Archive for the ‘DIY-educators’ Category

James is knocking it out of the park again!

My dad hit me when I got bad grades. Particularly when I was young and got a bad grade in “Conduct”. Happiness was an “A”. Even better: an “A+”. Sadness was an “F”. It was almost like a joke. Like the only way to get an “F” is if you tried to screw up almost as much as you tried to get an “A”.

But  in twelve years of basic schooling I can’t’ remember anyone asking where the “E” was. It goes A, B, C, D (which was really horrible to get a D. It means you were trying somewhat (so as to avoid the “F”) but you were just plain stupid and got a D. Not even a C.) and then, the magic “F”. Which was more than just a letter but a one-letter acronym. None of the other letters stood for anything. They were just letters. They could’ve been replaced by numbers (Claudia tells me in Argentina they were graded by numbers from one to ten. No letters). It’s not like “A” stood for Amazing. Or “B” Boring. “C” Crazy. “D” Dumb. You could’ve just replaced them by 1, 2, 3, 4. Or a “1+”. But F was irreplaceable.

(the mirror image of the tattoo says “Never a Failure, Always a Lesson”)

“F” stood for “Failure”.  [Note: except when I was really little. There was “O” for outstanding. “S” for Satisfactory. And “N” for needs improvement. I got an N for conduct and it’s the first time I remember my dad hitting me after the teacher told him I was always calling her old, which she was and there is no shame of that but I only realize that now that I am as old as she was.]

So why no “E”. I think teachers got together 5000 years ago. Maybe 10,000 years ago and came up with the horrifying conclusion: Some students might think “E” stood for Effort. As in, “at least I didn’t get an ‘F’. I got an ‘E’ which means I put in an effort.” And doesn’t that go along all too easily with the lie teachers say, “I’m not going to judge you on your grade, I’m going to judge you on the effort you put into this class.”

Did they ever really judge you on that? And if they did, do you really think they would want you to get an “E” on a test and then have to put up with your arguing at the end of a semester when you would say, “See! I put in the effort! I got an “E” on everything and you said that would be how you would judge me.”

“This is awful”, said a teacher at that first convention of the union of the national teachers club. “We have to take the ‘E’ out of the alphabet.”

“But,” said Mr. Maroon. “We spend years teaching them that song: A, B, C, D, E, F, G… to the tune of twinkle twinkle little star. And now we have to tell them there is no E?”

“There is an E! Just not in grades. Why is this such a difficult thing to understand? If we put an ‘E’ in there then our schools will NEVER get funding. All our schools depend on our students, smart or stupid, doing well on those standardized tests where they fill in the multiple choice circles and cyborgs read them and grade them and the better they do, the more funding we get. If we put an ‘E’ into the system the students might clog up the pipes with Effort instead of Amazing. They might even think “E” is for Exceed because at least it beats Failure! WE CANNOT HAVE AN ‘E’!”

I doubt that conversation really happened. They really backed themselves into a corner. They thought by using letters instead of numbers that would fool kids into some state of confusion where they really didn’t know how they did. Like, “is a B good or bad?” But everyone knows where they stand when it comes to 1 through 10.

But now they were stuck with the “E”. Until they decided to strike it from the alphabet. But only some of the time. Except for that one time an entire novel was written without using the letter “e”. That guy knew what he was doing. The insidious removal of the most common letter in the English language.

Because that’s what English is about. It’s not “Anglo”. It’s not quite “Saxon”. It’s not “Latin”. But its a weird mixture of all three, concocted like a test tube baby in some scientist’s laboratory when the aliens landed and impregnated our ancient Mothers with the sperm from their dying planets (since they came from a Federation of planets surrounding a supernova, or perhaps supernovae (there’s that “E” again) ).  So we can keep on experimenting and investing and twisting and testing. Now “google” is a verb, a noun, a business, the beginnings of an artificially intelligent singularity, a map, an email, a social network, and a photo album with the flowers as bookmarks. We don’t need those anymore thanks to Google. No memories are special enough to mark them with a flower, thanks to the newest word in the dictionary.

Ugh, trying to unravel the Rubik’s Cube-like scam of lower education is a full-time job. Once you get a side with all one color you realize you’ve hopelessly prevented yourself from getting the other side to be one color.

I have not read much about home schooling or unschooling so I am no expert. But I’ve thought about it. And this is how I would do it if my kids were to let me unschool them.

A) First, (and again, this is without reading about it at all so I, at best, uneducated on the topic). I prefer the word “unschooling” to “home schooling”. I assume home schooling means I replace the teacher, buy them science textbooks, math, Canterbury Tales, etc. I don’t want to do that. That sounds boring to me and I assume to them as well. Unschooling sounds more like it – i.e. just completely no education at all.

B) Only one requirement: read one book a week. It doesn’t matter what book. I will pay them 10 cents a page. WHAT!? How can you pay your kids to learn? Well, I want my kids to get used to being paid for doing things they enjoy. Later in life (just a few years really) they will have to do it anyway. Why not get used to being paid for something they enjoy right now? This way they will know easily to avoid getting paid for things they don’t enjoy. (this is hopefully a way to avoid them going into a life of prostitution).

Then we talk about it. Then we visit the bookstore and they get to browse other books and see what they like. I get a synesthesia of experience when I go into a bookstore, some sections have bright colors and draw me to them (fiction, current affairs, philosophy, art, comics, history) and some I can just feel the drab greyness (interior decorating, crafts, children). They would browse until something pulls at them. Then they would buy it and read it.

C) Every day: I’d set out drawing and painting materials. They’d also be encouraged to keep a diary. I want the creative neurons going. I can’t force them to do this. But maybe they would want to.

D) At least an hour of sports a day.

(sports are good for kids)

E) I’d set up playdates for after school so they can get socialization. Or playdates with other kids that are being unschooled or home schooled (there are more than you think out there). My kids think that all home-schooled kids are “weird” because they aren’t social. But I ask them, “when do you talk to your friends anyway?” And they say, “after school”. So that argument is out the window.

F) The rest of the time they can do whatever they want: eat, read, watch TV, sleep, blow stuff up, do nothing but stare at the wall, walk around the block, go to the movies. Whatever. In fact, I hope they do a lot of nothing. People get addicted to doing “something”. What’s so great about “something”. I like to do nothing. Even when people do nothing they try to label it: like “meditation”. Ugh, what a boring thing: meditation. Try, “I just did nothing. I even thought about nothing in particular.”

When you are capable of actually doing nothing (not so easy after decades of “something addiction”), there’s a deep well that springs up, and fills every corner of you, crowding at the anxieties, the fears, the pressures put on you from government jobs colleagues bosses friends family. The nothing replaces all the vomit they try to kiss into your mouth.

By doing all the above they have more opportunity to discover their passions, more play time, more creative time, just as much social time.

The standard criticism: kids should learn how to deal with kids they don’t like and doing things they don’t like. People say this to me all the time, ranging from Harvard graduates to my own kids. “Kids should do things they don’t like!” Really?

My answer: Why? It doesn’t seem like adults are any good at that so how did experiencing it as a kid help them?

What makes me an expert on unschooling? Absolutely nothing. And that’s the point. I just don’t want them to do any of the 100 bad memories I (and just about everyone else) has about standardized schooling. Why should they have to go through with it?

And I’m going to grade them every week. I’ll give them a big piece of paper with the letter “E” on it. And we can talk about what it means. Maybe every week it will mean something different. That sounds like fun.

June 28, 2012
Mises Daily

Laissez-Faire Learning
by David Greenwald on June 27, 2012
As a teacher in a public high school, I am daily confronted with the lamentable realities of state-monopoly education. Student apathy, methodological stagnation, bureaucratic inefficiency, textbook-publishing cartels, obsessive preoccupation with grades, coercive relationships, and rigid, sanitized curricula are just a few of the more obvious problems, attended by the cold-shower disillusionment and gradual burnout among teachers to which they almost invariably lead.

While outcomes such as these are certainly tragic, the process that produces them is not exactly the stuff of Greek theater. There is no climactic battle, no cathartic denouement, no salvific moral lesson to be taken home when the curtain falls, and seldom are there any readily identifiable heroes or villains. It is not a single, epic calamity but a thousand trivial defeats a day, each too mundane and too quickly obscured by its successor to be considered noteworthy. Like a bad movie, public education somehow manages to be both tragic and boring. It is only its cumulative result that would have impressed Sophocles.

Oddly enough, although there is overwhelming public support for compulsory, tax-funded schooling, enthusiasm for what actually goes on in public schools is noticeably lacking. Not only are they generally acknowledged to be falling short in their efforts to produce an enlightened citizenry, but it is even conceded that they have failed in what is ostensibly their most exalted mission: the provision of equal opportunity for all via a standardized system of mass instruction in which all students receive the same basic set of knowledge and skills. Nor has this indictment originated solely from among the ranks of those opposed to egalitarianism on principle. To the contrary, it is largely the refrain of embittered progressives for whom “free” universal education has long been the desideratum of social justice, and who cannot understand how the behemoth they so vigorously midwifed into existence and then wet-nursed for a century could have so thoroughly betrayed their loftiest and most cherished ideal.

Yet ironically, it is the unassailable faith in the achievability of precisely this ideal of universal equality that immunizes public education against every reasonable argument advanced in opposition to it. Notwithstanding its manifest shortcomings, none of which has found a remedy despite decades of legislative reform, hardly anyone is prepared to see this system replaced by anything resembling a real market in education due to the deeply held conviction that that those of lesser material means either would not be able to afford market-based schooling or, in the very best case, would receive only substandard services inadequate to the task of ensuring equality of economic opportunity later in life. It is a further irony, though hardly surprising, that neither the economic knowledge nor the analytic discernment necessary for an examination of these claims has ever been or will ever be taught in a public school. No emperor willingly trains his own subjects to recognize nakedness when they see it.

Given this state of affairs, it devolves on individuals, both within and outside of the school system, to educate others about education. In what follows I will attempt to address what I see as the three primary objections raised against the idea of market-based education:

that educational services on the market would be at a premium, with prices high enough to exclude at least the lowest-income strata of society;

that even if the less affluent could afford some market-based education, it would be of a substantially inferior quality to that received by wealthier consumers of educational services; and

that the lack of a universal curriculum and standardized criteria of achievement would render the market incapable of providing the equality of opportunity that public education, however unsatisfactorily, at least aims in principle to ensure.

We will examine each of these arguments in turn. As will be shown, the first two rest on a misunderstanding of markets, while the third stems from a grossly distorted concept of education from which, if they took the time to examine it closely, probably even most progressives would recoil in horror.

Argument 1: Affordability

In order to understand why educational services on a free market would as a rule be priced well within the reach of the vast majority of income earners, we must first ask why the market produces anything at all for such persons. Since it is obvious that the wealthiest few have far more purchasing power per capita than those in the middle- and lower-income strata, why does the market not produce only for the former group and leave the latter two homeless and starving? Why is sugar, once a luxury of the rich, today a household item so widely and cheaply available that the US government feels called on to impose tariffs on imports and buy up domestic surpluses to keep the price artificially high? Why is the same kilobyte of computer memory that cost around $45 twenty years ago today priced at a fraction of a cent?

The simple answer is this: competition. When a good first appears on the market, the supply of it is strictly limited. To the extent that consumers value it highly, they will bid against each other for the minimal stock available, causing the price to rise until all but the wealthiest consumers drop out of the market. As long as there is no expansion of supply, and assuming the consumers do not change their valuations, the good will remain a luxury of the rich.

However, it is precisely this condition that provides producers with the incentive to increase production of the product. The high price yields supernormal profits that draw venture capitalists and entrepreneurs into that line of production, thereby increasing the supply, lowering the price, and most importantly, bringing exponentially greater numbers of consumers into the market. This process continues until that portion of profits that exceeds the general rate prevailing in other industries disappears, bringing the expansion to a halt. But by that time, the good has long since ceased to be a toy for the rich. To paraphrase Mises, yesterday’s luxury has become today’s necessity.

Of course, while this process works in essentially the same way for all goods, some goods — diamonds, for example — tend to remain luxury items indefinitely due to the high cost of producing them. It is, after all, the consumers who, in the aggregate, must ultimately pay for any lasting expansion of industry. If the capital expenditures necessary for the production of a good exceed the willingness or ability of the consumers to offset them, no sustained increase in the supply of that good will be possible.

So how would this dynamic work on a market for education? Assuming that educational services as such would be given high priority on the value scales of most consumers, would the cost of producing them keep them priced beyond the means of the typical wage-earner? Here we must be particularly careful not to engage in what psychologists call static thinking. We must ask ourselves, not how much it would cost for private entrepreneurs to produce curricula and instruction as these are presently constituted, but rather to what extent and in what ways schooling in its current form squanders resources, and how it might be streamlined and otherwise improved in the crucible of free competition.

One point is clear: the greater and more numerous the inefficiencies of the current system, the more radical its transformation by the market would be. And just how inefficient is the present system? Well, who runs it? On what principles does it operate? Does it allow students the freedom, for example, to take courses in what they are most interested in and eschew subjects they do not wish to study? Or does it rather saddle them with a bloated, one-size-fits-all curriculum prodigiously crammed full of skills and information they neither need nor want, thereby creating artificial demand for teachers and administrative staff, stimulating construction of needlessly large (or simply needless) facilities, boosting energy consumption and capital maintenance costs, and so forth? To get an idea of the sorts of “practical competencies” students in today’s public and state-regulated high schools are expected to (pretend to) master and retain for use in later life,[1] here is a randomly-selected excerpt from the scintillating epistle “Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Mathematics,” issued by the Texas Education Agency:

§111.35. Precalculus (One-Half to One Credit).

Knowledge and skills.
The student defines functions, describes characteristics of functions, and translates among verbal, numerical, graphical, and symbolic representations of functions, including polynomial, rational, power (including radical), exponential, logarithmic, trigonometric, and piecewise-defined functions. The student is expected to:
describe parent functions symbolically and graphically, including f(x) = xn, f(x) = 1n x, f(x) = loga x, f(x) = 1/x, f(x) = ex, f(x) = |x|, f(x) = ax, f(x) = sin x, f(x) = arcsin x, etc.;
determine the domain and range of functions using graphs, tables, and symbols;
describe symmetry of graphs of even and odd functions;
recognize and use connections among significant values of a function (zeros, maximum values, minimum values, etc.), points on the graph of a function, and the symbolic representation of a function; and
investigate the concepts of continuity, end behavior, asymptotes, and limits and connect these characteristics to functions represented graphically and numerically.
Got all that?

$15.00 $10.00

Of course, administrative costs and restrictions on entry and labor-market flexibility also impact cost-efficiency. How do public schools hold up in these areas? Are their operational rules and procedures clear, concise, and easy to follow? Or does it take, say, 670 pages and whole cadres of lawyers, consultants, and administrative support staff just to implement a single program? Regarding entry, how easy is it to qualify as a member of the academy? Is anyone who demonstrates a potential aptitude for meeting the educational demands of students given the opportunity to try to do so? Or is club membership restricted by legal quotas and licensure requirements necessitating lengthy and expensive formal training?

And how flexible is the labor market? Can an underperforming or incompetent employee be readily replaced? Or does even a mere suspension require a hearing before a three-member commission?[2]

We do not have space here to speculate on all the optimizing innovations creative entrepreneurs might come up with, and to do so would be presumptuous in any case. As John Hasnas has pointed out, if we could forecast the future market accurately, our very ability to do this would be the greatest possible justification for central planning.[3] Suffice it to say that today’s public and government-regulated private schools dissipate resources with a profligacy that would have made Ludwig II blush. We can hardly claim, then, that these institutions — whose costs are externalized onto the whole society — are paragons of affordability. Yet education is not a capital-intensive industry, and market competition would surely eliminate most of this waste in short order, allowing educational entrepreneurs to reduce their costs, lower their prices, and take advantage of economies of scale. As for those few who might still be unable to pay, lower prices would mean that private scholarships, grants, and student loans would be available in greater abundance than they are today, and the latter would no longer require ten years of indentured servitude to pay off.

Just as with sugar, automobiles, civil aviation, and cell phones,[4] so too in education high initial profits would draw competition, increase supply, reduce cost, and multiply innovation. There is no reason for market-driven educational services tailored specifically to the desires of those who consume them to be prohibitively expensive.[5]

Argument 2: Quality

A second argument against leaving education to the market is that to do so would result in grave disparities in quality of service. The rich, it is said, would get steak, while the poor got rump roast. Of course, there is a kernel of truth in this. The more you are prepared to offer for something, the more quality you are in a position to demand. The market is indeed a place where the principle embodied in the cliché “You get what you pay for” prevails.

But what exactly do you pay for? The answer to this question is not necessarily obvious. To illustrate, I offer a personal example.

Many years ago, I worked at a tavern-style restaurant that was part of a nationwide chain. With its eclectic menu, modest prices, and dollar-a-mug draft beers, it was a place where families could go on a budget, and weekend drinkers could go on a binge. Not exactly Alain Ducasse, but we did offer a steak (T-bone, as I recall) for around $10. What is interesting about this is that right next door was a more upscale steakhouse that also served T-bone; only this one went for something like $22. Nothing unusual about that, but here’s the catch: both restaurants were owned by the same company and both served exactly the same T-bone steak.

At first blush, this seems absurd. Why would any company compete with itself? And why, for that matter, would anyone in his right mind pay $22 for a steak he could get for less than half that just by walking across the parking lot? Situations like this have led to calls for governments to step in and “protect” consumers from their own “irrationality.” But there is nothing irrational going on here. The two restaurants were not in competition, because they served different clientele, and patrons had definite reasons for the choices they made about which restaurant to patronize. Ours wanted to cut the frills, sit at the bar, and save money; theirs were willing to pay more than double the price for the plush seats, subdued ambience, and tuxedoed waiters. The essential thing, however, is that both were eating the same steak.

The relationship between price and quality is therefore not as straightforward as we might imagine. It is certainly true that you get what you pay for, but it is equally true that you pay for what you get. To be sure, on the education market, those with the wherewithal could attend schools equipped with indoor swimming pools, tennis courts, amphitheaters, and state-of-the-art IT. But this does not mean that everyone else could not make do with less extravagance and still get the same basic service.

Of course, all this in no way suggests that quality of educational services would be identical. Such a conclusion would be absurd. What we have demonstrated is simply the fallacious reasoning behind the common assumption that where price is low, product must be unsatisfactory. What does not satisfy is not profitable. Products and services that do not meet the needs of consumers — rich and poor — will soon have, not a low price, but no price.

Argument 3: Opportunity

We now turn to a final argument for public education that goes beyond economics, though even here there is a parallel. Deeply rooted in the belief that justice means equality and equality means identical circumstances, this view holds that educational standards and curricula must be essentially uniform for everyone if all students are to be given the same opportunity to succeed in life. Here, the anticipated failure of the market lies, not in its high prices or disparate quality, but in its presumably excessive flexibility and diversity. In essence, this argument is really nothing more than a special case of the more general socialist contempt for the division of labor. But what is the “division of labor” in education? What is its meaning, and why should we fear its emergence?

We are accustomed to conceiving of education, not as an abstraction, but as a “real thing” existing in the world outside; a commodity possessed by some people whom we call “teachers” and transferred, more or less mechanically, to other people called “students.” This habit of thought is reflected in our language: it is far more common to talk about getting an education than about becoming educated. Yet the greatest thinkers in this area have repeatedly emphasized that education is, in fact, a process of becoming. This is what Maria Montessori meant when she said that if our definition of education proceeds

along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man’s future. For what is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual’s total development lags behind?

Montessori urged an approach to pedagogy that would “help toward the complete unfolding of life,” and “rigorously … avoid the arrest of spontaneous movements and the imposition of arbitrary tasks.”

John Dewey expressed similar views. In his seminal work Democracy and Education, Dewey places the onus of responsibility for education squarely on the shoulders of the individual student:

One is mentally an individual only as he has his own purpose and problem, and does his own thinking. The phrase “think for oneself” is a pleonasm. Unless one does it for oneself, it isn’t thinking. Only by a pupil’s own observations, reflections, framing and testing of suggestions can what he already knows be amplified and rectified. Thinking is as much an individual matter as is the digestion of food. [Moreover], there are variations of point of view, of appeal of objects, and of mode of attack, from person to person. When these variations are suppressed in the alleged interests of uniformity, and an attempt is made to have a single mold of method of study and recitation, mental confusion and artificiality inevitably result. Originality is gradually destroyed, confidence in one’s own quality of mental operation is undermined, and a docile subjection to the opinion of others is inculcated, or else ideas run wild. (p. 311–12)

For both Dewey and Montessori, education starts from the inside and moves outward.[6] Its purpose is to stimulate discovery and development of the personal resources latent within the self by allowing the student to experience the myriad possibilities for bringing them to bear creatively on the external world.

This means that becoming educated is not a matter of passively acquiring what is given, but of actively discovering what one has to give. It means that education does not create opportunity; opportunity creates education.

Regimentation and uniformity must therefore be jettisoned entirely; the individual must reign supreme within the sphere of his own development. The function of the school is to provide a stable environment rich in stimuli across a broad spectrum of disciplines, while the role of the teacher becomes primarily that of the observer who watches as closely — and intervenes as sparingly — as possible.

From this it follows that no two individuals would or could possibly educate themselves in exactly the same way. The self-directed intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual explorations of millions of people simultaneously thus result in an unfathomable diversification of interests and activities that amounts to an educational “division of labor” — one that supports and enhances the division of labor of the market economy, and is in fact its logical precursor.

It must surely be obvious that such a philosophy is in every way wholly incompatible with systems of compulsory or universalized schooling aimed at “equalizing opportunity,” and moreover, that even to use the word opportunity in connection with compulsion or regimentation is to abuse language, otherwise we might just as well reinstate slavery in the name of providing equal “employment opportunity.”

Education, if it is to be worthy of the name, demands a method opposite to that of bureaucratic management and entirely irreconcilable with it. It requires flexibility, parsimony, innovation, and above all, a means of daily subjecting the producers of educational services to the competition of their peers and the approval or disapproval of their clients.

It requires, in other words, the free market.

Conclusion

$10.00 $7.00

In Slovenia where I teach, the verb “to learn” literally translates “to teach oneself.” If the truth behind this linguistic convention were widely recognized, it would discredit the very premise on which all systems of public education are founded. But, as the great economist Frédéric Bastiat warned more than a century and a half ago, there is a pronounced tendency when confronted with important questions to consider only what is seen and ignore that which is not seen. And this just as true in education as it is in economics. We see students go to school day after day for 12 years, do as they’re told, get their diplomas, and finally go on to do something with their lives. Perhaps from our vantage point it does not look so bad. But what we do not see is what they might have become had they been allowed to be the architects of their own fate from the beginning

Here are three quotes from John Holt. We need more John Holt types in what we call ‘education’ today.

“Education… now seems to me perhaps the most authoritarian and dangerous of
all the social inventions of mankind. It is the deepest foundation of the
modern slave state, in which most people feel themselves to be nothing but
producers, consumers, spectators, and ‘fans,’ driven more and more, in all
parts of their lives, by greed, envy, and fear. My concern is not to improve
‘education’ but to do away with it, to end the ugly and antihuman business of
people-shaping and to allow and help people to shape themselves.”
— John Holt
(1923-1985) American author and educator, proponent of homeschooling, and pioneer in youth rights theory
Source: Holt, J. (1967). How Children Learn. New York: Pitman Publishing Corporation
http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/John.Holt.Quote.1C40

“I believe that we learn best when we, not others are deciding what we are
going to learn, and when we are choosing the people, materials, and experiences
from which we will be learning.”
— John Holt
(1923-1985) American author and educator, proponent of homeschooling, and pioneer in youth rights theory
Source: Holt, J. (1967). How Children Learn. New York: Pitman Publishing Corporation
http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/John.Holt.Quote.59BD

“The most important thing any teacher has to learn, not to be learned in any
school of education I ever heard of, can be expressed in seven words: Learning
is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of
learners.”
— John Holt
(1923-1985) American author and educator, proponent of homeschooling, and pioneer in youth rights theory
Source: Holt, J. (1967). How Children Learn. New York: Pitman Publishing Corporation
http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/John.Holt.Quote.5804

I saw this article over at LewRockwell.com a short time back. I got sidetracked and didn’t post it. I found it again when I followed Strangers and Aliens today. Great post!

Strangers and Aliens


 

 

 

 

 

 

by Anthony Wile
The Daily Bell

Introduction: Brett Veinotte has worked in private education for the last 10 years, in a variety of activities. As host of the School Sucks Podcast, every week Brett shares his discoveries about American schooling with thousands of listeners. He is also now the vice president of a tutoring and educational consulting company in New Hampshire. Brett worked as an Outdoor Education Leader at a boarding school lin Vermont in 2000, then taught at the Great Expectations school in Manchester, Vermont from 2004 to 2006, where he designed new curricula for all classes he taught, including American History, World History, Media Ethics, Film History and a variety of mathematics courses. While teaching at Great Expectations, he completed masters level coursework in educational leadership, and the secondary education certification program at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. After…

View original post 4,348 more words

On my daily stroll through the LRC I found another great article by Fred Reed. Keeping it real is what Fred does best. Enjoy!

A Taste of Realism

Yuck!

May 1, 2012

I wonder what purpose the public schools serve, other than to warehouse children while their parents work or watch television. They certainly don’t teach much, as survey after survey shows. Is there any particular reason for having them? Apart from their baby-sitting function, I mean.

Schooling, sez me, should be adapted to the needs and capacities of those being schooled. For unintelligent children, the study of anything beyond minimal reading is a waste of time, since they will learn little or nothing more. For the intelligent, a public schooling is equivalent to tying an anchor to a student swimmer. The schools are an impediment to learning, a torture of the bright, and a form of negligent homicide against a country that needs trained minds in a competitive world.

Let us start with the truly stupid. Millions of children graduate—“graduate”—from high school—“high school”—unable to read. Why inflict twelve years of misery on them? It is not reasonable to blame them for being witless, but neither does it make sense to pretend that they are not. For them school is custodial, nothing more. Since there is little they can do in a technological society, they will remain in custody all their lives. This happens, and must happen, however we disguise it.

For those of reasonably average acuity, it little profits to go beyond learning to read, which they can do quite well, and to use a calculator. Upon their leaving high school, question them and you find that they know almost nothing. They could learn more, average not being stupid, but modest intelligence implies no interest in study. This is true only of academic subjects such as history, literature, and physics. They will study things that seem practical to them. Far better to teach the modestly acute such things as will allow them to earn a living, be they typing, carpentry, or diesel repair. Society depends on such people. But why inflict upon them the geography of Southeast Asia, the plays of Shakespeare, or the history of the nineteenth century? Demonstrably they remember none of it.

Some who favor the public schools assert that an informed public is necessary to a functioning democracy. True, and beyond doubt. But we do not have an informed public, never have had one, and never will. Nor, really, do we have a functioning democracy.

Any survey will reveal that most people have no grasp of geography, history, law, government, finance, international relations, or politics. And most people have neither the intelligence nor the interest to learn these things. If schools were not the disasters they are, they still couldn’t produce a public able to govern a nation.

But it is for the intelligent that the public schools—“schools”—are most baneful. It is hideous for the bright, especially bright boys, to sit year after year in an inescapable miasma of appalling dronedom while some low-voltage mental drab wanders on about banalities that would depress a garden slug. The public schools are worse than no schools for the quick. A sharp kid often arrives at school already reading. Very quickly he (or, most assuredly, she) reads four years ahead of grade. These children teach themselves. They read indiscriminately, without judgement—at first anyway—and pick up ideas, facts, and vocabulary. They also begin to think.

In school, bored to desperation, they invent subterfuges so as not to lapse into screaming insanity. In my day the tops of desks opened to reveal a space for storing crayons and such. The bright would keep the top open enough so that they could read their astronomy books while the teacher—“teacher”—talked about some family of cute beavers, and how Little Baby Beaver….

I ask you: How much did you learn in school, and how much have you learned on your own? Asking myself the same question, I come up with typing, and two years of algebra.

The bright should go to school, but it is well to distinguish between a school and a penitentiary. They need schools at their level, taught by teachers at their level. It is not hard to get intelligent children to learn things, and indeed today a whole system of day-care centers only partly succeeds in keeping them from doing it. They like learning things, if only you keep those wretched beavers out of the classroom. When I was in grade school in the early Fifties, bright kids read, shrew-like, four times their body weight in books every fifteen minutes—or close, anyway. In third grade or so, they had microscopes (Gilbert for hoi polloi, but mine was a fifteen-dollar upscale model from Edmund Scientific) and knew about rotifers and Canada balsam and well slides and planaria. These young, out of human decency, for the benefit of the country, should not be subjected to public education—“education.” Where do we think high-bypass turbofans come from? Are they invented by heart-warming morons?

To a remarkable extent, dumb-ass public schools are simply not necessary. I asked my (Mexican) wife Violeta how she learned to read. It was through a Head Start program, I learned, called “mi padre.” Her father, himself largely self-taught, sat her down with a book and said, see these little squiggles? They are called “letters,” and they make sounds, and you can put them together….. Vi contemplated the idea. Yes, it made sense. Actually, she decided, it was no end of fun, give me that book…Bingo.

The absorptive capacity of smart kids is large if you just stay out of their way. A bright boy of eleven can quickly master a collegiate text of physiology, for example. This is less astonishing than perhaps it sounds. The human body consists of comprehensible parts that do comprehensible things. If he is interested, which is the key, he will learn them, while apparently being unable to learn state capitals, which don’t interest him.

What is the point of pretending to teach the unteachable while, to all appearances, trying not to teach the easily teachable? The answer of course is that we have achieved communism, the rule of the proletariat, and the proletariat doesn’t want to strain itself, or to admit that there are things it can’t do.

In schooling, perhaps “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” isn’t a bad idea. If a child has a substantial IQ, expect him to use it for the good of society, and give him schools to let him do it. If a child needs a vocation so as to live, give him the training he needs. But don’t subject either to enstupidated, unbearably tedious, pointless, one-size-fits-nobody pseudo-schools to hide the inescapable fact that we are not all equal.

Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well, A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Bem, Curmudgeing Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle, Au Phuc Dup and Nowhere to Go: The Only Really True Book About Viet Nam, and A Grand Adventure: Wisdom’s Price-Along with Bits and Pieces about Mexico. Visit his blog.

Copyright © 2012 Fred Reed

A few years ago, I got interested in making those cool looking paracord bracelets. I watched a youtube video and said to myself, “Self, how hard can it be?” Loving Wife just rolled her blue eyes as I ordered the materials. I’m certainly not an expert at knots like the Paracordist. I only do a couple of simple knots.

There’s so many uses for paracord. Side note: I just watched a Myth Busters episode on duct tape being the only supplies used to rescue the MB’s off a deserted island. Very cool stuff, but they must have used 50 plus rolls of tape to “survive”. The sheer weight would be prohibitive for a BOB. I do keep duct tape in my wallet and BOB wrapped around an old gift card. The wallet tape comes in handy often.

Paracord is the duct tape of outdoor survival. The usefulness of this cord makes it indispensable. This post is not intended to go into its many functions but to highlight one of my DIY projects: Paracord rifle slings.

Here are two cobra-stitch slings I made for my Ruger 10-22 and Remington 870. I used about 100 feet of cordage for the tan sling and about 80 for the black one, which is adjustable. With this much cord accompanying me in the woods, I’m sure I could affect my rescue if need be…or build a log cabin even. There’s no such thing as too much paracord.

The sling is 37 inches (approximately 100 ft of cord) with Uncle Mike swivels.

View off the gun

I made the black sling adjustable with some black webbing I had lying around.

Let me know about any of your DIY paracord projects. I’m always open for improvements and new projects.

Semper Vigilans,

TEV

 

We live in a sick world…a bubble if you will.

I work in what I call the “Education Bubble” of forced institutional schooling.

Here’s what is taught inside the Education Bubble: Schooling equals education, our Government is benevolent and here to help, mainstream media reports the facts, the group trumps the individual, and the Federal Reserve is a government entity. These are only a few myths promoted in the bubble.

Outside the bubble, people realize: Government schools dumb us down, instead of protecting freedom – the State enslaves, main stream media lies, the Collective erases the individual, and the FED is a private cartel of robbers and murderers. What’s sad is that the herd within the bubble can’t see the truth…or they choose not to see it.

I’m employed to work in the Education Bubble. In a stroke of genius using sleight of hand, our 19th century total-statism elites named forced schooling “education.” More accurate labels such as forced schooling and indoctrination centers were rejected by the Prussian influenced elites for fear of participation in a parade of tar and feathers, with rails provided by the commoners. “Education” is what it’s called.  Schooled is what we get. What a clever way to keep the ignorant masses useful.

Tired of getting schooled?

If so, here are five simple ways to deflate the Education Bubble.

1. Poke a hole in it. Join the other 2 million plus non-“Educated” Americans who sharpened their #2 pencils and poked a hole in the Education Bubble. In my middle class suburban school, I personally know of 4 families that punctured the bubble. This number comes from just the kids I teach. I can only encourage more to follow. That’s what Education Vigilantes do. Also, opt out of standardized testing. Go to The Bartleby Project for more info.

2. Become an Education Vigilante. It’s a shameless plug. Take your education into your own hands. Question everything. Why would you trust the development of your mind, body, soul and spirit to a top-down, failing bureaucracy? My wake up call came 13 years ago. My alarm clock startled me – not the one beside my bed. That internal, eternal ticking noise. The “Matrix” did it for me. After watching the block-buster on the big screen (the best way to view this movie), I realized I was part of the herd in many ways. I was asleep with the sheep, living in the bubble created by our owners. That started my journey out of the bubble. What about you?

3. Figure out a way to get the job done. A coach I worked for years ago said that to me as he gave me the job of renovating the press box for our football stadium. “How much do I have to spend?” I asked. “Nothing,” he said. “Figure out a way to get the job done.” I did. That was a physical renovation. How much more important is your child? Money is not an object if it’s important. Many object to homeschooling and self-education because of money issues. It can be done on a shoe-string budget. Get out of debt and live within your means so your children can be free and free to learn.

The growing movement to self-educate threatens the Education Bubble. State force is the only method to keep this bubble from rupturing.

4. Pursue your passion. eLearning and networking are the wave of the future. There’s not much that can’t be learned off the internet that Al Gore invented. Thanks Al! Figure out where you’re passionate. What makes you pound the table with your fist? Once you find what cranks your engine, pursue it, and be the expert. Become the go-to-guy/gal. It’s got to be something you love, or else people see through you. I read tons of information from blogs. I can tell when the writer is passionate about the subject. It shows in the content and adds value. Add value!

5. Research for yourself…then begin. Beginning is always the hardest part. Trust me, but verify. If the Education Bubble is working for you and yours, great. You’ll probably want to un-follow, un-like, and un-subscribe to my rantings. Reading a self-professed, professional irritant makes for higher blood pressure. Save yourself and quit reading – NOW! If you’ve gotten this far, and it makes sense, then welcome to freedom. Warning: The higher you climb, the fewer people you’ll encounter. Most of the people like to dwell in the valley. Climb anyway. The climb is well worth the freedom you find.

Every sane parent wants his/her children well-educated. Which method works: Public schools, private schools, or self-education via home education? Take a look at this graphic comparing 2008-2009 SAT scores: Homeschooling By The Numbers. The numbers don’t lie. Real education happens outside the bubble.

Sharpen a #2 pencil and get to popping. Your kids will thank you!

 

I want to highly recommend Michael’s work over at TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com. I’ve included one of his latest posts today:

11 Reasons To Get Your Kids Out Of The Government Schools

It should be painfully obvious to everyone by now that it is time to get all of our kids out of the government schools.  The public school system in the United States has been dramatically declining for a long time, and in most areas of the country the public schools are open sewers at this point.  Yes, there are some U.S. public schools that are still very good and that do a decent job of preparing our young people for their adult lives.  But those good schools are the exception to the rule.  Hopefully the school shooting that just happened in Ohiowill be a wake up call to millions of parents out there.  Drugs, sex and violence are rampant in American public schools today.  The “teachers” are endlessly pushing specific political and social agendas down the throats of our kids, and the skills that our children really need such as reading, writing and mathematics are often badly neglected.  Hopefully we can get more parents educated about what is really going on in these schools.  After all, why would any parents want to send their children into an environment that is going to be highly destructive for them for six to eight hours a day?

Sadly, “destructive” is not too hard a word to use for the environment in these public schools.  I went to public schools all my life, and they were absolutely horrible.  Unfortunately, they have gotten even worse since the time that I left them.

The following are 11 reasons to get your kids out of the government schools….

#1 You Could Be Arrested For Something That Your Child Does

Yes, you read that correctly.  If your child writes a story or draws a picture which a teacher or an administrator takes the wrong way, you could end up in jail.

The following example is from thestar.com….

A Kitchener father is angry at police after he was arrested at his child’s school and later strip-searched at the police station, all because his 4-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun in class.

“I’m picking up my kids and then, next thing you know, I’m locked up,” Jessie Sansone, 26, said of his ordeal on Wednesday. “I was in shock. This is completely insane.”

The school principal, police and child welfare officials, however, all stand by their actions. They say they had to investigate to determine whether there was a gun in Sansone’s house that children had access to.

#2 Your Child Could Be Arrested While At School For Just About Anything These Days

As I have written about previously, children all over the United States are being arrested by police in government school classrooms for some absolutely crazy things.  Just check out the following examples….

*A 12-year-old girl named Sarah Bustamantes was recently arrested for spraying herself with perfume at a public school in Texas.

*A 13-year-old kid attending a public school in Albuquerque, New Mexico was recently arrested by police for burping in class.

*A 12-year-old girl at a school in Forest Hills, New York was marched out of her public school in handcuffs by police just because she doodled on her desk. “I love my friends Abby and Faith” was what she reportedly scribbled on her desk.

*When a little girl recently kissed a little boy at one Florida elementary school,  it was considered to be a “possible sex crime” and the police were called out.

#3 Your Child Might Be Bodily Harmed By Security Thugs

All over the nation, public schools students are being bodily injured (sometimes permanently) by school security thugs.  The following are a couple of examples….

*A security thug at one school in California actually fractured the arm of one 16-year-old girl because she left some crumbs on the floor after cleaning up some cake that she had spilled.

*In Allentown, Pennsylvania a 14-year-old girl was tasered in the groin area by a school security thug even though she had put up her hands in the air to surrender to him.

#4 Virtually Everything That Your Child Does At School Is Being Put Into A Database Somewhere

As I described in a previous article, public schools (in conjunction with the federal government) have become obsessed with watching, monitoring and recording the activities of our kids.

According to the New York Post, the Obama administration is planning a vast new database which will collect all sorts of information about our children.  Is this the kind of information that you want the federal government to keep track of?….

The administration wants this data to include much more than name, address and test scores. According to the National Data Collection Model, the government should collect information on health-care history, family income and family voting status. In its view, public schools offer a golden opportunity to mine reams of data from a captive audience.

#5 Our Kids Are Not Learning Anything In These Public Schools

As I have documented before, American public school students are being dumbed-down and millions of them end up dumb as a rock and yet still are able to graduate from high school somehow….

The following are some of the absolutely amazing results of a study conducted a few years ago by Common Core….

*Only 43 percent of all U.S. high school students knew that the Civil War was fought some time between 1850 and 1900.

*More than a quarter of all U.S. high school students thought that Christopher Columbus made his famous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean after the year 1750.

*Approximately a third of all U.S. high school students did not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  (This is a topic that I touched on yesterday).

*Only 60 percent of all U.S. students knew that World War I was fought some time between 1900 and 1950.

Sadly, we are rapidly falling behind the rest of the globe.  At this point, 15-year-olds that attend U.S. public schools do not even rank in the top half of all advanced nations when it comes to math or science literacy.

#6 Our Public School Kids Are Being Forced To Take Large Numbers Of Vaccines

All over the nation, children that have not received all of the “required vaccines” are being banned from school.

Many parents do not want dozens of toxic vaccines injected directly into the bloodstreams of their kids, but in many states today you will not be able to send your kids to the public schools if they don’t submit to the shots.

This is just another reason why all American families should pull their kids out of these government schools immediately.

#7 Exposed To Rampant Sexual Promiscuity

When you send your kid to a government school, you are sending them into an environment where they will be exposed to rampant sexual promiscuity on an endless basis.

When the kids around you are constantly talking about sex and joking about sex, it makes it nearly impossible to escape it.

What makes things even worse is that the “sex education” courses are becoming more detailed and more graphic than ever.  One example of this phenomenon was detailed in the New York Times….

IMAGINE you have a 10- or 11-year-old child, just entering a public middle school. How would you feel if, as part of a class ostensibly about the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, he and his classmates were given “risk cards” that graphically named a variety of solitary and mutual sex acts? Or if, in another lesson, he was encouraged to disregard what you told him about sex, and to rely instead on teachers and health clinic staff members?

In some U.S. public schools, kids are even having sex in the school bathrooms.

Do you want that to happen to your kid?

#8 Teachers Are Having Sex With The Students

It seems like almost every single day there is another news story about teachers having sex with public school students.

The following are just a few of the headlines that I found from this week….

-“More California Teachers Accused Of Sex Crimes

-“Teacher Accused Of Sex With Student Appears In Court

-“Queen’s Teacher’s Aide Charged With Child Sex Abuse

-“Teacher Caught In Bed With Teen Student

#9 U.S. Public Schools Are Dominated By Radical Control Freaks That Are Teaching Our Kids How To Live Like Slaves

The level of control that is exerted over the lives of children in many of our public schools is absolutely frightening.

I know that I have mentioned the following example several times, but it is worth repeating because it shows just how far things have gone.  One 4-year-old girl recently had her lunch confiscated by a control freak at one U.S. preschool because it did not meet USDA guidelines….

A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs – including in-home day care centers – to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.

Do you want sick control freaks inspecting the lunches that your kids bring from home every single day?

If not, perhaps it is time to pull them out of the government schools.

#10 Specific Social And Political Agendas Are Being Shoved Down The Throats Of Our Kids In U.S. Public Schools

If you think that the government schools are “neutral places” where all social, political and religious beliefs are tolerated, then you are either ignorant or you are delusional.

The truth is that very specific social and political agendas are built into the curriculums of most public schools.  Often, these social and political agendas are the same ones that are being force-fed to public school children in other western nations.

If your children are attending a government school, a system of “right and wrong” is being pounded into their heads that may be very different from what you would teach them.

In one recent New York Times article, a district superintendent admitted that particular agendas are integrated into classroom instruction anywhere that they will fit….

“We’re trying to integrate it into anything where it naturally fits,” said Jackie Taylor, the district’s superintendent. “It might be in a math lesson. How much water are you really using? How can you tell? Teachers look for avenues in almost everything they teach.”

If you want to see where all of this is going, just check out what is going on in Europe.  In the UK, teachers that don’t promote the “correct agenda” face harsh  disciplinary action.

Those that control the public schools don’t just want to “educate” your children.

They want to indoctrinate them.

#11 If Your Children Attend Public Schools They Could End Up Dead

Sadly, the school shooting that just happened in Ohio reminds us all once again that this is a matter of life and death.  Our schools are not safe and they are becoming less safe all the time.

While the odds are not great that your children will actually be murdered in our public schools, the truth is that there is a very good chance that they could be scarred for life by the destructive environment in these schools.

Most Americans that have gone through the public school system emerge from it with deep emotional scars.  If you have some of these emotional scars you know exactly what I am talking about.

The vast majority of our public schools are horrible places.  Just ask kids that are going to public high schools right now.  Most of them hate it.

Sometimes people argue that we should keep our children in the public schools so that they can be a “light” and so that they can be a good influence.

Unfortunately, that is just not the reality of the situation.  Our kids go there to be taught, and it is the teachers that have the authority.  Our children are far more likely to be changed by their teachers and their friends than they are to significantly change the system around them.

When you are young and insecure, it can be incredibly difficult to take a stand for what is right when all of your teachers and all of your friends are going the other way.

We need to protect our children and we need to put them into environments where they will be safe, protected and will receive a quality education.

Growing up is hard enough without having to spend 30 to 40 hours a week in a nightmarish hellhole where you will be physically, mentally and emotionally tortured.

So what do all of you think about the state of U.S. public schools?

Do you believe that we should get our kids out of the government schools?

“When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.”
— Dresden James

The continued existence of the failed socialist experiment of Government schools proves the above quote.

In the circle of schooled ignorance spiraling down the toilet bowl, I’ve run across several reasons why tax-payer funded educrats hate me and other self-educated, DIY educators.  Here are a few of my “lunatic” ranting that prevent me from rising in rank at the Government school factory (not that it’s my intention to rise to educrat status):

A. The self-educated students threaten the government’s monopoly on education and control of the collective. Follow the money!

B. I don’t serve the good of the group/society.  Self-educated people tend to be very self-reliant.  They aren’t dependent on government handouts. I ask too many questions. This adds sand to the assembly line of ignorance.

C. Non-mass minded individuals are not easily manipulated. It takes too much energy and too many lies to convince liberty lovers to worship stupid State institutions.

D. DIY-educators reject blind obedience to statist views enforced by legally licensed force and embrace moral integrity and self-ownership. We take education into their own hands. 

E. De-schooled students learn by exercising muscles like self-reliance, play, following their own interests, curiosity, passions, and thinking freely. The nature of Government schooling atrophies these vital muscles of learning.

F. Individuality is recognized by DIY educators.  Interest-Led learning is encouraged not crushed by State run curriculum and standardized testing. Added bonus: No BELLS!

G. Un-schooled/home schooled students experience freedom from violence against individual rights. They surpass schooled students academically. If you’re a stat-head, check out our report card here. 15 year-old public schooled students scored below the average for advanced nations on math and science literacy. At least we’re beating some nations. Mexico anyone?

H. DIY’ers have not forgotten the equation which should be taught in schools but is left out of the curriculum: Government = Force… and the threat of violence. As free individuals, we condemn the desire for power over other individuals.

I. Education Vigilantes recognize and embrace an individuals right to privacy. Big Sis cameras watch our every move in government schools – Except in front of the urinals…at least that’s what “they” tell us!

J. We recognize that no one, from the Department of Education, board of education, principal’s office, or even the most caring teacher, knows more about how YOU learn than YOU.  State-licensed “expert” teachers tell students what, how, when, why, and where to learn. Surely they know. They are the “experts” with the education degree(s).

K. Self-educators reject the State’s lip service to freedom and it’s crusade against ignorance. We recognize a Ponzi scheme when we see one. Institutional forced schooling is centralized control of the herd where the few control the many to create a cooperative, collective paradise. Government schooling is a social duty (a collectivist brain washing term) of all people for the sake of all people.

L. State-run schools promote the myth that the individual detracts from societal happiness. How can we have peace on earth and good will toward men with individualists in the mix? Individuals should melt into one societal glob. Education Vigilantes expose this myth at the expense of the Leviathan. Ouch! Self-education can’t be controlled by the State.

M. The number one reason statist educrats hate me is: I refuse to be collectivized…being right infuriates them!

Feel free to add more reasons in the comment section: Especially any statist trolls lurking!