Category: Bruce Deitrick Price

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K-12: The War on STEM


A parent recently provided insight into what has become of public schools: “The school district administrators are so nice to you in the meetings, while they are sticking a knife into your child’s back.”

More than most people realize, K-12 is often a realm of duplicity.  The main strategy is to pretend to care about a subject or skill, but in fact to undermine it.  The educrats dissemble even as grades plummet, until the public is thoroughly confused about which reforms might actually work.  Despite endless chatter and assurances, there seems to be no genuine attempt to improve K-12.  Quite the opposite.

The country is routinely lectured about problems with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).  For example: “STEM is gaining momentum in classrooms across the country.  However, the U.S. still ranks 38th and 24th out of 71 developed countries in math and science student achievement, respectively.”

We are gaining momentum but still mediocre?  You know that vast budgets have been expended.  Why is there so little to show for it?  How does our Education Establishment get away with so much doubletalk and under-achievement year after year?

Consider this grim news from Fast Company: “The U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology predicts that in the next decade, we will need approximately 1 million more STEM professionals than we will produce at our current rate.”  So the logical question must be, why is the current rate far below what is required?  Our Education Establishment presides over this shortfall.  Its ministers make it happen; at the very least, they let it happen.

Fast Company goes on: “The challenge is clear: Universities need to attract more students to STEM programs.  But once these students have enrolled, another challenge begins to unfold: Only about 40% of students who enroll in STEM programs graduate with STEM degrees.”  That’s usually because they don’t have a proper grounding in math and science.  In other words, the kids are crippled before they start.  No matter how many students try to major in STEM subjects, only a small portion will reach the goal.  Obviously, children should receive a better grounding from kindergarten onward.  But they don’t.

Here is another bizarre announcement: “In science education, the first decade of the 21st century will be remembered for the dramatic reduction in the teaching of science in elementary schools across the U.S. as a result of national education policy.  Many believe the heightened instructional focus on [reading] and math came at a great societal cost in terms of compromised scientific literacy of the public.” 

This is weird and finally preposterous.  Note the silly premise that we can’t do two subjects at once.  Further, in the middle of gaining momentum, we supposedly had a dramatic reduction in the teaching of sciences so we could teach reading, etc.  Worse, the reading and math apparently utilized the ineffective approaches generally known as  Common Core English and Common Core Math.  The official policy of the mighty United States was to pretend-focus on reading and arithmetic and use that focus as an excuse for almost obliterating STEM.  The incompetence and incoherence here are so great that our brains are stunned.

Curricula such as Everyday Math forbid memorizing multiplication tables, encourage a random spiraling from topic to topic, and always reject the use of the common algorithms in favor of odd ones that are hard to understand.  Watch the children struggle, and you will understand how counterintuitive K-12 has become.  Whatever policy is officially embraced, we get results we don’t want.  Common Core homework makes children cry.  That would tell sincere experts they have made the wrong choices.  Our Education Establishment seems incapable of finding better strategies.  Education should be engaging and fun, not tearful.  Start there.

John Saxon, math warrior extraordinaire, harped on this point in the 1980s and 1990s.  Students exposed to good teaching will, in much higher percentages, go on to the study of algebra, calculus, chemistry, physics, and so on.  However, if students have to wade through dysfunctional education in the early grades, they are not likely to stay interested in more difficult subjects.  Even as this predictable tragedy unfolds, all the experts noisily pretend they are solving the problem.

Recently, Michigan State University announced a writing program for STEM students.  Here’s the hype: “Michigan State University is leading the way in a multi-year and multi-million-dollar project to improve education for universities nationwide.  The research will specifically help students studying science, technology, engineering, and math, also known collectively as STEM education.  When finished, these educational changes could even be felt around the world.”

What are these people talking about? The kids can’t write very well, so MSU wants to help, but how can that be called a STEM initiative?  Writing is for everything.  There’s no assurance that these children will know anything more about any branch of science.  Hopefully, they can write a better paragraph, but that’s not yet demonstrated.

If you want to help STEM, teach children to read, write, and do basic arithmetic, all intermixed with general science, from day one.  Our Education Establishment has to know this, but it has spent so many decades eluding its responsibilities that it’s hard for the people in charge to settle down to the basics.  So they try to hide behind a flurry of promises, new initiatives, fundraising announcements, and other deceits and distractions.  All too often, the fundamentals are ignored until high school.  Suddenly, alarms are sounded, and another STEM miracle is promised, but for most kids, it’s too late.

When the United States is in the top five in math and ranking high in the other  major categories, then you can assume that our Education Establishment is doing a good job.  Otherwise, these people deserve scrutiny, not respect.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12: What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?  He deconstructs educational theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.

A parent recently provided insight into what has become of public schools: “The school district administrators are so nice to you in the meetings, while they are sticking a knife into your child’s back.”

More than most people realize, K-12 is often a realm of duplicity.  The main strategy is to pretend to care about a subject or skill, but in fact to undermine it.  The educrats dissemble even as grades plummet, until the public is thoroughly confused about which reforms might actually work.  Despite endless chatter and assurances, there seems to be no genuine attempt to improve K-12.  Quite the opposite.

The country is routinely lectured about problems with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).  For example: “STEM is gaining momentum in classrooms across the country.  However, the U.S. still ranks 38th and 24th out of 71 developed countries in math and science student achievement, respectively.”

We are gaining momentum but still mediocre?  You know that vast budgets have been expended.  Why is there so little to show for it?  How does our Education Establishment get away with so much doubletalk and under-achievement year after year?

Consider this grim news from Fast Company: “The U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology predicts that in the next decade, we will need approximately 1 million more STEM professionals than we will produce at our current rate.”  So the logical question must be, why is the current rate far below what is required?  Our Education Establishment presides over this shortfall.  Its ministers make it happen; at the very least, they let it happen.

Fast Company goes on: “The challenge is clear: Universities need to attract more students to STEM programs.  But once these students have enrolled, another challenge begins to unfold: Only about 40% of students who enroll in STEM programs graduate with STEM degrees.”  That’s usually because they don’t have a proper grounding in math and science.  In other words, the kids are crippled before they start.  No matter how many students try to major in STEM subjects, only a small portion will reach the goal.  Obviously, children should receive a better grounding from kindergarten onward.  But they don’t.

Here is another bizarre announcement: “In science education, the first decade of the 21st century will be remembered for the dramatic reduction in the teaching of science in elementary schools across the U.S. as a result of national education policy.  Many believe the heightened instructional focus on [reading] and math came at a great societal cost in terms of compromised scientific literacy of the public.” 

This is weird and finally preposterous.  Note the silly premise that we can’t do two subjects at once.  Further, in the middle of gaining momentum, we supposedly had a dramatic reduction in the teaching of sciences so we could teach reading, etc.  Worse, the reading and math apparently utilized the ineffective approaches generally known as  Common Core English and Common Core Math.  The official policy of the mighty United States was to pretend-focus on reading and arithmetic and use that focus as an excuse for almost obliterating STEM.  The incompetence and incoherence here are so great that our brains are stunned.

Curricula such as Everyday Math forbid memorizing multiplication tables, encourage a random spiraling from topic to topic, and always reject the use of the common algorithms in favor of odd ones that are hard to understand.  Watch the children struggle, and you will understand how counterintuitive K-12 has become.  Whatever policy is officially embraced, we get results we don’t want.  Common Core homework makes children cry.  That would tell sincere experts they have made the wrong choices.  Our Education Establishment seems incapable of finding better strategies.  Education should be engaging and fun, not tearful.  Start there.

John Saxon, math warrior extraordinaire, harped on this point in the 1980s and 1990s.  Students exposed to good teaching will, in much higher percentages, go on to the study of algebra, calculus, chemistry, physics, and so on.  However, if students have to wade through dysfunctional education in the early grades, they are not likely to stay interested in more difficult subjects.  Even as this predictable tragedy unfolds, all the experts noisily pretend they are solving the problem.

Recently, Michigan State University announced a writing program for STEM students.  Here’s the hype: “Michigan State University is leading the way in a multi-year and multi-million-dollar project to improve education for universities nationwide.  The research will specifically help students studying science, technology, engineering, and math, also known collectively as STEM education.  When finished, these educational changes could even be felt around the world.”

What are these people talking about? The kids can’t write very well, so MSU wants to help, but how can that be called a STEM initiative?  Writing is for everything.  There’s no assurance that these children will know anything more about any branch of science.  Hopefully, they can write a better paragraph, but that’s not yet demonstrated.

If you want to help STEM, teach children to read, write, and do basic arithmetic, all intermixed with general science, from day one.  Our Education Establishment has to know this, but it has spent so many decades eluding its responsibilities that it’s hard for the people in charge to settle down to the basics.  So they try to hide behind a flurry of promises, new initiatives, fundraising announcements, and other deceits and distractions.  All too often, the fundamentals are ignored until high school.  Suddenly, alarms are sounded, and another STEM miracle is promised, but for most kids, it’s too late.

When the United States is in the top five in math and ranking high in the other  major categories, then you can assume that our Education Establishment is doing a good job.  Otherwise, these people deserve scrutiny, not respect.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12: What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?  He deconstructs educational theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.



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K-12: How Our Schools Make Monsters


Lots of people who study K-12 education end up looking for a metaphor, a parallel, to explain the unnecessary stupidity of our public schools.  Don’t bother.  Ayn Rand has run ahead and done the job.

In 1970, Rand published a very long essay titled “The Comprachicos” (which roughly translates to the child-buyers).  It lovingly examines a bit of history mentioned in a Victor Hugo novel.  He wrote about vicious exploiters who mutilate and transform children into all sorts of freaks, dwarfs, gymnasts, and novelties.  The techniques are analogous to those used by bonsai masters.  You cut, twist, break, deprive – you do whatever works to make a glorious anomaly.

Finding this history, Rand must have shouted, “Eureka.”  She perceived that Progressive educators are the comprachicos of our time:

The production of monsters – helpless, twisted monsters whose normal development has been stunted – goes on all around us.  But the modern heirs of the comprachicos are smarter and subtler.  They do not hide, they practice their trade in the open, the results are invisible.  In the past this horrible surgery left traces on a child’s face, not in his mind.  Today it leaves traces in his mind, not on his face.  In both cases the child is not aware of the mutilation he has suffered.  Today’s comprachicos do not use narcotic powders.  They take a child before he is fully aware of reality and never let him develop that awareness.  Where nature put a normal brain, they put mental retardation.

I’m no Rand fan, but I have to acknowledge that she is super-smart.  Her mind is startling; it’s like watching someone pick up the silverware at dinner and juggle it.

For example:

The thought of all the living species that train their young in the art of survival, the cats who teach their kittens to hunt, the birds who spend such strident effort on teaching their fledglings to fly – yet man, whose tool of survival is the mind, does not merely fail to teach a child to think, but devotes the child’s education to the purpose of destroying his brain, of convincing him that thought is futile and evil, before he has started to think[.] … Men would shudder … if they saw a mother bird plucking the feathers from the wings of her young, then pushing him out of the nest to struggle for survival – yet that was what they did to their children.”

This relentless critique is about what happens in Progressive schools from nurseries to colleges.  Rand says children are deliberately destroyed.  The essay is tightly focused on one subject, education, which serves her well.  Rand has the kind of mind that is eager to go off in many directions.  For example: “If you want to see hatred, do not look at wars or concentration camps – these are merely its consequences. Look at the writings of Kant, Dewey, Marcuse and their followers to see pure hatred[.]”

In general, Rand applauds Maria Montessori and indicts John Dewey.  She condemns Whole Word, for example:

The comprachico technique starts at the base.  The child’s great achievement in learning to speak is undercut and all but nullified by the method used to teach him to read.  The ‘Look-Say’ method substitutes the concrete-bound memorization of the visual shapes of words for the phonetic method which taught a child to treat letters and sounds as abstractions.  The senseless memorizing of such a vast amount of sensory material places an abnormal strain on a child’s mental capacity, a burden that cannot be fully retained, integrated or automatized.  The result is a widespread ‘reading neurosis’ – the inability to learn to read – among children, including many of above average intelligence, a neurosis that did not exist prior to the introduction of the ‘Look-Say’ method.  (If the enlightenment and welfare of children were the modern educators’ goal, the incidence of that neurosis would have made them check and revise their educational theories; it has not.)

Rand sees the big, big picture.  For example:

It is ideas that determine the actions of all those people, and it is the Educational Establishment that determines the ideas of a nation. It is your professors’ ideas that have ruled the world for the past fifty years or longer, with a growing spread of devastation, not improvement – and today, in default of opposition, these ideas are destroying the world, as they destroyed your mind and self-esteem[.] … You are miserably helpless and want to rebel?  Then rebel against the ideas of your teachers.  You will never find a harder, nobler or more heroic form of rebellion.  You have nothing to lose but your anxiety.  You have your mind to win.

Want guidance on how to dumb down a country?  Rand tells you exactly how our self-anointed experts have done it for decades:

The purposeful, disciplined use of his intelligence is the highest achievement possible to man: it is that which makes him human.  The higher the skill, the earlier in life its learning should be started.  The same holds true in reverse, for those who seek to stifle a human potential.  To succeed in producing the atrophy of intelligence, a state of man-made stupidity, one must get hold of the victim early; a mental dwarf must be started when he is small.  This is the art and science practiced by the comprachicos of the mind.

This essay is a concatenation of surprising insights.  For example:

A small child is mildly curious about, but not greatly interested in, other children of his own age.  In daily association, they merely bewilder him.  He is not seeking equals, but cognitive superiors, people who know.  Observe that young children prefer the company of older children or of adults, that they hero-worship and try to emulate an older brother or sister.  A child needs to reach a certain development, a sense of his own identity, before he can enjoy the company of his ‘peers.’  But he is thrown into their midst and told to adjust.

Many people try to explain the failures of modern education by pointing to incompetence and good intentions gone awry.  Rand will have none of that.  She credits our Education Establishment with evil intent from start to finish.

The Progressive nurseries pleaded for a delay of the process of education, asserting that cognitive training is premature for a young child – and conditioned his mind to an anti-cognitive method of functioning.  The grade and high schools reinforced the conditioning: struggling helplessly with random snatches of knowledge, the student learned to associate a sense of dread, resentment and self-doubt with the process of learning. College completes the job, declaring explicitly – to a receptive audience – that there is nothing to learn, that reality is unknowable, certainty is unattainable, the mind is an instrument of self-deception, and the sole function of reason is to find conclusive proof of its own impotence.

Rand concludes: “Ideas can be fought only by means of ideas.  The educational establishment has to be fought – from bottom to top, from cause to consequences, from nursery schools to universities, from basic philosophy to campus riots, from without and from within.”

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12.  He deconstructs educational theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.  Support his work on Patreon.

Image: cea + via Flickr.

Lots of people who study K-12 education end up looking for a metaphor, a parallel, to explain the unnecessary stupidity of our public schools.  Don’t bother.  Ayn Rand has run ahead and done the job.

In 1970, Rand published a very long essay titled “The Comprachicos” (which roughly translates to the child-buyers).  It lovingly examines a bit of history mentioned in a Victor Hugo novel.  He wrote about vicious exploiters who mutilate and transform children into all sorts of freaks, dwarfs, gymnasts, and novelties.  The techniques are analogous to those used by bonsai masters.  You cut, twist, break, deprive – you do whatever works to make a glorious anomaly.

Finding this history, Rand must have shouted, “Eureka.”  She perceived that Progressive educators are the comprachicos of our time:

The production of monsters – helpless, twisted monsters whose normal development has been stunted – goes on all around us.  But the modern heirs of the comprachicos are smarter and subtler.  They do not hide, they practice their trade in the open, the results are invisible.  In the past this horrible surgery left traces on a child’s face, not in his mind.  Today it leaves traces in his mind, not on his face.  In both cases the child is not aware of the mutilation he has suffered.  Today’s comprachicos do not use narcotic powders.  They take a child before he is fully aware of reality and never let him develop that awareness.  Where nature put a normal brain, they put mental retardation.

I’m no Rand fan, but I have to acknowledge that she is super-smart.  Her mind is startling; it’s like watching someone pick up the silverware at dinner and juggle it.

For example:

The thought of all the living species that train their young in the art of survival, the cats who teach their kittens to hunt, the birds who spend such strident effort on teaching their fledglings to fly – yet man, whose tool of survival is the mind, does not merely fail to teach a child to think, but devotes the child’s education to the purpose of destroying his brain, of convincing him that thought is futile and evil, before he has started to think[.] … Men would shudder … if they saw a mother bird plucking the feathers from the wings of her young, then pushing him out of the nest to struggle for survival – yet that was what they did to their children.”

This relentless critique is about what happens in Progressive schools from nurseries to colleges.  Rand says children are deliberately destroyed.  The essay is tightly focused on one subject, education, which serves her well.  Rand has the kind of mind that is eager to go off in many directions.  For example: “If you want to see hatred, do not look at wars or concentration camps – these are merely its consequences. Look at the writings of Kant, Dewey, Marcuse and their followers to see pure hatred[.]”

In general, Rand applauds Maria Montessori and indicts John Dewey.  She condemns Whole Word, for example:

The comprachico technique starts at the base.  The child’s great achievement in learning to speak is undercut and all but nullified by the method used to teach him to read.  The ‘Look-Say’ method substitutes the concrete-bound memorization of the visual shapes of words for the phonetic method which taught a child to treat letters and sounds as abstractions.  The senseless memorizing of such a vast amount of sensory material places an abnormal strain on a child’s mental capacity, a burden that cannot be fully retained, integrated or automatized.  The result is a widespread ‘reading neurosis’ – the inability to learn to read – among children, including many of above average intelligence, a neurosis that did not exist prior to the introduction of the ‘Look-Say’ method.  (If the enlightenment and welfare of children were the modern educators’ goal, the incidence of that neurosis would have made them check and revise their educational theories; it has not.)

Rand sees the big, big picture.  For example:

It is ideas that determine the actions of all those people, and it is the Educational Establishment that determines the ideas of a nation. It is your professors’ ideas that have ruled the world for the past fifty years or longer, with a growing spread of devastation, not improvement – and today, in default of opposition, these ideas are destroying the world, as they destroyed your mind and self-esteem[.] … You are miserably helpless and want to rebel?  Then rebel against the ideas of your teachers.  You will never find a harder, nobler or more heroic form of rebellion.  You have nothing to lose but your anxiety.  You have your mind to win.

Want guidance on how to dumb down a country?  Rand tells you exactly how our self-anointed experts have done it for decades:

The purposeful, disciplined use of his intelligence is the highest achievement possible to man: it is that which makes him human.  The higher the skill, the earlier in life its learning should be started.  The same holds true in reverse, for those who seek to stifle a human potential.  To succeed in producing the atrophy of intelligence, a state of man-made stupidity, one must get hold of the victim early; a mental dwarf must be started when he is small.  This is the art and science practiced by the comprachicos of the mind.

This essay is a concatenation of surprising insights.  For example:

A small child is mildly curious about, but not greatly interested in, other children of his own age.  In daily association, they merely bewilder him.  He is not seeking equals, but cognitive superiors, people who know.  Observe that young children prefer the company of older children or of adults, that they hero-worship and try to emulate an older brother or sister.  A child needs to reach a certain development, a sense of his own identity, before he can enjoy the company of his ‘peers.’  But he is thrown into their midst and told to adjust.

Many people try to explain the failures of modern education by pointing to incompetence and good intentions gone awry.  Rand will have none of that.  She credits our Education Establishment with evil intent from start to finish.

The Progressive nurseries pleaded for a delay of the process of education, asserting that cognitive training is premature for a young child – and conditioned his mind to an anti-cognitive method of functioning.  The grade and high schools reinforced the conditioning: struggling helplessly with random snatches of knowledge, the student learned to associate a sense of dread, resentment and self-doubt with the process of learning. College completes the job, declaring explicitly – to a receptive audience – that there is nothing to learn, that reality is unknowable, certainty is unattainable, the mind is an instrument of self-deception, and the sole function of reason is to find conclusive proof of its own impotence.

Rand concludes: “Ideas can be fought only by means of ideas.  The educational establishment has to be fought – from bottom to top, from cause to consequences, from nursery schools to universities, from basic philosophy to campus riots, from without and from within.”

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12.  He deconstructs educational theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.  Support his work on Patreon.

Image: cea + via Flickr.



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K-12: The War on Boys and Men


Fox News just announced an upcoming series about the plight of Men in America.

“Men seem to be becoming less male,” Tucker Carlson said.  “Something ominous is happening[.] … Men are taught there is something wrong with them.  We took a close look at the numbers, and we found them so shocking that we’re devoting the month of March to a special series on men in America.” 

Carlson concluded, “You’ll be stunned by the scope of the crisis.  We were.  It’s a largely ignored disaster.  It affects every person in America.” 

He noted, for example: “Men account for 77 percent of the nation’s suicides, they are more than twice as likely to become alcoholics, they are more likely to die of an overdose than women, and 90 percent of inmates are men.”

So what are the causes?  Eighteen years ago, Christina Hoff Sommers published The War on Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.  Sommers concluded, “It’s a bad time to be a boy in America.  Boys are less likely than girls to go to college or do their homework.  They’re more likely to cheat on tests, wind up in detention, or drop out[.]”  In short, Sommers found the causes in feminist theory and, more surprisingly, inside the nation’s classrooms.

The dirty big secret here is that our public schools don’t announce social engineering; they simply do it, especially with regard to altering how children view themselves.  Public schools suppress boys and uplift girls in many furtive ways.  This manipulation has been hugely successful: 57% of college students are female; 43% are male.  More women stay in college and earn advanced degree.  Women wear business suits, and men drive pickup trucks.  Culturally similar men and women who used to marry each other are now separated by class differences!

The question still haunts us: how exactly are America’s social engineers able to win this war for females?

The discussion is tricky from every point of view.  However you might describe boys and girls, you’ll invite argument about what is good and what is bad.  If you say girls are “more sensitive,” is that an insult or a compliment?  The Atlantic Monthly nicely dances among many competing viewpoints:

[A] host of cross-cultural studies show that females … are more apt to plan ahead, set academic goals, and put effort into achieving those goals.  They also are more likely than boys to feel intrinsically satisfied with the whole enterprise of organizing their work, and more invested in impressing themselves and their teachers with their efforts[.] … On the whole, boys approach schoolwork differently.  They are more performance-oriented.  Studying for and taking tests taps into their competitive instincts.  For many boys, tests are quests that get their hearts pounding.


David Sortino, a teacher, argues on his blog: “[G]irls work best when sitting in a circle facing each other and find it more comfortable to learn in a group setting.  Instead, boys often excel in a traditional class structure with desks lined in rows, which could support their more competitive energies and attention getting behaviors.


“Girls respond to stress as a threat, which drives blood to the gut rather than to the brain, placing them in a fight or flight persona.  However, for boys, it’s the opposite.  They love to take risks and almost always overestimate their abilities.”

QED: There are big, very real differences.  We should wonder if these differences are artificially induced and then exaggerated.  Oh, so that’s why some schools have all students sitting around tables – because it’s good for girls…?

What we know for sure is that girls are outperforming boys at all levels.  Is this good for the country?  Is it good for the girls?

The Economist reported:

A new study by the OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development], a club of mostly rich countries, examined how 15-year-old boys and girls performed at reading, mathematics and science.  Boys still score somewhat better at maths, and in science the genders are roughly equal.  But when it comes to the students who really struggle, the difference is stark: boys are 50% more likely than girls to fall short of basic standards in all three areas [emphasis added].


Why are girls performing better at school than their male classmates?


“First,” according to the OECD study, “girls read more than boys.  Reading proficiency is the basis upon which all other learning is built.  When boys don’t do well at reading, their performance in other school subjects suffers too.”

The basis upon which all other learning is built.  That is ominous.  Suppose social engineers figured out how to undercut reading.

One statistical site states that “[w]omen are more likely to develop solid reading skills.  Around 38% of men report reading at the lowest proficiency levels, compared to 33% for women.”

Suppose our social engineers routinely seek to widen this gap.  That would be feasible because boys and girls respond in different ways to absurd instruction.

Girls, as noted, feel more comfortable in a group setting.  They want the whole group to move along harmoniously; they want their teacher to be successful.  The result is that they are more patient and long-suffering with dumb curricula and wrongly trained teachers.  Boys, on the other hand, are not so patient.  If there is a skill or a task, boys want to do well quickly.  Fair enough.  But what if the curriculum is inherently stupid and impossible to master?  Boys at some point will declare, I can’t do this.  I don’t want to do this.  I’m walking away.

Today, in Common Core, we see many absurdities almost perfectly designed to drive boys to escape and evasion.  The internet is full of videos of children weeping because instruction seems so illogical.  Little seven-year-olds are already beat up. 

But the paradigm of stupid instruction remains Whole Word.  That’s where the student has to memorize the English language one word at a time.  The famous Dr. Samuel Orton, a neurologist, did a study in 1926-28 and declared that this method doesn’t work…and, in addition, it will damage every child it touches.  He was exactly correct, and the Education Establishment knows it.  What do we see in the schools of America?  Millions of semi-literate children with messed up minds.

StatisticBrain claims that 32 million Americans “can’t read.”  Tens of millions more read marginally.  This is a vast national  tragedy.  Ask yourself, why is this tolerated?  Perhaps because it makes the population easier to control.  Perhaps because it enables the stratification of the sexes.

You want to fix it?  Fix reading.  I think the smarter people understand this.  But the Education Establishment won’t let go because this particular stupid curriculum is the foundation for making women more successful and making men less successful.

Here is a good overview by TeacherMag:

But what if today’s classroom and curriculum structure catered (however unintentionally) to one gender more than the other?  Many researchers say this is now the case, with boys facing an upward struggle from primary school on.  For many boys, co-educational public schools can be uncomfortable, unfriendly, unproductive places.  Teaching styles and disciplinary habits are often not suited to the average boy[.] … In learning environments biased against their strengths, boys may become turned off or frustrated and may attempt to have their needs met by seeking negative attention.  This rebellion completes the circle of failure … with many boys labelled as troublemakers or diagnosed with hyperactivity.

That can mean drugs, which make boys weaker and less manly.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12.  He deconstructs educational theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.  Support his work on Patreon.

Fox News just announced an upcoming series about the plight of Men in America.

“Men seem to be becoming less male,” Tucker Carlson said.  “Something ominous is happening[.] … Men are taught there is something wrong with them.  We took a close look at the numbers, and we found them so shocking that we’re devoting the month of March to a special series on men in America.” 

Carlson concluded, “You’ll be stunned by the scope of the crisis.  We were.  It’s a largely ignored disaster.  It affects every person in America.” 

He noted, for example: “Men account for 77 percent of the nation’s suicides, they are more than twice as likely to become alcoholics, they are more likely to die of an overdose than women, and 90 percent of inmates are men.”

So what are the causes?  Eighteen years ago, Christina Hoff Sommers published The War on Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.  Sommers concluded, “It’s a bad time to be a boy in America.  Boys are less likely than girls to go to college or do their homework.  They’re more likely to cheat on tests, wind up in detention, or drop out[.]”  In short, Sommers found the causes in feminist theory and, more surprisingly, inside the nation’s classrooms.

The dirty big secret here is that our public schools don’t announce social engineering; they simply do it, especially with regard to altering how children view themselves.  Public schools suppress boys and uplift girls in many furtive ways.  This manipulation has been hugely successful: 57% of college students are female; 43% are male.  More women stay in college and earn advanced degree.  Women wear business suits, and men drive pickup trucks.  Culturally similar men and women who used to marry each other are now separated by class differences!

The question still haunts us: how exactly are America’s social engineers able to win this war for females?

The discussion is tricky from every point of view.  However you might describe boys and girls, you’ll invite argument about what is good and what is bad.  If you say girls are “more sensitive,” is that an insult or a compliment?  The Atlantic Monthly nicely dances among many competing viewpoints:

[A] host of cross-cultural studies show that females … are more apt to plan ahead, set academic goals, and put effort into achieving those goals.  They also are more likely than boys to feel intrinsically satisfied with the whole enterprise of organizing their work, and more invested in impressing themselves and their teachers with their efforts[.] … On the whole, boys approach schoolwork differently.  They are more performance-oriented.  Studying for and taking tests taps into their competitive instincts.  For many boys, tests are quests that get their hearts pounding.


David Sortino, a teacher, argues on his blog: “[G]irls work best when sitting in a circle facing each other and find it more comfortable to learn in a group setting.  Instead, boys often excel in a traditional class structure with desks lined in rows, which could support their more competitive energies and attention getting behaviors.


“Girls respond to stress as a threat, which drives blood to the gut rather than to the brain, placing them in a fight or flight persona.  However, for boys, it’s the opposite.  They love to take risks and almost always overestimate their abilities.”

QED: There are big, very real differences.  We should wonder if these differences are artificially induced and then exaggerated.  Oh, so that’s why some schools have all students sitting around tables – because it’s good for girls…?

What we know for sure is that girls are outperforming boys at all levels.  Is this good for the country?  Is it good for the girls?

The Economist reported:

A new study by the OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development], a club of mostly rich countries, examined how 15-year-old boys and girls performed at reading, mathematics and science.  Boys still score somewhat better at maths, and in science the genders are roughly equal.  But when it comes to the students who really struggle, the difference is stark: boys are 50% more likely than girls to fall short of basic standards in all three areas [emphasis added].


Why are girls performing better at school than their male classmates?


“First,” according to the OECD study, “girls read more than boys.  Reading proficiency is the basis upon which all other learning is built.  When boys don’t do well at reading, their performance in other school subjects suffers too.”

The basis upon which all other learning is built.  That is ominous.  Suppose social engineers figured out how to undercut reading.

One statistical site states that “[w]omen are more likely to develop solid reading skills.  Around 38% of men report reading at the lowest proficiency levels, compared to 33% for women.”

Suppose our social engineers routinely seek to widen this gap.  That would be feasible because boys and girls respond in different ways to absurd instruction.

Girls, as noted, feel more comfortable in a group setting.  They want the whole group to move along harmoniously; they want their teacher to be successful.  The result is that they are more patient and long-suffering with dumb curricula and wrongly trained teachers.  Boys, on the other hand, are not so patient.  If there is a skill or a task, boys want to do well quickly.  Fair enough.  But what if the curriculum is inherently stupid and impossible to master?  Boys at some point will declare, I can’t do this.  I don’t want to do this.  I’m walking away.

Today, in Common Core, we see many absurdities almost perfectly designed to drive boys to escape and evasion.  The internet is full of videos of children weeping because instruction seems so illogical.  Little seven-year-olds are already beat up. 

But the paradigm of stupid instruction remains Whole Word.  That’s where the student has to memorize the English language one word at a time.  The famous Dr. Samuel Orton, a neurologist, did a study in 1926-28 and declared that this method doesn’t work…and, in addition, it will damage every child it touches.  He was exactly correct, and the Education Establishment knows it.  What do we see in the schools of America?  Millions of semi-literate children with messed up minds.

StatisticBrain claims that 32 million Americans “can’t read.”  Tens of millions more read marginally.  This is a vast national  tragedy.  Ask yourself, why is this tolerated?  Perhaps because it makes the population easier to control.  Perhaps because it enables the stratification of the sexes.

You want to fix it?  Fix reading.  I think the smarter people understand this.  But the Education Establishment won’t let go because this particular stupid curriculum is the foundation for making women more successful and making men less successful.

Here is a good overview by TeacherMag:

But what if today’s classroom and curriculum structure catered (however unintentionally) to one gender more than the other?  Many researchers say this is now the case, with boys facing an upward struggle from primary school on.  For many boys, co-educational public schools can be uncomfortable, unfriendly, unproductive places.  Teaching styles and disciplinary habits are often not suited to the average boy[.] … In learning environments biased against their strengths, boys may become turned off or frustrated and may attempt to have their needs met by seeking negative attention.  This rebellion completes the circle of failure … with many boys labelled as troublemakers or diagnosed with hyperactivity.

That can mean drugs, which make boys weaker and less manly.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12.  He deconstructs educational theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.  Support his work on Patreon.



Source link

K-12: Patterns of Deception


Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman, both famous literary left-wingers, had a famous feud.  McCarthy dared to proclaim that Hellman was a Truly Big Liar.

When Dick Cavett asked (in 1979) what was so “dishonest” about Hellman, McCarthy snapped, “Everything. I once said in an interview that every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.'”

These entertaining charges make more sense when we consider that Lillian Hellman was “an ardent leftist,” according to leftist PBS.

Hellman was a pure expression of the agitprop personality.  She instinctively engaged in meddling and propaganda.  It was almost official doctrine that communists could and should lie.  The ends justify the means.  Do anything for the cause.  Hellman really tried.  For example, she claimed that Stalin had created “the ideal democratic state.”

The famous playwright helps us understand left-wing politics.  She also helps us understand our Education Establishment.  I believe they are the same crowd.  Falsehoods, cool and calculated, are their native language.  Study K-12 for any amount of time, and you will begin to suspect that every word these deceivers utter is a lie, including “and” and “the.”

Samuel Blumenfeld concluded that “K-12 education is a criminal enterprise from top to bottom,” which tends to confirm my less dramatic formulation that K-12 education is a swamp of fog and deception.  Our self-appointed experts have to be dishonest.  How else can they keep their cons and sophistries going?

Consider:

The Education Establishment lie when they say children can learn more quickly with Constructivism even though this dubious theory prevents teachers from teaching and leaves students to scrounge for knowledge by themselves.  The total flow of information in the average classroom will obviously be cut in half, at the least.

The Education Establishment lie when they say elaborate gimmicks like New Math, Reform Math, and Common Core Math are somehow superior, when these programs leave children in tears and parents mystified.  The central gimmick is to teach difficult math to young kids.  Instead of learning to add and subtract, they supposedly learn the meaning of math, although no one is sure what that is.

The Education Establishment lie when they say the children can learn to read with sight-words.  There have been about 35 major studies, and all but one or two said phonics is superior.  The idea that a child can memorize many thousands of word-designs with instant recall is simply preposterous.  On the other hand, phonics is logical and easy.  (See what the experts say.)

The Education Establishment lie when they say they’re helping a child’s self-esteem whenever they pretend not to notice poor performance.  Children, when they make mistakes, need to know it.  In today’s classroom, anything that diminishes a child’s self-esteem is deemed unacceptable.  In practice, this means fast students must be slowed down so they don’t make slow students feel bad.

The Education Establishment lie when they say it’s good for children that they can express violence, be abusive to teachers, break rules, and not bother taking tests or turning in papers.  Children are allowed to be lazy, late, and irresponsible.  As Joan Dunn noted, “the whole school system is geared to the problem child.  He is petted, excused, and studied out of all proportion.  He is a man of the hour, and he knows it. … I think that many children made themselves problem children simply because they saw how important they could become, how much attention would be paid to them.”  Dunn wrote this in 1954, which shows how long the Education Establishment has been fine-tuning these destructive ideas.

The Education Establishment lie when they say it’s good for children to learn more about foreign countries (as prescribed by Multiculturalism) than about their own country.  As a practical matter, children will hear weather and news reports every day; they need to recognize these cities, states, regions, etc.  Instead, we have American children who can spell Chinese rivers but not American ones.

The Education Establishment lie when they say learning basic facts is not important and multiplication tables are not useful or necessary.  K-12 education these days is a relentless war on facts and memorization.  (Children, we are told, don’t need to know history as long as they can think historically.  This sort of drivel started in the 1950s: “We don’t teach history; we teach children.”)

At some point, we have to ask: do these self-proclaimed experts ever tell the truth?

“Even ‘and’ and ‘the.'”  That’s so clever that many might assume it’s hyperbolic.  Not so.  The Education Establishment in this country starts off each school year with a barrage of lies, pretending to care about children, country, literacy, and all those good things.  In practice, however, their main goal seems to be dumbing down the population.  They need to keep lying each time they speak.  Bad ideas must be constantly protected by a phalanx of lies.

The surfeit of deception makes it difficult for society to correct its mistakes.  The only recourse for individual citizens is to learn more about each problem so they can try to fix it.

Our public school system has become detached from reality, like Lillian Hellman’s whopper that Stalin created the ideal democratic state.  The Education Establishment have secret agendas and secret stratagems, most of them transparent if you really look at them.

Here’s the simplest way out of our dilemma: education’s loyalty should be to truth first.  Let’s get back to that.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12 – What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?  He deconstructs educational theories and methods at Improve-Education.org.  

Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman, both famous literary left-wingers, had a famous feud.  McCarthy dared to proclaim that Hellman was a Truly Big Liar.

When Dick Cavett asked (in 1979) what was so “dishonest” about Hellman, McCarthy snapped, “Everything. I once said in an interview that every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.'”

These entertaining charges make more sense when we consider that Lillian Hellman was “an ardent leftist,” according to leftist PBS.

Hellman was a pure expression of the agitprop personality.  She instinctively engaged in meddling and propaganda.  It was almost official doctrine that communists could and should lie.  The ends justify the means.  Do anything for the cause.  Hellman really tried.  For example, she claimed that Stalin had created “the ideal democratic state.”

The famous playwright helps us understand left-wing politics.  She also helps us understand our Education Establishment.  I believe they are the same crowd.  Falsehoods, cool and calculated, are their native language.  Study K-12 for any amount of time, and you will begin to suspect that every word these deceivers utter is a lie, including “and” and “the.”

Samuel Blumenfeld concluded that “K-12 education is a criminal enterprise from top to bottom,” which tends to confirm my less dramatic formulation that K-12 education is a swamp of fog and deception.  Our self-appointed experts have to be dishonest.  How else can they keep their cons and sophistries going?

Consider:

The Education Establishment lie when they say children can learn more quickly with Constructivism even though this dubious theory prevents teachers from teaching and leaves students to scrounge for knowledge by themselves.  The total flow of information in the average classroom will obviously be cut in half, at the least.

The Education Establishment lie when they say elaborate gimmicks like New Math, Reform Math, and Common Core Math are somehow superior, when these programs leave children in tears and parents mystified.  The central gimmick is to teach difficult math to young kids.  Instead of learning to add and subtract, they supposedly learn the meaning of math, although no one is sure what that is.

The Education Establishment lie when they say the children can learn to read with sight-words.  There have been about 35 major studies, and all but one or two said phonics is superior.  The idea that a child can memorize many thousands of word-designs with instant recall is simply preposterous.  On the other hand, phonics is logical and easy.  (See what the experts say.)

The Education Establishment lie when they say they’re helping a child’s self-esteem whenever they pretend not to notice poor performance.  Children, when they make mistakes, need to know it.  In today’s classroom, anything that diminishes a child’s self-esteem is deemed unacceptable.  In practice, this means fast students must be slowed down so they don’t make slow students feel bad.

The Education Establishment lie when they say it’s good for children that they can express violence, be abusive to teachers, break rules, and not bother taking tests or turning in papers.  Children are allowed to be lazy, late, and irresponsible.  As Joan Dunn noted, “the whole school system is geared to the problem child.  He is petted, excused, and studied out of all proportion.  He is a man of the hour, and he knows it. … I think that many children made themselves problem children simply because they saw how important they could become, how much attention would be paid to them.”  Dunn wrote this in 1954, which shows how long the Education Establishment has been fine-tuning these destructive ideas.

The Education Establishment lie when they say it’s good for children to learn more about foreign countries (as prescribed by Multiculturalism) than about their own country.  As a practical matter, children will hear weather and news reports every day; they need to recognize these cities, states, regions, etc.  Instead, we have American children who can spell Chinese rivers but not American ones.

The Education Establishment lie when they say learning basic facts is not important and multiplication tables are not useful or necessary.  K-12 education these days is a relentless war on facts and memorization.  (Children, we are told, don’t need to know history as long as they can think historically.  This sort of drivel started in the 1950s: “We don’t teach history; we teach children.”)

At some point, we have to ask: do these self-proclaimed experts ever tell the truth?

“Even ‘and’ and ‘the.'”  That’s so clever that many might assume it’s hyperbolic.  Not so.  The Education Establishment in this country starts off each school year with a barrage of lies, pretending to care about children, country, literacy, and all those good things.  In practice, however, their main goal seems to be dumbing down the population.  They need to keep lying each time they speak.  Bad ideas must be constantly protected by a phalanx of lies.

The surfeit of deception makes it difficult for society to correct its mistakes.  The only recourse for individual citizens is to learn more about each problem so they can try to fix it.

Our public school system has become detached from reality, like Lillian Hellman’s whopper that Stalin created the ideal democratic state.  The Education Establishment have secret agendas and secret stratagems, most of them transparent if you really look at them.

Here’s the simplest way out of our dilemma: education’s loyalty should be to truth first.  Let’s get back to that.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12 – What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?  He deconstructs educational theories and methods at Improve-Education.org.  



Source link

K-12: Killing Democracy


Rudolf Flesch, in his 1955 book, noted that “things have changed in the last 10, 20 years.  For the first time in history, American parents see their children getting less education than they got themselves.  Their sons and daughters come home from school and they can’t read the newspaper; they can’t spell simple words like February or Wednesday; they don’t know the difference between Austria and Australia.  The fathers and mothers don’t know the reason for this, but they know that something terrible has happened to their most precious dreams and aspirations[.]”

Isn’t it beautiful – the way Flesch perceives the decline of American civilization from two tiny examples?  Austria and Australia look alike.  What’s the big deal about telling them apart?  Such casual imprecision is how students think today and is the essence of our problem.  Flesch remains The Man in American education.  Early on, he grasped the garish symptoms of the country’s intellectual death spiral.  A school system that doesn’t teach children the difference between days of the week and months of the year?  Well, there’s little hope for it.

Even as the Education Establishment insisted that American children read, write, and spell better than ever, Flesch proved the absurdity of this claim.  He saw the country’s academic decline; he saw the intellectual fabric of the country start to unravel.  “The American dream is, essentially, equal opportunity through free education for all.  This dream is beginning to vanish in a country where the public schools are falling down on the job[.]”

Please read that three times.  There should be symphonic accompaniment with big drums.  The American dream is vanishing; equal opportunity through free education is fading.  All of this was stated back in 1955, in Flesch’s famous book, Why Johnny Can’t Read.  Writing ostensibly on competing theories about reading, Flesch exposes competing theories of who shall control the country.  Flesch is talking about power.  With sight-words, people don’t have any.

You do not need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.  If hostile forces want to subvert the country, the simplest technique is to subvert reading.  Australia-Austria become part of the same blur.  Words and language, reading and comprehension – these touch every aspect of every life every day.  Poison reading, and you poison everything else.  (And the victims are made to pay for it all, in ever higher education budgets!)

Rudolf Flesch, who had both a law degree and a Ph.D. in library science, was the sharpest knife in the drawer.  He saw this attempted coup directed against reading.  He saw that the use of sight-words (also known as the whole word method) was nothing less than an attempt to destroy reading as traditionally understood and replace it with a crippled sort of faux reading.  He saw the grand significance of this coup: “I say, therefore, that the word method is gradually destroying democracy in this country; it returns to the upper[] middle[] class the privileges that public education was supposed to distribute evenly among the people.”  Everyone who has a good patriotic heart should feel sick reading that. 

The Founding Fathers saw public education as the means for fulfilling the country’s big dreams.  Public education was supposed to give everyone an even shot.  Without fair, efficient education, however, the benefits could not be distributed.  Those in the upper middle class could hold on to their privileges and expand them.  People cynically calling themselves liberals and Democrats would assist this illiberal, anti-democratic operation.

Flesch’s chronology starts in the middle 1930s, a few years after sight-words were made the dominant instructional method.  He notes sarcastically that the educators “trot out all sorts of data and statistics to show that American children read, write, spell much better than they used to.”  In fact, there were many illiteracy problems, including dyslexia.

The Education Establishment knew that sight-words are not an actual way to read or to teach reading.  What, then?  Sight-words were more like a psy-ops directed at the enemy’s weakest point.  This salient, wide and powerful, exists to this day.  The majority of children in the United States learn to read with sight-words.  Nothing has changed since the 1930s.  This is a remarkable victory for the dark side.

As a practical matter, the victims of sight-words are given a severely limited vocabulary.  You might think of it as a worker’s or slave’s vocabulary.  Instead of the 100,000 or 200,000 words that most educated people speak and read without much effort, you have people who are painfully confined to a reading vocabulary of only 500 or 1,000 sight-words.  These people are called functional illiterates, and they are not a tiny minority.  This is 50 million people.  Illiteracy and sight-words go together like love and marriage.

Flesch is such a keen observer and thinker that he seems to be a prophet.  In fact, anyone could see who wanted to.  The Education Establishment was committed to dumbing down the country.  Its operatives went with the method that would do that.  Anyone seriously interested in turning the situation around has to go back to the beginning, circa 1935, when things started to fall apart.  Eliminate the big change at that time: the introduction of sight-words.  Return to the traditional teaching of reading by phonics.  Presto.  We are reborn.

Why Johnny Can’t Read can be purchased on Amazon for under $10.  Every educated person should read Chapter 1, about 22 pages.  Indeed, you understand our educational problems only when you have read this.  Flesch wrote a second book in 1981 called Why Johnny Still Can’t Read.  If you have time to read an entire book, this is the best choice.  It’s built around the ten alibis, and they haven’t changed in forty years.  The main one is “We do teach phonics.”

As that claim shows, K-12 is a swamp of sophistry and insincerity.  There’s not much you can trust.  Flesch and phonics – trust them.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12.  He deconstructs educational theories and methods at Improve-Education.org

Rudolf Flesch, in his 1955 book, noted that “things have changed in the last 10, 20 years.  For the first time in history, American parents see their children getting less education than they got themselves.  Their sons and daughters come home from school and they can’t read the newspaper; they can’t spell simple words like February or Wednesday; they don’t know the difference between Austria and Australia.  The fathers and mothers don’t know the reason for this, but they know that something terrible has happened to their most precious dreams and aspirations[.]”

Isn’t it beautiful – the way Flesch perceives the decline of American civilization from two tiny examples?  Austria and Australia look alike.  What’s the big deal about telling them apart?  Such casual imprecision is how students think today and is the essence of our problem.  Flesch remains The Man in American education.  Early on, he grasped the garish symptoms of the country’s intellectual death spiral.  A school system that doesn’t teach children the difference between days of the week and months of the year?  Well, there’s little hope for it.

Even as the Education Establishment insisted that American children read, write, and spell better than ever, Flesch proved the absurdity of this claim.  He saw the country’s academic decline; he saw the intellectual fabric of the country start to unravel.  “The American dream is, essentially, equal opportunity through free education for all.  This dream is beginning to vanish in a country where the public schools are falling down on the job[.]”

Please read that three times.  There should be symphonic accompaniment with big drums.  The American dream is vanishing; equal opportunity through free education is fading.  All of this was stated back in 1955, in Flesch’s famous book, Why Johnny Can’t Read.  Writing ostensibly on competing theories about reading, Flesch exposes competing theories of who shall control the country.  Flesch is talking about power.  With sight-words, people don’t have any.

You do not need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.  If hostile forces want to subvert the country, the simplest technique is to subvert reading.  Australia-Austria become part of the same blur.  Words and language, reading and comprehension – these touch every aspect of every life every day.  Poison reading, and you poison everything else.  (And the victims are made to pay for it all, in ever higher education budgets!)

Rudolf Flesch, who had both a law degree and a Ph.D. in library science, was the sharpest knife in the drawer.  He saw this attempted coup directed against reading.  He saw that the use of sight-words (also known as the whole word method) was nothing less than an attempt to destroy reading as traditionally understood and replace it with a crippled sort of faux reading.  He saw the grand significance of this coup: “I say, therefore, that the word method is gradually destroying democracy in this country; it returns to the upper[] middle[] class the privileges that public education was supposed to distribute evenly among the people.”  Everyone who has a good patriotic heart should feel sick reading that. 

The Founding Fathers saw public education as the means for fulfilling the country’s big dreams.  Public education was supposed to give everyone an even shot.  Without fair, efficient education, however, the benefits could not be distributed.  Those in the upper middle class could hold on to their privileges and expand them.  People cynically calling themselves liberals and Democrats would assist this illiberal, anti-democratic operation.

Flesch’s chronology starts in the middle 1930s, a few years after sight-words were made the dominant instructional method.  He notes sarcastically that the educators “trot out all sorts of data and statistics to show that American children read, write, spell much better than they used to.”  In fact, there were many illiteracy problems, including dyslexia.

The Education Establishment knew that sight-words are not an actual way to read or to teach reading.  What, then?  Sight-words were more like a psy-ops directed at the enemy’s weakest point.  This salient, wide and powerful, exists to this day.  The majority of children in the United States learn to read with sight-words.  Nothing has changed since the 1930s.  This is a remarkable victory for the dark side.

As a practical matter, the victims of sight-words are given a severely limited vocabulary.  You might think of it as a worker’s or slave’s vocabulary.  Instead of the 100,000 or 200,000 words that most educated people speak and read without much effort, you have people who are painfully confined to a reading vocabulary of only 500 or 1,000 sight-words.  These people are called functional illiterates, and they are not a tiny minority.  This is 50 million people.  Illiteracy and sight-words go together like love and marriage.

Flesch is such a keen observer and thinker that he seems to be a prophet.  In fact, anyone could see who wanted to.  The Education Establishment was committed to dumbing down the country.  Its operatives went with the method that would do that.  Anyone seriously interested in turning the situation around has to go back to the beginning, circa 1935, when things started to fall apart.  Eliminate the big change at that time: the introduction of sight-words.  Return to the traditional teaching of reading by phonics.  Presto.  We are reborn.

Why Johnny Can’t Read can be purchased on Amazon for under $10.  Every educated person should read Chapter 1, about 22 pages.  Indeed, you understand our educational problems only when you have read this.  Flesch wrote a second book in 1981 called Why Johnny Still Can’t Read.  If you have time to read an entire book, this is the best choice.  It’s built around the ten alibis, and they haven’t changed in forty years.  The main one is “We do teach phonics.”

As that claim shows, K-12 is a swamp of sophistry and insincerity.  There’s not much you can trust.  Flesch and phonics – trust them.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12.  He deconstructs educational theories and methods at Improve-Education.org



Source link

K-12: Does Anyone Care That Kids Cry?


In the late winter of 1964, Kitty Genovese was murdered in a residential part of Queens, New York.  Newspapers claimed that 38 witnesses saw or heard the attack but wouldn’t help.  Had people become so indifferent, so cold?  This was the big question debated across the country and around the world.  Experts endlessly discussed the “bystander effect” and the “Genovese syndrome.”

Later research suggested that a much smaller number were witnesses.  It was the middle of the night, there was much confusion, and many people did hear shouts but couldn’t confirm what was happening.  Maybe it was a domestic dispute.

Still, the events were undeniably horrific.  The killer stalked Kitty, stabbed her in the back, and left her to die because someone yelled at him.  The victim shouted, “Oh, my God – he stabbed me!  Help me!”  The attacker returned ten minutes later, systematically searched the places where she might hide, found her, stabbed her some more, raped her, and stole $49.  She died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Three years ago, a second-grader couldn’t do her math homework.  The mother couldn’t help her; it was Common Core homework, which baffles most adults.  The girl struggled and struggled.  Her mother, a professional photographer preparing her camera for the next day’s work, took the picture seen around the country.


Photo credit: Kelly Poynter.

Here is the mother’s account:

After checking her work, I had found two math problems were incorrect. I tried to help her understand where she went wrong  through her process but I don’t understand it myself. I was not much help.


I told her to forget about it and we’d try again tomorrow but she became very upset that she could not get the answer and kept trying and trying to fix it. She is hard on herself as she very much wants to excel in school and not be pulled for extra help all the time. I was talking to her and clicking my camera as I changed settings… It’s something that is very common in our household… And that is when I caught this image.


My daughter is incredibly strong. My daughter is a four-year cancer survivor. She is a fighter with a resilient spirit. It crushes me to see her cry; to see her struggle.

Certainly a trivial incident compared to the murder of Kitty Genovese.  On the other hand, instead of 38 witnesses, there were probably a million, as the photograph went viral for months.  All who saw the photographs felt their hearts twisted – all, apparently, except the people who control our educational system.  They would seem to be like the passive witnesses of Kitty’s ordeal.  All that those 1964 witnesses had to do, to save Kitty Genovese, was to become more involved, to make a little more noise.  Same with all the people who witnessed the second-grader’s tragic expression.  Her suffering is clearly genuine.  There have been many similar Common Core stories so people knew it could happen.  But here was the ultimate example.  No kid can fake that pathos.  Why do we tolerate this?  Why don’t we call for help?

And so we have to confront the “bystander effect” in modern education.  How do we explain the “Common Core syndrome”?  All those bureaucrats in the Department of Education, all those professors at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, all those people in our media and foundations – they seem to have hearts made of stone.  Likewise all the politicians who saw this evidence, all the community leaders, all the pundits on CNN.  The decline and fall of our public schools is happening before our eyes.  When you look at this little girl’s expression, you are witnessing that decline.  Why don’t people demand that the Education Establishment stop encouraging this abuse?

According to the Independent Journal Review, “When asked to address these concerns, National Education Association secretary Arne Duncan dismissed the objections as coming from ‘white suburban moms.’ What does race have to do with education? We would hope nothing. Jeb Bush, who was also an advocate of Common Core, characterized opposition to the specific set of vocational standards as ‘purely political.'”

Clearly, these people are as tone-deaf as they are incompetent.  On the good side, Duncan didn’t last much longer.  Jeb’s campaign for president was doomed from the start.

But guess who didn’t flinch.  That would be the professors of education who devise this malarkey.  The order apparently went out: Don’t let up.  Keep the pressure on these yokels we have to deal with. We know from plenty of experience that nobody will complain.

There’s an education war going on.  It’s directed at the parents, keeping them off balance and powerless.  It’s directed at the children, keeping them academically enfeebled.

Do they have to be rendered innumerate and illiterate on the streets near your house?  Two thirds of fourth-graders and eighth-graders are below proficient in math.  We know that the country has more than 40 million functional illiterates.  Isn’t that enough?  It’s happening all around you, every day.  It will go on happening until Americans make a lot more noise.

Common Core’s central gimmick is to make children struggle with complex problems before they are ready.  Force them to run before they can crawl – that’s the ticket.  Some smart kids will survive.  The not so smart kids will not learn arithmetic.  They will learn to hate it. 

That’s worth screaming about.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12 – What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?  He deconstructs educational theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.

In the late winter of 1964, Kitty Genovese was murdered in a residential part of Queens, New York.  Newspapers claimed that 38 witnesses saw or heard the attack but wouldn’t help.  Had people become so indifferent, so cold?  This was the big question debated across the country and around the world.  Experts endlessly discussed the “bystander effect” and the “Genovese syndrome.”

Later research suggested that a much smaller number were witnesses.  It was the middle of the night, there was much confusion, and many people did hear shouts but couldn’t confirm what was happening.  Maybe it was a domestic dispute.

Still, the events were undeniably horrific.  The killer stalked Kitty, stabbed her in the back, and left her to die because someone yelled at him.  The victim shouted, “Oh, my God – he stabbed me!  Help me!”  The attacker returned ten minutes later, systematically searched the places where she might hide, found her, stabbed her some more, raped her, and stole $49.  She died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Three years ago, a second-grader couldn’t do her math homework.  The mother couldn’t help her; it was Common Core homework, which baffles most adults.  The girl struggled and struggled.  Her mother, a professional photographer preparing her camera for the next day’s work, took the picture seen around the country.


Photo credit: Kelly Poynter.

Here is the mother’s account:

After checking her work, I had found two math problems were incorrect. I tried to help her understand where she went wrong  through her process but I don’t understand it myself. I was not much help.


I told her to forget about it and we’d try again tomorrow but she became very upset that she could not get the answer and kept trying and trying to fix it. She is hard on herself as she very much wants to excel in school and not be pulled for extra help all the time. I was talking to her and clicking my camera as I changed settings… It’s something that is very common in our household… And that is when I caught this image.


My daughter is incredibly strong. My daughter is a four-year cancer survivor. She is a fighter with a resilient spirit. It crushes me to see her cry; to see her struggle.

Certainly a trivial incident compared to the murder of Kitty Genovese.  On the other hand, instead of 38 witnesses, there were probably a million, as the photograph went viral for months.  All who saw the photographs felt their hearts twisted – all, apparently, except the people who control our educational system.  They would seem to be like the passive witnesses of Kitty’s ordeal.  All that those 1964 witnesses had to do, to save Kitty Genovese, was to become more involved, to make a little more noise.  Same with all the people who witnessed the second-grader’s tragic expression.  Her suffering is clearly genuine.  There have been many similar Common Core stories so people knew it could happen.  But here was the ultimate example.  No kid can fake that pathos.  Why do we tolerate this?  Why don’t we call for help?

And so we have to confront the “bystander effect” in modern education.  How do we explain the “Common Core syndrome”?  All those bureaucrats in the Department of Education, all those professors at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, all those people in our media and foundations – they seem to have hearts made of stone.  Likewise all the politicians who saw this evidence, all the community leaders, all the pundits on CNN.  The decline and fall of our public schools is happening before our eyes.  When you look at this little girl’s expression, you are witnessing that decline.  Why don’t people demand that the Education Establishment stop encouraging this abuse?

According to the Independent Journal Review, “When asked to address these concerns, National Education Association secretary Arne Duncan dismissed the objections as coming from ‘white suburban moms.’ What does race have to do with education? We would hope nothing. Jeb Bush, who was also an advocate of Common Core, characterized opposition to the specific set of vocational standards as ‘purely political.'”

Clearly, these people are as tone-deaf as they are incompetent.  On the good side, Duncan didn’t last much longer.  Jeb’s campaign for president was doomed from the start.

But guess who didn’t flinch.  That would be the professors of education who devise this malarkey.  The order apparently went out: Don’t let up.  Keep the pressure on these yokels we have to deal with. We know from plenty of experience that nobody will complain.

There’s an education war going on.  It’s directed at the parents, keeping them off balance and powerless.  It’s directed at the children, keeping them academically enfeebled.

Do they have to be rendered innumerate and illiterate on the streets near your house?  Two thirds of fourth-graders and eighth-graders are below proficient in math.  We know that the country has more than 40 million functional illiterates.  Isn’t that enough?  It’s happening all around you, every day.  It will go on happening until Americans make a lot more noise.

Common Core’s central gimmick is to make children struggle with complex problems before they are ready.  Force them to run before they can crawl – that’s the ticket.  Some smart kids will survive.  The not so smart kids will not learn arithmetic.  They will learn to hate it. 

That’s worth screaming about.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12 – What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?  He deconstructs educational theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.



Source link

K-12: Character Assassins


Once upon a time, schools tried to improve the character of their students.  Be neat.  Be punctual.  Be accurate.  Do your homework.  Don’t copy anyone else’s work.  Dot your is and cross your ts.  Remember, practice makes perfect.

In a similar way, the Boy Scouts urged boys to be little gentlemen.  Scout Law dictates: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

For much of American history, few questioned these values.  Benjamin Franklin declared the prevailing view: “nothing is of more importance for the public weal, than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue.”

Alas, all that is gone with the wind from the classrooms of America.  Evidently, Progressives figured out that the converse of Franklin’s insight is also true: nothing is more destructive to the public weal than to deform and train down youth in ignorance and immorality. 

Progressives hit the country with a double-whammy: sabotage of both academics and character.

If you haven’t paid attention to K-12 for a few decades, the first thing you notice is that education officials relentlessly and openly undermine academics.  No direct instruction.  No memorization of facts.  No systematic mastery of any subject.  No concern for grammar  spelling, etc.  It’s surprising if students know where Alaska is on a map or who won the Civil War.

Have you gotten used to all that?  You’ll probably still be surprised when you realize that a lot of what goes on in public schools is targeted not at academics, but at the moral development of students.  If they are slouches – shallow, ignorant, and narcissistic – that seems to be what our social engineers want.

These days, our schools are engaged in an anti-gentleman crusade.  Don’t try too hard.  Don’t worry if the dog ate your homework.  It’s  normal to cut corners and leave work unfinished.  Lateness is okay.  Incomplete is as good as complete.  Wrong answers are acceptable if you explain your tactics.  Cheating is okay because everyone does it. 

Here is a scary snapshot from a teacher commenting on this country’s best students (AP Chemistry).

Today … my students are chronically tardy and absent, often refuse to do even the most trivial work, and experience a diluted and simplified version of what I once taught. If I write something on the board, when I turn around a dozen phones have materialized and are actively being typed on. When I try to do fun things like labs and projects, the students complain and mope as if I was walking them to prison. They lament (out loud) how awful it is that they just can’t look up the answers like all the other classes.

Students refuse.  Isn’t that word a terrifying revelation?

Let’s face it: a lot of life is doing things you wish you could avoid.  You don’t want to take extra care with a project, but you do it anyway.  In the process, you get stronger and more disciplined.  This will help you in the future, no matter what job you have.  But the schools are saying, Skip all that; let’s smoke a joint and chill.  They are saying, Become the useless slug no one would want to hire.  Be the weak link in every chain.

Whenever the official experts bother to touch on these concerns, they are the devil’s advocate.  An article on Edutopia blandly asserts what is surely controversial (boldface in original):

Myth #2: Homework Boosts Achievement. There is no evidence that this is true. In Finland, students have higher achievement with little or no homework and shorter school hours. The more important factor is what students experience during the school day. Project-based learning, as one example, places the emphasis on what is done during the day. If students choose to do more after hours, that’s their choice. There also may sometimes be other good reasons to assign homework, but there should be no illusion that homework will help increase student achievement.

You see, there is always some deep reason, some brilliant expert, to give schools an excuse for aiming low.  Why bother with homework?  Edutopia says it doesn’t matter.  Nowadays, almost nothing matters.

I knew a woman five years out of Vassar who still had incomplete papers hanging over her.  Finally Vassar said, you have to do these papers, or you lose all the credits you acquired.  The point is, they corrupted her in the first place.  They let her get away with being lazy, undisciplined, and dissolute.

The part that is not clear to me is, what happens to the cheaters later on?  And how do the lazy, corner-cutting students compete with students who have learned to work hard?  Cheaters know that their grades are meaningless.  They don’t have the knowledge or abilities their schools claimed  for them.  They will have to spend their lives covering up.  Some of our ditzy administrators probably insist they are trying to help students by cushioning them from the shocks of real life.  But that’s not a help; it’s a curse.

According to one pundit, “[s]tudents claim they are so stressed from school that they demand no grades be given for their poor attendance or non-performance; sadly, half the schools in the country have obliged.”

Schools have gotten increasingly permissive.  There is clearly some diabolical intent.  It’s almost as if the social engineers had a meeting and said, Okay, how do we fix it so kids never turn out right?

Can we reverse this trend?  Yes, by going back to what we had 50 years ago and before.  Tell students they can’t cheat, make it difficult for them to cheat, and punish them when they do.  Start in the first grade teaching things simply and systematically, all the while making it clear that the students are expected to learn the material.  Our current schools do it the opposite way: make everything chaotic, but then – wink, wink – make clear that nothing much will be expected.

Put simply, the current education decline was caused by discarding traditional approaches and then letting progressive ideas overrun the landscape.  Let’s do the opposite. 

Get rid of progressive ideas, and restore traditional education.  All that means in practice is that public schools do what private schools do every day.  Sounds good to me.

Bruce Deitrick Price deconstructs theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.  His new book is Saving K-12 – What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?

Once upon a time, schools tried to improve the character of their students.  Be neat.  Be punctual.  Be accurate.  Do your homework.  Don’t copy anyone else’s work.  Dot your is and cross your ts.  Remember, practice makes perfect.

In a similar way, the Boy Scouts urged boys to be little gentlemen.  Scout Law dictates: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

For much of American history, few questioned these values.  Benjamin Franklin declared the prevailing view: “nothing is of more importance for the public weal, than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue.”

Alas, all that is gone with the wind from the classrooms of America.  Evidently, Progressives figured out that the converse of Franklin’s insight is also true: nothing is more destructive to the public weal than to deform and train down youth in ignorance and immorality. 

Progressives hit the country with a double-whammy: sabotage of both academics and character.

If you haven’t paid attention to K-12 for a few decades, the first thing you notice is that education officials relentlessly and openly undermine academics.  No direct instruction.  No memorization of facts.  No systematic mastery of any subject.  No concern for grammar  spelling, etc.  It’s surprising if students know where Alaska is on a map or who won the Civil War.

Have you gotten used to all that?  You’ll probably still be surprised when you realize that a lot of what goes on in public schools is targeted not at academics, but at the moral development of students.  If they are slouches – shallow, ignorant, and narcissistic – that seems to be what our social engineers want.

These days, our schools are engaged in an anti-gentleman crusade.  Don’t try too hard.  Don’t worry if the dog ate your homework.  It’s  normal to cut corners and leave work unfinished.  Lateness is okay.  Incomplete is as good as complete.  Wrong answers are acceptable if you explain your tactics.  Cheating is okay because everyone does it. 

Here is a scary snapshot from a teacher commenting on this country’s best students (AP Chemistry).

Today … my students are chronically tardy and absent, often refuse to do even the most trivial work, and experience a diluted and simplified version of what I once taught. If I write something on the board, when I turn around a dozen phones have materialized and are actively being typed on. When I try to do fun things like labs and projects, the students complain and mope as if I was walking them to prison. They lament (out loud) how awful it is that they just can’t look up the answers like all the other classes.

Students refuse.  Isn’t that word a terrifying revelation?

Let’s face it: a lot of life is doing things you wish you could avoid.  You don’t want to take extra care with a project, but you do it anyway.  In the process, you get stronger and more disciplined.  This will help you in the future, no matter what job you have.  But the schools are saying, Skip all that; let’s smoke a joint and chill.  They are saying, Become the useless slug no one would want to hire.  Be the weak link in every chain.

Whenever the official experts bother to touch on these concerns, they are the devil’s advocate.  An article on Edutopia blandly asserts what is surely controversial (boldface in original):

Myth #2: Homework Boosts Achievement. There is no evidence that this is true. In Finland, students have higher achievement with little or no homework and shorter school hours. The more important factor is what students experience during the school day. Project-based learning, as one example, places the emphasis on what is done during the day. If students choose to do more after hours, that’s their choice. There also may sometimes be other good reasons to assign homework, but there should be no illusion that homework will help increase student achievement.

You see, there is always some deep reason, some brilliant expert, to give schools an excuse for aiming low.  Why bother with homework?  Edutopia says it doesn’t matter.  Nowadays, almost nothing matters.

I knew a woman five years out of Vassar who still had incomplete papers hanging over her.  Finally Vassar said, you have to do these papers, or you lose all the credits you acquired.  The point is, they corrupted her in the first place.  They let her get away with being lazy, undisciplined, and dissolute.

The part that is not clear to me is, what happens to the cheaters later on?  And how do the lazy, corner-cutting students compete with students who have learned to work hard?  Cheaters know that their grades are meaningless.  They don’t have the knowledge or abilities their schools claimed  for them.  They will have to spend their lives covering up.  Some of our ditzy administrators probably insist they are trying to help students by cushioning them from the shocks of real life.  But that’s not a help; it’s a curse.

According to one pundit, “[s]tudents claim they are so stressed from school that they demand no grades be given for their poor attendance or non-performance; sadly, half the schools in the country have obliged.”

Schools have gotten increasingly permissive.  There is clearly some diabolical intent.  It’s almost as if the social engineers had a meeting and said, Okay, how do we fix it so kids never turn out right?

Can we reverse this trend?  Yes, by going back to what we had 50 years ago and before.  Tell students they can’t cheat, make it difficult for them to cheat, and punish them when they do.  Start in the first grade teaching things simply and systematically, all the while making it clear that the students are expected to learn the material.  Our current schools do it the opposite way: make everything chaotic, but then – wink, wink – make clear that nothing much will be expected.

Put simply, the current education decline was caused by discarding traditional approaches and then letting progressive ideas overrun the landscape.  Let’s do the opposite. 

Get rid of progressive ideas, and restore traditional education.  All that means in practice is that public schools do what private schools do every day.  Sounds good to me.

Bruce Deitrick Price deconstructs theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.  His new book is Saving K-12 – What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?



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K-16: Land of Lies



No one can write, from college all the way to the very beginning.  It's not an accident.



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K-12: Why Millennials Are Going Bald


Early in 2017, ABC breathlessly reported, “Hair loss and balding are something we associate with aging, not a younger population, yet more and more millennials say they’re experiencing hair loss.”

Theories include diet and health problems.  But Moneyish.com didn’t hesitate to conclude: “Millennials are going bald from too much stress.”

We live in a rich, safe, successful country.  Why is there so much stress?  Why do so many young people feel they are under siege and about to be overrun?

Perhaps we should look at what public schools, in tandem with higher education and the media, tend to emphasize – namely, pessimism and vulnerability.  Our educational institutions seem to be fiendishly efficient stress factories, able at all levels to produce fearful people who will be crippled by any amount of pressure.

First of all, what is accomplished in public schools?  Anything to be proud of?  There’s a lot of busywork and lightweight academic activity.  I suspect that few kids are deeply engaged and even fewer are bragging about how much they learned the past year.  That leaves kids uninvolved and drifting – a perfect recipe for anxiety and stress.

Second, nothing noble and brave is mentioned if our Education Establishment can manage it.  Has any Millennial ever heard that John Paul Jones said, “I’ve not yet begun to fight.”  This is a message that everyone needs throughout their lives.  Have younger people heard that Nathan Hale said, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”  That is brave stuff, and prompts us all to a higher standard.

A Roman soldier named Horatius, twenty-five centuries ago, stood on a bridge to fight an advancing army.  This story (Horatius at the Bridge) became central to Rome’s identity.  Every Roman kid wanted to be Horatius.  Who do our kids want to be?  Katy Perry?

In one poet’s telling, Horatius declares:

To every man upon this earth

Death cometh soon or late.

And how can man die better

Than facing fearful odds,

For the ashes of his fathers,

And the temples of his gods…

That was once a commonplace sentiment.  Don’t you tend to guess that few today ever hear it expressed?

Third, American schools relentlessly dispense a hopeless view of life.  Some years ago, you could say it was relentlessly P.C.  Now it’s more heavy-handed, and you have to say it’s Deeply Dystopian.  The climate will blow up; all animals will die; oceans will be empty of fish.  This is what people hear throughout K-12 and later in the media.  Ten or twenty years of this melancholy message almost guarantees a morose personality and less than perfect health.  You would expect hair to fall out!

Our students learn again and again about the worst possibilities.  Death is coming.  Get ready.  Kids are not encouraged to be brave.

For decades, there was a weird campaign against exercise and recess, just as now there’s an effort to make people super-conscious of the dangers of football, soccer, and other sports.  So, little snowflakes, you should just sit there shaking.  Don’t – this is the clear advice – take risks or be adventurous.  Stay home with the television set; it probably won’t hurt you.

Try to find something inspiring in our educational and cultural stew.  It won’t be easy.  The tendency is to subvert the whole concept of nobility.  One site, wanting to mention something heroic discussed an eight-year-old girl who died at the Alamo.  Did the girl choose to be there?  What did she do that was brave?

A lady astronomer discovered a comet.  Later it was named after her.  Fine and appropriate.  But what’s heroic about that?

There is actually a site called Roots of Action, the Role of Heroes for Children.  Doesn’t that sound promising?  But it starts off this way: “Beautiful Snow White is protected from the wicked queen by the seven dwarfs. Her life is threatened when the queen, disguised as a peddler, finds Snow White and poisons her with an apple. Rescued by the Prince, she is transformed by true love.”

Snow White herself must be embarrassed by this sappy presentation.  Okay, she’s a target, but she has a lot of protectors.  What is so heroic?

Here’s an example of heroic.  During World War II, many VIPs (Ted Williams and Clark Gable, for example) left civilian life to be part of the war effort.  The supremely talented Glenn Miller died flying over the English Channel.

Athletes get paid millions of dollars to play children’s games.  But they, along with people in the military, provide examples of discipline, self-sacrifice, working together for a difficult goal.  We should be grateful.  Where else in our society are Spartan values praised?

The trouble is that education officials push the same message relentlessly: be cooperative, not individualistic; be pacifistic, not hardy; be indolent, not industrious.  Sometimes we need to be told, try to be braver.  Being knocked down doesn’t mean you can’t get up and keep fighting.  You have to.

Schools tend to encourage, or at least indulge, laziness, imprecision, lack of perseverance, and any special effort.  It wasn’t enough for our schools to sandbag academics; they also had to assault character.  Being late is okay, as is not finding the right answer, not finishing your homework, not knowing the multiplication tables, dates, or names.  This is not trivial stuff.  If nobody has to work hard, nobody will be prepared for the rigors of life.  They are prepared to be on welfare.

One should guess that this approach is all worked out by Pavlov-inspired psychiatrists in our ed schools.  The Russians were always interested in how you subdue an enemy without a fight.  What’s better than telling them bad news every day and waiting for them to collapse?  Be anxious, my children.  The end will come soon enough. 

In the meantime, expect bad dreams and baldness.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains educational theories on Improve-Education.org.  See Lit4u.com for news about his novels and “Saving K-12” (due in November).

Early in 2017, ABC breathlessly reported, “Hair loss and balding are something we associate with aging, not a younger population, yet more and more millennials say they’re experiencing hair loss.”

Theories include diet and health problems.  But Moneyish.com didn’t hesitate to conclude: “Millennials are going bald from too much stress.”

We live in a rich, safe, successful country.  Why is there so much stress?  Why do so many young people feel they are under siege and about to be overrun?

Perhaps we should look at what public schools, in tandem with higher education and the media, tend to emphasize – namely, pessimism and vulnerability.  Our educational institutions seem to be fiendishly efficient stress factories, able at all levels to produce fearful people who will be crippled by any amount of pressure.

First of all, what is accomplished in public schools?  Anything to be proud of?  There’s a lot of busywork and lightweight academic activity.  I suspect that few kids are deeply engaged and even fewer are bragging about how much they learned the past year.  That leaves kids uninvolved and drifting – a perfect recipe for anxiety and stress.

Second, nothing noble and brave is mentioned if our Education Establishment can manage it.  Has any Millennial ever heard that John Paul Jones said, “I’ve not yet begun to fight.”  This is a message that everyone needs throughout their lives.  Have younger people heard that Nathan Hale said, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”  That is brave stuff, and prompts us all to a higher standard.

A Roman soldier named Horatius, twenty-five centuries ago, stood on a bridge to fight an advancing army.  This story (Horatius at the Bridge) became central to Rome’s identity.  Every Roman kid wanted to be Horatius.  Who do our kids want to be?  Katy Perry?

In one poet’s telling, Horatius declares:

To every man upon this earth

Death cometh soon or late.

And how can man die better

Than facing fearful odds,

For the ashes of his fathers,

And the temples of his gods…

That was once a commonplace sentiment.  Don’t you tend to guess that few today ever hear it expressed?

Third, American schools relentlessly dispense a hopeless view of life.  Some years ago, you could say it was relentlessly P.C.  Now it’s more heavy-handed, and you have to say it’s Deeply Dystopian.  The climate will blow up; all animals will die; oceans will be empty of fish.  This is what people hear throughout K-12 and later in the media.  Ten or twenty years of this melancholy message almost guarantees a morose personality and less than perfect health.  You would expect hair to fall out!

Our students learn again and again about the worst possibilities.  Death is coming.  Get ready.  Kids are not encouraged to be brave.

For decades, there was a weird campaign against exercise and recess, just as now there’s an effort to make people super-conscious of the dangers of football, soccer, and other sports.  So, little snowflakes, you should just sit there shaking.  Don’t – this is the clear advice – take risks or be adventurous.  Stay home with the television set; it probably won’t hurt you.

Try to find something inspiring in our educational and cultural stew.  It won’t be easy.  The tendency is to subvert the whole concept of nobility.  One site, wanting to mention something heroic discussed an eight-year-old girl who died at the Alamo.  Did the girl choose to be there?  What did she do that was brave?

A lady astronomer discovered a comet.  Later it was named after her.  Fine and appropriate.  But what’s heroic about that?

There is actually a site called Roots of Action, the Role of Heroes for Children.  Doesn’t that sound promising?  But it starts off this way: “Beautiful Snow White is protected from the wicked queen by the seven dwarfs. Her life is threatened when the queen, disguised as a peddler, finds Snow White and poisons her with an apple. Rescued by the Prince, she is transformed by true love.”

Snow White herself must be embarrassed by this sappy presentation.  Okay, she’s a target, but she has a lot of protectors.  What is so heroic?

Here’s an example of heroic.  During World War II, many VIPs (Ted Williams and Clark Gable, for example) left civilian life to be part of the war effort.  The supremely talented Glenn Miller died flying over the English Channel.

Athletes get paid millions of dollars to play children’s games.  But they, along with people in the military, provide examples of discipline, self-sacrifice, working together for a difficult goal.  We should be grateful.  Where else in our society are Spartan values praised?

The trouble is that education officials push the same message relentlessly: be cooperative, not individualistic; be pacifistic, not hardy; be indolent, not industrious.  Sometimes we need to be told, try to be braver.  Being knocked down doesn’t mean you can’t get up and keep fighting.  You have to.

Schools tend to encourage, or at least indulge, laziness, imprecision, lack of perseverance, and any special effort.  It wasn’t enough for our schools to sandbag academics; they also had to assault character.  Being late is okay, as is not finding the right answer, not finishing your homework, not knowing the multiplication tables, dates, or names.  This is not trivial stuff.  If nobody has to work hard, nobody will be prepared for the rigors of life.  They are prepared to be on welfare.

One should guess that this approach is all worked out by Pavlov-inspired psychiatrists in our ed schools.  The Russians were always interested in how you subdue an enemy without a fight.  What’s better than telling them bad news every day and waiting for them to collapse?  Be anxious, my children.  The end will come soon enough. 

In the meantime, expect bad dreams and baldness.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains educational theories on Improve-Education.org.  See Lit4u.com for news about his novels and “Saving K-12” (due in November).



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K-12: Knowledge Containment Protocols


This might sound comical or far-fetched.  But I assure you that the Progressives in charge of our schools are methodical about using any pretext to minimize contamination by knowledge.  Everyone should wonder why.

In the beginning of the Progressive era, the attack on knowledge was straightforward.  The basic claim was, who needs it?  John Dewey sneeringly dismissed academic progress as “mere learning.”

Two famous professors, in their 1929 textbook, unapologetically stated that most school material is a waste of time: “Subjects such as arithmetic, language, and history include content that is intrinsically of little value.”  That clearly reveals an ideology. 

But communities sometimes fight back, so the Education Establishment had to be ever creative, ever conniving.

During the last 40 or 50 years, the attack on knowledge became more ingenious.  In one example, teachers were told not to teach; students must create their own new knowledge.  This remarkably successful gimmick, called Constructivism, crushed the amount of knowledge mentioned in the nation’s classrooms each day.

But telling teachers not to teach was apparently too blatant.  Maybe the Education Establishment worried that the public would one day wake up to how silly Constructivism is.  Stop teaching in a school?  Who would accept that?

Just in case, the Education Establishment devised a slew of new gimmicks.  One of the stranger ones is called Prior Knowledge.  The premise is that you can learn something, and it can stand there like a roadblock and stop all further progress.  Why should this happen?  Humans, all the time, find new knowledge that corrects old knowledge, and life goes on just fine.  Apparently, the Education Establishment hoped that if every professor contended that this sophistry made sense, the public would say: Oh, yeah, that Prior Knowledge can mess you up.  Better not take any chances.  Don’t learn anything ever again.

More recently, the Education Establishment has appropriated Google to create another absurd sophistry.  All information is on Google, so you don’t need to bother knowing anything.  A hundred years ago, everything was in encyclopedias. Nobody thought to say students don’t need to know anything in them.  Now they say that.

The main point here is to take cognizance of how diligently the Education Establishment works.  All this effort has to tell you something.  They are not going to take a chance that an American kid learns anything.

A new tactic is to talk about memorization as if it were an illness or malfunction.  The Atlantic actually had an article called “When Memorization Gets in the Way of Learning: A teacher’s quest to discourage his students from mindlessly reciting information.”  Savor that.

So this is the mega-problem in education?  Some kids can actually recite information.  Really?  Try to find a kid like that.  Seriously, anecdotal evidence suggests that ordinary Americans have very little information in their memories.

The author nonetheless complains: “Memorization is a frontage road: It runs parallel to the best parts of learning, never intersecting. It’s a detour around all the action, a way of knowing without learning, of answering without understanding.”  Oh, please.

But the typical teacher, reading this kind of fizz, naturally feels that memorizing is somehow dirty.  Nice people just don’t do it.

That lots of students have ignored all common sense and actually memorized stuff is one of the oddest conceits loose in the world.  Most children don’t know what century the Civil War occurred in; they don’t know what a moon is; they don’t know where the nation’s capital is.  And so on, ad infinitum. 

Here’s more of the same puffed-up piffle, from (no surprise) the National Education Association: “As students work their way through school, they may be memorizing information in each grade level, but are they really learning? … The focus on memorization, fueled by standardized testing, has obstructed learning, according to Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University, who argues that students have been losing or squandering most of the information they acquire in school.”

The pervading noise is against memorizing.  This title speaks of “moving students beyond memorization.”  Savor that.

Alfie Kohn is a reliable spokesperson for Progressive dogmas: “It’s not just that knowing (or having been taught) facts doesn’t in itself make you smart. A mostly fact-oriented education may actually interfere with your becoming smart. … Yet schools continue to treat students as empty glasses into which information can be poured.”

That’s how he explains the vast swamp of ignorance we live in.  Schools should stop trying to fill those glasses.  Then everything would be fine.

EliteDaily presented a piece titled “6 Ways Too Much Education, Knowledge And Information Can Hurt You.”  Again, is this a problem afflicting people you know?

The Education Establishment speaks from the position that many students wasted half their lives learning stuff they didn’t need to learn.  The poor fools.  They were silly enough to think they needed more knowledge.

The modern blitzkrieg against knowledge is conducted with many a cute sophistry, but we know from what the professors wrote in 1929, way before anyone thought of the sophistries, that the goal of Progressive education has always been to strip away as much knowledge as possible.  “It’s intrinsically of little value.”  Pay attention to what these people clearly want: a citizenry that does not know enough to think for itself.  The plan seems to be, keep people dumb; our time will come.  Knowledge is power, and our Education Establishment doesn’t want the peasants to have any.

So there is the essence of the pathology: your knowledge gets in the way of their power.  And they won’t put up with that.

Once you have a Progressive classroom, you inevitably have a dumber classroom.  This is the American experience.

Knowledge is also a problem for collectivists because it creates divisions in the classroom.  Joe knows something that Mary doesn’t.  Mary will feel bad, and we can’t have that.  So we must give Joe a K-12 lobotomy.

Teaching kids to play chess would open up social chasms.  Even checkers would seem entirely too focused on achievement.  Ergo, K-12 must be reduced to a tic-tac-toe curriculum.  That’s what we’ve got.

We need to inject some sanity back into this discussion.  So let’s listen to Professor E.D. Hirsch.  He has often addressed the question: what should first-graders need to know?

This man, a very demon of common sense in education, thinks first-graders should know the names of the seven continents and the four oceans.  I agree, and you probably agree.  So the next step is to ask your local school how it feels on the primal question of what first-graders should know. 

Push for oceans and continents.  If a principal says that’s too demanding for his kids, you know this is a good person to fire.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains educational theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.  For info about his four new books, see his literary site Lit4u.com.

Schools have always been devoted to passing knowledge forward to the next generation.  Not now.

The Education Establishment treats knowledge as if it were a toxic spill that must be kept away from students.  Board up the windows; tape the doors; wrap the buildings in three-mil. plastic. 

This might sound comical or far-fetched.  But I assure you that the Progressives in charge of our schools are methodical about using any pretext to minimize contamination by knowledge.  Everyone should wonder why.

In the beginning of the Progressive era, the attack on knowledge was straightforward.  The basic claim was, who needs it?  John Dewey sneeringly dismissed academic progress as “mere learning.”

Two famous professors, in their 1929 textbook, unapologetically stated that most school material is a waste of time: “Subjects such as arithmetic, language, and history include content that is intrinsically of little value.”  That clearly reveals an ideology. 

But communities sometimes fight back, so the Education Establishment had to be ever creative, ever conniving.

During the last 40 or 50 years, the attack on knowledge became more ingenious.  In one example, teachers were told not to teach; students must create their own new knowledge.  This remarkably successful gimmick, called Constructivism, crushed the amount of knowledge mentioned in the nation’s classrooms each day.

But telling teachers not to teach was apparently too blatant.  Maybe the Education Establishment worried that the public would one day wake up to how silly Constructivism is.  Stop teaching in a school?  Who would accept that?

Just in case, the Education Establishment devised a slew of new gimmicks.  One of the stranger ones is called Prior Knowledge.  The premise is that you can learn something, and it can stand there like a roadblock and stop all further progress.  Why should this happen?  Humans, all the time, find new knowledge that corrects old knowledge, and life goes on just fine.  Apparently, the Education Establishment hoped that if every professor contended that this sophistry made sense, the public would say: Oh, yeah, that Prior Knowledge can mess you up.  Better not take any chances.  Don’t learn anything ever again.

More recently, the Education Establishment has appropriated Google to create another absurd sophistry.  All information is on Google, so you don’t need to bother knowing anything.  A hundred years ago, everything was in encyclopedias. Nobody thought to say students don’t need to know anything in them.  Now they say that.

The main point here is to take cognizance of how diligently the Education Establishment works.  All this effort has to tell you something.  They are not going to take a chance that an American kid learns anything.

A new tactic is to talk about memorization as if it were an illness or malfunction.  The Atlantic actually had an article called “When Memorization Gets in the Way of Learning: A teacher’s quest to discourage his students from mindlessly reciting information.”  Savor that.

So this is the mega-problem in education?  Some kids can actually recite information.  Really?  Try to find a kid like that.  Seriously, anecdotal evidence suggests that ordinary Americans have very little information in their memories.

The author nonetheless complains: “Memorization is a frontage road: It runs parallel to the best parts of learning, never intersecting. It’s a detour around all the action, a way of knowing without learning, of answering without understanding.”  Oh, please.

But the typical teacher, reading this kind of fizz, naturally feels that memorizing is somehow dirty.  Nice people just don’t do it.

That lots of students have ignored all common sense and actually memorized stuff is one of the oddest conceits loose in the world.  Most children don’t know what century the Civil War occurred in; they don’t know what a moon is; they don’t know where the nation’s capital is.  And so on, ad infinitum. 

Here’s more of the same puffed-up piffle, from (no surprise) the National Education Association: “As students work their way through school, they may be memorizing information in each grade level, but are they really learning? … The focus on memorization, fueled by standardized testing, has obstructed learning, according to Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University, who argues that students have been losing or squandering most of the information they acquire in school.”

The pervading noise is against memorizing.  This title speaks of “moving students beyond memorization.”  Savor that.

Alfie Kohn is a reliable spokesperson for Progressive dogmas: “It’s not just that knowing (or having been taught) facts doesn’t in itself make you smart. A mostly fact-oriented education may actually interfere with your becoming smart. … Yet schools continue to treat students as empty glasses into which information can be poured.”

That’s how he explains the vast swamp of ignorance we live in.  Schools should stop trying to fill those glasses.  Then everything would be fine.

EliteDaily presented a piece titled “6 Ways Too Much Education, Knowledge And Information Can Hurt You.”  Again, is this a problem afflicting people you know?

The Education Establishment speaks from the position that many students wasted half their lives learning stuff they didn’t need to learn.  The poor fools.  They were silly enough to think they needed more knowledge.

The modern blitzkrieg against knowledge is conducted with many a cute sophistry, but we know from what the professors wrote in 1929, way before anyone thought of the sophistries, that the goal of Progressive education has always been to strip away as much knowledge as possible.  “It’s intrinsically of little value.”  Pay attention to what these people clearly want: a citizenry that does not know enough to think for itself.  The plan seems to be, keep people dumb; our time will come.  Knowledge is power, and our Education Establishment doesn’t want the peasants to have any.

So there is the essence of the pathology: your knowledge gets in the way of their power.  And they won’t put up with that.

Once you have a Progressive classroom, you inevitably have a dumber classroom.  This is the American experience.

Knowledge is also a problem for collectivists because it creates divisions in the classroom.  Joe knows something that Mary doesn’t.  Mary will feel bad, and we can’t have that.  So we must give Joe a K-12 lobotomy.

Teaching kids to play chess would open up social chasms.  Even checkers would seem entirely too focused on achievement.  Ergo, K-12 must be reduced to a tic-tac-toe curriculum.  That’s what we’ve got.

We need to inject some sanity back into this discussion.  So let’s listen to Professor E.D. Hirsch.  He has often addressed the question: what should first-graders need to know?

This man, a very demon of common sense in education, thinks first-graders should know the names of the seven continents and the four oceans.  I agree, and you probably agree.  So the next step is to ask your local school how it feels on the primal question of what first-graders should know. 

Push for oceans and continents.  If a principal says that’s too demanding for his kids, you know this is a good person to fire.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains educational theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.  For info about his four new books, see his literary site Lit4u.com.



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