Archives for posts with tag: Education

Humans, each of us, are information foragers. We want to know anything that catches our attention, and we want it the same way a raccoon wants anything shiny.

Humans are hard-wired to learn, and we are quite eager for it and good at it until we enter a coercive classroom where education and schooling become conflated. When the free will in learning disappears, education becomes a mechanical, often unpleasant process, and we become that “generation of robots” of which Neill warned. The concern is that now we live with a generation of actual robots. To distinguish ourselves from artificial intelligence we need an education model that preserves essential human characteristics like curiosity and ingenuity. The good news is that we don’t need to teach kids to be curious and creative. They already are. We simply need to stop destroying these qualities through coercive schooling practices.

Worth repeating:

The concern is that now we live with a generation of actual robots. To distinguish ourselves from artificial intelligence we need an education model that preserves essential human characteristics like curiosity and ingenuity.

Source: Unschooling: Shifting from Force to Freedom in Education | Cato Unbound

My local state representative, Andy, shared an article by John, a former teacher turned legislator (by statute, not choice, a statute I’m not sure I support). Andy and John are in the minority party in Oklahoma. I seldom agree with the minority party, but I find myself supporting them almost as often as the majority party. I’m registered independent. I can’t even aline with the Libertarian Party. I think I’m about as Libertarian as anyone might be, but I can’t get into the Party aspects of it and some of the policies.

Anyway, in the article that John wrote, he said, “As teachers, we need to realize that teaching is a political act. It affects everyone, and therefore we need to advocate for good policies that invest public resources wisely in the common good.”

I absolutely oppose such a course of action. It is abuse of power. It is abuse of children. Teaching is not a political act, at least not by honest people who only care about children learning and gaining mastery of tools to meet the challenges of life.

I replied with several comments on Andy’s Facebook page. I’m listing some.

Andy, it truly saddens me that you and Mr. Waldron advocate politicizing our government run classrooms. He decries partisan politics but advocates for indoctrinating our children in the policies of the Democratic Party. How do either of you justify that?

Andy promptly replied that he does not advocate that, but he didn’t explain why he shared the article. Perhaps I’ll ask specifically.

I also commented:

“As teachers, we need to realize that teaching is a political act. It affects everyone, and therefore we need to advocate for good policies that invest public resources wisely in the common good.” There are no public resources. The only money government has was taken under threat of force from supposedly free individuals who earned their wages by the honest sweat of their own brows.

Why are my policies bad and yours good?

John replied:

I really don’t know where to begin. You apparently believe there should be no taxes for schools, or I suppose roads, national security or public health. I don’t think we can bridge that gap over facebook. Perhaps you would like to meet face to face? I promise to read up on Bastiat to prepare for our discussion.

His reference to Bastiat might stem from the fact I’ve posted a few items about Bastiat recently, and I invited Andy and my local senator, Rob, to comment. So, a couple of my Facebook shares about Bastiat showed on Andy’s page just below Andy’s shared article.

I replied to John that he assumes too much.

I appreciate Andy’s comment:

I absolutely do *not* advocate for politicizing classrooms. Teachers should teach students how to think for themselves — not *what* to think.

Not all parents are like you. There are tens of thousands of kids in this state who don’t even live with their parents. They are institutionalized, shuffled in foster care, living with distant relatives, etc. 

What of them?

To which I replied:

Them, I won’t forget. I do not advocate for no government school, just no government coercion. I want less government because I see the net result of more government as causing more harm than good. Less government might find us a sweet spot where we seldom complain of it, or the other political party. Less is often more.

I don’t believe government schools will be driven out by school choice. I don’t like vouchers, and Epic is a rotten taste in my mouth at the moment. I’ve never supported the schemes and plans for choice. The plans all seem to have too many flaws. Government money invariably leads to waste, fraud, and abuse, and giving government money to private parties has the most likelihood of graft and selfish ambition ensuring waste, fraud, and abuse, and good intentions too often have bad side effects.

End truancy laws, and let parents be in charge of their own children with full responsibility. Most parents will step up. It is government as fallback that is the root of most of the deficiencies that lead to so many parents being in tough circumstances. It isn’t a perfect world. Life really is suffering, and government cannot fix that. Democratic Party policies cannot fix it. GOP policies cannot fix it. Advocacy groups of whatever stripe cannot fix it. Only personal responsibility can fix it. Be the change you want to see in the world. DON’T write a law pretending the State can fix it. Don’t assume sending the guys with guns will set all to rights.

How long will we keep screaming that more money will fix the schools or the police? It doesn’t work. It cannot work. It isn’t a matter of policy. It is a matter of misplaced responsibility and accountability. The State is not accountable. The State cannot be held accountable. The State can only be limited. When the power of the State is too limited for power-seekers to abuse it, government will stop being abusive. Then out-of-balance party politics won’t be so corrupting. Government is the problem, not balance. We have to have some authority, but we have gone much too far, especially in government enforcement of schooling.

If government schooling is so good, why can’t it be given the chance to fend for itself? I believe enough people will demand it for it to continue. I think there is ample justification for our current system until we have something clearly better. (I don’t see anything clearly better taking over in our lifetimes.) I don’t want rid of government-funded public schools. I want rid of coercive laws that make mothers feel powerless to fight for their children. I want Momma to be able to stand up for her child for herself, not dependent upon support from government and teachers’ unions.

Do you not understand that parents with children who have problems in the schools feel powerless? It is not because of lack of programs. It is because the parents have no alternatives. That is the fault of truancy laws and current government policies, policies mostly advocated by both major parties. (I again emphasize it is NOT a party problem.)

Literacy rates [in North America] were highest before government schools and truancy laws. Government schools have not helped. How many copies of Common Sense sold? How many were pirated and copied by anyone with the wherewithal? It seems to me too many had (and have) motive to exaggerate the numbers, but the pamphlet was not light reading, and it was widely read, and widely read aloud. There is no doubt the written word and civic responsibility were strong in our land long before any of our modern conventions. “Knowledge is power.” What parent doesn’t know that? What parent conscientiously deprives offspring of any and all tools that might equip them for the trials of life?

The point isn’t schooling. The point isn’t even education. The point is learning and mastering tools for living meaningful lives. The goal of every parent is helping children achieve their potential, or at least to do better. Each generation wants the next generation to do better. Our government-enforced schools are thwarting that now. Our government at all levels works at cross purposes to all that free citizens try to accomplish, and it applies to citizens of all ages.

We err when we consider children as less than citizens. Every individual at every stage of life is self-sovereign. We are all partners. Yes, children are childish, and we parents have extra responsibilities, but it is a partnership. It is not a dictatorship where the parent rules. It is a gradual turning over of responsibility to the child at each stage of maturity.

Obviously, I’ve grown too verbose. I hope there is something in this that gives you a bit of insight into my perspective.

I support school choice, but I haven’t found any programs or laws for choice that I can back. Such programs still depend on government authority and threat of force no matter how it is set up. I want freedom of choice, not programs for choice. Children learn if we let them. A gentle guiding hand can accomplish wonders in a child’s own learning.

Constitutionally outlaw truancy laws.

I added:

The key challenge to choice is leaving the choice to the individual. When an authority dictates, or simply endorses, the authority is responsible. No bureaucrat can satisfactorily be held accountable under all but the most extreme situations of criminality. We have the wherewithal now in our digital age to hold everyone individually accountable by reputation. The systems are immature and flawed, but I doubt most individual-based review systems are more error-prone than our bureaucracies.

Leave choices to the individuals. Don’t rule by law. Law is power. Power corrupts. There are no exceptions. Knowledge is the only power I’m eager to leave unfettered.

Andy and John haven’t had time to reply more.

John’s article listed significant credentials for him. I suggest John Taylor Gatto had more credentials and a more fascinating story.

https://www.johntaylorgatto.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Taylor_Gatto

https://fee.org/articles/john-taylor-gatto-1935-2018-remembering-americas-most-courageous-teacher/

https://www.naturalchild.org/articles/guest/john_gatto.html

For those who hold to authoritarian views and formal organization and lesson planning by “experts” I suggest looking into the work of Sugata Mitra.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugata_Mitra

http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/

His TED talks are easy to find, and here is a recent article:

https://universe.byu.edu/2019/03/26/physicist-encourages-change-in-the-use-of-technology-in-education/

Personally, I advocate for homeschooling without rigid standards. Reading aloud to a child from the earliest age, and routinely, is the most effective thing we can do for children. There really aren’t any hard and fast rules for what a person needs to know now. We need to know how to read, but living the example as adults is far better than a schoolroom. There isn’t much else we need to know to get along in the world because of the ease of use of technology.

Decry tech and screens all you want, but that is our world now. We are not going back. I have access to anything I want to study, anything. A screen and internet access extends my reach to anything I might need. Children will learn all they need if we just guide a little and let them learn. They will learn to love the classics because that is why they are classics, because we love them. The same goes for anything they need. They will want it, and if we don’t hinder them, they will learn it. They will master the tools they need to reach their potential and to be assets to partners, families, communities, and society at large.

For further reading, go to FEE.org , and I especially recommend Kerry McDonald, https://fee.org/people/kerry-mcdonald/

Referencing this FEE article:

https://fee.org/articles/do-schools-really-need-more-money/

Written by Kerry McDonald. Excellent article. Unassailable point. (And she has other good articles at the link.)

It isn’t the money that matters. It is the parents. The farther the parents in the school district are from median, the more exaggerated the ill effects of poverty or affluence. The best school districts tend to be associated with upper-middle class. The worst, well, you get the point. Money looks like it helps because having extra in the parents’ pockets looks like it helps, and having none in the parents’ pockets looks like it hurts, but control for the factors that affect the family, and I think you see that money isn’t the important part.

In short, real world examples, aggregates, and averages, the honest data, show that more money for the education systems and teachers just doesn’t help. The system is rotting, and money will not freshen rot and decay.

I do not support government tax programs to bolster “school choice.” I see no potential net gains and ever more expansive government overreach.

Honestly, where we need to target is freedom of education exactly the same as freedom of religion. Would to God our schools were in as sad shape as our churches.

Don’t miss my point. Our churches and houses of worship of all faiths are isolated from government aid or backing, and our religious institutions are often even persecuted by government, officials, or common people. Don’t pretend otherwise. You know of examples yourself of churches, synagogues, mosques, and other temples and religious organizations that have drawn the ire of someone or other, often with official backing. That is persecution, and you know good and well that no religious organizations get any government assistance, not even religious schools. (Okay, I bet you can find some extraordinary exceptions, but let’s consider the common, typical situation.) Religious organizations do quite well enough, and proliferate well enough, with no government backing and no legal coercion forcing individuals to support them. (Consider the counterpoint in the UK.) If you want education to do better, let it alone, just like religion.

If you want well-educated kids, do it yourself. If you choose to participate in public schools, it is harder, but still doable. Regardless, if you want well-educated kids, you must do it yourself, even if you try to shift some of the responsibility on the public.

The simple fact is that the overall trend in education will be more expense for less results until we rid our culture and legal systems of coercion and compulsion. We must repeal all truancy laws, or NOTHING will help. Give people freedom without changing anything else, and watch it start working. (Watch out for those who will be obsolesced by the changes and successes. They will fight to retain relevance, even when it obviously harms the children.)

Again, repeal all truancy laws and grant agency to families, or education will remain dismal. Believe me.

I posted the following to Facebook:

Did you know we are spending 250% more on K-12 public education now than we did in 1960? That is in inflation adjusted dollars. http://www.justfactsdaily.com/question-of-the-day/290652/

The problem isn’t money. Money honestly has very little to do with all of it. We could eliminate the federal budget for education and half the state budgets, and it would hurt, but test scores wouldn’t go down much. (Of course, a lot of that is because test scores are a very poor measure of education success.)

There is a fundamental problem with public education, and that is that coercion is evil. Forcing people to do anything, including what is good for them is evil. If you do it, you are an evil tyrant. At the root, Johnny doesn’t want to go to school simply because you hold a gun to his, no, you hold the gun to his momma’s head, and you tell him he has to go. Of course, you accuse me of being hyperbolic. No, I only slightly exaggerate the emotional aspect of the statement. Yes, you are forcing Johnny to go to school, and you are forcing his momma to make sure of it, and if momma fails, or Johnny refuses, you send the guys with the guns. You pretend no one will suffer, no one will get hurt, but you deceive yourself. The extreme can happen, and occasionally has happened. Overall, though, you see the results in ever spiralling costs, with ever flat test scores, and ever more clueless interviewees in the man-on-the-street gotcha reports. It is sad when people don’t know anything about the Constitution, but it is a sign of true cultural cancer, fatal consumption, when so many people can be asked about the fundamentals of Independence Day, and they can’t come up with anything, and they don’t even know that John Wilkes Booth wasn’t even remotely attached to it.

My favorite anecdote was Jay-walking, where Leno brought in two presumably bright young ladies from our own prestigious Tulsa University, and they couldn’t even ask sound questions in the on-street interviews. They didn’t even suppose Canada has a representative form of government; heck, they couldn’t even fathom Canada had any government. Yeah, our education systems from the youngest to the oldest are broke. One certainly can’t hurt it be trying to make it truly elective.

I’m all for school choice when that choice is not only where to go, but whether to go. Let freedom ring! Abolish all compulsory laws. Let momma decide. Grant her full agency.

We can keep the schools for now. We can keep the government funding for now. Just start by repealing the coercive compulsory laws.

Here in Oklahoma, I would like to see a full constitutional repeal of all truancy laws. Repeal truancy laws from our State Constitution and guarantee the right of every citizen to decide for himself, or each momma to decide for her children under the age of majority. Let freedom ring!

Let freedom ring!

Militant German atheist Karl T. Griesinger complained in 1852 that the separation of church and state in America fueled religious efforts: “Clergymen in America [are] like other businessmen; they must meet competition build up a trade…. Now it is clear…why attendance is more common here than anywhere else in the world.”

That, of course, is Rodney Stark in The Triumph of Christianity.

You want better schools? Separation of school and state!

Write your representatives and request adding “and education” to the first amendment of the Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or education, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Petition your government to get out of schools altogether, especially the federal government. We need our states to reduce dependence on federal money and gradually outlaw federal involvement in any aspect of education within the state.

Our churches, as a whole, inclusive of the plurality, are the best and most successful in the world. Religion is one of our fundamental needs, and we are very successful with it precisely because the government is totally hands off. Education will be likewise if we get the government out of it.

Don’t most of us think our neighbor, our coworker, our friend needs a bit more, a bit deeper religion, a bit more lofty goals? Isn’t, “Aim a little higher,” some of the best advice each of us has received from someone we respect when we stooped a bit low; when we chose to be less than our best?

Of course.

How do we help that neighbor, that coworker, that friend? We don’t run to the government, that is for sure.

We do our best, we live our best in the areas where government is least involved.

Let’s get the government out of our schools.

http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2015/10/james-coleman-leonard-sax-and-age-segregation

Anybody else noticed this article since October? Anybody heard of the Coleman Report, low these five decades?

No, well most research that can be called sound shows at least as bad. Doing school the way we do it is bad. It is counterproductive to civil society. It isn’t politics, it is our rearing of children via state-run institution in segregated, isolated groups. Such groups are certainly not safe, but it is from internal danger, not the dangers foisted on us by the whole of nature.

It is said you can’t fix stupid. Yes, you can. The key is limiting shelter from consequences. The system of schools shelters children from external danger and intensifies the internals. It is truly dangerous.

It is inexcusable once we consider government control, authoritarianism, and coercion. We must stop it. Stop schooling the way we do it. It is bad for us all.

Government schools and coercion to participate are the root of our education and societal problems. Outlaw truancy laws. That is the start. While we force children into schools at gunpoint, we cannot hope to fix any of it. It is a certain path to societal suicide.

Add this:

https://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/Issues/E/HeadStart_Feb_3_2010.asp

The research is out there. Formal academics before about 8 years old harms many kids. Sure, structured play and organized activities can have benefits, when applied in moderation, but that is not the objective of the reformers.

Mostly, they want more money and more control.

Mostly, they have delivered failure after failure.

When will we recognize that nearly everything the left leaning education establishment and institutions have tried to do for several decades now has been recycled and disguised implementations of all the same. When will we recognize that it is a failure?

First, get rid of all truancy laws. I favor adding “and education” to the First Amendment, right next to “religion”. Would to God our schools were doing only as well as our religious institutions and houses of worship.

We cannot hope to improve education; we cannot hope to improve the foundation of society, until we stop coercing everyone into the same scholastic mold. If we stop that, then we need to back off the offerings, and especially back off the funding.

Money is not a significant part of the problems we have in education. Freedom is, specifically the lack there of. Standards are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Commonality, mimicry, lack of innovation, and conformity are all parts of the problem. Testing is part of the problem, especially when it is coerced.

Coercion is evil. Stop the coercion, and we can begin to rectify the problems of education.

Of course, parents are the key, as Dr. Bauerlein points out in the link at the top.

I recently saw a quote, and now I cannot find to attribute. So, I acknowledge an outside source for the inspiration, but it seems clear to me that where parenting fails, no other effort, especially no government institution, can make up for it. Parents, you are responsible. Take your responsibility and give it full good-faith effort. You know you love your children; just remember to show it.

Voddie Baucham reminds us that we are silly when we send our children to Caesar and expect them to be something more than debauched Romans.

The best and the worst of our legislators are all Caesar. All of them. We cannot trust them with any aspect of our children, especially education.

For the sake of redundancy, it is not about the money!

http://www.amblesideonline.org/CM/vol2complete.html

If unfamiliar, Ms. Mason was late 19th, early 20th century, and she helped figure out how to educate children. She focused on small “public” schools for lower class families.

I’m considering chapters 5 and 6 at the above reference.

In discussing how to prepare our children for dealing with doubts, she points out that evidences are not proofs.

‘Christian evidences,’ defended by bulwarks of sound dogmatic teaching. Religion without definite dogmatic teaching degenerates into sentiment, but dogma, as dogma, offers no defence against the assaults of unbelief.

I agree with her view that we must teach our children the bible with all the information gained from all sources, and we must be sure to not allow for an impression that any of it is proved. Frankly, there is more evidence refuting this tidbit in the bible or that, than there are evidences confirming most of it. Current archaeological sciences dismiss most of the traditional Israel-story. Archaeologists find nearly no evidence for any of the exodus story, and find lots of evidence supporting a developing culture that took a long time to assert itself among other neighboring cultures.

For instance, it is hard for me to dismiss Moses as the author of most of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, and some other scripture too, but the consensus has fallen not only against the Egypt-Exodus story, but of the existence of Moses or any leader like him. Hmm… Hard to stomach. Good thing my faith is founded deeper than that.

We need to help our children establish their faith deep too.

This is good:

The Outlook upon Current Thought
Let us look at the third course: and first, as regards the outlook upon current thought. Contemporary opinion is the fetish of the young mind. Young people are eager to know what to think on all the serious questions of religion and life. They ask what is the opinion of this and that leading thinker of their day. They by no means confine themselves to such leaders of thought as their parents have elected to follow; on the contrary, the ‘other side’ of every question is the attractive side for them, and they do not choose to be behind the foremost in the race of thought.

Obviously the most important thing to most young people is knowing the current opinion and conforming to it or rejecting it. Dealing with the importance of opinion seems the starting point. I’ve always tried to discuss things with my children. They are partners. I try to work with them on such things. Dictating just doesn’t seem to work.

Free-will In Thought
Now, that their young people should thus take to the water need not come upon parents as a surprise. The whole training from babyhood upward should be in view of this plunge. When the time comes, there is nothing to be done; openly it may be, secretly if the home rule is rigid, the young folk think their own thoughts, that is, they follow the leader they have elected; for they are truly modest and humble at heart, and do not yet venture to think for themselves; only they have transferred their allegiance. Nor is this transfer of allegiance to be resented by parents; we all claim this kind of ‘suffrage’ in our turn when we feel ourselves included in larger interests than those of the family.

Preparation
But there is much to be done beforehand, though nothing when the time comes. The notion that any contemporary authority is infallible may be steadily undermined from infancy onwards, though at some sacrifice or ease and glory to the parents. ‘I don’t know’ must take the place of the vague wise-sounding answer, the random shot which children’s pertinacious questionings too often provoke. And ‘I don’t know’ should be followed by the effort to know, the research necessary to find out. Even then, the possibility of error in a [reference] must occasionally be faced. The results of this kind of training in the way of mental balance and repose are invaluable.

per·ti·na·cious: holding firmly to an opinion or a course of action.

Good stuff. Well said, even if filtering through a century-and-a-half of speech-shift.

John Wayne’s character in Cowboys, said, “I’m proud of ya… All of ya. Every man wants his children to be better’n he was. You are.”

We can’t accomplish that if we don’t let them try. Prepare them best we can, and be there when they need us, once they really don’t need us any more.

Reservation as regards Science
Another safeguard is in the attitude of reservation, shall we say? which it may be well to preserve towards ‘science.’ It is well that the enthusiasm of children should be kindled, that they should see how glorious it is to devote a lifetime to patient research, how great to find out a single secret of Nature, a key to many riddles. The heroes of science should be their heroes; the great names, especially of those who are amongst us, should be household words. But here, again, nice discrimination should be exercised; two points should be kept well to the front––the absolute silence of the oracle on all ultimate questions of origin and life, and the fact that, all along the line, scientific truth comes in like the tide, with steady advance, but with ebb and flow of every wavelet of truth; so much so, that, at the present moment, the teaching of the last twenty years is discredited in at least a dozen departments of science. Indeed, it would seem to be the part of wisdom to wait half a century before fitting the discovery of today into the general scheme of things. And this, not because the latest discovery is not absolutely true, but because we are not yet able so to adjust it––according to the ‘science of the proportion of things’––that it shall be relatively true.

More excellent advice.

Note the silence of the oracle on ultimate questions. Origin and life, well, that is different than the initiation of biological life. It seems the nature of the universe is to build up self-organizing emergent systems. It is hard to argue that biological life is more than that.

Regardless, origins isn’t about how life began, it’s about how everything began. It isn’t turtles all the way down. You have to pick a start. You can’t do that with science. I say there is meaning, or there is not; there is reason, a reason, or there is not. I don’t see it as reasonable to assert there is no such thing as reason.

Time is not much the point. She points out in the next paragraph or so that knowledge is progressive. The more me learn, the more we see there is to learn, and the more we revise what we thought. We all tend to fit everything into our own scheme of things. The objective is to keep making that scheme better and closer to the ultimate, and ultimately unknowable, full truth.

Charlotte Mason goes on to discuss how we need to help our children to consider and judge thoughts. It is important, and it is no trivial task to judge rightly. We need to do it for ourselves as well.

Here is a worthy statement:

There are mistaken parents, ignorant parents, a few indifferent parents; even, as one in a thousand, callous parents; but the good that is done upon the earth is done, under God, by parents, whether directly or indirectly.

and:

Here is a theory which commends itself to many persons because it is ‘so reasonable.’ But it goes upon the assumption that we are ruled by Reason, in infallible entity, which is certain, give it fair play, to bring us to just conclusions. Now the exercise of that function of the mind which we call reasoning––we must decline to speak of ‘the Reason’––does indeed bring us to inevitable conclusions; the process is definite, the result convincing; but whether that result be right or wrong depends altogether upon the initial idea which, when we wish to discredit it, we call a prejudice; when we wish to exalt, we call an intuition, even an inspiration. It would be idle to illustrate this position; the whole history of Error is the history of the logical outcome of what we happily call misconceptions. The history of Persecution is the tale of how the inevitable conclusions arrived at by reasoning pass themselves off for truth. The Event of Calvary was due to no hasty, mad outburst of popular feeling. It was a triumph of reasoning: the inevitable issue of more than one logical sequence; the Crucifixion was not criminal, but altogether laudable, if that is right which is reasonable. And this is why the hearts of religious Jews were hardened and their understanding darkened; they were truly doing what was right in their own eyes. It is a marvellous thing to perceive the thoughts within us driving us forward to an inevitable conclusion, even against our will. How can that conclusion which presents itself to us in spite of ourselves fail to be right?

Pretty much applies.

God save us from Reason, so called.

The key is we humans are not ruled by reason. We are more base. We have thwarted our efforts when we forget to first address our baseness.

My wife asked me to read a bit of Ms. Mason, so we could discuss. I thought to record some thoughts, now to discuss.

 

 

Money is not the problem. More money will not fix any of the problems.

Testing is part of the problem. More testing will cause more harm.

Accountability is not part of the problem. More accountability will not help.

Politics is part of the problem. More politics, especially more heated partisan rhetoric, will only make it worse and burn us all in the process.

Coercion is evil.

End compulsory education. Then, we can start to fix the things that are the cause of the problem. Nothing that matters can be fixed while we coerce our young citizens and incarcerate them “for their own good.”

Okay, all you education “advocates,” consider this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/02/25/education-shmedumacation-a-poem-by-two-high-school-juniors-who-got-an-a/

Education Shmedumacation

By Huong Le and Lilly Penick

I’m so glad I live in America where I have a “free” education,

Although I’m sure that’s all I have to be grateful for when it comes to this system.

As a topic majorly discussed by the politicians of our great country, the land of the free,

Education is clearly a priority in our nation and nations elsewhere as well.

And because this subject is valued so highly by our society

I stand here today to tell you how much it sucks.

Oh, excuse my language, I mean, how much it displeases me to my core, my common core.

Now I ain’t saying we shouldn’t be edumacated

But I’m not sure I want to be educated under these corrupt conditions.

Somewhere between coming out of my mother’s birth canal and learning how to ride a bike,

My life was signed away to thirteen years of required education.

Required education full of standardized testing, useless lessons, and careless staff.

You would think that shoving information in your brain for

Nine months a year for thirteen years straight would be pretty useful —

I still don’t know how to do my taxes or how insurance works.

But that doesn’t really matter, right?

At least I know that the product rule for derivatives is vu’ + uv’

And that the Enlightenment philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau was a gigolo.

Despite learning these obscure facts,

Teachers still have limited freedom to teach in their desired manner.

They are bound by quarterly evaluations and Marzano’s models,

A process full of half-assed rubrics and mandatory lesson goals.

“What are you learning in class today?”

Oh, you know, just the basics of SS.912.A.2.1.

As the school year progresses, my motivation eerily resembles a negative exponential function.

I have been self-diagnosed with early onset senioritis with a cure that has yet to be discovered.

Administrators are too busy cracking down on tank tops and spaghetti straps to care,

Pursuit for academic success is going ignored everyday, but that doesn’t really matter, right?

I have watched substitute teachers come and go each year I’m in school

And I have yet to come across one that truly cherishes my education.

Temporary or not, I at least deserve a substitute that has had a proper background check.

Substance abuse, racial discrimination, you name it. I’ve had a sub that’s done it.

As students, we are told relentlessly how we should learn to take an initiative

And yet it seems near impossible to get any project approved,

Because apparently it’s too hard to hand us all the papers we need at once.

Yes, please, give me each paper of this 107-page document individually for the next two weeks.

Oh, I was supposed to sign on these pages I’ve never received?

Sorry, the bureaucracy of this school seems primarily communistic.

This barbaric system doesn’t just stop at the high school level.

You want to apply to a college you have a 4% chance of getting into?

That’ll be four meals, a diamond encrusted sock, and an eye.

And if someone accidentally hit the accept button on your application,

Tuition will cost you your dead grandmother’s far left gold molar.

It is now 12:52, the night before this poem is due,

And I have the urge to stab myself in the pancreas with a wooden spork.

My brain has been effectively pulverized into something reminiscent of mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes flaked with pleiotropic qualities, integrals, and a really hot John D. Rockefeller.

Hot-because-it’s-now-1AM not hot-because-I-want-to-bear-your-children.

So as you can see, there are just a few teeny weeny, itsy bitsy, miniscule flaws

Regarding the current state of our public educational system.

But because I am just a marionette in this terribly organized, mediocre, backyard carnival show,

What I say about the system that’s supposed to work for me doesn’t really matter, right?

I’m not sure the large graphic will work. Oh well. Go here: http://www.topmastersineducation.com/homeschooled/

Good stuff.

homeschool

I found an article at the Libertarian Christian Institute web page, titled:

Conservatism, liberalism, or non-aggression?

It was a guest post from Randy Peters, who writes at TheGutDoc.com.

http://libertarianchristians.com/2016/01/20/conservatism-liberalism-non-aggression/

He opens by noting that many people attribute their politics to their faith. Hmm…

I’ve always had trouble understanding how people I know have strong and sound faith can have such differing views from my own, particularly in politics.

Part of it is I can never loose sight of the fact that coercion is evil. God never coerces.

I really do not understand why that is hard to see. I don’t get how other people don’t get that.

God always allows us freedom. God does uphold consequence. Accordingly, wisdom is encouraged. Of course, I always say that pain is the only true persuader of error. Experience is a harsh teacher, but often effective.

I like his thought experiments, both the right and left.

I’ll repeat this:

I submit that when any one of us – with civil authority or without it – takes upon himself the presumption to coerce others to do as we think God would have them do, we are no longer walking humbly with God. We have become the Pharisees, enjoying our long robes and places of honor, thanking God that we are not like other men and imposing upon them grievous burdens for which we will not offer the help of our little finger. There are many human behaviors condemned in the Holy Scripture; haughtiness may be one of the most condemned.

Make no mistake: when one argues that government is to be the arbiter of compassion or righteousness, one is arguing that violence is to be the tool by which those goals are achieved; for how else does government achieve its purpose? Taxes, fines, regulations, laws boundaries all rest on the discretion of the government to use violence to enforce them. When one maintains that the state should force his neighbors to do something, he is saying that violence should be used ultimately to accomplish that directive. Note that there are areas wherein there is unanimous agreement that communities or governments are justified in using force: to defend themselves from violence, to protect the lives of their members, to stop other crimes against persons or their property. But can one say that government has a legitimate and justifiable role to use its police powers – its exclusive claim on the use of violence – to force charity? To force acts of service? To force men and women to comply with “moral laws” with which they do not agree and which may not enjoy wide-spread acceptance in a community? Furthermore, may a disciple of Christ take upon himself the authority under God to say to his neighbors, “I speak in the name of God, and I order you to do thus under pain of imprisonment or death.”

Note there are no exceptions. If there is a law, it is using the power of the state, the threat of violence, imprisonment, even death, to enforce it. “Oh, but the penalty is only $50.” Of course, that is how it starts. You know what happens when you give a mouse a cookie.

Sure, we try to keep punishment consistent with the crime, but we also make too many crimes. We let one drink alcohol, but we imprison the one who smokes weed. We feel sorry for the mother driving with her quarrelling toddlers in the back, and though there is nothing more distracting than that, we bother to stop, fine, even take the driving license of the mother who was texting a quick instruction while driving.

We call the 19-year-old driver negligent and criminal for texting, but we give the late commuter a pass for shaving or donning makeup while careening through rush-hour traffic.

Some claim it is justified, but carry it to the end. The 19-year-old has some reason, rational or not, that makes him (or her) bolt when the lights come on the patrol cruiser. The teen is now truly jeopardizing lives, including his own. Perhaps he crashes, perhaps the officer successfully pulls over the car, but perhaps the teen is now too far committed, perhaps even irrational, and violence ensues, arrest, or worse.

Is it worth it?

No!

We have far too many laws. We criminalize far too many behaviors.

We justify too much in the name of safety. We rationalize too much in the name of morality and civic responsibility.

It is a sad world we live in not because of unfairness, lack of opportunity, scarcity, and want. No, it is so sad because so many soft tyrants have sufficient power to coerce.

I used a couple of widely debated examples in criminalizing drug use and texting while driving, but how about school?

Nobody talks about how absurd it is to coerce persons to education. We need not even consider the failures of the education system. We need look no farther than the simple coercion, compulsion of education and truancy laws.

Again, we pretend our punishments are evenhanded and proportional, but they are not. Seldom do those with power us it only for good, and perhaps it is even impossible to do good when the power is being used to enforce the evil of coercion from the start point.

People, persons, individuals, children of God. Yes, that is what we all are from our beginning, from even before our first breath. I bring up hard issues, and people ignore. We need to discuss. We need to look hard and freely at the facts. We need to stand and openly defend our views, and we need to examine closely our own and all others presented. We manage to live together in most instances.

We tend to fight here and there, but it is mostly about who has the power, and how it is used, especially about how it is abused.

Let’s limit the power more and more. Let us be free.

Let us live free.

Isn’t this an embarrassment?

Section XIII-4: Compulsory school attendance.
The Legislature shall provide for the compulsory attendance at some public or other school, unless other means of education are provided, of all the children in the State who are sound in mind and body, between the ages of eight and sixteen years, for at least three months in each year.

Compulsion is evil. Yet, here we require it in our state constitution. We institute evil in our governance at its inception.

Coercion is evil. Compulsion is evil. It can only be justified in the prevention of worse evil.

Can we argue that granting someone the freedom, the right, of self-determination is a worse evil than forcing attendance at education?

We all know better. We know it is right and good to allow each self-determination. It is unalienable. Liberty, freedom of association, these are rights with which we are each individually created. Certainly parents and responsible adults owe protection to our young, our childish ones, until they gain modest maturity, but the longer I live, the less mature I realize we all are. Responsibility must accompany privilege, but self-determination is not a privilege, it is innate right. Self-determination is a property of a person. It is part of the very definition of what each of us is.

No one can argue that coercion, compulsion is other than evil. We aver religious freedom. We generally allow so many freedoms, even some freedoms most of us judge as immoral. Yet, we want to deny the right of self-determination and free association to all our citizens less than 16, even 18, years of age.

We all instinctively, rightly, understand that being forced to do anything deprives us, degrades us. Most will comply, but the degradation remains. No matter the end results, the end never justifies evil means.

The end never justifies evil means.

Coercion, compulsion is evil.

The end never justifies coercive means.

Education is a good that has been sought hard through all history. Knowledge is power. We instinctively know that. We understand that information and understanding, with wisdom and sound judgment empower us to fulfill our dreams and to live our lives well. No one has to force us to do good things for ourselves. Indeed, no one can.

Yes, we are always tempted to sloth, but we know the ant. We know the fiddle-playing grasshopper.

It is not possible to justify righteously the compulsion of the grasshopper for his own good. It does him no good, and it diminishes the rest of us, at best decreasing our own productivity and efficiency, and often going much farther bringing forth in us the worst of human nature, especially arrogance, self-righteousness, condescension, and even worse.

There is no need for compulsion in education. Mothers understand its value for their children. Children understand its value when simply allowed to enjoy the process. Joy cannot flourish under compulsion. Children do not enjoy being told they must. No one enjoys being told what to do. Children must learn self-discipline, but that is an entirely different thing than education. Children learn when they play. They learn when they interact. They learn when they are shown how to do something new. They learn when they are shown the usefulness of reading, writing, and mathematics. The same applies to skills in all areas of interest, including sports and trade or industry.

The state must ensure access. The state must protect those seeking education. I will even support state provision of schools and educational resource, but no good can come of forcing our young citizens and their parents to participate and attend.

It is my right to be ignorant if I so choose.

It is mama’s right to insist her child participate in education. Mama can insist her child attend. The state cannot. The state has no right to coerce with regard to self-determination and freedom of association. Mama will choose what is best for her child. We need only ensure her right is unhindered. It is mama’s right to raise her child anyway she sees fit. There are limits. We acknowledge abuse occurs, and sometimes the state must intervene, but in nearly all cases, mother really does know best. Empower her, and protect her from hindrance, and ensure she has at least one adequate option, such as a public school, and let her prove it. Mothers the world over have been proving it over and over since time immemorial.

I will always stand for mothers and fathers, for families. It is what works. For the exceptions, coercion cannot help.

Societally, we must work together and try to make up for shortfalls. We must also stand with those who see things nontraditionally, even when we have sound studies and reproducible data that show the traditional works best. But, we cannot do so by trying to force behavior.

Focus on what is most important. Freedom, self-determination, acceptance of responsibility, owning what we earn, be it for better or for worse. These are the things that are important for human dignity. These are the essentials of society. Understanding these is much more important than acquisition of some arbitrary standard of education as guessed at by some standardized test.

Children are, first, citizens. Children are not resources of the state. Children are not resources of the economy. Children are not property. We adults, specifically, we parents, are responsible for helping our children grow, and we must provide them with the tools they need for success in life. We must prepare them to stand on their own and take our places. We cannot arbitrarily set the standard. We cannot pretend to know the STEM needs of the future. Heaven forbid that for anyone we ever try to determine for him or her. Each child has the right to pursue happiness. Each child must be allowed self-determination in it.

We must amend our state constitution. We must remove the words of Section XIII-4 and replace with words prohibiting coercion, prohibiting compulsory attendance. We must free our citizens, especially the teachers in our publicly funded schools.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

Mr. Miller has comments about teacher evaluation.

http://www.viewfromtheedge.net/?p=7405

Snippets with my comments:

“So, we are right back where we were prior to SB2033. Oklahoma can do anything we choose without the threat of federal interference. We can change this law during this legislative session, and we should.”

“That’s right. I vote to abolish TLE completely. Every part of it–The Tulsa Model, Marzano, McRel, roster verification, value-added models, teacher portfolios, student and parent surveys, benchmark testing, qualitative scores, quantitative scores…EVERY. Damn. Part.”

Absolutely. Get rid of all teacher evaluation requirements. We must trust our teachers and principals. If parents will stay involved, that will work just fine. It is, in fact, the only thing that will work.

Accountability means nothing unless the parents are involved. The state need not be involved if the parents are, and the state will only cause harm regardless.

“Adding layers of bureaucracy and mandates at the state level has done little to improve the quality of teachers in our state. This has always been–and will always be–a function of school leadership.”

Yes, absolutely. Local leadership and parental involvement. With no parents, there is no hope anyway.

“Therefore, the best method of teacher evaluation will always be to hire a great principal and let them do their job.

“Likewise, the best approach for our best teachers is to let them teach. We should provide the resources, training and supports they need and then get out of their way.

“The reality is that great teachers will be great teachers with or without TLE. They are intrinsically motivated and likely harder on themselves than any administrator could ever be. This does not mean they won’t appreciate meaningful feedback and suggestions from their administrators. But it’s just gravy for many of them.”

Actually, with TLE, the great teachers succumb. They find it too hard to love the children and teach them, piled on with the requirements to keep up with all the paperwork and restrictions. TLE doesn’t do much for the good teachers, but it does drive them away.

Mr. Miller speaks of improving incentives, but I don’t think incentives are the problem, restrictions and disincentives are the problem. First, we hold a gun to everyone’s head and force them to school. Then we tie the hands of the teachers with one-size-fits-all requirements. We restrict their options, and we force them to deal with those kids who refuse to cooperate, gun to their head or not.

Children love to learn. We do not have to instill a love of learning in them. It is there. We have to be careful not to squash it. Our system is very much geared for squashing love of learning. It also squashes love of teaching.

Likewise for critical thinking. Kids will, if we don’t throttle them every time they do so. We tend to, since there just isn’t time in the classroom to let the child’s thinking run its course. When Sally makes an astute observation followed by an off-the-wall conclusion, the ideal is to work with her and her peers to sort out the error and find better conclusions. She can and will if we can take the time, but we don’t. The typical response is to tell her that she was sharp to notice, but then the teacher must simply interject the correct conclusion because there simply isn’t time for the distraction. The distractions are important. In the distractions, our children learn to think for themselves. Distractions and focus on them develop the love of learning into lifelong habit. Figuring out and working through the errors and misjudgments develops the critical thinking that simply cannot be taught. Tests and lessons cannot teach critical thinking. Telling students what the critical points are teaches them nothing. They know a fact for a while; then it fades from mind. Doing the process of critical thinking instills it. Teaching it, accomplishes nothing.

The article I wrote about that pointed out half our teachers are leaving the profession within five years referenced an article about Finland from 2011.

Wow!

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/?all&no-ist

The gist is the Finnish teachers are trusted and allowed to do whatever it takes to prepare kids to succeed in life. They only try to teach them how to learn. They never try to teach them how to test. Yet, the Finns do quite well on tests, including the international one. Read the rest of this entry »

Writing for Newsweek, , discusses the low morale of teachers in public education.

http://www.newsweek.com/why-has-teacher-morale-plummeted-321447

Like, no duh, huh?

He points out that the current problem started in the 1980s. It started even before the Civil War, but the problems today are largely the doings of Jimmy Carter and the Democrats of the early 1980s. Reagan tried to stop it. He said he would, but he failed. Tip O’Neill mattered in that. Most of our education problems today are mostly, originally, Tip O’Neill’s fault. (Bushes and Clintons share a lot of blame and responsibility in our education problems, too.)

Mr. Ward points out that 40-50% of our new teachers leave the profession within five years. Wow. There are no reforms we can do to the education system and hope to fix it while none of our teachers have significant experience in teaching. Nothing!

The first requirement to any fix in education is get rid of compulsory education. Repeal all truancy laws. All of them. Our education system will continue to worsen until we get rid of compulsory education laws. Compulsion, coercion, is always immoral. The only justification for any coercion is the clear and imminent threat of harm. There is no clear threat associated with lack of education for children. There certainly is no imminent threat.

Compulsory laws for education are evil. The history of it is sad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_education

Second requirement: Let the teachers teach!

Get out of their way. Get back to the principal and district superintendent running the school, trusting the teachers, proving them out one-on-one with the students and parents, and get out of the way.

Get the Fed out entirely. We need to amend the Constitution. Add the words “or education” to the First Amendment, like this, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or education, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;…” Our Federal government should treat education the exact same way it treats religion, totally hands off.

Our states need to back it down to the counties. We need to acknowledge that there is no overriding interest of the state in our children. We, including our children, are citizens. We all need equal protection. We all need equal standing. Sure, minors must be specially defined until the age of majority, but 18 is really probably older than we need for most things.

Well, enough today. I found Ward’s article worthwhile, and it slapped me hard that it is impossible to fix the public education system when most of our teachers have less than five years experience. It is impossible. We have to figure out how to fix that first. We cannot fix it by meddling.

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