There’s also something unhinged about framing a strike by government employees as a “grass-roots fight against the plutocracy.” The teachers union’s adversary is the taxpayers, not just rich ones; and the victims of the strike are parents who don’t have enough money to live in the suburbs or send their children to private schools. That excludes many of the teachers themselves. As Breitbart.com’s Dana Loesch notes, a study a few years ago found 39% of Chicago Public School teachers send their own kids to private schools.— James Taranto
Even as the once-mighty University of California system slashes programs and raises tuition, it has created a new system-wide “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This is on top of the already enormous University of California diversity machine, which, as Heather Mac Donald notes, “includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.—
Glenn Reynolds, The Higher Education Bubble
This would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.
The past 40 years or so have seen an explosion in the higher education industry as colleges and universities have marketed themselves as, among other things, providers of job-hunting licenses, producers of “leaders” and sellers of indulgences for racial sins. Government subsidies have created an enormous artificial demand, driving prices higher, and the quality of education has declined as institutions came to focus on things other than the intrinsic value of learning. We are not the first to observe that this looks like another economic bubble. It would be a lovely irony if it burst during the presidency of a man who is so much a creature of the faculty lounge.— James Taranto
College costs a lot. I teach at BC, where a year’s tuition, fees, room, and board currently add up to $52,624. What are the students paying for? What can’t they get online for free? In my end of the academy, the humanities, it comes down to one thing, in essence: the other people in the room, teachers, and fellow students. We can debate whether that’s worth the price tag, and we can debate the relative value of lectures and seminars (I think the best mix in the humanities is some of the former and a lot of the latter), but you’re paying for the exclusive company of fellow thinkers who made it through the screening processes of admissions and faculty hiring. That’s it. You can get everything else online, and you can of course do the reading on your own.
Your money buys you the opportunity to pay attention to the other people on campus and to have them pay attention to you — close, sustained, active, fully engaged attention, undistracted by beeps, chimes, tweets, klaxons, ring tones, ads, explosions, continuous news feeds, or other mind-jamming noise. You qualify for admission, you pay your money, and you get four years — maybe the last four years you’ll ever get — to really attend to the ideas of other human beings, thousands of years’ worth of them, including the authors of the texts on the syllabus and the people in the room with you.
You can spend the rest of your life surfing the web, emailing, texting. You’ve got one shot at college. So, at least until the novelty wears off (probably not in my lifetime), that means no laptops in my classroom.
I’ve had this identical thought recently. Sure, I can go and read classic works of literature and philosophy for free—and I’m sure I’d learn something. But the real gold nuggets in education, the stuff you really learn, comes from being in a group of serious people and soaking in the content together, digesting it together, engaging it together. How many insights would I have missed had I studied alone? That is the beauty of the college experience.
Hmmm. This doesn’t seem to be working out for us.
Not so much.
Education is a problem. More education is not the solution.
The people best equipped for navigating our world are those who have knowledge of multiple technologies, and multiple kinds of technologies. The Luddite and the techno-celebrant alike are crippled by the narrowness of their technological equipment.—
Alan Jacobs: the non-digital classroom
Read the whole thing.
Latin is worth teaching to all students, regardless of background. And in fact, despite its reputation as a language of privilege, Latin is as well suited to helping students who are struggling with literacy as it is to serving as a feather in the cap of Ivy League-bound prep-schoolers. Why? Latin helps build an English vocabulary, which is critical for students from underprivileged backgrounds. As The New York Times Magazine reported in a 2006 article about the nation’s achievement gap, children whose parents are on welfare enter school knowing half as many words as do children of professional parents. By providing a grounding in the prefixes, suffixes, and roots that serve as the building blocks for so many English words, Latin enables these disadvantaged students to catch up.— Let Them Learn Latin! - The Atlantic
Since the time of Socrates, humanists have approached the problem of man’s evil-doing (which has obviously been a problem) in a constant way. Many today assume that education offers salvation; the humanistic approach to “repairing man” is evident throughout our education establishment.
This assumption was explicit when public education was first established; the promises made on behalf of public education were spectacular. Horace Mann believed the public schools capable of eliminating nine-tenths of the crimes in the penal code. […]
Consider this assumption the next time some societal problem is reported on the evening news. Say a reporter has done some investigative work on some problem—it doesn’t much matter what—anything from teen pregnancies to drug abuse. After the horrifying statistics have been cited and the heart-rending footage shown, there is a call for … what? Repentance? No, invariably the reporter will call for more education. We must have programs and more programs. We must educate our youth, our substance abusers, and anyone else who is causing any difficulties. If only our problems-causers are educated, then they will stop causing problems. The Socratic solution [that man can save himself via education] is still with us. (75)
~ Douglas Wilson in Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning
Enough already. I’m not interested in getting an education, and I don’t want my children to get educations. I want my children to be educated people. I want my kids to see that, while there are societal expectations to meet and hurdles to jump, the process of being educated has to be rooted in an internal commitment, an inner desire to face and grapple with the world. Becoming educated takes humility; getting an education just takes time and patience and money. A person who is getting an education can write a brilliant essay on Lincoln, get the desired approval, and move on and forget it. But it’s difficult to see how a person who wants to be educated could spend serious time with Lincoln and not be changed by the experience. For the former person, Lincoln is an object of study, a means to a desired end. For the latter person, Lincoln is a flawed but compelling man of unusual depth and complexity whose greatest moments can’t but affect a thinking person’s moral vision. We devote a lot to getting educations and, one way or another, educations are fairly easy to get. Striving to be educated is difficult and hard to quantify. Getting an education takes a certain number of years and doesn’t place too many demands on us after the fact. But being an educated person takes devotion and commitment and the— ~ Preston Jones, professor of history at John Brown University, in an essay (pdf) on education.
process is never completed. An education worthy of the name opens the door to depth and insight and wisdom. It’s a trek.
I have access to various online research databases (ProQuest, EBSCO, etc) through my local public library and my alma mater. This access makes many magazine subscriptions unnecessary, as most of what I read is accessible online at the same time or shortly after the print version releases. But it’s a pain to log in regularly and manually pull every article from every periodical I want to read. I would love to write a script or program or something that could automate this.
Any ideas on how to do that?
I’d like to chime in on this argument. I think I have a pretty good perspective on things, for a few reasons. 1. I have a Kindergartner and a 2nd grader. 2. I have special needs, school age, neices and nephews. 3. I’m an adult, non-trad student at a private university. 4. I went to elementary & high school in New York and Texas. 5. I’m a Big Sister (with BBBS.org), and supervise several dozen elementary school kids a week, along with their high school thru college age Big Bros/Sisters.
1. Parental involvement is the single greatest issue in education of children in this country. Hands down, no arguments. Every public school in this country could be systematically perfect and we’d still have drop-outs, illiteracy, etc. This I can promise you. We currently live in a beautiful, upper middle class, conservative community in rural Texas. My jaw is perpetually on the floor with the things I deal with thru volunteering I do, the things going on at home, not at school. The moral and family breakdown in this country is so great, of such epic proportions, that I’m not sure any amount of “fixing” the public school system will ever change these kids lives.
2. Some teachers need to be fired. There’s really no way around that. It’s not mean, it’s just fact of matter. I wish it didn’t have to be this way. I hate to say it, but most of the unsuccessful teachers around here are elderly. Unsympathetic, out of touch, low energy, bitter, whatever you want to call it, but they need to retire already.
3. Very often… I repeat, VERY OFTEN… the problems which occur in school are based in ADMINISTRATION, and not teachers. School boards, principals, vice principals, office secretaries, etc, have given me more grief and bullshit to deal with than any amount of teachers combined. I almost NEVER hear any discussion about administrative staff when I hear about school reform.
4. “Thousands, millions of parents are unhappy with their kid’s education and want something better.” I recently heard this during an education debate. Thousands and millions of parents are IDIOTS. As a society we are spoiled, self-involved, lazy, and entitled. The second our child faces a hurdle, “we” jump to arms to tear apart whoever crossed our child’s path and can be pinpointed as “involved” in the hurdle.