Archive for October, 2014

BIG EDUCATION WITH LITTLE OUTCOME

October 22, 2014

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Liberals will never stop messing with education. They are zeroing in on early childhood education now as the panacea to stop the precipitous fall in global education standings. It’s the system stupid! Teachers who are competent are unlikely to impart knowledge in a system designed by local, county, state and federal politicians filtered through Washington bureaucrats! Ideal education has two components, an educated, exciting, capable, inspiring teacher and a student. Marble buildings, 100 million dollar sports stadiums and gimmicks have no positive influence on learning.

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The best teacher I had in middle school was a substitute teacher. He was a WWII veteran who lost his arm in combat. His teaching made the subjects come to life and I hung on his every word. What a contrast to the droning monotone of most of my other teachers. There is much more to imparting knowledge than spouting the writings of marginal educators.

Education should be about learning but it is mostly about money. States get attaboys based on how much they spend on education. How much money was spent on Barnaby Marsh as he was homeschooled in the Alaskan wilderness before attending Harvard, becoming a Rhodes Scholar and receiving a PhD from Oxford?

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These first three photos are high schools

Why are liberals so eager to steal our children’s childhood by tossing them into early childhood education, mostly taxpayer funded babysitting. Why are politicians and people who have little understanding of education throwing stumbling blocks at teachers making it almost impossible to actually teach? Why do parents allow the government to experiment with their children with New Math, Common Core and No Child Left Behind, otherwise known as No Bureaucrat Left Behind? Einstein could not read a word until he was nine years old. By the age of 12 he was reading physics books.

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When I started the Principal for a Day program almost 20 years ago, I spoke to all the classes in an elementary school. I asked what was behind an unmarked closed door. My guide said it was students from all over the city who were not ready for regular classes. I opened the door and found about 20 completely unsupervised kids scattered around the room setting on bean bags. I walked in and asked if there were any fighter pilots in the room. One little boy said he wanted to be a veterinarian when he grew up. Soon everybody in the room gathered around me and began talking about their dreams and aspirations. At lunch time a teacher asked one of the boys to take me to the cafeteria and eat with me. He was articulate and very well mannered. He told me that he hoped he could be placed in a normal class next year.

I talked to fifth graders about saving money, the dangers of credit cards and the importance of being themselves. I received a stack of letters from students, one little girl wrote, “Dear Colonel McVay, When you came to our class I thought you was a mean old man, but you was cool. Thanks for coming to our class.” I don’t think I have ever received a better endorsement. While little girls in kindergarten told me they loved me, I was most inspired by the children who were not deemed ready to participate in normal classes. I was also heartbroken, especially after eating lunch and sharing the dreams of one of the little boys.

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More people have heard of Alexander the Great than have heard of George Washington. Alexander is even prophesized about in the Bible by Daniel. Before Alexander was born, God knew he would conquer the world.

As Alexander was conquering the world he got bogged down at Tyre for months. At that point Darius the King of Persia sent him a message. Under the condition of peace Darius offered Alexander all the land west of the Euphrates River and a king’s ransom in precious metal. My guess is that every member of Alexander’s army would have accepted the generous offer. Alexander’s second in command, Parmenion, who had also served Alexander’s father and was the most trusted and respected member of the Macedonian Army said, “I would accept were I Alexander.” Alexander responded, “I would accept were I Parmenion.” You see, God knew the decision Alexander would make before God laid the foundation of the Earth. The Prophet Daniel knew 300 years before Alexander was born.

Alexander was brilliant enough to conquer the world with a tiny army and win the respect of conquered citizens. He is responsible for spreading Greek culture and the Greek language throughout most of the world.  Greek is the language of the New Testament of the Holy Bible.  Alexander received a great education from a great teacher named Aristotle.

Aristotle was appointed a guardian after his father died when Aristotle was a child. At eighteen, he joined Plato’s Academy in Athens and remained there until the age of thirty-seven. Shortly after Plato died, Aristotle left Athens and, at the request of Philip of Macedon, tutored Alexander the Great for many years.

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According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Aristotle was the first genuine scientist in history … [and] every scientist is in his debt.” Teaching Alexander the Great gave Aristotle many opportunities and an abundance of supplies. He established a library in the Lyceum which aided in the production of many of his hundreds of books. Aristotle’s views on natural sciences represent the groundwork underlying many of his works.

Aristotle’s views on physical science profoundly shaped medieval scholarship. His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, which was incorporated in the late 19th century into modern formal logic. Aristotelianism profoundly influenced Judeo-Islamic philosophical and theological thought during the Middle Ages and continues to influence Christian theology today. Aristotle was well known among medieval Muslim intellectuals and revered as “The First Teacher.” All aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy continue to be the object of active academic study today. Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues – Cicero described his literary style as “a river of gold” – it is thought that only around a third of his original output has survived.

His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics and government – and constitute the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy.

Okay, you get the picture that Ari was a great teacher. Could he pass tests to be certified as a teacher today? NO! Could he get a job as a teacher today? NO! Could he find a publisher to publish his books today? NO! What if you signed up for a class under Aristotle and the class size was limited to 15 students and you were number 16? Say you were then assigned to a class taught by Bill Ayers. Would the smaller class size mean students would somehow get a better education? I would rather have Aristotle teaching me along with 500 other students under a tree than to be in a tiny class in a marble building with any marginal professor.

The late Robin Williams portrayed an inspiring teacher who actually taught students in a profound way in “Dead Poets Society.” Predictably, Williams’ character was fired in the end to the sorrow of most of his students.

So here we are today in America where most students hate school. There are many reasons including the fact that much of education consists of manual labor or learning useless information. Is there any chance a student will learn anything in high school chemistry? Do you really need to know the elements of the periodic table, the formula for salt or how to balance a chemical equation? Most of the people who take chemistry in college intend to be doctors and while there is chemistry a doctor should know, they don’t typically teach it in college. Why do students take chemistry? Because someone makes them take chemistry.

I have a minor in history but most of what I know about history I learned after college on my own. You have heard that those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. I guess no U.S. president ever studied history because they have all forgotten the lessons of the Vietnam War, the history of Iraq and the history of foreign incursions into Afghanistan. Our presidents, mostly with no military experience, are quick to employ our armed forces but have no plans of winning the war. They telegraph our intentions to the enemy, an act that would get anybody else prison time for treason. Today you will learn untruths about the Revolutionary War and the Civil War and World War II. There is a movement to eliminate any mention of the Founding Fathers, the Revolutionary War and WWII in advanced placement testing. American ignorance of history is legendary.

I perform my own exams informally. When I meet people from Pennsylvania I ask if they know where William Penn planned to establish his capital. They usually say it was Philadelphia. When I tell them he planned to establish it at Chester they are incredulous. When I was president of the Fort Smith Heritage Foundation I decided I needed to know more about William Henry Harrison Clayton. The Foundation had restored his 1881 home and continues to display it to the public.

Clayton’s great-great grandfather became close friends with William Penn and George Fox. They were all Quakers, Fox being the founder. They were all imprisoned because of their faith. Fox visited America and several of the leaders in the colonies who were Quakers. He also visited West Jersey, land he knew William Penn might be given by King George in payment for debts owned his late father, Admiral William Penn. A few years later, Will Clayton immigrated to West Jersey and founded Chester, a settlement he named for Chichester, his home in southern England.

Penn wanted to name the land Sylvania meaning woods. The king persuaded him to name it after his father so they settled on Pennsylvania. When Penn arrived in America he planned to establish Chester as his capital but there was a problem. Chester was located on land that both Penn and Lord Baltimore claimed. Because the land was in dispute, Penn moved a few miles north and had his surveyors lay out the streets of Philadelphia that still remain today. Chester could have become the largest city in the British Empire, the first capital of the United States and the location of Independence Hall. Instead, that honor went to Philadelphia.

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Will Clayton was acting governor of Pennsylvania for a year. Three of his descendents made a huge mark on Arkansas as the first Republican Governor, U.S. Senator and as the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. One was a founder of the University of Arkansas and William was U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas under four presidents.

~~~~~~Biden

About all I could learn from Arkansas History books is that Powell Clayton was a Carpetbagger Governor. Since Colonel Clayton was ordered to Arkansas as Commander of the Fifth Kansas Regiment, I would hardly call him a Carpetbagger. To get the true facts I had to research wills, sailing ship manifests, documents from Pennsylvania, Quaker archives and any other information I could find. Learning true history is work, that’s why teachers regurgitate uninformed information from lazy writers.

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Don’t look for the U.S. on any education top ten list

For decades every politician has promised to improve education while America slips down the ladder of Global Rankings. America is being left in the dust by China and India where they have more honor students than the U.S. has total students. Many foreign students stand in line waiting for libraries to open while Americans play video games and send selfies to each other. I wish I could be optimistic about our future but too many leaders take too many things for granted that came at great cost. Millions of Americans died to give us the greatest country on earth, nothing came easy. Our leaders today have no respect for our heritage, or flag or our Constitution. They remind me of the weak minded movie stars or professional sports players who squander tens of millions of dollars and ends up broke.

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George Washington was called the American Cincinnatus, everybody in America knew about Cincinnatus because they received a classical education. I doubt students today ever heard of Cincinnatus, Plato, Aristotle or Socrates. I will leave you with some quotes by Aristotle made 2,300 years before Horace Mann was born.

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“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”

“The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living differ from the dead.”

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”

“A friend to all is a friend to none.”

“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.”

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