Monday, July 21, 2014


DUMBING DOWN = DUNCIFICATION
The Deliberately Planned Process of Rendering Our Children, Intellectually Weak, Ill Informed, Ill Equipped to Function Productively, 
but Eminently Tractable







72 comments:

  1. I'll have a lot to say about this!

    Let me start with this: Did you see some of the comments at YouTube?

    A few examples:

    This is so stupid, this guy has no grasp on reality....

    and

    My wife is a teacher and she has never heard of most of the stuff mentioned in this video. While there is a need to improve the educational system in the US this is little more than a scare tactic video. 

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  2. I don't go along with the alarmist information about fluoride and vaccines, though.

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  3. I have a story to tell about a former student who committed suicide. Will be back later to tell that story.

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  4. What would you include on a curriculum designed to educate a populace capable of holding government to account?

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  5. While I agree with the thesis, because long experience has shown that "something" of this sort has, indeed, happened to our country, I have to say after giving it a more careful examination that this video relies too heavily on assumption, conjecture, exaggeration, distortion, outright fabrication and is, therefore, woefully lacking in substance.

    In other words its lazy-mnded approach presents a basic truth in exactly the wrong way for it to be received as credible by educated people.

    I too was put off, and immediately made suspicious by the assertions regarding fluoride and vaccines.

    On the other had there could be no doubt in my mind that so-called Progressive Thinking -- along with boldly assertive Agnosticism and outright Atheism -- have in the main had a deleterious effect on what-might-be-called The American Mind.

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    1. Try as I might I fail to see how agnosticism and atheism has any deleterious effect on the 'American mind."

      There are multitudes of both who value the Constitution, lead ethical and moral lives, work hard, act responsibilty, raise fine upstanding individual individuals, obey the laws of thier states and the nation, contribute to charitable associations, and hurt no one. In other words lead their lives as one should.

      Perhaps you could help me understand how this is bad, just because they don't share the religous or spiritual beliefs of others.

      Delete
  6. Yeah, math class accepts 2+2 = 5.

    Proof that we're dumbed down is the people who believe that propaganda.

    I suggest the moron who developed the reading portion of the clip read Schall's Learning to Read: The Great Debate and drop the Rudolf Flesch nonsense.

    The vaccine diatribe sounds like it's straight out of the John Birch Society or Scientology.

    We're dumbed down alright.

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  7. More and more I am reminded of the apocryphal Mark Twain quotation:

    “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.”

    I hate agreeing with Ducky, but this is scare propaganda.

    I will depart from Ducky with a big however: It exposes many underlying truths.

    Our entire education system needs to be scrapped. It serves only the teachers syndicates. A start would be to scrap the Department of Education.

    Leave the local school facilities in place, but fire the bureaucrats that infest our education system at all levels and turn the facilities over to innovative teachers and let a thousand experiments bloom across our nation.

    Crime-ridden neighborhoods, single families, working poor parents who are unable to help their children with homework?

    Abolish homework! Extend the school day and have them do the homework in school. Extend the school year to go all year round, and make learning fun!

    Our stodgy, bloated progressive school system must be consigned to the junk heap.

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  8. Jez asks an excellent question. I'd like t hear his answer before I attempt to give mine, because we think very differently, but here's a beginning to what-I-hope-will-be a fruitful, hopefully constructive discussion:

    1. Parents who read their very young children nightly bed time stories from classical children's literature

    2. Reinforcement in the home from earliest days of sound moral [rinciples emphasizing The Golden Rule and how it implies the cultivation of empathy and consideration for others above selfish desires for instant gratification.

    3. Expose very young children to material that reinforces basic knowledge of right and wrong in ways that stimulate the imagination. Generally wholesome fantasy such as the tales produced by Hans Christian Andersen, Beatrix Potter, P.L. Travers, Thornton W. Burgess, A.A. Milne, Maurice Maeterlinck, Kenneth Grahame, Howard R. Garris, J.M. Barrie, and Johanna Spyri, Greek and Roman Mythology, Norse, Icelandic and Teutronic Mythology, plus musical wonders such as Prokofieff's Peter and t'he Wolf, Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, Ravels L'enfant et les sortileges, and Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, etc.

    It doesn't matter whether the childnren UNDERSTAND it on an INTELLECTUAL level or not. It is vitally important, hwoever to saturate their consciousness with these and many other good things, so that the best Civilization has had to offer doesn't seem foreign, too difficult and therefore, off-putting to them.

    I fervently believe all that would help tremendously in starting yung lives off in a right direction.

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  9. I don't know, but the number of resumes I see from people with Master's degrees that contain misspellings, malapropisms, acyrologias, suffering from grammatical and syntactical errors is atrocious.

    Curiously Merriam-Webster uses the following example for ungrammatical:

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  10. Whoops! Forgot that html doesn't like angle brackets...

    the résumé and its ungrammatical cover letter were summarily thrown in the trash

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  11. What ought to be taught to produce good citizens capable of leading fully productive, reasonably happy lives that fulfill a good deal, if not all of their God-given potential.

    1. Familiarization with the Holy Bible with emphasis on the Four Gospels and the writings attributed to St. Paul.

    2. Sound knowledge of English through constant perusal of good literature, plays and verse. Improved and enriched understanding of good grammar and elegant usage through cpnstant exposure to examples of it followed by frequent attempts at emulation refined by astute, but always good natured criticism, and constant efforts to expand the knowledge and ise of the widest possible vocabulary..

    3. Number Facts - and standard Arithmetical Procedures.

    4. Knowledge of basic Geometric shapes

    4. Basic History of one's own country and the world untainted by a political agenda.

    5. Biology

    6. Chemistry

    7. Physics

    8. Basic coping skulls such s how to budget intelligently and live within one's means, how to balance a checkbook, how to deal realistically with taxing authorities, how to buy groceries ecnimically, the virtues and pitfalls of home ownership and maintenance, etc.

    9. Computer literacy and how to get the best from the internet, while avoiding the ocean of junk and depravity.

    10. Geography

    11 Principles pf governance as outlined in the U.S. Constitution

    12. How to differentiate between truth and falsehood, honest discourse, agenda-driven polemics and propaganda.

    That might be the beginnings of a good foundation for an elementary school education.

    What ELSE might b needed?

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  12. "Abolish homework! Extend the school day and have them do the homework in school. Extend the school year to go all year round, and make learning fun!"

    All excellent ideas that deserve attention. I've been an advocate of starting school later in the morning (especially for adolescents, since they need more sleep) and extending the school hours into the afternoon. One problem for that may be interference with teens who work after school (as I did).

    Our high schools and colleges apparently do not teach English because students barely know how to speak and write in their own language.

    If I hear one more person start a sentence with "Him and me went to the...," or "The argument was between he and I." Ugh!

    I have heard those phrases uttered by people with graduate degrees.

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  13. My sentiments certainly concur with those of Miss Shaw and Silver Fiddle, except in one regard.

    I don't believe we need MORE of what we've obviously been doing WRONG for the past fifty years.

    Somehow, most in my generation and many generations prior managed to acquire much more skill, knowledge -- and even polish -- during an academic year that began in mid-September and ended early in June than ever-so-many so-called college graduates are prepared to exhibit today.

    The emphasis should not be on QUANTITY, it shpuld shift back once again to QUALITY, but that could never happen as long as Those Who Lead advocate a curriculum that produces DUNCIFICATION.

    Money and Time mean NOTHING, unless they are WELL spent.

    And remember Abraham Lincoln, whom too many still greatly admire, did write most eloquently, and HE never had more than TWO YEARS of formal schooling in his entire life.

    We have been seduced by TRAPPINGS, and have been persuaded that more TRAPPINGS -- i.e. bigger, newer, more expensive, "up-ro-date" school buildings, each more highly equipped with State-of-the-Art electronic tools -- and ever escalating teachers' salaries -- must produce better "education."

    All it produces, Alas! is greater and greater expense with little or nothing to show for it.

    It is not what SURROUNDS one's head that matters when acquiring "education" so much as what goes on IN that head.

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  14. Two years ago, one of the homeschool moms asked me when the class was embarking on a study of Helen Keller, "Who was Helen Keller?"

    Can you believe it?

    This parent had a master's degree in English from a university generally considered to be one of the better such institutions of higher learning.

    So, yes, the dumbing down of America has indeed occurred, and the above little anecdote is but one of many such examples that I could cite.

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  15. Is anybody in this thread familiar with the 1955 book Why Johnny Can't Read?

    Slate makes this argument: Who Cares If Johnny Can't Read? The value of books is overstated. See what you make of that argument.

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  16. I think this is a good video that, if anything, understates the case in the overall context of where the world has been heading for the last century at least.

    I'd even go as far as saying that the public education system and society in general, are like mazes created to allow those in positions to oversee and monitor the actions of those entrapped within the "system" to be monitored like rats in a laboratory.

    Apparently, the public education system has been an overwhelming success—evident when confronted with great evil most people would recoil and pretend things couldn't possibly be THIS bad.

    To paraphrase Hollywood: The truth, you wouldn't be able to handle the truth ...

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  17. I'm quite familiar with Flesch's discredited book. Interesting that the Randoids still harp on phonics vs. whole word.
    As I said, pick up a copy of Schall's classic work.

    FT, I'm surprised you don't make a case for putting art back in the school curriculum.
    True, it's hard to mold it to standardized testing and we are not very interested in kids developing a means of self expression but I suspect we agree it's critical.

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  18. "Slate makes this argument: Who Cares If Johnny Can't Read? The value of books is overstated. See what you make of that argument."


    I read it, and the argument is about the quality of the books one reads. For example, more people are reading more books, but a lot of them are what I call airport romance novels. It's still reading, but is it the equivalent of watching MTV? Or Honey Boo-Boo?

    IMO, it's okay to be discriminating in what books one reads. Why waste one's time on trash novels when there are so many excellent books out there?

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  19. Duck,
    I taught early reading for several years. The program, a combination of phonetics and the look-say method, was very successful.

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  20. If I recall correctly, according to fMIR's, reading uses different parts of the brain than does watching television.

    How should we define trash novels?

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  21. Duck,
    This article may interest you. Excerpt:

    ... It was the whole word or "look-say" approach that produced the popular "Dick and Jane" readers, developed by Gray for Scott Foresman Publishing, that became familiar to several generations of American students. It was this approach that was savaged by one of the most popular books on education ever written: Why Johnny Can't Read, by Rudolf Flesch, a book that landed like a bombshell in 1955 and has remained in continuous print ever since. The book launched a full-scale assault on the "look-say" reading method and reignited the "reading wars" that have continued to this day.

    Flesch, an editor at the Saturday Evening Post, one of the most popular magazines of the time, used his prodigious skills as a popular writer to undermine the credibility of the whole language approach, calling it the "Chinese approach" to teaching English, pointing out that it tried to teach English, a phonetic language, as if it were a picture language like Chinese. To do this, he argued, was to abandon the numerous advantages phonetic languages have over non-phonetic languages.

    Flesch's widely read book discredited the whole word method among much of the reading public but had limited effect on the education establishment, which for the most part refused to change its emphasis on "look-say," a fact that Flesch himself complained about in the sequel to his original book, titled Why Johnny Still Can't Read, which was published in 1981.

    But despite the intransigence of the education establishment, the fifty years following the publication of Flesch's first book saw the progressive deterioration of the credibility of the whole word approach.

    The next blow came with the publication in 1967 of Jeanne Chall's Learning to Read: The Great Debate. Chall's credentials included the fact that she headed the Harvard Reading Laboratory. The book catalogued the mounting research in favor of early instruction in phonics. Chall took a less polemic approach to the issue than Flesch and cited a wealth of research evidence in favor of phonics.

    The growing evidence put increasing pressure on those in charge of the nation's schools to rethink their loyalty to an approach that was beginning to lose its credibility even in the research community.

    Finally, in 2000, the National Reading Panel released its report, which was all but the last nail in the coffin of the view that the whole word approach to reading instruction best served the interests of children. One of the largest research projects ever conducted, it reviewed all of the existing research on reading and found conclusively that early, systematic instruction in phonics is the best way to teach children how to read. Although the panel's report has not quieted all opposition to phonics, it has succeeded in breaking the death grip of the whole word approach on reading instruction in the nation's schools.

    Most reading instruction today, although couched in rhetoric about "balanced" and "mixed" approaches, at least reflects an acknowledgment that early training in letter-sound correspondences and the basic patterns of English spelling are essential to good reading instruction....

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  22. Erratum: fMIR's should read fMRI's.

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  23. "... it's okay to be discriminating in what books one reads. Why waste one's time on trash novels when there are so many excellent books out there?"

    I'll drink to that, Miss Shaw, and I'll add very quickly THE SAME GOES FOR MUSIC -- doubled and redoubled.

    I enjoy mystery-detective fiction a great deal, just as I still enjoy popular musicm now regarded as "antique." One can't read Greek tragedies, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Flaubert, Stendahl, Dostoevsky, E.A. Poe, Henry James and Edith Wharton all the time any more than one can listen exclusively to Mozart concerti, Haydn symphonies, Beethoven sonatas, Schubert song cycles, the music dramas of Wagner and Strauss, or the symphonies of Mahler. We need a little Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Vincent Youmans, Rodgers and Hart, and Stephen Sondheim as well as Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Sara Vaughn, Mabel Mercer, Karen Akers, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Margaret Whiting, Betty Hutton, Elaine Stritch and Mel Torme too.

    What we DON'T need is Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll, that Nashville Sound, and especially Punk, Heavy Metal, and Hop Hop Rap Crap.

    I read Lady Chatterley's Lover, Fanny Hill, My Secret Life and Henry Miller's "Tropic" excesses back when they were "hot," and wondered why I'd bothered.

    The good stuff stays fresh and remains eternally lovable, fascinating and intriguing.

    It's a shame that younger people, apparently, have been conditioned not to be able to tell the difference anymore.

    I'm a great believer in encouraging the cultivation and development of DISCRIMINATING TASTES and PREDILECTIONS.

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  24. One of the points Chall makes (and i suspect you agree, AOW) is that a good reader has to be much more than just a super decoder.

    As someone once told me: "Reading is a political act."
    I'm not sure either of us would go that far but there it is.

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  25. Duck,
    I do strongly agree that a good reader has to be much more than just a super decoder.

    In fact, the woman who taught me how to teach reading emphasized that, although it is very satisfying to see one's students decode "big words," it is even more important to grasp the meaning of what one reads -- and also to incorporate appropriate encoding (spelling).

    Skip ahead a few decades in my life....I find that my homeschoolers can decode inordinately well. But vocabulary development? Many are miles behind as far as I'm concerned! I do everything that I can to correct this situation; hence, all perceive me as one tough bitch in the classroom.

    Oh, well. Teaching is not a popularity contest.

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  26. FT,
    As we have recently seen, there is a "great dispute" as to what constitutes good music. As you know, my definition is broader than yours, but we largely agree as to what is great music.

    Something similar is happening when it comes to judgment calls as to defining "good books." I can often find something worthwhile in almost every book that I pick up. But is there enough of the worthwhile to make the book itself, as a whole, worthwhile? That was my recent conundrum when I was reading The Glass Castle, assigned reading for one of my Advanced Placement students.

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  27. I think I'd work backwards from what is necessary to foil devious politicians: statistics, rhetoric, philosophy and history I suppose. I can imagine a lesson focusing on one egregious lie from history each week, it could go into who told it, how they sold it, how to prove it false etc.
    That's clearly not a full curriculum, education has other puposes of course.

    My biggest general recommendation would be leave some time for teachers to teach what they want, hopefully demonstrate their enthusiasm.

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  28. The madness in educational policies and practices continues: UW-Madison policy calls on professors to distribute grades based on race!

    Excerpt from the link, dated today:

    A new policy at the University of Wisconsin - Madison states that good grades should be distributed equally among students of different races.

    The policy, named the “Framework for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence,” calls for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an institution, including high status special programs, high-demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.”

    UW - Madison professor W. Lee Hansen wrote about his concerns with the policy in a piece published Wednesday.

    “Professors, instead of just awarding the grade that each student earns, would apparently have to adjust them so that academically weaker, ‘historically underrepresented racial/ethnic’ students perform at the same level and receive the same grades as academically stronger students,” he wrote.

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  29. FreeThinke, I think you think too highly of your own intellect.

    JMJ

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  30. And the atheist thing is just hysterical!

    JMJ

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  31. Pearl Klutscher said

    I'll tell you why Johnny can't read in one word:

    TELEVISION

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  32. Pearl Klutscher said

    Atheists may behave decently and believe in morality, and all that, but I've never seen one who wasn't angry, discontented and always looking for an argument.

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    1. You must not KNOW many atheists.

      BTW, I KNOW very many believers who are always angry and looking for an argument.

      Delete
  33. Pearl Klutscher said

    What the teacher tells us about the University at Madison Wisconsin is scary. Isn't it very racist to grade people from different races by different standards? That meanst hat we won't have any standards at all anymore. No way to decide who is good at his job and who isn't.

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  34. Pearl Klutscher said

    To the person or people who think reading isn't worth doing unless you read good books I'll say this. Don't you realize that reading is active and listening to recorded stuff and watching videos is passive? Reading requires more of a person than just sitting around letting stuff others have prepared fill your space. So, reading even bad stuff is better than not reading at all. And it gives you a chance to read better stuff later on, a chance you wouldn't have if you'd never bothered to read at all.

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  35. Pearl Klutscher said

    To the guy who said the host of this blog thinks too much of himself I ask why pick on Freethinker? At least he picks interesting topics from what I can see. And there are at least two others who deserve a crack like that more. And didn't your mother ever teach you any manners?

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  36. If you can find W Lee Hansen's accusations about different grading curves for different races in this document, I will buy you an ice cream. I've not read the whole thing, so there's a genuine chance of winning a real prize here, and it's open to all. Good luck everyone.

    (Did you notice that the reporter failed to notice the subjunctive in her final paragraph? Isn't that sufficient grounds to strike her remarks from the record?)

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  37. Pearl,
    Yes, television has done significant damage to reading abilities.

    Back when I taught elementary school, we found that households that limited their children's television time and focused on reading aloud to their children instead produced children who loved to read. These children also had extended attention spans as compared to their television-addicted friends.

    And those families without a television in the household had some of the most brilliant students whom I ever taught.

    The same holds true today. A few homeschoolers do not have television in their homes -- except to play DVD's. Those students have gone on to Ivy League colleges or the equivalent.

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  38. Always the exhortation from the left to explore some new expression of insanity or depravity with an open mind "in depth" with the tacit implication that anyone who balks at rising to the bait is either a coward, an ignoramus or an anti-intellectual.

    Leftists are always eager to muddy the waters in a continuous effort to make adherents to common sense and common decency unsure of their ground, and, if possible, doubtful of their own own sanity.

    The point of this entire discussion has been that we DID know how to teach people to read. People DID learn to read -- and to write -- beautifully -- even eloquently -- long before the advent of "enlightened theoreticians" like John Dewey and the various teaching "methods" they invented out of whole cloth and then foisted on the nation.

    Reading in a modern, civilized society is almost as basic as breathing -- or should be.

    I have no idea HOW I learned to read and write. I was reading whole books by age of four. I didn't understand every word, of course, but I distinctly remember taking great delight in doing what the grown-ups did (everyone in my family read voraciously), and reporting to them at the dinner table what I'd gotten out of the experience 'most every evening. My parents, bless them, always seemed interested, and asked me lots of pertinent questions about the books, because they, of course, had alredy read them. Not only that they read loud to each other, and encouraged me to listen.

    My Aunt Alice was a highly successful elementary school principal in the greater New York area for 42 years. Her school was placed in one of the better, middle and upper-middle-class "bedroom communities" that served New York City business executives in those halcyon days.

    One of five elementary schools in the vicinity Aunt Alice's was perennially regarded as the best. A higher percentage of graduates from 'her' school did well in high school, and went on to graduate mostly from Ivy League colleges, then still properly regarded as the Gold Standard in higher education.

    Then came the tragedy of the SICK-sties, and with it the retirement of the community's beloved superintendent of schools with whom Alice had worked almost blissfully her entire career.

    You know what I'm about to say,so I'll make it brief. The new man was a leftist, of course, and proceeded immediately on assuming the position to WRECK the excellent school system he'd been hired to supervise.

    Naturally, he and my aunt crossed swords, her life was made miserable, everything she'd built in 42 years of useful service was suddenly vilified, condemned, openly regarded as "dated" and of dubious value, thrown out with the trash and soon gone with the wind.

    That leftist "innovator" only lasted a few years before the community got wise and have him the old heave ho, but not in time to save my aunt from ending her illustrious career by taking early retirement after enduring pitched battles amidst a hailstorm of invective, bitter recriminations, and a tremendous loss of productive time and energy for two years.

    THIS has been my personal experience with leftists as well. They, ever the ardent proponents of Critical Theory, swoop in with aggressive accusations and condemnation of established norms and practices and proceed to DESTROY the status quo byreplacing it with untried, untested, usually untrue, largely theoretical practices of their own devising.

    I have yet to see a salubrious result from any of the leftist insurgencies I've experienced either personally or learned about from friends and colleagues who've had similar experiences.

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  39. FT,
    I know how exactly how I learned to read:

    1. My parents read to me -- a lot. Both of my parents were avid readers, and I saw them reading all the time. Watching television? Not much!

    2. Phonetics -- early on with workbooks for sound-recognition readiness, Bremer-Davis Phonics (vinyls and visuals), and McGuffey's Eclectic Readers. By the time I entered first grade, I had already completed the First Grade Reader.

    Today, A Beka Books has a decent reading curriculum.

    FT, if you have time, please thoroughly explore that last link. I think that you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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  40. I taught my children how to listen, think, analyze and argue their case, and now I have a houseful of jailhouse lawyers to contend with...

    Specifically, I taught the logic and also the three legs of the rhetorical stool: Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

    An argument must have logos as it's firm foundation, and the arguer appeals to others using Ethos and Pathos.

    Today, most argumentation is all Ethos (such as it is) and Pathos. Everything is a bandwagon appeal and playing on our emotions. My kids are good at spotting that.

    I've also taught them that everyone is selling something (not just products, but ideas, opinions, etc). Some of it good, most of it trash.

    Having identified that someone is trying to sell them something , the next question is, what is it they are peddling? Then one should ask, why are they peddling it?

    Take this approach, and you can see partisan politics for the stinking pile of shit that it is.

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  41. "we DID know how to teach people to read ... long before the advent of "enlightened theoreticians" like John Dewey"

    There was a significant amount of illiteracy in America at the time Dewey published his works on education.
    I'm not familiar with his theories, by the way.

    I imagine that young children's requirements are terrifically individual. It feels to me like there's tendency for central bodies to overly prescribe teaching methods and approaches, which if true would be a great pity.

    I'm not surprised that achieving last few percent of literacy requires a far deeper theoretical underpinning -- they're the most difficult to teach to read.

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  42. Silverfiddle,
    My parents weren't that sophisticated although I can now realize that they taught those three legs in an informal way.

    Plus, they sent me to private schools from K-12. The private school that I attended from 4th grade through 12th grade had some extraordinary teachers. I didn't realize just how extraordinary until I got to the university, where I did work hard but not nearly as hard as I had in high school.

    All of my public school friends in my age group got an inferior education. Surreal.

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  43. FT,
    It may interest you to know that in my high school our literature textbook for two years was The Oxford Book of English Verse.

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  44. _________ The Paradigm Shift __________

    To start where everyone would love to go
    Exerts a pressure on the one so blest,
    Nurtured in privilege, sheltered from the low
    And desperate, untoward struggling of the rest.

    Foisted on us, guilt at our good luck
    Let loose a sense of deep unworthiness
    Yielding urges to immerse in muck
    Our untried selves, and live on earth with less.

    Unravelling the stitches parents sewed
    Released a spring propelling downward thrust
    Helping once safe havens to implode.
    Our heritage betrayed then turned to dust.

    Maniacally would our forebears laugh to see
    Everything they won lost -- willfully
    .

    ~ FreeThinke

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  45. Pearl,

    You seem t have an abundance of good common sense, and the ability to express yourself clearly. Thanks for stopping by to share your views. I hoe we'll see more of you in the future.

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  46. Ducky,

    I didn't think to include "Art," because I always try to leave something for my friends and critics to add to the discussion. ;-)

    I was particularly best to have had a pretty good foundation in learning representational art via supervised attempts to male charcoal-pencil sketches, pastels, watercolors and oils. Also ceramics and enameling on copper.

    I won a couple of prizes for Poster Art adverstising local amateur theatrical productions and musical events. This stood me in good stead, because much later I made a decent living making up ads for most of the clients who bought space in my publications.

    Principles of how to use space effectively learned in fourth and fifth grade from Miss Wagner and Mrs Jones enabled me o make up ads using Quark Express with consummate ease. Sizing images and choosng nd adjusting fonts and font sizes is Duck Soup in Quark Express. Photoshop makes almost anything possible.

    The only "art" involved, of course, is in the CHOICE and JUXTAPOSITION of fonts, images, and font sizes. The process is so automated it's almost embarrassingly facile.

    Anyway, it was lots of fun, and I really do feel most grateful to those classes in elementary school that featured "Art." ;-)

    Frequent trips o the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters, and to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan s well as many visits to famous sites featuring historic preservation that abound in the northeast, Virginia and Charleston, SC helped great deal too no doubt.

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  47. AOW, The Oxford Book of Verse is an inexhaustible treasure. It reminds me there is sitll so very much I have yet to explore in a field I have enjoyed all my life.

    The same is true in the realm of of serious music. Though I majored in music and have learned and memorized or at least studied in considerable depth most of the best-known piano works, chamber works ad Art Song literature in the established repertoire, I realize that even if I had seven lifetimes, I could never get to know it ALL.

    The best "education" could hope to do would be to give us a small taste of enough diverse dishes presented at Life's Smoergasbord to give us a good sense of what intellectual and aesthetic adventures we might wish to pursue that might enrich our lives and give them greater meaning.

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  48. I haven't said anything in a long while, FT. I always enjou your blog, but usually I just read without commenting. Anyway, I have to say once again how much I enjoy the illustrations you choose with obvious intelligence and great care. Your terrific sense of humor is always apparent to me. Your comment about winning prizes for your posters as a boy is what got me started. I've never understood why others never seem to notice the clever and amusing ways you illustrate your blog. I think it adds a lot to it. I hope I'm not alone.

    God bless,

    Helen Highwater

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  49. @ AOW: "My parents weren't that sophisticated although I can now realize that they taught those three legs in an informal way."

    Same with the elders in my family. They may have been short on official "book learning," or not able to classify their knowledge and put a name to the various aspects, but they were all a hell of a lot smarter than the average college graduate today.

    So much of their intelligence was in the form of folk wisdom and good old common sense learned going through "hard times" as they called it.

    Also, my Eastern European grandpa could make homes and horse drawn carriages from plans that existed only in his head.

    All the math was in his head, to include cutting out the arcs he put together to make the wooden wagon wheels.

    My backwoods tenant farmer grandpa from the other side could do all kinds of math in his head, from figuring volumes of grain bins, to other area and volume measurements, but like my Eastern European grandpa, couldn't really explain how he did it.

    Just a personal theory of mine, but the further each generation gets from doing real things with their hands, be it cooking from scratch, gardening, hunting or manual labor around your house or farm, the less opportunities their are to learn from nature and acquire knowledge and skills.

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  50. Your last post makes an important point, Kurt. If what you said were not true, how the hell else do you suppose Abraham Lincoln -- who was just one of many intelligent men of his era burdened with the need to perform backbreaking tasks in order to survive -- became a renowned, highly respected country lawyer and acquired the ability to formulate ideas and write magnificent prose?

    "Education," as we know it today, is nothing more than a RACKET. The vast majority of people are absolute DOLTS and could not benefit from a classical, college-preperaory curriculum if their health depended on it. They'd be MUCH better off as APPRENTICES to master craftsmen or placed inTRADE SCHOOLS.

    The faux egalitarianism that characterizes leftist insurgencies is one of the most toxic aspects of their generally demented attitudes.

    No amount of "education" could hope to compensate anyone for a basic lack of aptitude.

    "Education" went wrong the day it decided to play God.

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  51. Two ancient truths we seem very foolishly to have rejected:

    "The cream rises to the top."

    :Water seeks is own level.

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  52. Two pters (courtesy of Kipling:

    "Fire will burn you.

    Water will make you wet


    Leftists will drive us all insane arguing endlessly that these things might be mere "suppositions" and, therefore, not true at all. They'll fill up shelf after shelf of volumes no one in his right mind would ever want to read, and turn you to stone inveighing tediously against Common Sense and Common Decency and iong held standards of Good Taste and Good Conduct.

    Leftists are positive GENIUSES at sidetracking otherwise productive individuals into wasting inordinate amounts of time in fruitless argument. Hanging around with leftists invariably makes you as miserable -- angry, bitter, sour, suspicious, resentful, discontented and as incapable of experiencing joy, laughter and satisfaction -- as they.

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  53. I agree with you 100 percent when you said “Leftists are always eager to muddy the waters in a continuous effort to make adherents to common sense and common decency unsure of their ground,”
    And I like you have NO use for the leftist, Marxist’s, Progressive Obama worshipers. I have no use for these people whatsoever. And I like some others here always enjoy reading your blog, and usually do not comment much. And I have to say once again how much I enjoy your intelligence and culture, as well as your sense of humor.
    I try to run my life straight an narrow with no false impressions, to anyone.
    I don't go along with the pandering and the kissing of Shaw Kenawe’s behind, and with your calling her “Miss Shaw,” as if she were some member of Royalty.
    I must say that I like you have no use at all for these leftists who try to ruin this great nation we love so much. I feel that things here in America just aren’t the same since Obama was elected. Whenever we disagree with this president we are called Racist’s. When ever a liberal is criticized, he cries racism. When ever Obama is criticized, he cries racism. When liberalism fails, liberals cry racism. When the Democrat Party gets in trouble, liberals cry racism. It has become the ever present mantra, as sure as there is a sky above, we are called Racist’s.
    We live in a Nation with a black President and a black Attorney General, I was in the hospital recently and my Doctor was Black, we see Black people as Judges, Attorneys, school teachers, and the list goes on and on and yet we are called racist’s! When will the nonsense stop? If our country is so racist, why is it that we find Blacks in all positions, especially in government positions.
    And since when is saying that Barack Obama lies, anit American? Can’t I have animosity toward the President without being a racist?
    I also find that it’s a waste of time to respond to those leftist idiots who comment on these boards.

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  54. Albert Schweitzer O'Grady said:

    'I KNOW very many believers who are always angry and looking for an argument.'

    If they behave like that, they are not believers. They only imagine they are. Churches are filled woth those types, I know, but a lot of churches don't know beans about the God they pretend to serve.

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  55. Jez,

    Thanks for providing a link to the University of Wisconsin at Madison's ad hoc DIVERSITY Program.

    No, I didn't find any specific reference to grading students from various ethnic backgrounds on different scales, however, from the three sections I read carefully, the document strikes me as a perfect Shower of Shit.

    The avowed LEFTIST orientation appears boldly naked and unashamed. If I had a child of college age, that school would be one of the last places I'd want to send him.

    I'm rather surprised they haven't snapped up the oppportunity to hire the infamous Ward Churchill and confer on him a tenured, full professorship with top salary and full benefits for life. He's just the sort who would fit in perfectly in a "school" that places such a high priority on "Social Justice" above exercising intellectual rigor and discipline in the acquisition of valuable, life enhancing knowledge and the development of advanced skills.

    I don't know about Britain anymore, but in the USA "Social Justice" is and always has been a euphemism for applied Marxism, and "Diversity" a Red Flag to those of us who resist the Militant Advancement of Colored People and Queers that works to the detriment of honest academic achievement.

    I'm sure the likes of Bill Ayers, Bernadette Dohrn and Michael Moore and their ilk are regarded as heroes on this campus.

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    Replies
    1. I used to hang out in Madison Wisconsin back in "70" and "71", it was very liberal then.

      Social justice is about truly treating everyone equitably using the same criteria for all.

      Delete
  56. AOW,

    Earlier you asked if I'd seen the comments on the video at YouTube?

    There are, apparently, thousands of them, so of course, I can't say I gave them a thorough examination, but I looked at enough to get an idea of the quality of commentary there. If anything it's even more depressing than the stuff we find in the blogosphere. I started to save a few, then realized what a huge task it would be to review them all, and gave it up as a bad job.

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  57. FT,
    Can you believe how hideous some of the comments are?

    I think that I want to go to live under a rock.

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  58. Oh yes, it's a terrible document, stylistically apart from anything else. It's the kind of thing that's easier to write than it is to read, which is the opposite of what a good writing style is.

    Universities, in so far as they are teaching institutions (I consider them primarily research institutions), have some responsibility to encourage or at least not to impede social mobility, and I don't think that happens automatically; when these issues are ignored, universities go back to what they always were, the exclusive domain of the children of the wealthy, further entrenching their inherited advantage.

    I don't know anything about Wisconsin, but I would hesitate to use this document as an exemplar for the school as a whole. All universities, without exception, have filing cabinets full of quasi-legal business-school documents like that.

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  59. "Social justice is about truly treating everyone equitably using the same criteria for all."

    If that isn't a perfect definition of Marxian Thinking, I can't imagine what would be. The truly evil aspect of this quasi-benevolent "philosophy" lies in its, apparently, kind and generous intent.

    As the overworked saying goes, "The ROAD to HELL is PAVED with GOOD INTENTIONS." };-)>
    _______________________________

    " ... Universities, in so far as they are teaching institutions (I consider them primarily research institutions), have some responsibility to encourage or at least not to impede social mobility ..."

    Except for your assertion that Universities don't "teach," but exist primarily as research institutions, I don't disagree there at all. Our problem in the USA today, however, is that far too many so-called colleges and universities here have been virtually forced to "teach" basic skills that should have been mastered in elementary school.

    That sorry situation has to be the direct result of our misguided attempt to enforce policies of "INCLUSION" and a clearly demented notion of "EQUALITY" on a once-generally-good system of public education.

    " ... and I don't think that happens automatically; when these issues are ignored, universities go back to what they always were, the exclusive domain of the children of the wealthy, further entrenching their inherited advantage"

    That may have been true in Britain, although I doubt the greatness of Eton, Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge stemmed purely from the desire of the Rich and Snobbish to preserve their privileged status. Furthermore, I know -- POSITIVELY -- that was not the case in these United States, where a demonstration of high intelligence, a sound work ethic and genuine intellectual curiosity used to be enough to get you anywhere you really wanted to go.

    Your last sentence betrays a classic Marxist Revolutionary mindset and amounts to little more than standard attack rhetoric based on the legitimization of Envy, Spite and Malice -- the three legged stool of Leftist Thinking whose quasi-benevolent intent always masks initiation of erosion, corrosion, then wanton destruction of whatever Establishment happens to be in place be it good, bad or indifferent.

    The tragic flaw in rigidly enforced social programs' mindless advocacy of "DIversity," "Inclusion" and "Preferential Treatment of Minorities," better known as "Affirmative Action," lies not in their INTENT, but in the dismal, grim, heartbreaking, breath-stopping EFFECT they have had on our once-vibrant society.

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    1. No FreeThinke it is not "Marxian." You see I said nothing about from each according to ability, to each according to need. Not at all.

      You see my concern is with opportunity and what one does with the opportunities available to them.

      Not everyone is the same with respect to IQ, creativity, ingenuity, etc. Not everyone is capable of being an Einstein or a Mozart. However everyone IS capable of producing effort using the talents and abilities THEY do posses to sustain their life and build a future. Only those who are severely physically disabled, mentally deficient
      or challenged, seriously sick with debilitating illness, and etc. are unable to do so. It is these individuals that the government (in our affairs that would be US, or We the People) has a social contract with to provide aid. Lacking this we live by the laws of the jungle.

      Now, it is for the vast majority of us, the people who work their entire life, raise families, plan for retirement, take care of or own and etc. that the balance of my comment applies.

      For the able who simply are lazy and wish to live without effort or thought, well, life will teach a hard lesson. If allowed.

      Sorry you fail to understand me FreeThinke and in the process misrepresent my views. But to crib Howard Roark, it really is of little concern to me.

      Delete
  60. I didn't say that universities don't teach, I was just saying what their focus is or should be IMO.

    "I doubt the greatness of Eton, Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge stemmed purely from the desire of the Rich and Snobbish to preserve their privileged status."

    Why do you doubt that? (thinking particularly of the schools, not the universities)

    Our countries have very different histories of entrenched advantage and disadvantage, but I doubt that intelligent, hard-working, intellectually curious people from all backgrounds have had meaningful access to education in America throughout recent history (eg. during your lifetime). Is what you meant?

    I disagree that I am in any degree motivated by envy or spite -- malice, perhaps ;). But if the only objection you can see to universities being overwhelmed by wealthy applicants is envy, then what duty does a university have toward social mobility? (Or do you disagree that universities would ever be overwhelmed by the wealthy?)

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  61. "Lisa"

    You don't sound a bit like the Lisa I know from Who's Your Daddy?.

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  62. You used the term "SOCIAL JUSTICE," Les. I understand what it may mean to you, personally, but what it signifies to the poitically-ware public is a WARNING.

    "Watch out. BEWARE! This person is either a COMMUNIST or a Fellow Traveller who is about to unload a shovelful of Marxist propaganda on us."

    Now, I don't for a moment believe you have communist sympathies, Les, but your use of that particular term was ill-advised at best, because it MISREPRESENTS what you really wanted to convey.

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  63. Thanks for your acknowledging I do not have communist sympathies FreeThinke.

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  64. We all get tripped up by Semantics every now and then, Les. Most people don't care about subtle shades of meaning, but I'm a stickler for precision in the use of our magnificent language. Even at age 73 I'm still trying to enrich my vocabulary and refine the way I express thoughts.

    Even so, no matter how hard I try to be clear and precise, many STILL misunderstand me.

    It's a never ending battle, but one well worth fighting.

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