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VEND ED EDUCATION FOLLIES
Professor Frary taught for 32 years at the college level and has seen every imaginable fad and fashion come and go - and come again - in the world of academia, and will be an unparalleled advocate for less Educational Balderdash in Congress.
Something we might call the Vending Machine Theory of Education (VMTE) has a strong hold over a large fraction of the American public. According to this theory you put in money, out comes education. Put in more money out comes more education. This is just common sense. You get what you pay for, right?
Not really. First, experience teaches us that we don’t always get what we pay for. Second, we learn common sense from experience and there is no conclusive empirical evidence to support the VMTE.. Indeed, there’s a good deal that seems to contradict it.
Mentor to Immigrant Artist
I offer an instructive story. About thirty years ago a student showed up in my office looking for some help and advice. Tabiri arrived in New Jersey in January with little more than the clothes adapted to Nigerian weather on his back, twenty dollars in his pocket, his tuition paid and the determination to get an education. I made him some small loans (all paid back) and offered some more or less useful advice. We have remained close friends to the present day and I have the honor of being godfather to his oldest son.
This man did not have an easy time getting his education. Apart from the scant support offered to foreign students, he took upon himself the burden of raising five children. And, if this was not enough, he suffered from recurrent health crises owing to a life-threatening wound he suffered as an officer in the Biafran Army during the Nigerian Civil War in the ‘sixties. Despite all this he earned a BA and an MA degree. Today he’s an American citizen in charge of security and risk management at a huge New Jersey hospital while working on a third degree in theology. I should mention another burden he had to endure. As a law-abiding legal immigrant, he suffered far more paperwork harassment from the Immigration and Naturalization Service than illegal immigrants seem to endure.
In addition to his personal qualities of intelligence and determination, Tabiri had the advantage of coming from a tribe with a culture of high respect for education. I got to know seven of his fellow Ibos in the ‘seventies and can report that six of them earned advanced degrees in demanding subjects, established themselves in useful careers and now own their homes. The seventh was incapacitated by a stroke.
Tabiri’s eldest son slacked off in high school, becoming preoccupied with ambitions for a career in show business. Personally, I was impressed with my godson’s talent, energy and organizing ability—he lived in my house for half a year—but I wasn’t about to inject myself into a father-son conflict. What’s especially interested me about the story is Tabiri’s regret that he had not sent his son back to Nigeria for his primary and secondary education. I don’t really know how serious he was about this, but he did tell me that some of his fellow Ibos had done just that. I was often impressed, when attending various Ibo social gatherings, by the attention and fondness shown to the children. Why would any of them even think of taking their kids from New Jersey schools, among the most expensive in the United States, and sending them to schools with tin roofs, dirt floors, kerosene lamps, tattered textbooks, and no staff of security guards?
The lack of security guards gives us a hint. I deduced from Tabiri’s remarks that Ibo culture despises willful ignorance and expects its children to accept their share of responsibility for their own education. I assume these people would love to have well-equipped schools and well-paid teachers if they could afford them, but they don’t assume that education is dependent on such luxuries.
I hope readers will not burden these anecdotes with meanings that I do not intend. I’m offering no plans and proposals for improving American education. My only purpose is to question the Vending Machine Theory of Education. JOHN N. FRARY
HOME SCHOOLING - FOR THE LOVE OF HISTORY
I’m a little biased on this issue, since my own intellectual development has mostly been by self-home-schooling. It helped that there were a lot of books around the house and both father and mother held the English language in high respect.
Father, in fact, was something of a linguistic purist, having majored in classical languages (Latin and Greek) and minored in modern languages at Harvard and Yale. I remember vividly the first, and last time, I said to him 'you know what I mean.' He immediately took me out to the barn, took a ball-peen hammer and broke all the toes on my left foot—so I would always remember that if I didn’t know how to express myself I shouldn’t expect anyone else to know what I meant.
A Mischievous Lad
I was seven years old at the time, but the lesson remains fresh in my mind sixty years later. I don’t claim that everyone I address always knows what I mean, but I do claim that I always know what I mean.
Except for one year in Farmington High School and during graduate school, I was always a mediocre student in the formal sense. First, I was dyslexic until age ten. Then I cured myself when my siblings refused to read the comic strips to me any more and became a voracious reader, neglecting high school and college assignments while pursuing my own interests. It might have been more beneficial if I had paid attention to some of my instructors, and I did have some very good ones. But that’s all hindsight. There was no help for it at the time.
When my research revealed that the home schoolers had revived publication of the works of G.H. Henty I became of convinced partisan of the home schooling movement. You see my father had a large collection of that Henty’s books from his early youth and it was those books that first hooked me on history. I read them all in rapid succession, read them all again and yearned for more.
Henty was a prolific Victorian era writer of juvenile historical fiction (e.g., 'By Pike and Dike' the story of two young Englishmen caught up in the Dutch war of independence against Spain). Not only were they exciting they were literate and well researched. Years later I discovered that two famous historians, the American liberal Arthur Schlesinger and the English Marxist A.J.P. Taylor, first discovered their fascination for history in those same books. In fact, Taylor admitted that he relied almost entirely on his memories of Henty to teach his first college course on sixteenth century history.
It was left to the home schoolers to revive these books. There is no way that any public high school would pick up on them. They are streng verboten on grounds of political correctness alone. And they completely contradict the sacred goal of 'innovation.'
This is example alone reveals the wide imagination and love of learning implicit in the whole home-schooling enterprise.
Consider also the dogma of 'student-centered' learning that prevails in colleges of education and ask yourself who is going to be more student-centered, a parent or a hired hand of the educational establishment.
Consider further some of the results of public education. At this point about 40 percent of public schools face sanctions under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) for failing to help students reach proficiency targets. Last year the College Board announced that the combines scores on the SAT examinations and critical-reading sections had declined to the lowest point in nearly a decade. How could home-schoolers possibly do worse?
There are justifiable complaints that the NCLB) privileges 'teaching-to-the-test' over real education, and that it imposes bureaucratic strait-jackets. How would parents teaching their own children possibly make those kinds of messes?
Tom Allen, Mike Michaud and all the other teachers union puppets are touting more public education as an answer to the failures of public education. They propose zero-through-five 'educational' programs to rescue the kiddies from parental neglect.
Let’s be clear about this. The education of children is the supreme, almost exclusive responsibility of the parents who brought them into the world. This parental right includes the right to be wrong in the eyes of the education experts, and how incompetent would the parents have to be to match the failures of so many public schools.
In fact, I argue that the parents who do the worst job are those who abandon their children to the care of public schools with proven records of utter failure. JOHN N. FRARY
RUSH LIMBAUGH ON WHAT HE LEARNED IN SCHOOL
For me to trace my knowledge of William Buckley, I have to go back to when I was 13, 14 years old and hated school. I felt like school was prison. I felt like I was being controlled and dominated. When I feel like I'm being controlled, I'm outta there. I just revolt, I leave, don't want any part of it from anybody anyhow. So school was not a particularly productive place for me. I did absorb a lot there but only because I had to be there.
Even after I went through one year of college and I was having trouble, flunked speech, should have called the course Outline 101. Flunked speech, did every speech, showed up at every class and still flunked it. I said, 'This is not for me.'
Mr Limbaugh, whatever you may think of his politics, has made hundreds of millions of dollars on his public speaking ability. Had he listened to the education professionals, he might well be enjoying his life right now - as a truck driver.
The Teachers Speak
SCHOOL ANSWERING MACHINE
This is the actual answering machine message for the school. This came about because they implemented a policy requiring students and parents to be responsible for their children's absences and missing homework.
The school and teachers are being sued by parents who want their children's failing grades changed to passing grades - even though those children were absent 15-30 times during the semester and did not complete enough school work to pass their classes.
The outgoing message:
Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please listen to all the options before making a selection:
To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1
To make excuses for why your child did not do his work -Press 2
To complain about what we do - Press 3
To swear at staff members - Press 4
To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in
If you want us to raise your child - Press 6
If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - Press 7
To request another teacher, for the third time this year - Press 8
To complain about bus transportation - Press 9
To complain about school lunches - Press 0
If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework and that it's not the teachers' fault for your child's lack of effort: Hang up and have a nice day!
If you want this in Spanish, move to a country that speaks it!
The Taxpayers Speak
On 9/10/08 at 01:03 PM, SteveCB wrote:
Wow! Over a third of our schools can't teach reading and math! Not surprising - when my daughter went to U Maine Farmington, her roommate (training to be a teacher) couldn't do long division and many of her classmates couldn't spell very well. If the teachers aren't up to snuff, what hope is there for the kids?
Five things need to be done: 1) Shake out the curriculum. Focus on what needs to be taught. 2) Improve the teaching staff. Test teacher candidates when they enter college, and require them to take remedial courses as needed. Test them again prior to graduation, and periodically throughout their teaching careers; again, require remedial courses as needed. 3) Teach the teachers how to teach. The U.S. military's Academic Instructor courses do a better job of teaching how to teach in 60-90 days than our teachers' colleges do in four years. 4) Improve the textbooks. Half the books these days are so obscure or 'politically correct' that they are worthless. 5) Give the kids an adequate number of hours of education each school year. It seems there are so many days off for this or that, the kids just aren't getting enough learning hours. And you wonder how many hours of real teaching they get while school is in session. Now some places in Maine want to shorten the school year and the school week.
Some folks say the answer is to spend more on education. They are wrong. A UN report published in December '07 shows that the U.S. spends more on education (as a percentage of gross domestic product) than Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and a few more Western European countries. The problem isn't the amount we spend. It's what we are getting (or not getting) for our money.
I am willing to extend an invitation to those who have something to say to do so on my website, provided the item is scurrilous enough, although true, to escape a reading in the PC Drive-By Media. By “scurrilous enough”, I mean something that would have been suppressed by John Adams under the Alien and Sedition Acts had it been directed at him. I’m old fashioned enough to believe that Freedom of the Press means exactly what it says.
Herewith, a thought provoking critique of the “modern” educational system and its origins:
'And what have we become? A consuming machine in a useless regime. And what more did we expect? A generation raised by T.V. and taught to neglect.'
We are constantly assured that the more money we spend on Head Start, public schools, sex education, after school programs, school nutrition programs, Title X programs for the developmentally challenged, anti drop-out intervention programs, etc., the less money we will have to spend on future welfare and criminal proceedings because we have made the “investment” in “our nations youth” that will lead to a “better world for all”.
And then they ask for more money. Without exception. Every “success” leads to worse outcomes and calls for greater expenditures. Could it be there is a reality disconnect here?
Historically, the more money we spend on 'education and welfare' the more we have to spend, and exponentially, on the courts and 'social services'. About 2 1/2 to 1 on average over 10 years. It’s not that hard to look up, although almost no one has thought of making the correlation. And the greater our expenditures, the poorer decisions and the worse outcomes we have on the part of the 'pupils'. In blunter terms, they are fatter, stupider, and more disturbed. Seems counterintuitive, unless you understand what 'modern education' is.
Did you know that the expression 'well adjusted' comes from the lexicon of modern educational theory, which compared human beings to machines? After all, you adjust a machine, why not a human? Modern education is based on the Gary System as adapted from the Prussian State Model. It is the 'school as factory' system, designed by the Rockefellers and Carnegies of this world to create a malleable proletariat, as interchangeable as widgets, and just as bright. It was designed to suppress competition by reducing independent intellectual activity, and destroying all factors that stood in the way of the homogenization of the masses into a vast industrial army. Religion, ethnicity, family and even sexual traits and patriotism were to be suppressed and replaced by a multiculturalist, consumerist, values free Weltanschauung that could be manipulated by the corporate and educational elites. The least capable of these 'products' would be recruited to train the next wave and control the organs of opinion, and so on, ad nauseum. Haven't you ever wondered why teachers and journalists have the lowest SAT scores of all the professions? Seems a little strange, doesn't it? It isn't strange at all if you know the objective.
Organized into vast union organized co-ops with all the powers of the State arrayed behind them, they have almost succeeded in ending independent thought in America. Homeschoolers, drop outs, show business types and entrepreneurs, along with parochial and private school pupils and the self taught are all that stand between them and the extinguishing of the American idea. Democrats in every state legislature have introduced laws to restrict home schooling, financial pressures and bottomless government spending are killing off the parochials and non elite private schools, and Obama and Hillary have proposed making school mandatory at age three - while keeping the schools open for all other students an additional four hours a day. With the extra time 'saved' from parenting, adults will be freed to work longer hours for their corporate Overlords (the average parent is down to 12 minutes a day of 'interaction' with their children over the age of 12), and although it will seem as though their wages are increasing, taxes will increase faster. As will mental illness, stress, sleep disorders, ADHD, autism, and suicide. All of which are treatable by drugs (except suicide, of course), sold to you by your friendly neighborhood pusher, with financial aid provided by Big Brother government. Funny how none of this stuff happens to the Amish... oh, that's right, they don't go to the government schools! Sorry.
Eventually 30% of all boys under the age of 12 will be on drugs in government schools to suppress their Tom Sawyer tendencies. No Aunt Polly for them - its the thrill of the pill! (Gotcha! We are already past the 30% mark. And you thought that was exaggeration, no?).
Such a system causes great stress on some (a small fraction really - 12 to 20% tops - after all, they're only widgets) who cannot be 'adjusted' to fit the system. These entail costs in the billions for remedial education, welfare, expanded prisons, etc. The costs are more than borne by the increased economic efficiencies of a system in which 'keeping up with the Joneses' becomes the all encompassing goal. Americans now work more hours than they did 40 years ago. Almost every other nation has declined over the same period.
But now, for the first time in the history of any civilization, some of the “products” are becoming so deformed that they are attacking the institutions that attempted to mold them into subhumans. The subhuman part worked for the killers at Columbine and Virginia Tech, but not as the corporate state planned. People can be funny that way.
I don't expect the average person, a product of this system, to believe this the first time they've ever heard it (which is pretty amazing in itself, seeing as how all the information is public knowledge), but you might give it some thought.
THE PROFESSOR SPEAKS: THE SENSITIVITY PLAGUE
What about 'What About Boys' (WAB)? In case you haven’t heard, this is a gender education project run by a dozen schools with support from the Maine Attorney General’s office.
Christopher Wright, a school counselor in Solon, founded WAB two years ago to achieve his self-appointed mission of making 'life better for his gender.' The thought, it seems, came to him fifteen years ago that 'our cultural ideas about boys and men make it difficult for us.'
Why is that? Well, men and boys are expected to be 'strong, reliable and show no fear.' They are not allowed to show any feelings except anger. The WABists worry that boys are often teased, humiliated and rejected when they express vulnerability or self-doubt or show that they care about others. Mr. Wright, his sponsors and allies, deplore that kind of attitude. They see it as a cruel burden imposed by 'our culture' without any basis in human nature or male physiology. They aspire to correct our culture and rid it of its myths so that boys and men will be free to express their feelings openly, refuse to try out for sports, and learn to cook.
We read (Morning Sentinel, July 30) that Wright is dedicated to 'beefing up men’s self esteem and image and shedding light on the damage and confusion caused by our culture’s myths about masculinity.' He wants boys and men 'to have the best lives that they can have.'
This whole project is so fatuous on so many levels that it is hard to know where to begin and how to cover them all. Look at it this way. Suppose you had a son-in-law who decided to dedicate himself to beefing up your self-esteem, relieving your entire family of the cultural burden transmitted by your grandparents and working incessantly to make your life as good as it can be. Would you be entirely comfortable? Wouldn’t you be inclined to take up a family collection to buy the pest a one-way ticket to Australia? Sure you would.
Now consider the demented megalomania that lies behind dedicating your life to giving the entire male population of the United States a boost in self-esteem. There are approximately 150,000,000 of them and you don’t know more than a couple dozen you’d even consider loaning five bucks. This level of abstraction makes as much sense as involving yourself in promoting the welfare of the all your fellow mammals. Personally, I’m prepared to feed my cats, pay their veterinarian bills, and make an annual donation to the Animal Shelter—that much and no more. As for my male gender-mates, if I don’t know them, they’re on their own.
Another aspect of this megalomania is the left-lurchers’ conviction that our culture can be redesigned by deliberate government action. Mr. Wright appears to be among a large number of Americans who go to college, stuff their heads with a jumble of the highly debatable maxims of contemporary social science, and convince themselves that they have become masters of their culture. Their predictable reliance on a passel tiresome, platitudinous generalities to describe that culture compels me to doubt them.
We read in the Morning Sentinel that Thom Harnett, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Enforcement and Education is 'thrilled' by WABism. He worries that our society does not encourage men to be sensitive. Knowing from ample experience that bureaucracies are invariably prone to expand any authority granted them, the citizens should be feeling a thrill of fear to learn that the state’s highest organ of law enforcement is concerning itself with the citizens’ inadequate sensitivity. Call me an alarmist, but I foresee the evolution of a State Sensitivity Service empowered to police people’s attitudes and arrest parents who teach their boys to be strong, self-reliant, and confident.
The overpowering urge shared by politicians, bureaucrats, advocates and activists to make people’s lives better is often indistinguishable from the urge to be a universal busybody, and the results have been uneven, to say the least. Now we see this urge insanely expanded to embrace the goal of actually making people better. I argue that governments do what they must do badly enough without adding such extravagant ambitions to their agendas.
All the same, WABism has a promising future. An evaluation from the social worker in in SAD 54 (Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Smithfield) tells us why. She concludes that it ' helps young boys think a little bit and at least be aware of, maybe make changes in their lives to be more balanced.'
A perfect fail-safe educational project, absolutely immune to measures of success or failure. Students think a little, become aware of, maybe make changes and the job is done. Further funding assured. JOHN N. FRARY
ANOTHER GUEST EDITORIAL
Dear Professor Frary,
I just read your article about the "What About Boys" issue. I believe I've covered this in a round about way already, but now that I've read about this I'm really creeped out!
How could any boy bring himself to that "touchy feely" place that is apparently expected of them? It's not natural! How can a boy grow up properly if he is taught to be vulnerable? I mean, any intelligent human being knows his weaknesses. Shouldn't he want to hide them rather than expose them? Why would someone want their sons to grow up weak? Being vulnerable means letting your guard down! That is NOT something boys can afford to do! Not these days. And the future isn't looking much brighter for them if this stupidity keeps up.
This is obviously a feminist plot. I would rather my boys grew up to be bullies than weak little mamby pambys who cry on girls shoulders! I dated men who put on this "sensitive" act. It was the most disgusting thing I've ever seen. It also lead to my not dating them again! It gives me the willies to be around sensitive people like that! It's like a cat in heat! I just want people like that to stop breathing my oxygen!
Why is it that girls are taught to grow up and be strong and not let men walk all over them, yet the boys are being told to lay down and let the girls stomp their manhood into the ground? Now we have a government funded program to help them do this?
I think "sensitive" men are weak and useless. What self-respecting woman would want one? I get tired of these men who are afraid to kill a spider and expect their wives to do it! My son is going through that "fear of bugs" crap right now and I'm not letting him get away with it. I expect to be thrown in jail any day now when someone hears me telling him to "be a man and squash the stinking bug!" Gee, do you think I'm damaging him for his future wife?
When I say "sensitive" in quotation marks, I mean the phony wimpy "sensitive" ones. Not a man who is sensitive to someone else's TRUE needs and hurts. I mean, if a man's parent dies, I would hope his tough manly friends would feel for him, and other such examples. But when a man cries because his girlfriend says she's in pain because she just tripped and scraped her knee, that's a bit phony and foolish.
I have this theory that if a room has 10 strong women in it and 1 man, preferably a manly one (as I prefer manly men!), and the lights go out and the room starts shaking, they are all going to run to the 1 man for safety. I think it's natural and a God-given sense to do that!
Shutting Up Now,
Home ¤ Congress
¤ Forum & Emporium
Why Am I Running? ¤
¤ But SerIously,
Frary's Women ¤
¤ Frary Family Saga ¤ Issues and Bunk¤ Dumb & Dumberer ¤ Dollars to Doughnuts ¤ Libertarian Impulse ¤
¤ War and Fleece ¤ Mike Michaud Fan Page ¤ Two Faces of Sleaze ¤ HELP WANTED ¤