, evaluation
* MORE choice for students; e.g., picking their own books, etc.
* MORE attention to affective needs and varying cognitive styles of students
* MORE cooperative, collaborative activity.

If you compare Llewellyn's work with this list, you'll see that she is advocating the same thing. Hence my suspicion that you really don't know what she wrote about. She is putting the burden of implementing this list on those students (who choose it) rather than the system. And they go for it with gusto too.


Hirsch recognized that in order to succeed in education and in our society one must accumulate a certain agreed upon body of knowledge. One cannot master reading... let alone "higher order thinking skills" such as analysis, comparison, synthesis, etc... without a body of concrete facts. Progressive educators argue that a curriculum based upon such facts is inherently bound to be racist, sexist, nationalistic. The problem is that the alternative handicaps those very students it claims to assist.

I haven't read much of Hirsch, but from what you've written here and a brief Internet search, it seems that he writes about efforts to educate through the state. On californiahomeschool.net, I found "The facts and skills [Hirsch] identifies are based on reports issued by state departments of education, professional teachers' associations and the educational systems of several other countries, like Japan, France, Sweden and West Germany, which he considers successful." He is not addressing homeschooling, probably because, as you point out, homeschooling by choice is generally far more successful than public school.

I think at core, I have to agree with you that forcing the parents of existing publicly-schooled students to homeschool them would be a disaster. That's not what I'm promoting. I am promoting an exploration into the possibilities that open up for those who are able to free themselves of the educational stranglehold the state has on us.


There are far too many parents unable to home-school their children properly for it to be put forth as a practical alternative excepting on an individual voluntary basis.

Absolutely. I think everything is that way. Individual choice is really an important element in all kinds of endeavors. I hope no one ever construes anything I propose as something that should be protected from individual choice.

JBI
05-24-2009, 03:26 PM
Honestly, the reason why places like Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and for the most part, the bulk of the former Eastern Bloc countries for the past 50 or so years have done better in terms of test scores, which can be measured cross-nationally, meaning mostly math, and the sciences, is quite simply because education in those societies was, and in the case of the former three countries, is far more intense.

Take Japan for example - the schoolyear there is far longer than the school year in The United States. Children go to school for far more days during the year, and therefore benefit from more exposure to material. There is also the other major factor at play, quite simply, in Japan, if you don't put in the effort, and you don't get the grades, from what I understand from talking with Japanese people, and from reading (which of course, is limited to a Canadian perspective, I must admit) in Japan, if you don't do well, you will fail, and people won't pity you like they do here, and won't help you; they will merely let you fail, and let you amount to nothing.

In the Eastern Bloc countries, it seems to have been similar. From my experience, people from those countries were all far better at math and at subjects like physics than their North American counterparts by far. The reason for this, is because, quite simply, if you didn't do well, you wouldn't do well - plain and simple.

I can't tell you how many people here, that I went to school with, all slacked off, and then used their parents' fortunes for boosting their marks. It seems here, that the people who generally have the highest grades, and achieve the most, quite simply are the ones who take things seriously, and put in the most effort - ironically, where I went to school, these people happened to be mostly those from South-East Asian, and South-Asian countries, as well as the few from former Eastern Bloc countries, such as Romania, and Russia. The rich Jewish kids, whose parents were all doctors, and had far larger resources available to them as a whole, had far worse averages, in almost all subjects (the one difference on a compulsory subject was probably English, but I think that is somewhat understandable) than the small minority families, who, for the most part, came from unestablished families, most of which had just emigrated to the country.


Homeschooling makes sense, as long as the parent/teacher is up for the task, and the student is made to take things seriously, and do extra work. Quite simply though, it is not practical - putting that much faith in the parents does not work, and cannot work. That's really the reason for standardization in schooling - quite simply, the fact that a person in a bad area would be subjected to a worse education, as a means of boosting the general grade of the school could not possibly be beneficial, as it would, in the long run, merely perpetuate a sense of generational poverty.

The system of schooling, ultimately, is designed to sift out those who can make it, and those who can't. In order to make it, one needs two things, 1) a lot of effort, and 2) a good foundation, and perhaps a little bit of natural talent. Generally speaking, if the right effort is put in, nobody should have a problem reaching a proficient level making them fit for working, and functioning in society. Despite this, however, the system ultimately fails, as, quite simply, people fall bellow the line, and don't care. When they fell, instead of maintaining the bar, educators, it seems, merely lowered the bar. My literacy test for high school was the biggest joke in the world. The questions were, quite simply, "what is your favorite color", or "write a story based on this photograph." We were given 3 hours, I finished in 40 minutes, with the messiest handwriting in the world, that quite simply I can't even read, didn't take it seriously, and passed without another thought. With such an attitude toward the test then, it is no wonder that people aren't taking things seriously.

Now, how does this apply to homeschooling? Well, quite simply, if the parent is bad, lazy, or does things wrong, the student suffers. Generally, if the family is less well off, the student's grades will be too (there is a correlation here). This isn't even taking into account domestic issues, such as child abuse, and simple bad-parenting.

The public school system, however, quite simply tries to flatten things, and give everyone the same tests. That is the goal, to provide education the same way for everyone, no matter what their background is. In the past, in the States particularly, the system wasn't quite public - African-Americans would be sent to 'lesser' classes, or in some States, different schools, and the odds would be rigged against them (as they were for their parents, causing domestic issues at home as well). Ultimately then, what the system needs is for everyone to get the same opportunity. From a governmental perspective, the easiest way to solve the problem (which is more like make it appear that problem was solved) was to pass everybody. What really needs doing though, is to intensify things. If kids are in school more, quite simply, they are going to have less exposure to the inequalities outside of school. When the whole population is in the same school programs, generally there will be a more equal footing, and those who deserve to succeed, will ultimately come out on top. Beyond that though, if, for instance, instead of the summer break being 2 and a half months, it was one month long, like in Japan, not only would the amount of material covered go up, but the amount of equality would increase too, as, quite naturally, parents are likely to, if they have the money or time, boost their children during the summer, where money permits, by sending them to, for instance, summer camps, or other programs, designed to be both educational and interactive, and if the year is longer, such monetary boosting will be more difficult.

Homeschooling then, if taken seriously, would fix the problems with education - if the parent is good, has the time and resources, then the student can learn things faster, better, and have far more exposure, and perhaps more hands on experience. I see no reason, for instance, that such a child would need to sit in a boring classroom when they could be, for instance, reading a book under a tree. But what happens when such resources are not available - what happens with a single-parent family, with the parent not having much of an education either?

Homeschooling then, ultimately would have the exact same problems as the regular school system. The only way to really curb that then, is, like I said, to intensify things, and make it clear right from the start, both on an educational level, and on a societal level, that if you don't try hard, and don't do well, you will fail, and end up a loser. All the American (and Canadian for that matter) educational problems stem from that. From a feeling that either a) I can survive without this stupid material, who needs it, or b) my parents are rich, I'll make it no matter what. Take away those two things, by balancing the playing field, and what you end up with is everyone doing better, and those that are truly capable and dedicated doing better in the long run than those who aren't.

kiki1982
05-24-2009, 04:16 PM
How would you know this? Why would you make that assumption about yourself? Are you still learning? Are you still in school? Do you still have a teacher?

I have been learning selectively in the last 8 years. I have learned a lot about languages, different cultures, I have greatly learned in my perception of the world. But that is also down partly to my education I had in school.

Had I not been bombarded with Western European history in school, I would never have gone on to have a certain perception of politics, the way human nature moves and tries to get what it wants by any means possible, how certain nations see it differently. And why that is. How society as a whole works. How society has changed during the French Revolution and what that did to us.

I have not been learning on Physics, Engineering, and those things. I couldn't care less, yet it is essential to a fully educated person to know those things. We are no longer in the 19th century and before where people didn't know what water consisted of because their parents didn't know or they weren't interested. Why water boils. Why apples fall as they fall. Why they fall more slowly on the Moon. There are certain things I do not remember (whether an apple would fall faster or less fast from a tree on Mars, f.e.), but the principles are the most important. How fruit gets to be on trees. How perspective is drawn, how many different ways there are. And I can go on like that. There are many more people who can explain those things much better to my children than I can, because they know a lot more about it, so why would I do it myself with my limited knowledge?


Sometimes. But I think the question is - what's your best guess - coercion goes amiss more often, or freedom does?

There are people who get out of school, yes. People should do what they like. If they do not want to be an academic, they shouldn't be coerced into it, because it will make them unhappy. But there are bounderies. Not knowing anything of modern history f.e. because you weren't interested is not an option.

Not learning algebra, f.i., is an option to people who are not interested. Only, it introduces abstract thinking to students. It teaches them not to be afraid of things or concepts that say nothing. It teaches to 'calculate' something that isn't there, or to get the value of something totally unkown, as so much utilised in science. Imagine you wanted to study one orother science all of a sudden, but you weren't interested in science. In Belgium, you would have to make up 6 years of algebra to be able to reach the level of an 18-year-old. 6 years, of on average 4 hours of Maths a week... Do the maths, you wouldn't go through the trouble. Tastes change. I was never interested in French, if they had let me, I'd have stopped with it at 15, because I just couldn't do it. Not the fault of the teacher. Now, I love it. Had I followed my inclination, I'd never have learned the language. And by the way, what do I do if my child wants to learn a language I don't know?

Not learning all about plants is a great problem, because plants are the basis of everything. Learning no cell-structure just deprives you of all you should know about reproduction and energy supply.

Not learning about the Romans would be a great great failure.


On this point, just from reading this one post from you, I think you sell yourself short, and you project that deficiency unfairly on others.

And how and why is that?


If we limit this to school, since no one "old enough" is coerced into school, we can only use the young as examples. So we can then use homeschoolers as the Freedom example and public-schoolers as the coerced examples (although homeschoolers are still coerced, they are coerced less). Most measures of success show a higher score for homeschoolers than for public-schoolers. I haven't heard of any study the finds the ratio of homeschoolers with poor outcomes to homeschoolers with good outcomes, but comparing that ratio to the same thing measured for public-schoolers would help too. Maybe there's some in the books.

I can imagine that in some countries, homeschooling is better as the education system there is total crap. Yet, that is not the case everywhere, and in Belgium, homeschooling would probably be rather something that reduces your knowledge than something that enhances it.

There is only one case in which I would support homeschooling, and in very rare cases: if the child is highly intelligent. Because then, the child can learn on its own pace, which is much faster than a normal child. Highly intelligent children are mostly also interested in everything. Going at a slower pace creates boredom and results in bad results. Having a reduced spectrum of knowledge (for them) creates the same boredom. And still then I doubt whether the parents would be able to teach their child everything it wants to know, as it is (probably) more intelligent than they. And how many of those children are around, do you think? Certainly not as many as there are in home schooling.


Your post also suggests that you don't consider learning something that kids can do without a teacher (you consider parent vs school as "the teacher"). Is the necessity of a teacher one of your assumptions?

For an adequate, all-round knowledge of all subjects, a teacher is indispensible. I, as an intelligent person with a lot of knowledge, can teach my children something, but not all. I can teach them Dutch, French, English, German (rather another as it is not perfect enough). I could take an attemt at history, biology and a little geography. And I could still do music (if it is theory, the recorder, accordeon or the piano. Violin I don't know). Physics and chemisty would be an absolute no-no, certainly on the highest level, as I couldn't do it myself. Drawing is a no-no. I can't draw myself. Technology is a no-no. Computer knowledge is limited. How am I supposed to teach my children if I don't know myself and can't understand? Stay one lesson in front?

What do people usually do when they want to learn something? Yes, they go to school! I learned the accordeon by myself, because I wanted to play only folk music, but would have been a lot further if I had taken a teacher. I learned to play the recorder by myself and took a teacher afterwards. In those two years I advenced more than in the five years before.

Learning without a teacher is perfecty possible, but there needs to be method and structure. Teachers are trained in method, but above all, certainly high school teachers have studied their subject in detail or so it should be the case. Primary school level is still doable, I imagine, but from the age of 12, there is more perfect knowledge needed to teach children a subject as the knowledge goes more into depth. Is there anyone on this Earth who knows all subjects in school in detail? No. It is impossible. Since the middleages we have not taught all the knowledge existant in science, because it is too much.

Teachers have been always special people, that was so in the Roman times, that was so in the middleages, that was so in the 19th century and that is so now.

Dave Scotese
05-24-2009, 10:18 PM
Homeschooling then, ultimately would have the exact same problems as the regular school system.

It sounds like everyone is interpreting my post as political activism - that I am suggesting laws be changed to force people to educate their children some different way than is currently the case.:flare:

I will probably start a new thread, requesting that people address the books I mentioned specifically, rather than getting all political and pontificating about what policies should be forced on everyone. That is so against my intent.

If there is one kind of discussion that I think should be outlawed, it is discussion about what "We the People" should force everyone to do. Yech.

I couldn't care less, yet it is essential to a fully educated person to know those things...

Do you consider yourself to be "fully educated"?




On this point, just from reading this one post from you, I think you sell yourself short, and you project that deficiency unfairly on others.

And how and why is that?

You insist that if you hadn't been forced to learn, for example, French, you would have missed out on something you now love. But you have been selectively learning now for 8 years. If you'd been doing that earlier, I think you'd be an even better self-directed learner than you are. As you point out, the student (you) eventually finds a good reason for a teacher in those subjects that interest her the most (recorder, accordion, in your case):


What do people usually do when they want to learn something? Yes, they go to school! I learned the accordeon by myself, because I wanted to play only folk music, but would have been a lot further if I had taken a teacher. I learned to play the recorder by myself and took a teacher afterwards. In those two years I advenced more than in the five years before.

Did you go to school for the recorder? Do you consider hiring a teacher to be the same thing as going to school? I think the act of choosing to pay an expert to help you learn makes a huge difference.


Learning without a teacher is perfecty possible, but there needs to be method and structure.

What was the method and structure you used when you learned to walk and talk - or play the accordion? I think what you mean is that in order to delve deeply into a subject, a method and structure is a good idea. I agree with this, but I also think that the perfect method and structure is different for each person. This is why smaller class sizes work better - because the teacher then has the ability to tailor the method and structure more and more for each student as class size falls.

stlukesguild
05-24-2009, 11:33 PM
Your notion that we can do without the teacher... allow the child to decide upon what he or she desires to learn surely echoes Rousseau and Dewey. I question how practical this would be upon a large scale. Yes, I and many others have learned much on our own. But we are the self-motivated life long learners (to use the classic "educationese"). Teaching any number of unmotivated and just plain lazy students day after day I question just how well the majority of these students would do given such freedom. Most of the boys I teach would spend the majority of the day playing basketball with little thought to just what the chances are that they will be able to make a career out of such. I also question just how we imagine that students will acquire the basic skills and core knowledge needed to function and succeed in larger society if we allow children to make the choice to study only that which interests them. I for one am certain I would have avoided math, science (for the most part) and other areas of study. Certainly, I can function quite well without ever needing to employ trigonometry or calculus and perhaps it is ridiculous (and part of our national obsession with promoting math and science in education) to demand that every potential college student (even those majoring in comparative literature, French, art history, etc...) be required to take classes in such unrelated disciplines... but surely little that is learned is ever truly wasted. There are classes and courses of study that I would have avoided had such been possible which have greatly inspired me... or pushed me in directions I couldn't have imagined. Would I have been better off had I been free to study only that which interested me? I can't say... but I greatly suspect that the results would not be great if applied on a large scale. I may agree that teenagers or high-schoolers might be better off if afforded a greater degree of autonomy... but this would be dependent upon a much more solid grounding in the early years... one that focused upon developing the essential skills and core knowledge... and didn't waste so much time floundering around without any solid real curriculum.

kiki1982
05-25-2009, 12:50 AM
Do you consider yourself to be "fully educated"?

Not by far I see myself as one. Starting to be one, I'd say, but my knowledge is not far enough advanced to be one, as far as I'm concerned. Anything less, and that would be truly frightful...


You insist that if you hadn't been forced to learn, for example, French, you would have missed out on something you now love. But you have been selectively learning now for 8 years. If you'd been doing that earlier, I think you'd be an even better self-directed learner than you are. As you point out, the student (you) eventually finds a good reason for a teacher in those subjects that interest her the most (recorder, accordion, in your case):

I maybe would be a better self-directed learner now, but I would have avoided, like Stlukesguild, a lot of subjects. In that, I would have failed to be a kind of all-rounder, who knows of most a little. I would have been a specialist in maybe one subject, but I'd be useless at the next. What if I suddenly wanted to go and study something totally different because I wanted to make my profession of it? (self-directed learning) Not possible, first acquire the knowledge in order to start. That is then an advantage? Tastes change hugely during adolescence and it is very dangerous to trust oneself at that age to drop something. It might be out of frustration, boredom, not enough time, whatever. You want change of scenery. Is that a good enough reason to ban it out of your life? No, to me.


Did you go to school for the recorder? Do you consider hiring a teacher to be the same thing as going to school? I think the act of choosing to pay an expert to help you learn makes a huge difference.

I didn't hire a teacher, I went to school for it. As I did for the piano and music theory. I did that for 8 years and wanted to stop, but my mother didn't find that I had a good reason. I can now look at something and play. Isn't that wonderful? I would have dropped it at 14 if it had depended on me...


What was the method and structure you used when you learned to walk and talk - or play the accordion?

Walking and talking does not require teaching, it requires instinct. How does an elephant start to walk in the first hour after birth? Instinct. How do they understand their fellow herdmembers? Instinct. Although, maybe animals do teach their off-spring. At least it is known in meercats (?) that they have 'classes' of youngsters being taught by elder members. My cat, when she has small ones, seems to talk to them. By repeating it, they learn. They see mummy wash herself, they try too. How do I kill a mouse? How did mummy do it? Not the catching of the mouse is taught, the killing of the mouse is taught. Cats who have been hand-raised can catch a mouse (instinct), but cannot kill.

Learning to play an instrument, is altogether different. I would probably advance much more if I had a proper structure, but I decide to do it like that. I don't have pressure, but I did have a book for the first ten lessons/steps... As a result, I have had pain in my left wrist, because of a ba way of playing. And now, I think, pain in my right shoulder, also because of bad posture. If I had had a teacher who could play properly, he would have corrected me on that...

When learning a language, I need grammar. My husband has an extraordinary ability and learns to talk it like a child does: by somehow discerning the structure of the language and repeating it. Do that with me, and after 20 years I'm still at point 0.


I think what you mean is that in order to delve deeply into a subject, a method and structure is a good idea. I agree with this, but I also think that the perfect method and structure is different for each person. This is why smaller class sizes work better - because the teacher then has the ability to tailor the method and structure more and more for each student as class size falls.

I definitely agree with that: smaller classes afford more time with the teacher so that the student learns better and faster. But then the teacher should still be a properly trained person with extensive knowlede of the subject. Otherwise, he might as well give the student a book on that subject to read. It wouldn't make a difference.

On students: I agree with Stlukesguild on that.

JBI
05-25-2009, 02:32 AM
Your notion that we can do without the teacher... allow the child to decide upon what he or she desires to learn surely echoes Rousseau and Dewey. I question how practical this would be upon a large scale. Yes, I and many others have learned much on our own. But we are the self-motivated life long learners (to use the classic "educationese"). Teaching any number of unmotivated and just plain lazy students day after day I question just how well the majority of these students would do given such freedom. Most of the boys I teach would spend the majority of the day playing basketball with little thought to just what the chances are that they will be able to make a career out of such. I also question just how we imagine that students will acquire the basic skills and core knowledge needed to function and succeed in larger society if we allow children to make the choice to study only that which interests them. I for one am certain I would have avoided math, science (for the most part) and other areas of study. Certainly, I can function quite well without ever needing to employ trigonometry or calculus and perhaps it is ridiculous (and part of our national obsession with promoting math and science in education) to demand that every potential college student (even those majoring in comparative literature, French, art history, etc...) be required to take classes in such unrelated disciplines... but surely little that is learned is ever truly wasted. There are classes and courses of study that I would have avoided had such been possible which have greatly inspired me... or pushed me in directions I couldn't have imagined. Would I have been better off had I been free to study only that which interested me? I can't say... but I greatly suspect that the results would not be great if applied on a large scale. I may agree that teenagers or high-schoolers might be better off if afforded a greater degree of autonomy... but this would be dependent upon a much more solid grounding in the early years... one that focused upon developing the essential skills and core knowledge... and didn't waste so much time floundering around without any solid real curriculum.


But here is the irony. If you make such a case for math, certainly English can be used the same way. What is the point really, of humanist study? If math is useless, why don't we just say that learning how to read better, or understand art, or music, or history is irrelevant as well? There is the problem, but the truth is, such practices are not useless, as they create a sort of personality that works well in the workforce. Even people who study business won't acquire such skills, and generally when it comes to hiring, the jobs are split pretty evenly.

The more rounded one is though, the better they will become. I don't use my calculus, but I know it. I doubt I'll use my computer programming abilities in the future, but I can program. It's better to make people have abilities, and for them to perhaps not have to use them, than for people to only have one ability, and when that fails, end up finished - limited and useless.

There are a million English Ph. D.s for instance, floating around fighting over essentially no jobs in academia for them, and no real requirement for their expertise outside of the academe. I hear the situation is even worse for philosophers. Quite simply, the saturation will be permanent, and people will need to innovate away from being branded one thing. This is an example of people only doing what they want, and keep in mind, these are smart people too - the best of the best. Without the rounding, quite simply, a person with an MBA would seem the better candidate for almost all jobs. But this is University we are talking about. If we applied that to highschool, people would be branded from the beginning, and ultimately, if their one thing goes under, so would they, and have nothing to fall back on. I like that I can do math at a proficient level, and know a thing or two about science, politics, history, and a bunch of other subjects. In truth, the single subject construct of society is designed for the most part to mold people into limited positions, without an ability to break free easily.

kiki1982
05-25-2009, 05:47 AM
I so agree with JBI. Much too dangerous.

@JBI: Philosophers and languages... I know the feeling... My husband knows 11 yet never was able to get a job, because he didn't want to be a teacher in school... Anyway, after years and years of failure he comes across an English training job, and is now teaching very high level professional students. But that took him 10 years to find. Before, he was stuck in call centres... There are not such a lot of jobs like the one he has now.

Philosophers... My friend has a master's in philosophy. Also is a bachelor Slavic Languages. She works with the national postal service... Really. Do you need to have that education for doing that? But ten, as you say, what would have happened if she didn't have any other knowledge but philsophy? It is just because of that type of all-round education that she is abe to go and do something else, even study something else if she wants later.

There were a few things in this list I wanted to address:



* LESS student passivity, sitting, listening, receiving
* LESS attempts by teachers to cover large amounts of material
* LESS rote memorization of facts and details
* LESS stress on competition and grades
* MORE experiential, inductive, hands-on learning
* MORE active learning with all the attendant noise of students doing, talking, collaborating
* MORE responsibility transferred to students for their work: goal-setting, record-keeping, monitoring, evaluation
* MORE choice for students; e.g., picking their own books, etc.
* MORE cooperative, collaborative activity.

The LESS-points: It looks all well and great to do those things. If one had lots of time, one would be able to do that. But, the point is, that children only have 12 years, at best 13, to learn everything that is necessary for them to enter higher education or society. At the age of 18 they are responsible for themelves. Thus they need to be (responsible) adults that function in that society.
In Great-Britain, if I am not mistaken, they have gone down the 'skills'-route of things. Children need to acquire skills not knowledge. This can be good: 'how do I look up a word in a dictionary?', 'how do I use a calculator?' (although it is doubtful whether that should be learned in primary school...), 'how do I look up (any) information on a subject I don't know?'. Sadly, this has as a consequence that children have to look up facts and not learn them. So... They don't know where London is and situate it somewhere near Manchester on a blind map. I might probably be a few centimetres out in such a case, but so much??? Those chilren don't know when exactly the French Revolution took place. 'Time' and 'Timeperiods' in themselves don't say anything to them. On a wider scale this means that they do not get taught about Thatcher, the Falklands War, the closure of the mines, the National Health Service, etc etc. They don't get taught European history. How are they supposed to vote properly with a framework of reference? They don't: only 24% showed up at the last European elections... How are we supposed to understand the society we live in y only seeing the here-and-now?

Even worse is the fact that people cannot spell. Apostrophies everywhere where they shouldn't be (even on signs outside shops ans pubs. Even saw one on public toilets in Manchester! Mens Toilets... They don't even know the proper plural...). They don't get taught grammar, so that goes down the pan as well... Because they haven't been taught English grammar, it becomes more difficult to learn another language. How are we supposed to uderstand cases and use them if we don't know what the bl**dy hell a subect, (in)direct object, verb and what-not are. So children end up with very limited knowledge of foreign languages if they are lucky. There are of course public schools (private despite the fac that they are called public...) who deliver people with good Frenh, whatever. School like Eton do well. They have a very high standard...

The sad standard of education is shown in the standard of newspaper news. Granted, there are good newpapers, about two if I am not mistaken: The Times and The Guardian and some specialised ones like The Financial Times. Diametrically opposed are the ones like The Star, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Mail, The Sun, News of the World and many more, that feature no news (at best there is a little piece of 100 words (?) about what was said in parliament yesterday on page 8 if that was interesting and sensational enough). The rest of the 'newspaper' is filled with 'news' of the cat of Downing Street 10, the latest candidate of Britain's got Talent, Simon Cowell (?), or whatever else that doesn't matter and that would be put in a celebity magazine in a normal country.

If one does not stress competition and grades, one does not make one's children used to the world. For something stupid like a driving test, there is pass or fail. No discussion. What JBI said about self-esteem above in America I can imagine very true... Self-esteem does not have to be destroyed by marks, but on the other side, it shouldn't end up inflated because the child has never had a bad experience. Doing that, protecting children for bad emotions like failure, is seriously failing in making them adults that can deal with draw-backs. By all means approach them with positive criticism, but if they fail to do something well then ask why, don't say 'oh, never mind. Next time better.' It will not get better, in fact it will only get worse. The reason why, in a normal system, there is so much emphasis on pass or fail (mostly around the 60%-mark) is that 50% or 60% of the the knowledge learned is required to have been understood in order to require more on the same subject. If not 50 or 60% is shown to be understood, guaranteed that the continuation of the subject is threatened.

If schools are induced to do more experiments and less 'I tell you and you remember'-things, it might look exciting, but for example science does not work like that. Experiments are primarily there to draw conclusions from. Drawing the conclusion takes mostly much more time. It is not the fact that the apple falls from the tree that is interesting, but it is the fact that one can calculate how fast, that is interesting. The structure of the eye is much more easily discernable on a picture than in a real eye, even if that is cut open. That is not to say that those things should not happen, but we shouldn't exaggerate... Most things are impossible to do anway (human reproduction: we can't cut open a woman) or too slow (the formation of fruit on a tree) to be really able to learn straight from that.

In my school, we once did a project on earthquakes:we had to look up the answers for questions, and we could use the internet. The result was that we took too long and that the concept was abandoned because we could never acquire the right amount of knowledge in the same timespan. Projects work somtimes. For example for books/literature, art (art history and what-not). But projects should not serve as a tool to acquire knowledge, but should serve to use that knowledge you have learned. In English, we had presetations about English-speaking countries. In French about French regions. That was interesting because it was a good way of exercising the English/French learned. The same for dialogues in all languages. Or reading books. We had to make a paper for the esthetics class. It was a good way to use the knowledge learned there. But as a tool for acquiring knowledge, the rate of things learned is firstly too diverse from group to group or student to student and secondly is too slow. If one works longer on itn then the knowledge resulting from it might be more, but another subject will suffer because of that.

Compare it to reading a book in a foreign language. It is an excellent tool to sharpen the feeling for that language, but one should have knowledge of the language before starting the book, otherwise one does not understand.

I agree about choice for students. Not everyone should read the same book. That is mostly down to the teacher who does not care for reading a whole booklist him/herself. But there should be bounderies.

JBI
05-25-2009, 09:17 AM
I would also like to add, that as I know it, rote memorization for the majority of subjects is the most effective way to learn. Languages for instance, require that (though, from what I understand, American education isn't too language heavy). Science too benefits from this mode of learning, and believe it or not, English as well. It's perhaps the most useful skill - just try going back to memorizing after taking a break. I can tell you, after about 10 years of not memorizing poems, going back was a major difficulty. I used to get them on the first or second reading, now, it takes at least half an hour for a sonnet, which is reduced from 2 hours, as my memory improved.

The only real advantage of homeschooling, the way I see it, is that it allows one to learn things, if the student and teacher are willing, far faster, and far better, hypothetically of course, than the public school kid. I doubt this happens, and with breaking apart curriculum, it probably wouldn't, but the room is there.

As for the literature, to get back on it - it seems like some pretty mediocre typically American stuff. I think writing something like that in a French Academe, for instance, wouldn't go, because of a greater sense of class consciousness there, and a realization that homeschooling is not a practical alternative to anything, and the answer lies within policy reform. But hey, with so many people getting Ph. D.s in education now, these sorts of works are bound to pop up sooner or later.

I think though, that education will be quite messy within 5 years. Already, things are turning too digital, and I can't tell you how much more reliance on the computer than on the teacher is becoming required. Even my university courses now have giant online, interactive components, designed to substitute the professor, as, quite simply, there are too many people in some classes for any sort of dialogue to occur.

stlukesguild
05-25-2009, 10:07 AM
But here is the irony. If you make such a case for math, certainly English can be used the same way. What is the point really, of humanist study? If math is useless, why don't we just say that learning how to read better, or understand art, or music, or history is irrelevant as well? There is the problem, but the truth is, such practices are not useless, as they create a sort of personality that works well in the workforce.

That, I would suggest, would be the primary problem of the self-learner. Subjects outside of his or her passion and probable career choice would quite likely be avoided. Perhaps they have no practical purpose... but I doubt that anything learned becomes "useless". Even if the knowledge is never put to day to day use it can impact your thinking in ways unimagined and surely the discipline needed to stay with something that you don't find particularly engaging or easy to master is itself a lesson well learned.

In Great-Britain, if I am not mistaken, they have gone down the 'skills'-route of things. Children need to acquire skills not knowledge. This can be good: 'how do I look up a word in a dictionary?', 'how do I use a calculator?' (although it is doubtful whether that should be learned in primary school...), 'how do I look up (any) information on a subject I don't know?'. Sadly, this has as a consequence that children have to look up facts and not learn them. So... They don't know where London is and situate it somewhere near Manchester on a blind map.

Hell, the kids are still doing better than mine. I have no doubt that a number would end up placing Ohio somewhere in Asia. Hell, there was a recent survey of college students in which some ridiculously high percentage couldn't even recognize a photograph of Adolph Hitler! We have the same misguided notion here that we should be teaching "higher order thinking skills" as opposed to facts. In other words a child need not know where Ohio is, but should know what tools to use and how to use them in order to find the answer. The problem is that higher order thinking skills are dependent upon a solid core base of knowledge (which is what E.D. Hirsch argues in favor of). The problem in the United States is that in an increasingly multicultural society the question of just what core knowledge is essential to the larger culture has become politicized. A good many progressive educators fear that such a core body of knowledge excludes minorities and stigmatizes them. Hirsch and Gramasci both argued that the data shows the reverse to be true: that it is the poor and minority students who suffer most from not having a solid grasp of a core body of knowledge... a body of knowledge upon which they can succeed in the larger society and a body of knowledge that can be built upon and expanded... even questioned and challenged. There is at least one teacher of whom I know who teachers her children that the first US president was black (not Washington, but a figure white America has hidden) and that Africans were flying as early as ancient Egypt. Such "facts" are presented as a means of instilling self esteem in the students... but how do such false "facts" assist the student when he or she enters the larger society... and the job market?

kiki1982
05-25-2009, 11:24 AM
oh, my God! Well, in Britain they did a survey and teens dismissed Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale (the nurse) and Richard the Lionheart Plantagenet as fictitious characters.

Even worse was the fact that in the same survey teens thought that Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur and Robin Hood a real-life status like they were in lit. Granted King Arthur and Robin Hood must have a foundation somewhere, but not as they are portrayed.

They also did not recognise Hitler on a photo and mixed him up with Churchill, Dalí, Einstein.

They also thought Auschwitz was a beer, a neighbouring country of Poland, a religious festival, etc.
(The Daily Telegraph)

There are just some facts that one should learn to avoid bad impressions...

I can well imagine that it is the poor that suffer, because they cannot have too much experience-learning as they never go anywhere (without wanting to seem too stereotypical). As such, they don't go to exhibitions, where they can train that knowledge and where they can have seen the picture of Hitler so many times, that they can finally remember...

VenusInFurs
05-25-2009, 12:10 PM
I'm a bit skeptical about home-schooling. Most of the students I know that opted for home-schooling ended up dropping out all together and I knew a few that had been home-schooled for their entire elementary and high school education in college and they were quite naive and sheltered, and didn't relate well to others or deal as well with real life situations. I think though that if you make sure your child is exposed to a lot of social situations, that can be avoided though.

I learned a lot in school besides math and english lit. I learned to stand up for myself and be a strong person. I learned to deal with people that want to put you down. I was also very lucky in that I had wonderful, inspiring teachers for most of my education. I wouldn't trade that for the world. I understand that's the exception and not the rule but they're not the only ones out there I'm sure.

backline
05-25-2009, 12:16 PM
...I can well imagine that it is the poor that suffer, because they cannot have too much experience-learning as they never go anywhere (without wanting to seem too stereotypical). As such, they don't go to exhibitions, where they can train that knowledge and where they can have seen the picture of Hitler so many times, that they can finally remember...


Unfortunately the poor are usually too tied up expediting their short term survival needs to pursue a broad based view of academic education. Or, worse yet, do not see academic education as a means of escaping
the cycle of poverty.
It takes a mentor to inspire and motivate such a position, and far too many economically disadvantaged people fall through the cracks with no safety net available.
Public institutions dedicated to making libraries and museams available cannot motivate someone who is depressed facing a seemingly insurmountable mountain to climb out of poverty.
In some of the East coast slums where I spent my formative years there was a lot of talk about "breaking out" (of the inner-city environment, or even the neighborhood of origin). Sadly, there are many roadblocks to gaining a vision of life outside the 'hood. Even worse, once out of the environment (and comfort zone of the familiar), it takes help to get a leg up into the fast accerating traincar of life as others experience it.
The military helped me gain a new perspective. Of course many of my friends in the late 1960's did not survive that experience physcologically, economically, or physically!

Dave Scotese
05-25-2009, 02:05 PM
I can't say... but I greatly suspect that the results would not be great if applied on a large scale.

I suspect great problems with anything applied on a large scale. Individual choice tends to create a diverse array of strategies for dealing with all kinds of problems, and therefore a remarkably robust community. I think we agree here.

JBI
05-25-2009, 03:40 PM
In Great-Britain, if I am not mistaken, they have gone down the 'skills'-route of things. Children need to acquire skills not knowledge. This can be good: 'how do I look up a word in a dictionary?', 'how do I use a calculator?' (although it is doubtful whether that should be learned in primary school...), 'how do I look up (any) information on a subject I don't know?'. Sadly, this has as a consequence that children have to look up facts and not learn them. So... They don't know where London is and situate it somewhere near Manchester on a blind map.

Hell, the kids are still doing better than mine. I have no doubt that a number would end up placing Ohio somewhere in Asia. Hell, there was a recent survey of college students in which some ridiculously high percentage couldn't even recognize a photograph of Adolph Hitler! We have the same misguided notion here that we should be teaching "higher order thinking skills" as opposed to facts. In other words a child need not know where Ohio is, but should know what tools to use and how to use them in order to find the answer. The problem is that higher order thinking skills are dependent upon a solid core base of knowledge (which is what E.D. Hirsch argues in favor of). The problem in the United States is that in an increasingly multicultural society the question of just what core knowledge is essential to the larger culture has become politicized. A good many progressive educators fear that such a core body of knowledge excludes minorities and stigmatizes them. Hirsch and Gramasci both argued that the data shows the reverse to be true: that it is the poor and minority students who suffer most from not having a solid grasp of a core body of knowledge... a body of knowledge upon which they can succeed in the larger society and a body of knowledge that can be built upon and expanded... even questioned and challenged. There is at least one teacher of whom I know who teachers her children that the first US president was black (not Washington, but a figure white America has hidden) and that Africans were flying as early as ancient Egypt. Such "facts" are presented as a means of instilling self esteem in the students... but how do such false "facts" assist the student when he or she enters the larger society... and the job market?

For the later point - the problem isn't that the teacher teaches this to people, but the fact that the society has that so ingrained within its curriculum. Quite simply, in Canada, the bulk of people don't know much about history, and don't particularly care (which is the case in most places). One cannot say anything, without ironizing history, or running into too many conflicting viewpoints. As for first Prime Minister, from what I remember that is covered in Grade 10, and takes about 10 minutes of class.

The reason in the differences, is quite simply, as a society, the US functions with far more emphasis on historical characters as role models, the founding fathers, Lincoln, and uses those (most of which weren't even that exemplary all things considered, or have been revamped to fit an agenda) instead of, for instance, contemporary figures, religious figures, or even self-reflexive figures.

Everyone at a young age, it would seem, requires a sense of rolemodel - but history, in the sense of teaching at the young age, ultimately undercuts that, by taking away mythical elements, and the closeness between the young person, and the idol. Keep in mind, the teaching of history in schools ultimately fulfills an agenda, as does the recitation of the pledge of allegiance, or the singing of a national anthem (I don't know how it goes in the States, but in Canada, even the teachers didn't pay much attention to it when it went on). In a sense, I agree with what your colleague did, except that she made the mistake of, instead of completely breaking the problem, merely perpetuating another.

The mythical African-American president, ultimately will be as detached as a figure like George Washington. He serves the purpose of some kids, but in the end, as a role model figure, ends up falling short.

In truth, didactic mechanisms like this only can work if both parties are interested - in the case of this, I can't help but feel a Child would be more interested in the character on TV, who is perhaps more like him, and less boring and removed.

Which brings up an interesting point really; from the perspective of the kid, I would think he is somewhat justified - the only way to break that, really, is to flesh out a cross between the didactic, and the imaginative - the educational, and the recreational. That is by no means a new idea - computer software has been written for kids, to teach anything from basic math, to reading (I would know, as a kid, I was exposed to perhaps the vastest collection, given that my family is family friends with the former owner of The Learning Company CD-Rom company, which pretty much was the dominant company on the market at the time). But that is a more modern (albeit not so modern) example. It goes back beyond that - things like Hans Christen Anderson, or Antoine de Saint-Exupèrey's works - or even at a more basic level, your ordinary picture book.

Or perhaps even on the television, which surprisingly, has (or at least had in the 90s, since I haven't watched anything pretty much since I was about 10) a strong didactic current.

Take perhaps the best example (in keeping with the themes of Lit-Net anime weekend) of mid-90s Children's programming (this is for Canada, supposedly the phenomenon didn't fair as well in the US) - the series Sailor Moon. Essentially, the series functions on two levels (I am talking here about the original North American variant that they dubbed in Toronto from I think 1995, I know little about the Japanese version, though I am told it is quite different)- one, it has a strong feminist (or at least, empowering) undercurrent, aimed specifically at boosting self esteem, in a manner that was directly formed around concepts of female identity and culture - such as preoccupation with silly romantic interests, and the physical body and secondly, a strong undercurrent of didactic everyday knowledge, masked in elaborate metaphors and guises. The heroines are essentially exaggerated character types (exaggerated in the sense that their emotions are exaggerated, in keeping more or less with the conventions of anime), and are designed to fit into this sense of empowerment, yet at the same time, relate to the target audience. The show is heavily didactic, often is rather clever ways, and essentially, being perhaps the biggest cultural phenomenon of its time for female viewers in that age group, had I would argue, a lasting effect - by perpetuating a desire to mimic these Sailor characters, especially in their idealized form, television programming was perhaps able to fill in a gap, or boost at least the educational potential. Airing the program in the morning surely added a boost to its potential.


Now take another example from around the same time, that of the American program Power Rangers. I still don't quite understand what the deal is with the talking head, and quite simply the series doesn't inspire anything that the other one did. The show ultimately only projects violent content, which, in a sense, I would argue, clouds a distinction between right and wrong, and projects a solution of violence and brute force as a solution to problems.

I think, the reason has a lot to do with the mentality behind the creation of the series: Power Rangers was, one must remember, primarily geared toward a male American audience, just after the fall of the Soviet Union (perhaps though, with a little effort, it can be seen as a continuation of the earlier comic-book concepts). Politically speaking, it perpetuated a sense of Regan days violence and brute force as a solution, and perhaps would perpetuate a sense of militaristic culture, built upon fighting the enemies in the service of a big talking head-leader type figure. Certainly, when considered, the show would likely promote a sort of fascist agenda, and encourage a sort of bully mentality - one that is reflected within American culture to this day. But what is clear though, is these power rangers did, for the most part, serve as role model like figures for their audience.

Now, to tie it in with homeschooling - really, even if you go to a public school, the bulk of education is still bound to come from outside the classroom at even the earliest stages. Something like these two television series help to illustrate the point. What the public school system is designed to do, is to really give the resources and time required to teach basic skills, enabling a positive development. The actual education ultimately will come at home. What that means is, until the problem is really worked out, the public schools need to compensate for the inequalities between students, and budget their resources. At the primary levels, what that essentially means, is basic reading skills, basic writing skills (including the physical act, though in China, this is more gradual I'm told), basic math skills, and very minor rough facts from a wide range of subjects - history, basic, basic science (including basic introduction into methodology), perhaps basic music and art skills, and, if you are in Canada, very, very basic French skills (or English skills if you are studying in a French school). The rest of the time, and resources, are allocated for teaching other, equally as important skills - these generally vary somewhat depending on culture, but mostly they are social, skills, such as sports and fitness (which is both physical and social), teamwork, time budgeting, basic moral questioning, and ultimately an encouragement toward discussion (though, all these social aspects seem to vary greatly between cultures, as cultures socially vary). These latter skills, most often require a school system, as the homeschool system doesn't particularly encourage interaction between people. Beyond that too, I don't think it probable that someone homeschooled will meet people they wouldn't encounter through their parents, which perhaps puts a social wall between people.

Beyond that then, what goes on at home is the coming together of all these things. Practicing, for instance, the new words one learned at school, or doing your homework, or even, as I hope I illustrated, watching TV, or going to play games in the garden, or even reading a book.

Something like Barbie Doll culture has had the most profound didactic imprint on the minds of generations, more so than I dare say, any number of school classes. But the classes still, from my mind, are necessary - the only thing to really do, is to bulk them up to a certain level (something which varies between place to place), and make sure they teach things that actually do what they are expected to.

The US, from what I've seen, generally has tougher problems in many areas than Canada does, notably on a great focus on methodology and politics, something which carries forward into university classrooms, and isn't approached really the same way here, from what I've seen. Britain seems to have their own problems, but from what I've seen, based on a culture that really fell, and then really stopped caring, and an education agenda and budget that supports this perception. Canada has many problems as well, but I think is a little bit better off, in terms of equality and resource availability. Japan, arguably, is far better than most of these countries, though the system reflects a value system which I am only beginning to understand myself, and is not without its own flaws. But public schooling, is still more than necessary.

A classroom gives students what parents cannot - and that is time, and interaction. Quite simply, when learning with other people, it has been shown that people do better. The world isn't designed for individual action - humans, and all species generally, have always worked better in groups. What schools do, is perpetuate that sentiment, and try to carry it over, which is something homeschooling cannot do.

Dave Scotese
05-25-2009, 08:29 PM
The problem in the United States is that in an increasingly multicultural society the question of just what core knowledge is essential to the larger culture has become politicized.

Most of the solutions I've seen to that call for more politics - policy change, that is. I argue for freedom. If the question has been answered poorly due to politics (as seems to be the case), people should have a choice to opt out. Or even if it hasn't been answered poorly - they should still have the choice to opt out. Maybe I see more good coming from individual choice than most people.

It seems that there are a few people here who feel that if the "majority" (of what, the neighborhood, the city, the state - it's unclear, but anyway...) feels that parents are doing a poor job raising their children, the children should be taken away. How poor is poor? Where do we draw the line? If you think it's ever justified to (coercively) take children away from their parents (for, say, 6 hours a day), what portion of the families of your fellow citizens do you think are unfit to keep their children if and when they choose to?


I would also like to add, that as I know it, rote memorization for the majority of subjects is the most effective way to learn. Languages for instance, require that (though, from what I understand, American education isn't too language heavy). Science too benefits from this mode of learning, and believe it or not, English as well. It's perhaps the most useful skill - just try going back to memorizing after taking a break. I can tell you, after about 10 years of not memorizing poems, going back was a major difficulty. I used to get them on the first or second reading, now, it takes at least half an hour for a sonnet, which is reduced from 2 hours, as my memory improved.

Certainly, if you want to learn facts, rote memorization is the best method. What does that do to your motivation and ability to seek and discover - the tendencies we are born with? I think if we want to pretend that we already know everything, and we should just give everyone a big taste of certain key pieces of it, then rote memorization makes sense. But the more I learn, the more I see that I don't know, and, indeed, no one knows. Since there is so much as yet undiscovered knowledge out there, it makes more sense to me to leave the rote memorization for those working in fields where they'll get tired of looking it up in the reference book. Indeed, every job I ever had where this happens, the reference book only gets used for the first week or so. Memorization of useful facts happens automatically. It's the destruction of curiosity that bothers me.


As for the literature, to get back on it - it seems like some pretty mediocre typically American stuff.
I was under the impression that this site was dedicated to discussing literature, rather than dismissing it with superficial denigration. Have you read it? Do you have specific critiques?


The world isn't designed for individual action - humans, and all species generally, have always worked better in groups.
Do you think it matters whether the individuals in the group have a choice to be there or not? If so, what effects would you expect when the choice is taken away?

kiki1982
05-26-2009, 01:21 PM
If you think it's ever justified to (coercively) take children away from their parents (for, say, 6 hours a day), what portion of the families of your fellow citizens do you think are unfit to keep their children if and when they choose to?

I would probably conclude, after an afternoon's thinking that the answer would be 99,9%, if not 100%. Unless he is a person who perfectly masters all subjects he teaches and possesses the skill to teach in itself, he should not teach his children. These days it is impossible to possess such knowledge on each sbject that is required, because, as you say, there is too much to learn. But, in order to explain, one should know. How many are there in the general populaton who can explain in detail how the theory of relativity works? and what its uses are? The base of it, where it cmes from, is much more than the formula. And as such, to understand it, one needs to understand the framework. Looking it up in a reference book will not explain.

Knowing facts is a platform or framework for reasoning. If one doesn't know facts, one can't reason. Compare it to a language: if one does not know grammar, one is not able to speak, and people do not understand one. If one does not know words, one can't speak. Grammar is memorised, vocabulary is memorised. Looking the grammar up in a reference book is not an option, because while speaking it just needs to come there and then. Reading a book, it needs to come there and then too, otherwise we can't understand what it says. There are languages that are less severe with grammar, but there are the ones like Latin that just have to be memorised because reference books would make the whole thing a wood through which one can't see the trees (to use a Dutch expression). If I had to look up every word in a book in a foreign language, like English is to me, and not learn it, I'd end up looking up all the time the same word, until finally after 20 times I would know it. If I had learned it the first time, I'd have spared myself the journey to the bookshelf twenty times, the looking up twenty times and the aggravation that the loss of concentration has as a consequence. Besides, had I learned language by using them, I'd never have mastered German or French. And certainly not English spelling (which is still not perfect, but at least acceptable).

A better example of off-the-top-of-your-head information would be philosophy: all philosophers draw on one before them, or a series of philosophers before them. They know what they taught, and have thought about that, expressing their own thoughts. If all philosophers just thought thier own thoughts from the start, there would be nothing new because they would all start from the beginning. Even great renewers, like Nietsche (?) drew on people before them. Radically changing that train of thoughts, of course, but nonetheless using that knowledge to disagree. And argument why they disagreed.

How is one supposed to orientate oneself in a country or even in the world if one hasn't had to learn which countries are where? Going on holiday, we could look it up in a reference book, but it is much easier just to know. Looking it up loses you a lot of time. I sometimes do it, because I don't know the counties in England, for example, and when my husband talks about one or when I read about one (Pride an Prejudice: 'will you be in Derbyshire this season, sir?') I just have to orientate myself in that country. There is nothing so bad as not knowing where you are or what people are speaking of!

Memorisation does not have anything to do with us pretending we know everything, it is a shortcut. Why look something up that others know already if you could be spending your time with using that to reason? It is like reinventing the electric lamp. Every time again (for every child and every time the child can't remember because it hasn't had to learn), we look up eagerly when the French Revolution started. Would it not be better, less time-consuming and useless to just teach it to learn that that was on the 14th of July 1789 r jus in the year of 1789? Like that, the child has a reference for other things that it learns (before or after?). Napoleon's downfall: 1815 provides a great 'coathanger' we called it in class. Why? Because after that kings came back briefly, but also... The Viennese Waltz came en vogue. So we can now already place the composer Strauss and the big ball-hype of Gone With the Wind between 1815 through the Civil War and a little after. 1815 is a great date 'coathanger' for the nineteenth century. No 1815, no clue about Napoleon, no clue about when the bl**dy hell Scarlett O'Hara was Dancing, no clue about when the Civil War was possibly taking place if I haven't learned that date. Also no clue when Austen wrote her books, because they take place during the Regency period in England and the Napoleonic wars.

Such dates give you more than a reference to history. They give you a reference to art, music, literature, clothing, society, politics. Knowing where a place is does not make you surprised when the person says they went to the beach or that they had to wear an extra jumper. You might have a more interesting conversation about the country they went on holiday to if you don't have to find out about the most obvious things first...

In dating and situating anonymous texts, for example, the smallest thing can be of consequence: a political quote, the way some word is spelled,... How do antiquarians date furniture, jewellery or other old objects? They know that such and such materials were used between then and then, that such and such techniques were used between then and then, that a company produced between then and then, where they produced, which designers worked when. Which periods gave which results (Jugendstil, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Romanticism, Renaissance), If they had to look all this up... It would be a major work! Now, they look at it, and date up to 20 years accuracy, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes they have to get a more specialised person, because the designer/artist did a lot of work f.e. and they need one who can distignuish between early and later work.

Scientists would not know what another one was talking about if they didn't know their symbols and if they didn't know that V can be several things, depending on the context. So the one who has written the article might as well not have written it because it is useless if no-one can understand. The same as a language: if no-one can understand, there is no use in me speaking.

Knowing fact provides a certain bridge between people of different disciplines. In science this sometimes provides the chance to develop an idea further, because it is a border case. If the scientist who is doing a study does not know what the other one is talking about in his paper because he imself hasspecialised too much, he cannot use that theory for his own argumentation. Or he needs to go into depth into the other science, but that can take years. That is why a platform is a very good thing to have.

Dave Scotese
05-26-2009, 10:00 PM
I would probably conclude, after an afternoon's thinking that the answer would be 99,9%, if not 100% [of the families of my fellow citizens are unfit to keep their children if and when they choose to].

You are a scary person. Have you heard of the book Geek Love? How about The Odyssey? Both show how far away from social expectations people are willing to go to keep and love their progeny. I'm a dad, and I have to say, I feel a cold dark black hole of despair in my heart when I think about how you arrive at and accept this answer you gave.


How many are there in the general populaton who can explain in detail how the theory of relativity works? and what its uses are?

Do you then also advocate imprisonment of those in the general population (for 4 - 6 hours a day or whatever) who can't explain this, so that they may be taught? Or are children somehow different from the general population?


Why look something up that others know already if you could be spending your time with using that to reason?

Ahh, well, I've been in that situation. It happens two or three times and then it's memorized. Why? Because I used it. The things I have memorized that I don't use are mostly gone.

I guess what it comes down to is whether it's better to spend your time memorizing all these facts in case you're ever in a situation where they would be useful, or to spend it studying what interests you. That might still only be rote memorization, but I have found that even the dullest of people tend to impose some kind of meaning on the facts they choose to remember. Schoolchildren, however, seem to just get grumpy and stressed out until the test is over, and then they forget most of what they learned. It was like that for me too.

Perhaps we have some instinctive protection from the rare curse described by Borges in Funes the Memorious (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funes_the_Memorious), and that instinct of forgetting whatever hasn't yet proven useful is exercised in school, to the dismay of the history teacher (and all the other teachers who are forced by standardized testing to try and make their students memorize things).

kiki1982
05-27-2009, 07:56 AM
You are a scary person. Have you heard of the book Geek Love? How about The Odyssey? Both show how far away from social expectations people are willing to go to keep and love their progeny. I'm a dad, and I have to say, I feel a cold dark black hole of despair in my heart when I think about how you arrive at and accept this answer you gave.

Oh, I am scary person because I am one who is modest enough to see that I am not fit to teach my children myself because I acknowledge that I don't know enough of certain subjects to be a worthy teacher? I also feel a dark black hole of despair when I read the above, but I will not result in offense. It is not because I would consider myself unfit to teach my children, that I would not love them. It isjust because would love them, that I would offer them every chance to get to know subjects that do not interest me, or might notinterest them at first sight.


Do you then also advocate imprisonment of those in the general population (for 4 - 6 hours a day or whatever) who can't explain this, so that they may be taught? Or are children somehow different from the general population?

If they don't need that knowledge, then fine, they don't need it, they don't feel that they don't know (I don't know myself). But who is to say which child should know and which not? We cannot see whether a child at five years of age, will become a scientist or not. Therefore, education offers a platform. Otherwise, university professors have to start with explaining a theory that is one of the basic ideas in a lot of sciences in the meantime (it does not only have to do with planets).


Ahh, well, I've been in that situation. It happens two or three times and then it's memorized. Why? Because I used it. The things I have memorized that I don't use are mostly gone.

You might consider them as gone, but when you need it again, it comes back surely. Even if you haven't done it for years it rings a bell. Two years ago, I was on the train with two 18-year-old engineering (?) students. They were complaining about the fact that they could not possibly solve a certain Maths-problem. After a while, I just couldn't stand it any longer, and I told them how to do it. Perfectly simple. It was such a group of 3 problems you had to combine in order to solve the biggest one. I just had to look at it for 5 minutes and I remembered how to do it. Yet I hadn't done it for 6 or 7 years! And then, we only did it very briefly. That kind of stuff also helps you solve puzzles. Because some of them, if not all, are based on mathematical things like that. I will never forget fractions. And that even helps to make cakes ;). Quatre-Quart (I think it is pound-cake in English) is a cake with four parts: butter, flower, eggs and sugar. If I am doing this without recepy and I go for the butter (250g), flower (idem) and sugar (idem) and then I am wondering whether I have everything, the conclusion is no, because I have only 3/4. 1/4 is missing. If I couldn't do fractions, I'd be at a loss and my cake ould go into the oven without eggs and consequently end up not being a cake. Also the fact that 1/4 is stuck in my mind as 250g helps, because 250x4=1000, so I will have 1kg of dough at the end of the process. I don't have to put it on the scales. Some of the knowledge you have to learn in school proves useless to you, but it might not be for another.


I guess what it comes down to is whether it's better to spend your time memorizing all these facts in case you're ever in a situation where they would be useful, or to spend it studying what interests you. That might still only be rote memorization, but I have found that even the dullest of people tend to impose some kind of meaning on the facts they choose to remember. Schoolchildren, however, seem to just get grumpy and stressed out until the test is over, and then they forget most of what they learned. It was like that for me too.

It is not about use, it is about potential. Can we tell, looking at a 6-year-old, what he or she will become when he is older? What we can tell is what talents that child has, but that might also change. I was great at Maths until I was 15 and it proved too much for me. Had they not fostered my French and English (French at which I was crap), I would have been totaly useless at 15. I was going to be an archeologist when I was 12. By 14 I didn't fancy 'digging up corpses' anymore and my interest turned to history. Particularly the middleages and New History (17th century until 1945). After 1945 I can't care less. Still I was taught the Russians, the Cold War (and all the wars or conflicts involved in that: Cuba, Vietnam, Korea), NATO etc. I am glad I learned it, although it was not so interesting to me, because it shaped our world and the society we live in now in a great way. I wasn't interested in books/reading until I was 15 and discovered adult literature. If I hadn't been asked to make a book review, and had been a self-directed learner, I'd have never discovered that interested me because I had not had the slightest inclination to take up a book and read it. It was only through one article in school that I came in contact with linguistics. I had neer though about that topic, but it was part of the curriculum. How can one be interesed if one doesn't know something?

Children should not be stressed for a test. The thing they should get used to, is getting tested. In our lives, we go through tests. We are expected to prove that we can do certain things before we are allowed to do them (apart from parenthood). For example to drive a car. If I ride my bike, I don't have to prove I can, but I should know the rules of traffic, otherwise I put my life on the line. As potential car-drivers are more dangerous, they are tested before they get in that potential killing machine. In our lives we are also continuously asked to do things we don't want, or to take disadvantages with the advantages of something. We cannot, as normals adults, only do what we want. Take even presidents and kings/queens: they need to take the great celebrity-interest with their function. Obama goes for a dinner with his wife, half the neighbourhood turns up. Kings/queens are expected to behave a certain way, because otherwise everyone gets offended. They need to ask permission to marry to the parliament. They cannot decide to all of a sudden cancel an appointment, because everyone would be offended. Nor can Obama. And I am not talking about really important decisions that involve the whole of the country... Of course, when Obama decided to go for president, we might say he chose this, but does he choose also the ceremonial clap-trap and would he not like to change that? Maybe, but that is not what he should do according to the rest. And he is reportedly the most powerful man on this earth. We cannot choose not to work (what would we live on?). We cannot leave work when we want to. We cannot choose not to pay our taxes. We cannot choose to drive on the left side of the road (in England and a few oher countries on the right). We cannot even choose to have our identity cards without biometric details in some countries. Has anyone asked a person who comitted a crime whether he should go to prison? No, because the law, and consequently society, has decided that way. Surely, the perpetrator would rather be free. Possibly to kill another person or break into another house. So why should children not become used to having freedom with borders? We cannot be left totally free, because that limits our existence. Children who have no rules, turn out difficult because there is no structure. Rules are freedom. Generalisation is freedom. Specialisation fixes a child in its earlier choices and limits. General learning, outside of its direct interests, gives it freedom to do something else when it feels like it. Isn't that wonderful? :)


Perhaps we have some instinctive protection from the rare curse described by Borges in Funes the Memorious (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funes_the_Memorious), and that instinct of forgetting whatever hasn't yet proven useful is exercised in school, to the dismay of the history teacher (and all the other teachers who are forced by standardized testing to try and make their students memorize things).

I think that is a great misconeption of that book. Borges illustrated the problem of over-detailing and not enough generalisation. Funes would like to describe everything absolutely, even naming a object stating the time, because objects change with time. This prevents generalisation and thus reasoning. Borges does not argue that we should forget the details, butthat we should generalise, and that can only be done by not putting the details on the level of general ideas (in the Platonic sense). One does not learn history by learning detail, one learns history and remembering the bi points (generlisation). Structure in anything is made by generalisation, not by detail. How do we remember a landscape? By its over-all structure. How many hills there just were is not important. How many hoses there were is not important. But we do remember the church tower. New York was remembered as the city with those skyscrapers in the middle of its sky-line, and more particularly by the twin-towers. Were there no other buildings in the city? Surely there were.
How do we remember a certain day in our lives? By one thing that happened, not the whole bl**dy day, unlike Funes.
What does the word 'bird' tells us? It is a creature with wings, that fies through the air, with feathers and mostly a long beak (general idea). Yet, there are millions of birds in the world (detail). If every person had to learn all those species and sub-species like Funes, it would be impossible. Yet, if someone speaks to us about something and we don't know what it is, and he says: 'it is a bird,' then we at least know more or less what he means. That proves also useful in speaking another language. We might not know the detail, but we might know the general word.
That is what schooling is about: learning general facts, so that one knows more or less, on a low level what another person is talking about. Whether it is about molecules, atoms, history, maths, biology.

If people are only educated in their particular interest, they are very limited. Even scientists learn about other sciences, because they find useful things in them. If they weren't provided with that knowledge beforehand, it would be totally impossible.

Scheherazade
05-27-2009, 08:39 AM
~
Please do not personalise your comments.

Such posts will be removed without any furhter notice.
~

1n50mn14
05-27-2009, 12:03 PM
I dropped out of highschool a little over a year ago because I was offered an opportunity that I thought far more important than regular schooling... I do not regret my decision. I never agreed with the moral values that institutions tried to force onto me, anyway. Win-win. I am still going to make something of my life, and will probably write my GED (high school equivalency) just so that I don't have to struggle quite as much to overcome some roadblocks, but anybody who doesn't believe me... I'll send you an e-mail in a few years when I'm a published author, living back in the U.K and running my own successful horse stable, with a flat in London and a house in the countryside :p

Dave Scotese
05-27-2009, 01:08 PM
I will always be afraid of people who feel that anything above s or 10% of their fellow citizens ought to be coerced in any way, including having their children taken from them for 4-6 hours a day for "schooling". Government is the only acceptable executor of such coercion, and it is everywhere and generally abused.

I think the natural rate of truly criminal behavior (forget about legislation - I'm talking about stealing, killing, fraud - stuff built into common law - the kinds of rules people followed before Hammurabi wrote them down) is very low. It is artificially raised by adding laws that make personal choices illegal (riding a bike without a helmet? Camping in a public park? Spending all the money you earn and not saving any for the government?), and further increased by constraining people's freedom to pursue their own interests (why do you need a license to run a business?), or to eat, drink, or smoke what they please (Why is marijuana illegal?).

So, 5%, I'd say is about as high as I'm comfortable with, of fellow citizens that should be coerced into anything. And what that thing is should be a way for them to make up for the damage that their criminal behavior has done.

I'm sorry for personalizing my fear.

kiki1982
05-27-2009, 01:50 PM
I think we forget here that most people do not have the money to home school. Even if they had the skills, they couldn't because they have to go out to work because their partners do not earn enough.

School, whatever people may say, is not abusing. Certainly not if it is a proper school. I am sure that there are in the US also good schools available. Maybe not in the public sector. Do we think that Eton (in the UK) is a drug-ridden, violent school?

If the school is a good environment, there is no harm in it.

For people to live happily together in a state, there need to be rules. Were does the one freedom end and the other begin?

Just a few minutes ago, I encounter a post of Peripatetics. He/She uses a Greek word. 15 years ago (13 years old), I was coerced into learning a tiny bit of Greek. For three months. But it did not agree with me. Yet now, 14-15 years later, I can read this word. I never needed that knowledge. Yet, it came back when I tried to decifre that word. What had I done if I hadn't been abl to red it? I had gone to a translation engine, but this is not an option because it is philosophy.

Dave Scotese
05-27-2009, 03:33 PM
I think we forget here that most people do not have the money to home school. Even if they had the skills, they couldn't because they have to go out to work because their partners do not earn enough.

Perhaps some of us forgot, but I don't think it matters whether or not they can afford it. It should be their decision. You disagree with that, don't you? We just have to agree to disagree because I don't think financial ability should be used as a pretext for coercion. I think the only good reason to use coercion against a person (or a family) is criminal behavior, as defined by the community through common law, judged by juries in community courts when parties disagree too much to settle their own differences.


School, whatever people may say, is not abusing. Certainly not if it is a proper school. I am sure that there are in the US also good schools available. Maybe not in the public sector. Do we think that Eton (in the UK) is a drug-ridden, violent school?

If the school is a good environment, there is no harm in it.

If it is good, yes. I think whether or not it is good for a particular child is a decision the parents of that child should be allowed to make, and their decision should be respected by the community and the school and the government. Compulsive schooling doesn't respect it, and the resulting damage is in evidence.


For people to live happily together in a state, there need to be rules. Were does the one freedom end and the other begin?

I think it ends at the point where the efforts of unwilling participants are required to enforce the rules. This means a citizen's taxes should be used to enforce only those laws with which the citizen agrees. Certainly, big corporations will not wish to help enforce the particular laws that keep them from exploiting people and resources, but everyone who does will. If they are able to enforce the laws without the financial help of those companies, then it is the right thing for the whole society. That is a basic faith in democracy and human cooperation that I have.


Just a few minutes ago, I encounter a post of Peripatetics. He/She uses a Greek word. 15 years ago (13 years old), I was coerced into learning a tiny bit of Greek. For three months. But it did not agree with me. Yet now, 14-15 years later, I can read this word. I never needed that knowledge. Yet, it came back when I tried to decifre that word. What had I done if I hadn't been abl to red it? I had gone to a translation engine, but this is not an option because it is philosophy.
I always enjoy looking up the words I don't understand anyway. I guess you consider that a waste of time? I especially enjoy studying the Greek and Latin roots as they often show how propaganda perverts the meanings of words by the contrast between those roots and their current common meaning. Perhaps, with this digression, you see how memorizing things and hence not needing to look them up (and have the chance to see them in a different light) could be used by a propagandistic government to maintain its control in the face of slowly destructive policies that keep power in the hands of the powerful elite. It's nice when people recognize these things.

Lynne50
05-27-2009, 04:02 PM
Interestingly enough, I had an idea before I turned negative on school itself. My idea was that kids in high school should be teaching the kids in grade school. Now that I understand what school is all about, I think a simple "babysitting" service would be ideal. Grace Llewellyn provides many examples of teenagers doing useful things with their lives while opting out of school - though I haven't gotten to that part of her book yet. Perhaps running a babysitting service is one of them.

In Dumbing Us Down, Gatto describes community and how compulsive schooling kind of crowds it out of the lives of people - parents and children alike - by disallowing freedom of association: kids are kept away from adults except for "certified educators", including their own parents, and also kept away from kids of different ages for the most part, and forced to spend time with the other kids in their class.

I have never read either author you spoke of, but the last part of your statement about "dumbing us down" is the farthest from the truth at the school where I teach.. Our parents are welcomed in school, actively participating in many events throughout the year. Our younger children have "study buddies", older children in the school, that provide much cooperative learning. Our school also strives for volunteerism. Every grade level contributes to a different philantrophic cause. One of our goals for our children is to be a responsible, contributing member of society. And the last statement about being forced to spend time with the other kids in their class is, in my opinion, forcing anti-social behavior. We are not going to like everyone in this world, but one must be respectful, tolerant, and learn to share. What better place, than a schoolroom with diverse economic, cultural, and educational backgrounds to learn how to get a long. Oh, I forgot, to mention this... I teach in a public school.

Dave Scotese
05-27-2009, 05:44 PM
I have never read either author you spoke of, but the last part of your statement about "dumbing us down" is the farthest from the truth at the school where I teach.. Our parents are welcomed in school, actively participating in many events throughout the year. Our younger children have "study buddies", older children in the school, that provide much cooperative learning. Our school also strives for volunteerism. Every grade level contributes to a different philantrophic cause. One of our goals for our children is to be a responsible, contributing member of society. And the last statement about being forced to spend time with the other kids in their class is, in my opinion, forcing anti-social behavior. We are not going to like everyone in this world, but one must be respectful, tolerant, and learn to share. What better place, than a schoolroom with diverse economic, cultural, and educational backgrounds to learn how to get a long. Oh, I forgot, to mention this... I teach in a public school.
Study buddies is a great idea. Is it forced on them or are they allowed to choose whether or not to have one - and if they do have one, how is their buddy selected? Do they mix the classes up for a month or two so the kids who find each other to be helpful in studying have time to find each other?

The more control the kids have over the group of other kids that they sit or discuss things with, the better. Being alone a lot seems to help kids find their curiosity and start expressing it too. I don't know how that can happen in school, though I suppose if the teacher manages to make all the kids be quiet, those who are ready for some alone time get it - as long as their personal exploration can be done at a desk.

Are the kids in each grade forced to help with the philanthropic cause, or is it an option for them? How do they choose what cause to support, or is that choice made for them?

Are the parents encouraged to attend classes and hold little discussion groups, or is their participation limited to "events" - I mean, if a parent wants to be his child's teacher, is that possible, or do such parents have to homeschool to do that? Do parents ever disagree with the curriculum of the school, and if so, how is that handled?

Where is your school? How does it compare to other schools in your district? How does your district compare with neighboring districts?

I really like the study buddy and philanthropic programs. How long have they been in effect?

kiki1982
05-31-2009, 07:38 AM
Perhaps some of us forgot, but I don't think it matters whether or not they can afford it. It should be their decision. You disagree with that, don't you? We just have to agree to disagree because I don't think financial ability should be used as a pretext for coercion. I think the only good reason to use coercion against a person (or a family) is criminal behavior, as defined by the community through common law, judged by juries in community courts when parties disagree too much to settle their own differences.

Financial ability is not used for coercion as such. But how can one teach, if one has to go to work? If the child finds itself in a good, constructive school (of which there are definitely around!) I don't think there is any parent that can do better.


If it is good, yes. I think whether or not it is good for a particular child is a decision the parents of that child should be allowed to make, and their decision should be respected by the community and the school and the government. Compulsive schooling doesn't respect it, and the resulting damage is in evidence.

Parents can take a decision on that, yes. If they are not blinded by strange principles or a little backlash that their child received. And if that decision is taken, it should be verified if those parents are in a state good enough to teach their child like at school (both knowledgewise, and pedagogiclly educated). Financial ability is also an issue, but I guess that is up to the parents to decide. However, all hose people who are involved in the credit crisis also took their decisions on their own... The question is how fa people should be allowed to go.


I think it ends at the point where the efforts of unwilling participants are required to enforce the rules. This means a citizen's taxes should be used to enforce only those laws with which the citizen agrees. Certainly, big corporations will not wish to help enforce the particular laws that keep them from exploiting people and resources, but everyone who does will. If they are able to enforce the laws without the financial help of those companies, then it is the right thing for the whole society. That is a basic faith in democracy and human cooperation that I have.

If people are unwilling, they are in the wrong place. And I don't mean that about school, I mean that about the subject they are studying. If they are not really interested in history, they should not be doing it for four hours a week, but only two so they have at least a basic knowledge. If they would like to do woodwork instead of sewing, then why coerce them into woodwork. But there are certain things that are indespensible.

However, if society were to ask all people living in that society if they wanted to support such and such government scheme or not we would go back to the times of the Celts... Even then there were elders who decided for the comunity. Adopting this scheme would have total chaos as a consequence. If the industry did not pay for social security, there wouldn't be any. I guess that is more the case in the USA than in Europe. People have to be forced about taking their responsibility. Otherwise they do not take it. Take insurance companies. When do they ever pay up? Not. One needs to go to court to make them pay and then they still try to get out of it. Do we want a good roads? Yes. Do we want to pay for them? No. Well tough, you pay for that road, that proves its use. If we were all left to decide on our own, nothing would budge and we would certainly not have ended up as we are: in a society that takes care of the weak (at least more or less). Because we do not want to pay for that continuously. Yet, we are happy when we are sick that someone pays for us, though maybe unwillingly.


I always enjoy looking up the words I don't understand anyway. I guess you consider that a waste of time? I especially enjoy studying the Greek and Latin roots as they often show how propaganda perverts the meanings of words by the contrast between those roots and their current common meaning. Perhaps, with this digression, you see how memorizing things and hence not needing to look them up (and have the chance to see them in a different light) could be used by a propagandistic government to maintain its control in the face of slowly destructive policies that keep power in the hands of the powerful elite. It's nice when people recognize these things.

Shifts in meaning do not occur because of governments. They have been longer around than governments even. They do occur, because people use words differently. Nevertheless, we cannot start using a word in its original Latin or Greek meaning, if that is not the same in the language we are talking in. I am sure, you get that. My husand and I are linguists...

Words get badly translated, words get to be a verb because of a writer, words get a wider use, words become archaic, words get different pronunciation. Has nothing to do with governments or big brother, but everything with people like you and me, or should I say thee and me (because you was actually the informal of thee at some point and I would be using thee if I were speaking to a not-known person). No I shan't, as they would have said it until the 70s. Because it sounds strange. Just because those words have gone away and we now use different ones to express the same. Nobody ever told us to do so.

Nothing to do with Latin or Greek. And anyway, how would I have been able to look up the Greek root,if I knew no Greek? Hard... Very hard... For that, one has to study first without being interested. And how is one interested without knowing it? By being introdruced to it by another.

Dave Scotese
05-31-2009, 04:09 PM
But how can one teach, if one has to go to work?

Hmm. You are answering a question about whether or not families who don't want to send their children to school should be forced to. Your answer assumes that a child must have a teacher and that the government, has to solve this problem for any family that has it. Below, you address this. I feel that the parents of a family are responsible for that family, and if they can't find a way to raise their child and earn enough at the same time, they should find the solution that's right for them rather than being forced into the one the government created. The government is not our mommy and daddy.


...If they are not blinded by strange principles or a little backlash that their child received. And if that decision is taken, it should be verified if those parents are in a state good enough to teach their child like at school (both knowledgewise, and pedagogiclly educated)... The question is how fa people should be allowed to go.

How can anyone besides the parents decide what are "strange principles" or who is "in a state good enough to teach their child" (and why would you qualify that with "like at school"?). How far should people be allowed to go?

They should be allowed to go as far as they want, up to the point where they are breaking laws willingly supported by enough citizens to stop them. Again, you address this below...


However, if society were to ask all people living in that society if they wanted to support such and such government scheme or not we would go back to the times of the Celts... Even then there were elders who decided for the comunity. Adopting this scheme would have total chaos as a consequence. If the industry did not pay for social security, there wouldn't be any.

Isn't asking "all people living in that society if they wanted to support such and such government scheme" the fundamental principle of democracy? I mean, doesn't your country already do that?

Chaos and freedom look the same from the outside, don't you think?

Do you prefer to force people to give up part of their income to an institution so that the institution can help the needy, or to allow people to help the needy directly? If you weren't forced to help (by the tax laws), would you contribute anything to any program that helps the needy? If so, would it be a government program or a non-government program?


If we were all left to decide on our own, nothing would budge and we would certainly not have ended up as we are: in a society that takes care of the weak (at least more or less).

I understand that position. I think it reflects an unfortunate lack of faith in people. From afar, I find that most people appear very foolish. However, when I engage them, they turn out to be pretty smart. I can see how this closer=smarter effect leads most people to feel that "If we were all left to decide on our own, nothing would budge." However, I always leave all my clients to decide on their own, and my children usually decide things on their own - after I've explained to them what I've decided on my own. We do budge less often, but it's never very far in a direction that turns out to be bad. Leaving people free to choose brings out their best. I think the problem the government solves by avoiding such freedom is a problem for big business: it's difficult to get people to fall for all the latest gizmos, gadgets, fashions, and services when they are at their best. They save more, stick with what works, approach new things with caution, watch less TV, and have meaningful discussions. Corporations have a much harder time exploiting them.


Yet, we are happy when we are sick that someone pays for us, though maybe unwillingly.

Some of us, I suppose. Not me. I loathe being a charity case. Even for those who are happy that someone else has been forced to pay for them, the loss of dignity is abrasive to the human spirit. I imagine that people living always on the dole have very little spirit left. Part of growing up is finding the joy in suffering (and thereby learning) from your own mistakes, no?


Shifts in meaning do not occur because of governments. They have been longer around than governments even. They do occur, because people use words differently. Nevertheless, we cannot start using a word in its original Latin or Greek meaning, if that is not the same in the language we are talking in. I am sure, you get that. My husand and I are linguists...

If you are categorically denying that propaganda by redefinition ever occurs, I have to wholeheartedly disagree. I understand that most shifts in meaning occur because of common usage, but I also understand that popularized usage (that is, media control) is a tool of propaganda that has been used across the globe for centuries, and redefining terms through it is one of its main strategies.


Nothing to do with Latin or Greek. And anyway, how would I have been able to look up the Greek root,if I knew no Greek? Hard... Very hard... For that, one has to study first without being interested. And how is one interested without knowing it? By being introdruced to it by another.
Ever heard of Google? You can type a word in ANY language and you're a few clicks away from an explanation of it in whatever language you understand.

It isn't hard! Even without a computer you could just ask the person who used the word - if they don't know its etymology, then ask others. Curiosity saves the day, you know? It brings people together too. Geez, now that you bring it up, maybe we'd all have healthier communities if everyone always had to find someone else to explain new things (rather than being sat in front of a teacher who would explain them without even being asked). Talk about how school is necessary for socialization - maybe it's just trying to be a solution to a problem it caused in the first place?

People who are working don't have time, you'll argue, I assume, to answer a lot of questions from kids roaming the streets trying to find stuff out that they "should have" learned in school. Well, only one of them needs to find out, and that one can pass it on, and the information will spread like a virus if it's useful. You can accuse me of being utilitarian - I am - but I put a higher value on the freedom of others (yes, even to keep their kids out of school) than on anything I think they should do. To me, the greatest utility I get from others comes from their freedom. Perhaps I have been consulting too long to see it any other way.

kiki1982
05-31-2009, 06:47 PM
Hmm. You are answering a question about whether or not families who don't want to send their children to school should be forced to. Your answer assumes that a child must have a teacher and that the government, has to solve this problem for any family that has it. Below, you address this. I feel that the parents of a family are responsible for that family, and if they can't find a way to raise their child and earn enough at the same time, they should find the solution that's right for them rather than being forced into the one the government created. The government is not our mommy and daddy.

Oh, so a child only needs a minder to supervise that he actually studies during the day. Or maybe only a minder to go with him somewhere so he can learn from himself?


How can anyone besides the parents decide what are "strange principles" or who is "in a state good enough to teach their child" (and why would you qualify that with "like at school"?). How far should people be allowed to go?

Creationism is such a principle that should not be taught, as far as I am concerned and as far as the whole of the scientific world is concerned. If the parent does not know a sufficient amount of subjects, he should not teach his child. Then he is an unworthy teacher or mentor, whatever you want to call it.


They should be allowed to go as far as they want, up to the point where they are breaking laws willingly supported by enough citizens to stop them. Again, you address this below...

They should not be allowed to go as far as they want. If everone went as far as they wanted, no-one would be able to go far, because one's freedom ends when the other one's freedom begins. The parent's freedom to decide stops where the child's freedom to learn as much as he can begins. Despite what you may say about self-directed learning, it can be very damaging if the child is never interested out of itself.


Isn't asking "all people living in that society if they wanted to support such and such government scheme" the fundamental principle of democracy? I mean, doesn't your country already do that?

Of course that is democracy, but with limitations. We choose a parliament and the parliament decides what they want for us. Including everyone is impossible, because it causes too many opinions, and too many choices and in the end nothing moves: in Italy and early Soviet Russia this is the case.


Chaos and freedom look the same from the outside, don't you think?

Chaos and freedom might look the same, but they are not. In chaos no-one knows what anyone is doing and nothing can be done, while in freedom something gets done and everyone knows what everyone else is doing, or that should be the case. That is why it is called freedom and not chaos. Chaos works paralysing.


Do you prefer to force people to give up part of their income to an institution so that the institution can help the needy, or to allow people to help the needy directly? If you weren't forced to help (by the tax laws), would you contribute anything to any program that helps the needy? If so, would it be a government program or a non-government program?

I think you would choose the latter, and I as a European choose the first. Little organisations cost a lot of money, and it is principally the state who needs to care for the needy in our society. Over the ocean this seems to be alien to society, particularly in the USA (Canada I believe is a little more moderate. JBI will be able to explain something about this). It is the state's business to give the people who have worked for our society a pension, to give the unemployed a benefit, to give the sick both care and a benefit. To enhance the installation of solar panels by giving subsidies, to stimulate birth rates by issuing a child benefit.


Some of us, I suppose. Not me. I loathe being a charity case. Even for those who are happy that someone else has been forced to pay for them, the loss of dignity is abrasive to the human spirit. I imagine that people living always on the dole have very little spirit left. Part of growing up is finding the joy in suffering (and thereby learning) from your own mistakes, no?

Please. We are not allowed to be too harsh here, but I find that sad, despicable and utterly unfair and inhumane what you said. I apologise beforehand for the expression of my disgust. I rarely do this, but his just xasperates me and touches my core. It is not about being a charity case! It is disgusting that people in the USA should choose between two fingers that re ripped off to have one sewn on because they can't afford two. In Europe everyone just finds it normal that you get your two fingers back if possible at all. And society pays for that. If you break your leg, you have sick leave for at least 6 weeks and you get paid. If you get cancer, you get sick leave, maybe for a year or two even, and you get paid. That is the most normal thing. It is an insult to those people to even associate the unfortunate cases with some of them who might just take advantage of the system... The system should never be abolished because of those few cases and I find it utterly disgusting as a human being not to want to help another. 'Because I am fortunate.' The next time you yourself are seriously sick, I trust you will see what I mean. Unless you are one who can actually pay for your own care, but what about the rest? Shall we just leave them to die in the street? Of course, because they don't want to work.


If you are categorically denying that propaganda by redefinition ever occurs, I have to wholeheartedly disagree. I understand that most shifts in meaning occur because of common usage, but I also understand that popularized usage (that is, media control) is a tool of propaganda that has been used across the globe for centuries, and redefining terms through it is one of its main strategies.

Of course it occurs, but not in the big brother way we are addressing here. In very few cases words have beenreally re-indentified especially by the government. Do ou give an adequate example? Both my husband and I have studied linguistics for 4 years so we should know. Fear is a strange thing, it puts ideas in people's heads and they are not even aware...

As if everyone knows etymology... Etymology is a lot less straghtforward and a lot less easy than you think. They have done 100s and 100s of years over the art of etymology. And some words or a lot of them, have no Greek or Latin roots. I'd lke to meet the first person on the street who knows old Germanic which is a major source for English. And I'd like to see the first person who properly knows Sanscrit.


You can accuse me of being utilitarian - I am - but I put a higher value on the freedom of others (yes, even to keep their kids out of school) than on anything I think they should do. To me, the greatest utility I get from others comes from their freedom. Perhaps I have been consulting too long to see it any other way.

So much, that you would allow your kids not to learn to read if they did not want to learn to read, or are there some bounderies to that freedom?

Dave Scotese
05-31-2009, 10:02 PM
Oh, so a child only needs a minder to supervise that he actually studies during the day. Or maybe only a minder to go with him somewhere so he can learn from himself?

I think that's best left up to the parents.


Creationism is such a principle that should not be taught, as far as I am concerned and as far as the whole of the scientific world is concerned. If the parent does not know a sufficient amount of subjects, he should not teach his child. Then he is an unworthy teacher or mentor, whatever you want to call it.

Well, I was taught creationism, and it struck me as so peculiar that I studied competing theories and my best guess now agrees with evolution. Perhaps if one learns that "knowledge and comprehension" come from memorized bits of information instead of exploration and critical analysis of ideas, Creationism becomes a threat. Perhaps, since I never learned to just accept the facts to be memorized, I see no harm in "teaching" creationism. It's almost like teaching Newtonian Physics - it explains things to a degree, but it falls apart under critical analysis. What does Creationism explain that is useful? It explains the relationship between the human individual and the Universe that has given it life and a means to enjoy that life. It is unfortunate that proponents of Creationism want to literally interpret a beautiful metaphorical explanation of creation, but this only serves to show the scientific minded person how to dance with the non-scientific minded person.


Chaos and freedom might look the same, but they are not. In chaos no-one knows what anyone is doing and nothing can be done, while in freedom something gets done and everyone knows what everyone else is doing, or that should be the case. That is why it is called freedom and not chaos. Chaos works paralysing.

In freedom "everyone should know what everyone else is doing"?? I don't understand that. Freedom to me doesn't really have any "should"s in it.

I don't think chaos is paralyzing. The closest I can remember to being in chaos is in the hills behind my high school. We used to have mudball fights and there were no rules. Sometimes we would agree to have teams, but if someone wanted to turn traitor, they did. We learned stealth and strategy and how to use terrain for sneak attacks, and what kind of soil makes good mudballs. All this, in chaos. But we were free - and definitely did not know what everyone else was doing.


It is the state's business to give the people who have worked for our society a pension, to give the unemployed a benefit, to give the sick both care and a benefit. To enhance the installation of solar panels by giving subsidies, to stimulate birth rates by issuing a child benefit.

You assign these responsibilities to the state because you don't think there is any other way to accomplish the good that can result from them. However, there is no way the state can fulfill these responsibilities without funds. Those who agree that the state should handle them should put their money where their mouth is. Those who don't should spend their money as they see fit - and suffer without unemployment benefits and socialized medicine etc. That's what freedom means to me.


It is not about being a charity case! It is disgusting that people in the USA should choose between two fingers that are ripped off to have one sewn on because they can't afford two. In Europe everyone just finds it normal that you get your two fingers back if possible at all. And society pays for that. If you break your leg, you have sick leave for at least 6 weeks and you get paid. If you get cancer, you get sick leave, maybe for a year or two even, and you get paid. (And society pays for that too.) That is the most normal thing.

I find it utterly disgusting as a human being not to want to help another. 'Because I am fortunate.' The next time you yourself are seriously sick, I trust you will see what I mean. Unless you are one who can actually pay for your own care, but what about the rest? Shall we just leave them to die in the street? Of course, because they don't want to work.

You have assigned me an answer I would not give. You justify taking money from unwilling citizens in order to cover the costs of what "society pays for". This suggests that you assign this answer to most people - so many that, you believe, those things that society pays for would be unavailable if only the willing were to pay for them.

I think most people find it utterly disgusting. I certainly do. Even more disgusting, however, is taking away the choice of whether or not they will help. Forcing them to help decreases every feeling of moral obligation to it, and the joy of helping, and the gratitude that the beneficiaries would feel toward those who helped.


Of course it occurs, but not in the big brother way we are addressing here. In very few cases words have beenreally re-indentified especially by the government. Do ou give an adequate example? Both my husband and I have studied linguistics for 4 years so we should know. Fear is a strange thing, it puts ideas in people's heads and they are not even aware...

"Anarchy" means without (political) power. It has come to be identified with chaos and rioting because the media, at the behest of governments who are threatened by anarchy's potential for peace and prosperity, has associated rioting with the term. Most riots that have been described using the word "anarchy" actually took place where there was a government that was doing a crappy job. Pennsylvania's Anarchist Experiment: 1681-1690 (http://mises.org/story/1865) I believe that peace broke out in the northern part of Somalia, now called Puntland, a while back. If it isn't still peaceful, I'd suspect a government has been growing there.


So much, that you would allow your kids not to learn to read if they did not want to learn to read, or are there some bounderies to that freedom?
I don't know if we were lucky or what, but our children always wanted to learn how to read. I don't think you can teach a person to read unless they want to anyway. But yes, I would definitely not try to force them to learn anything. It devalues the knowledge and teaches a very bad association with learning. Rather, I entice them toward the benefits of knowing (how to read, what happened in history, how to calculate, etc.). I often say, "When you can figure it out, let me know and we'll move on (to something they wanted)". I think sometimes I make it too hard for them to get help from me, but they're very bright anyway. Mom helps them even though she feels I am a better teacher. Our youngest often plays the "I'm the baby" card - crying and whining when I explain to her that figuring certain things out takes time and patience, when she just wants me to tell her the answer so she can "learn" it. They're all very resourceful though, so I'm not worried at all.

kiki1982
06-01-2009, 05:27 AM
Well, I was taught creationism, and it struck me as so peculiar that I studied competing theories and my best guess now agrees with evolution. Perhaps if one learns that "knowledge and comprehension" come from memorized bits of information instead of exploration and critical analysis of ideas, Creationism becomes a threat. Perhaps, since I never learned to just accept the facts to be memorized, I see no harm in "teaching" creationism. It's almost like teaching Newtonian Physics - it explains things to a degree, but it falls apart under critical analysis. What does Creationism explain that is useful? It explains the relationship between the human individual and the Universe that has given it life and a means to enjoy that life. It is unfortunate that proponents of Creationism want to literally interpret a beautiful metaphorical explanation of creation, but this only serves to show the scientific minded person how to dance with the non-scientific minded person.

Well, at least you saw the light. There are many who haven't seen it yet. Creationism is something for the religious education class or whatever you want to call it. It is not because science hasn't proven it yet (and that is coming up with the last discovery) that it is not true. How are we supposed to prove Creationism? Not, as it seems. That even has a smaller chance to be proven as the concept it is about is not even proven that it is there. Of evolution it is at least known that other species have evolved. So there is at least an argument.

Creationism is not a threat . As a scientific theory it is totally and utterly misplaced.

The flaws in Newtonian Physics in the meantlime got an explanation.


In freedom "everyone should know what everyone else is doing"?? I don't understand that. Freedom to me doesn't really have any "should"s in it.

Ever heard of the phrase: 'Limitation is freedom'?


I don't think chaos is paralyzing. The closest I can remember to being in chaos is in the hills behind my high school. We used to have mudball fights and there were no rules. Sometimes we would agree to have teams, but if someone wanted to turn traitor, they did. We learned stealth and strategy and how to use terrain for sneak attacks, and what kind of soil makes good mudballs. All this, in chaos. But we were free - and definitely did not know what everyone else was doing.

Oh yes, do that in a real war and you'll be lucky not to get killed. Fortunately it was with mudballs and not real amunition...


You assign these responsibilities to the state because you don't think there is any other way to accomplish the good that can result from them. However, there is no way the state can fulfill these responsibilities without funds. Those who agree that the state should handle them should put their money where their mouth is. Those who don't should spend their money as they see fit - and suffer without unemployment benefits and socialized medicine etc. That's what freedom means to me.

Economics of scale. It is the cheapest and the best organised if there is at least a person organising it who knows how best to do that. Anyway, what do I do, in a system like yours, if there are no charity organisations in my neighbourhood (for whatever I might need) because all my fellow cictizens over there are people who want to keep their money? I move. That is freedom? Indeed, the one's reedom ends where the other one's begins. In this case, my freedom begins when I move, out of need and have to leave my beloved house bcause the others don't see a reaso to provide me with charity. Or otherwise, if with the money those few pay, there are everywhere charity organisations, I might get turned down because they are full. If there is such freedom, am I also allowed to turn to them when I haven't paid for such things, and I suddenly get into a state of need?


You have assigned me an answer I would not give. You justify taking money from unwilling citizens in order to cover the costs of what "society pays for". This suggests that you assign this answer to most people - so many that, you believe, those things that society pays for would be unavailable if only the willing were to pay for them.

Of course they would not be available, not on that large a scale. In some countries it is still not enough. Those citizens that are now unwiling will at some point also become too old to work and they will have earned their rest at 65. People that are unwilling now might just become seriously ill or unemployed. They will get the fruits of the system. We cannot order the tree to deliver fruit, we need to wait patiently for it.


"Anarchy" means without (political) power. It has come to be identified with chaos and rioting because the media, at the behest of governments who are threatened by anarchy's potential for peace and prosperity, has associated rioting with the term. Most riots that have been described using the word "anarchy" actually took place where there was a government that was doing a crappy job. Pennsylvania's Anarchist Experiment: 1681-1690 (http://mises.org/story/1865) I believe that peace broke out in the northern part of Somalia, now called Puntland, a while back. If it isn't still peaceful, I'd suspect a government has been growing there.

It does not stand in my book as rioting and chaos. Anarchy, a disorganised state where no-one is in control.

Can you tell me how many people were in Pennsylvania from 1681 to 1690? And how it came to collapse?

Maybe it has passed you, but Puntland has a parliament, president and budget. Based upon the traditional concept of clans and elders. They have had that for years. Not without problems though, but that might be because there are people that like to meddle. And why are tey independent? Because they are a rich region... And money makes people happy and creates peace.

Dave Scotese
06-01-2009, 11:52 PM
Ever heard of the phrase: 'Limitation is freedom'?

Yes. It sounds like a contradiction until you realize that the limitation that provides freedom is that limitation one poses on oneself in order to be self-reliant: Living below one's means.


Economics of scale. It is the cheapest and the best organised if there is at least a person organising it who knows how best to do that. Anyway, what do I do, in a system like yours, if there are no charity organisations in my neighbourhood (for whatever I might need) because all my fellow cictizens over there are people who want to keep their money? I move. That is freedom?

Of course! Would you have the government take from your neighbors because you are in need? I don't think you would enjoy the neighborhood if that happened. You worry so much about being in need - why is that? You have savings, no? Or perhaps you are imagining yourself in the position of others. That is certainly honorable, but you can't ignore the fact that such worry motivates the would-be poor to live below their means - to be self-sufficient and remain in a position to fix that neighborhood problem of a severe lack of charity. Think positively, and what you see as a problem becomes a great opportunity to be the neighborhood hero.


Indeed, the one's freedom ends where the other one's begins. In this case, my freedom begins when I move, out of need and have to leave my beloved house bcause the others don't see a reason to provide me with charity. Or otherwise, if with the money those few pay, there are everywhere charity organisations, I might get turned down because they are full. If there is such freedom, am I also allowed to turn to them when I haven't paid for such things, and I suddenly get into a state of need?

Yes, there is always a possibility that you end up desperate and needy and out of luck. While its comforting to think that the government will force people to support you if this ever happens, let's not forget how such force affects the level of charity in the hearts of its victims: They lose their money, but gain a relief from that most basic of all human qualities: empathy. It is a devil's trade. Living below my means in order to decrease the perceived need for such a sad state of affairs is the path for me. In other words, we help people in need so that when the government insists that we must pay taxes to take care of them, we can show that there aren't any around - because we already take care of them. Sadly, it is a lonely path, but it works for me. Would you care to join?


Of course they would not be available, not on that large a scale. In some countries it is still not enough. Those citizens that are now unwiling will at some point also become too old to work and they will have earned their rest at 65. People that are unwilling now might just become seriously ill or unemployed. They will get the fruits of the system. We cannot order the tree to deliver fruit, we need to wait patiently for it.

You believe that a person should only have to work until they are 65 years old. Does it matter whether they are heavily in debt at that point, or they have saved enough to retire? Does that matter to you? I would like society to encourage the latter and discourage the former. Profligacy should't merely be discouraged, but feared. What we have now is a mechanism (welfare) that spreads the pain of profligacy across everyone, rather than concentrating it on the guilty party.


Can you tell me how many people were in Pennsylvania from 1681 to 1690? And how it came to collapse?

Did it collapse? I don't think so! I imagine that if some form of government came and saved them from some kind of collapse, it would be in all our history books. The omission is quite glaring. I have looked for an account of how the region came to be governed once again, but have not found it.


Maybe it has passed you, but Puntland has a parliament, president and budget. Based upon the traditional concept of clans and elders. They have had that for years. Not without problems though, but that might be because there are people that like to meddle. And why are tey independent? Because they are a rich region... And money makes people happy and creates peace.
Yes, government is the place for those who like to meddle.
Do you know how Puntland's government came to be? As far as I know, it came to be out of the necessity to declare itself autonomous, and its government remains quite weak, while the country itself survives quite well despite being ignored by just about every other country on the planet. Whether a government appears where there isn't one because of a need, or the same way weeds grow where there is fertile soil, I don't know, but I suspect our opinions on the matter will disagree. One of the horrible causative factors of government in Africa is that governments act as a representative to other countries to receive charity, and so we see much corruption in those countries to which taxpayers are forced to provide aid, much to the detriment of charities whose help could be so much more effective if governments got out of their way.

I found a book by Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt. It has a quote in it that I agree with:
"The human brain should be used for processing, not storage."
-- Thomas A. Kelly, PH.D.
The Effective School Report

Gladys
08-04-2009, 05:21 AM
I agree that schools are little more than child minding, especially in the first ten years. Most teachers spend their time striving for crowd control. Schools do put pressure on most children (through their parents) to learn some skills and acquire some knowledge. However, this process is very slow and, for most students, inefficient and at worst ineffective.

Politically, schooling works by creating a culture that accepts the need for academic learning for all. Most children do learn something! By high-school most read as well as my children on entering school, aged four.

Home-schooling makes eminent sense, though few parents have the time and fewer the ability to facilitate learning. The use of the governess for the rich in bygone centuries also produced better results with teacher to student ratios approaching 1:1.

I think our education systems would work better if those in authority - politicians, principals, teachers, academics - were honest enough to freely admit to these shortcomings. Hardly likely.

Lynne50
08-05-2009, 12:27 AM
I agree that schools are little more than child minding, especially in the first ten years. Most teachers spend their time striving for crowd control. Schools do put pressure on most children (through their parents) to learn some skills and acquire some knowledge. However, this process is very slow and, for most students, inefficient and at worst ineffective.

Politically, schooling works by creating a culture that accepts the need for academic learning for all. Most children do learn something! By high-school most read as well as my children on entering school, aged four.

Home-schooling makes eminent sense, though few parents have the time and fewer the ability to facilitate learning. The use of the governess for the rich in bygone centuries also produced better results with teacher to student ratios approaching 1:1.

I think our education systems would work better if those in authority - politicians, principals, teachers, academics - were honest enough to freely admit to these shortcomings. Hardly likely.

Gladys, why do you think that teachers and principals are not honest enough to see their own shortcomings? They know their limitations, but they also know what they were hired to do, educate, to the best of their ability and resources ALL the children that live in their immediate district. And wouldn't it be great if we could have one-to one ratios for all our classes? But how unrealistic is that? Even homeschooled children, usually take some classes with other children. I think teachers do spectacular jobs considering what some have to deal with, such as number of children per class, no resources, and especially, low pay. I don't think you can make a blanket statement, that says home schooling is better than a public education. There are some homeschoolers that I would definitely not want to educate my children, as well as there are some schools that I wouldn't my children to attend either.
I just didn't like the statement that public schools don't admit their shortcomings. To be effective, schools need and welcome parent involvement. That's what strengthens and improves the learning environment.. Public schools do not take away parental rights and responsiblities. And in some inner city schools, they may spend a lot of time with crowd control, but I think those are exceptions and not the rule. It's those schools that have little or no parent involvement, so if you shut down all the public schools and made the parents teach their own children, do you think they would take that responsiblity seriously? I think not.

Dave Scotese
08-05-2009, 01:32 AM
Gladys, why do you think that teachers and principals are not honest enough to see their own shortcomings? They know their limitations, but they also know what they were hired to do, educate, to the best of their ability and resources ALL the children that live in their immediate district.

I don't think teachers have much power at all in schools. Even their authority over their students is pretty lame. I think most shortcomings of teachers are readily admitted - specifically because they are shortcomings that are imposed on them from above. There are shortcomings in teachers that the teachers can't see - just as we all have - but they are generally considered to be assets by the compulsory public schooling system: tendency toward socialism, an assumption that students need teachers to learn, that learning happens more when students are inactive and paying attention to a teacher (rather than actively pursuing some kind of goal and paying attention to how everything reacts to them), and that measuring students' progress tends to help that progress (when, in fact, measuring learning progress is counterproductive simply because of pscychological reactance).

Principals, I think, are generally in the same lack-of-authority position, being supervised by their school board, which is in turn kept on a financial leash by federal and state mandates that affect funding. However, more authority does generally diminish one's ability to see one's own shortcomings, and principals certainly suffer from that.

Gladys
08-05-2009, 04:34 AM
And in some inner city schools, they may spend a lot of time with crowd control, but I think those are exceptions and not the rule.

While, I do agree with all you've said, Lynne, my original post stands. I also agree with Dave. Far from assigning blame, I'm yearning for improbable honesty.


And in some inner city schools, they may spend a lot of time with crowd control, but I think those are exceptions and not the rule.

The problem with learning at school is, of course, wider than crowd control and includes:

Teaching substantially geared to the median student.


Imprisoning the student for half the day while occupying his mind for perhaps 10% of each session.


Dealing with chronically disruptive or attention seeking students, often bored because they know far too little or far too much.


Bullying and shaming by students and teachers inside and outside the classroom.


Corralling the student inside a classroom with an atmosphere hostile to learning, for the reasons just given.

blazeofglory
09-11-2009, 04:40 AM
Anti schools sentiments is somewhat close to the idea of anarchism. The idea is really appealing and man wants to be free to the extent of following wild laws or no laws at all. We intellectuals know that our social systems are corrupt and it goes against our natural or biological instincts, and that ultimately lead man ultimately to a state of sickness spiritually, yet the fact is that we kind of think about living the way life goes in the wilderness at all. For life out there is deadlier. We watch natural geography and know that there are really mind-thrashing terrible scenes and we really go wild in awe. This accentuates the fact that we like to be governed for fear of some deadly forces.
By the same token we choose to go to school or we cannot deny the institution of school at all from this point of view

Dave Scotese
09-11-2009, 11:27 AM
Anti schools sentiments is somewhat close to the idea of anarchism. The idea is really appealing and man wants to be free to the extent of following wild laws or no laws at all. We intellectuals know that our social systems are corrupt and it goes against our natural or biological instincts, and that ultimately lead man ultimately to a state of sickness spiritually, yet the fact is that we kind of think about living the way life goes in the wilderness at all. For life out there is deadlier. We watch natural geography and know that there are really mind-thrashing terrible scenes and we really go wild in awe. This accentuates the fact that we like to be governed for fear of some deadly forces.
By the same token we choose to go to school or we cannot deny the institution of school at all from this point of view

But it isn't really one or the other, is it? One need not be governed to cooperate with another in an effort to protect each other. Or with several others. The key is cooperation, and that requires choice, which requires freedom. So really, when you say "This accentuates the fact that we like to be governed for fear of some deadly forces," it isn't quite right. It seduces us into being governed if we don't have the brains to choose cooperation. And school tends to suppress the part of the brain that causes cooperation (also called note-passing, talking-in-class, and playing-with-friends). Hence the anti-school sentiment :-).

Hurricane
09-11-2009, 02:27 PM
Public schools (and private schools) aren't perfect, but I would choose either over homeschooling my children. I love instructing and tutoring people, and have given thought to becoming a teacher in the way-off future, but I would still never home school my kids. School isn't just about learning stuff you could get for $1.50 worth of late fees at the library.
My Mother teaches elementary school, and has seen parents pull their kids out to "home school" them because the parents don't want to get up early and get their kids ready for the bus and similar reasons. I wish I was kidding.
Both of my parents are extremely smart and knowledgeable people. Dad's got his PhD, Mom's got her Masters. But if they'd home-schooled my sister and I, we would have had an awful education compared to what we got through the school system. One (or two) people can't possibly teach, or even guide learning, on every possible topic at the high school level.
Learning how to deal with others, particularly ones you don't like, is probably one of the most vital things as a kid. Children can be cruel, and it's important to protect them from the worst of it, but if their only interaction with non-sibling people their age is through a sport that they do for a couple hours a week, I think you're crippling them. School teaches kids how to deal with failure, embarrassment, jerks, and having to do things you don't want do. On a more positive note, school also teaches how to befriend and cooperate with others most efficiently.
A lot of creativity can come out of school: working together with classmates to invent a game, spending recess time productively, etc. My love of literature and history came from and was encouraged by a couple of teachers as far back as third grade. Though history is taught very simplistically at earlier ages, I know by middle and high school I was being taught to question and entertain alternative theories to the consensus. It's very important, I think, to see and understand both sides of an issue to make an informed decision.
I decided to Google Llewellyn and Gatto and read a little bit about each of them. I just don't buy the whole "unschooling" thing. If I'd done that, I probably would never have gone past 10th grade geometry and never taken chemistry or physics. I'd have just read and written bad short stories for the next three years, and I consider myself a very motivated learner (I mean seriously, I'm reading "The Crisis of the 12th Century" for fun right now). Most teenagers won't even do that. I think it's fair to say that a least some of kids' cynicism towards learning comes from having to go to school, but honestly, tough tiddlywinks. Part of life, and of being an adult, is being able to work at things you don't necessarily want to. I don't want to take physics or Calculus III right now. But I have to, and I daresay I'll have a better understanding of my world for doing it.

Dave Scotese
09-11-2009, 03:49 PM
I just don't buy the whole "unschooling" thing. If I'd done that, I probably would never have gone past 10th grade geometry and never taken chemistry or physics. I'd have just read and written bad short stories for the next three years, and I consider myself a very motivated learner

I think you underestimate yourself, but I think most people do that. Not surprisingly, I think it comes from school - more public school than private though. If the topic doesn't bore you or upset you, you might want to Google Iserbyt too. She served as Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education, during the first Reagan Administration. Her work backs up my theory on where people get the tendency to underestimate themselves.

blazeofglory
09-12-2009, 12:12 AM
Ideas about anti-school sentiments is a good idea. Of course there is kind of suppression in schools. Children at their very tender ages get forced to study and at some schools in the east children are kind of treated very cruelly and ruthlessly. Of course there is abuse as a matter of fact.

gbrekken
10-26-2009, 05:37 PM
This thread is not dead. However, inorder to compse a comprehensive reply from even my own limited knowledge will take a great deal of time. Please stay tuned.

blazeofglory
10-27-2009, 07:56 AM
In point of fact this is a great and classical debate. I agree one hundred percent that schools are corrupt today and it warps natural creativity in children in point of fact. Children are persuaded and at times humiliated, intimidated to study and such mechanic ways of study mars their intuitive and congenital capacity for inventiveness through imagination. But we say through our conditioned minds this is called education and civilization, but at the bottom of it they become ruined

estelwen
10-27-2009, 11:10 AM
I was home schooled almost entirely, graduating at 17 with scores better than 94% of American high schoolers. My graduated siblings have had similar results. Our communication skills have been well developed through extensive reading and writing under my mom's instruction. (She is a talented writer) Dad has a degree in biology and oversaw our math and science work.

My only regret is that my education did not have more of a concentration on the classical trivium, literature, and languages. Socially I have had no problem adapting to people and situations.

I think a small, highly competitive private school is a wonderful option for concerned parents, or homeschooling combined with some classes that allow the students to experience peer competition under more advanced teaching than parents may be able to provide.

Unfortunately home schooling in some families is really 'no schooling', and child development may be impaired. As in anything, there are excesses and abuses.

Dave Scotese
10-27-2009, 01:09 PM
Unfortunately home schooling in some families is really 'no schooling', and child development may be impaired. As in anything, there are excesses and abuses.

I agree. I think the best we can do is to enhance the natural feelings people already have: as parents, the freedom and responsibility to help their children learn, and as learners, the freedom and responsibility to explore the unknown, formulate, evaluate, and if necessary revise conclusions, and, finally, repeat, for fun and profit. Public school seems to me to do the opposite in all these areas, not because of teachers, but because it is compulsory, and the material and timing are decided externally.

The fact that power corrupts and these decisions on timing and material are up to people in power only exacerbates it.

The idea of providing education to kids whose parents wouldn't help is a good one. It should be executed by people who have *earned* respect in their communities, and left free of the corrosive effects of national politics (and even local politics if possible). This does happen - when a child asks the grocery store manager questions and the manager, encouraged by the enthusiasm of a child, explains how the grocery business works, or when any adult honors a child's curiosity by sharing his or her knowledge of the world. "Don't talk to strangers" needs a qualifier: "... unless an adult who loves you is listening too."

blazeofglory
10-27-2009, 07:49 PM
Today education has little to do with creativity and more and more with occupation, profession, business in reality. We do not hold masters' degree out of our natural tendency to creativity, but education is packaged, traded and we buy education with money and sell them.

Particularly in Asian countries parents invest huge sums in education.l They want their kids to be doctors, engineers, lawyers and the like and to that end they engage their children in study and they study painstakingly in order to pay the debts of their parents. This is called the commercialization of educatio.

Parents put too much pressures on their kids from their early stages of life or when their in their primes when they could be more imaginative or creative they have rather been robotic or mechanic and no creativity can be expected from such children

As such I am not for the institutionalization of education at all. Let educational system is restored to some ancinet Vedic system in which kids were taught under the guidance of great saints not in schools but in som hermitages