Tag: education

28Nov

Worth Reading

I’m not a big believer in Peter Drucker and his method —but his observations on education, and educational systems, are well worth thinking about. These quotes are from his book The Age of Discontinuity, via Chicago Boyz:

One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position

In reality, this is the position that the elite schools have taken —they educate the leaders, and the rest of the schools educate the followers. This isn’t a good thing.

As C.S. Lewis so pointedly stated, modern society is based on the rule of the educated combined with the total control of education by the rulers. That combination, a charientocracy, is as absolute in its power and perpetuation as any other form of tyrannical government.

Schools have become, by design, institutions for the preservation of adolescence. They keep the young person in the most unnatural society, a society composed exclusively of his contemporaries. School, even if it builds performance and experience into its curriculum to the fullest extent possible, is finite, certain, predictable…In school one cannot become an adult. The best example is the delayed adolescence so common among highly trained young physicians…The same delayed adolescence is only too noticeable among graduate students who stay on year after year in an environment in which all the emphasis is on their being “promising” and almost none on their performing.

It looks like a book worth reading.

11Jul

Is College a Scam?

What do Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Mark Cuban have in common?

They’re all college dropouts.

Richard Branson, Simon Cowell and Peter Jennings have in common?

They never went to college at all.

But today all kids are told: To succeed, you must go to college.

Hillary Clinton tells students: “Graduates from four-year colleges earn nearly twice as much as high school graduates, an estimated $1 million more.”

We hear that from people who run colleges. And it’s true. But it leaves out some important facts

That’s why I say: For many people, college is a scam.

Townhall

As a current part time college student, and 8 or 9 years worth of college credits, I can understand, and sympathize, with Mr. Stossel on his beliefs about college. I received my MSIT after I’d already written a number of books in my field.

College started as a deeper education for fields that really needed deeper education, such as ministers, lawyers, and teachers, but it really has become something of a scam for most students —an excuse to further the indoctrination started in high school (to be a good communal citizen, rather than to think) while paying the salaries of a bunch of people who hate the society that supports them.

My argument would be: if you’re going to college to get a degree in a technical or engineering field, or in an area where the additional training is really helpful, then go. If you want to teach, or be a doctor, go to college. If you’re going because you have a passion for a field of study, and really want to learn more, then go.

Remember that the point of education, in general, is not to make people more useful for society, but rather to make better people —for personal fulfillment, to follow a passion, to reach a goal, to learn (gasp!) about God. As long as our idea of education is trapped in “making a better worker,” or “making more money,” or “making a better/more compliant citizen,” then education will always be a scam.

If you’re going to college because you’re convinced you’ll earn more because of a piece of paper, or because your friends are going, or because you’re trying to “find yourself,” then don’t. Spend some time in the real world, find out what it is that you can really be passionate about (other than yourself), and then go. Life is long, there’s time to go to college when you’ve a bit wiser.

Of course this runs counter to our current love of youth, and our current attempt to extend childhood as long as possible. But that’s the point.

16Jun

Notable: Buying the US Education System

Georgetown University has some explaining to do based on documents obtained exclusively by PJM from a confidential law enforcement source. The documents reveal a scheme to pass $325,000 through the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has been identified by the FBI as a front for the Hamas terrorist organization. The money was paid to Georgetown by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to promote its “Islamophobia” agenda, which includes its stated international objective of criminalizing any criticism of Islam.

Even more troubling: evidence that Georgetown is not the only American university to cooperate with CAIR and the OIC in their joint plan to subvert the First Amendment right to free speech.

The plot was apparently initiated in 2006 by discussions between the OIC, CAIR, and Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (CMCU). An email dated November 20, 2006, sent from OIC permanent observer to the UN Abdul Wahab to Nihad Awad and Hadia Mubarak — a CAIR board member and Georgetown CMCU “senior researcher” — urged them to expedite arrangements. The email also promised that funds would be transferred to Georgetown as soon as the OIC received a letter from John Esposito, director of Georgetown’s CMCU.

Abdul Wahab’s email was followed up with a January 11, 2007, joint letter from CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad and John Esposito, which is referenced in a January 15, 2007, letter of reply from OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (the letter is misdated as 2006). The letter offered $325,000 in cash from the OIC to finance an “Islamophobia” symposium to be convened at Georgetown University.

The OIC is the second largest intergovernmental body in the world behind the United Nations. It comprises every Islamic country in the world at the head of state level. OIC Secretary General Ihsanoglu said last year that the OIC functions as the Islamic global caliphate and embodies the “Islamic solidarity” of the ummah. Included as an agenda item in the OIC’s 10 year plan — stated in English on their own website — is to push for the international criminalization of Islamophobia (1.VII), in defiance of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights protections of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Georgetown’s CMCU was endowed in December 2005 by a $20 million grant from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, one of the richest men in the world, who also gave another $20 million for a similar center at Harvard. Back in February 2008, I wrote about the extremist Wahhabi agenda that the center actively promotes. Congressman Frank Wolf has also written to Georgetown President John DeGioia expressing concerns about the potential Saudi influence of U.S. government foreign service personnel trained at the university. Wolf also queried whether the CMCU had ever written anything critical of the Saudis’ abysmal record on human rights, religious freedom, freedom of expression, women’s rights, minority rights, protection of foreign workers, due process, and the rule of law. Needless to say, they haven’t.

John Esposito, the CMCU’s director, described Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian at an August 2007 CAIR fundraiser in Dallas as “a good friend of mine,” even hiring Al-Arian’s son Abdullah as a researcher for the center. Esposito’s protégé, Hadia Mubarak, who now operates as a researcher at the Gallup Poll’s Muslim World project, is a virulent bigot who has gone so far as accusing other Muslims as having “a deep hatred of Islam” for daring to criticize American Islamic organizations and institutions that are Saudi-financed and promote their extremist Wahhabi agenda — such as the Georgetown CMCU.

PJM

11Jun

Yet Another Reason to Take Your Kids Out of Public Schools

I believe strongly in the pedagogy of Paulo Freire: “Read your own reality to write your own history.” I want to give my students the tools to critically examine and understand the world around them, to feel passionate and empowered to change injustice when they see it, and, in doing so, to become shapers of their future. So I carefully explained that not only our school—but also all schools within MPS—would experience budget cuts next year. I then zeroed in on the cuts at our school. “Remember how I have told you that when you think something is unfair, there is always something you can do to try to turn the unfair situation into a fair one?” Many chimed in that they remembered being told this.

I drew a T-chart on the board. I told them to think about two things: the effects of the budget cuts on our school, and what they deserve in their education. As students had an idea, they wrote it on a Post-it note and affixed it to the appropriate column. We then grouped our comments into categories.

Now that they had a clearer idea of the negative effects the budget cuts would have on our school, juxtaposed with the kind of education they wanted and deserved, I asked the students to think of ways we could try to make this unfair situation a fairer one: “What can we do as a class to make a difference?” I divided the students into four groups and asked each group to decide on one person to take notes and another person to report back to the whole class. “OK, you have five minutes for your discussion.”

I learned that laying a social justice foundation for young students is a complex process. I learned when issues are addressed, they need to be revisited many, many times. I also learned that my students are not afraid to speak up about deserving a good education and that they expect to be heard.

Rethinking Schools

The author? A third grade (!) teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools.

What are her children learning year after year?

That it’s “unfair,” when there’s not enough money to buy all the things you think you “deserve.”

That you “deserve” good things, because… Well, just because.

That you can only learn if you have a small class size and an art teacher.

That mean people in the government are responsible for all the problems you face.

That there are no tradeoffs in life. It’s just a matter of pushing until you get what you think is “fair.”

That the money the government has is “magical money.” It doesn’t come from anyplace, it just is.

Did you think that the public schools were mostly focused on teaching math, English, and science? You’re wrong. What they do teach is “social justice.”

Think about that the next time you drop your kid off in front of the public school building.

27Jan

On Ethical Foundations

The height that a structure can achieve is limited by the strength of its foundation. Therefore, I suggest that university students should be provided with a strong foundation concerning the true nature of ethics, where they come from, the role that one’s ethics play in virtually all of life’s decisions and the benefits of living according to a personal set of ethical principles or form of ethical reasoning. …ethics are our source of strength to resist the tyranny of the supposed consensus, the emotional draw of the mob, the intimidation of the collective and the pull of ignoble emotions. Only by holding a set of ethical principles inviolate can an individual have the strength and fortitude to walk the path less traveled. –National Association of Scholars

Every person who has been willing to stand against the crowd has had a strong ethical base from which to start. We marvel at the fortitude of someone like William Wilberforce, and his fight against slavery in England. He stood against the tide of a million men with little more than a conviction that slavery was wrong, and must be ended no matter what the cost. We go to the point of making inspirational movies about such men, in the hopes of inspiring millions.

But when you get to the base of what modern society teaches, we suddenly revert to the latest Barbie movie.

Teach your students that the choice of one’s set of ethics or manner of ethical reasoning is the free choice of one’s own standards of personal conduct and, as such, is the greatest act of individuality and freedom. … Beware that students often have difficulty grasping the concept of values, because they have not been encouraged to think freely about what they truly value above all else. This self-questioning should be part of learning about ethics.

To put this in plain words, “figure out what your dream is, decide on it, and then stick to it no matter what —this is the foundation of ethics and ethical behavior.” Marx was right, then, to stick to his dream of building a new collectivist society at the cost of millions of lives. Stalin was right to follow this dream through enforced famines, and imprisoning Americans who moved to Soviet Russia to help build factories and farms in gold mining operations in the Siberia.

All this teaches is that the means is always ethical, as long as you’ve “freely” chosen the end.

And we wonder what’s wrong with modern college education? With public schools? It’s not what you don’t learn that will hurt you; it’s not the lousy math education that really destroys a nation. A person can learn math when they’re 10 or 100, it makes no difference. What hurts is the idea that ethics are “freely chosen,” like a dream, and that as long as they are “freely chosen,” they are okay. That it’s okay to choose an ethic of “following the crowd,” as long as you’ve freely chosen it.

No wonder when the smallest crisis blows through our society, people fall like dominoes. To decry “situational ethics,” and then to state that your ethics should be based on the relationships you “hold most dear,” in the same article, just sentences apart —here we have a problem with simple clear thinking. But this sort of double thinking abounds in our culture; it is the darling child of our colleges.

There is one relationship on which you can really build any sort of ethics. A relationship with God. For the only way to build ethics on a relationship is to have a permanent relationship —and human relationships, particularly in the school years, are notoriously fickle and short lived.

As long as we are teaching this sort of nonsense in our schools, we can expect to see the continued decline of our society.

5Jan

Notable: What Colleges Teach

I used to work for a polling firm, and found that people with a couple years of college were frequently factually dumber about the world around them, and more politically-correct, than people who had not attended college at all, in their responses to public-opinion surveys. An electrician with no college degree is far more likely to know who his Congressman is and to understand the economy than some liberal-arts college dropout. When law schools claim almost all of their graduates find jobs, what they don’t tell you is that they include low-paying, part-time and temporary jobs in non-legal fields in making that claim. Sending excessive numbers of people to college results in even unskilled jobs being performed by people with college degrees. –DC Examiner

16Nov

The Cost of "Higher Education"

It is not unusual for the public to wake up to live television footage of student protestors in Islamabad, Athens, Caracas, Jakarta or Cairo waving red banners, smashing windows, breaking into buildings and then starting fires. However, this morning, the city was London and the protestors were British students burning books. The press is reporting that the students are angry over an expected doubling of the cost of higher education tuition next year. I believe the protests are associated with the rising angst of young people in the developed world who believe their economic well-being is in permanent decline. –Big Government

Of course it would help if college tuition was set based on the cost of supplying an education, rather than on how much people are willing to pay.

The question had only a loose connection to spending. Faculty (and administrator) salary increases, building projects, and new programs were all tied to tuition income. Income from endowment, alumni giving, and research grants couldn’t keep pace with the university’s appetites. But the discussion of how high to raise next year’s prices was never based on a calculation of actual costs. It was rather a game of hunches. The goal was to set the new prices as high as the market would bear without drawing too much adverse attention. Each year The New York Times would run a front-page story spotlighting the colleges and universities that had the biggest increases and the highest overall prices. If we gauged it right, we would fall just below that level of exposure. Federal law prohibits collusion among colleges and universities on prices and we were purists about that. A scandal a few years earlier had exposed a group of top-tier universities that had been indeed consulting with one another about their tuition increases. Even after that practice ostensibly stopped, the annual percentage increases among many colleges and universities miraculously hovered in a range of a few tenths of one percentage. … It is not hard to extrapolate from this to what happened and what still happens when the federal government increases the funds in a student grant or loan program, or lowers the conditions of eligibility, or otherwise acts to make college “more affordable.” In college and university administrative offices across the country, people start to calculate just how high they will now be able to set new prices to capture these additional resources. -National Association of Scholars

It doesn’t seem, to me, like most colleges are very much concerned with providing an excellent education any longer. It sounds like they are more concerned with providing an environment for their professors to succeed in, in terms of research, reputation, and insulation from the world of hard knocks, rather than whether or not their students succeed. I don’t suppose this should surprise me, since it’s obviously been true in the public schools for many years.

16Nov

The Cost of “Higher Education”

It is not unusual for the public to wake up to live television footage of student protestors in Islamabad, Athens, Caracas, Jakarta or Cairo waving red banners, smashing windows, breaking into buildings and then starting fires. However, this morning, the city was London and the protestors were British students burning books. The press is reporting that the students are angry over an expected doubling of the cost of higher education tuition next year. I believe the protests are associated with the rising angst of young people in the developed world who believe their economic well-being is in permanent decline. –Big Government

Of course it would help if college tuition was set based on the cost of supplying an education, rather than on how much people are willing to pay.

The question had only a loose connection to spending. Faculty (and administrator) salary increases, building projects, and new programs were all tied to tuition income. Income from endowment, alumni giving, and research grants couldn’t keep pace with the university’s appetites. But the discussion of how high to raise next year’s prices was never based on a calculation of actual costs. It was rather a game of hunches. The goal was to set the new prices as high as the market would bear without drawing too much adverse attention. Each year The New York Times would run a front-page story spotlighting the colleges and universities that had the biggest increases and the highest overall prices. If we gauged it right, we would fall just below that level of exposure. Federal law prohibits collusion among colleges and universities on prices and we were purists about that. A scandal a few years earlier had exposed a group of top-tier universities that had been indeed consulting with one another about their tuition increases. Even after that practice ostensibly stopped, the annual percentage increases among many colleges and universities miraculously hovered in a range of a few tenths of one percentage. … It is not hard to extrapolate from this to what happened and what still happens when the federal government increases the funds in a student grant or loan program, or lowers the conditions of eligibility, or otherwise acts to make college “more affordable.” In college and university administrative offices across the country, people start to calculate just how high they will now be able to set new prices to capture these additional resources. -National Association of Scholars

It doesn’t seem, to me, like most colleges are very much concerned with providing an excellent education any longer. It sounds like they are more concerned with providing an environment for their professors to succeed in, in terms of research, reputation, and insulation from the world of hard knocks, rather than whether or not their students succeed. I don’t suppose this should surprise me, since it’s obviously been true in the public schools for many years.

3Nov

On Academic Freedom—

To understand the enduring popularity of this one core academic doctrine amidst the ruins of so many other core doctrines we have to recognize that “academic freedom” means one thing to academic traditionalists and something radically different to academic progressives. Traditionalists view academic freedom as something like a limited access highway. It permits great freedom of movement, but it has its own rules and it doesn’t go everywhere. Academic freedom is not a license for driving west in the eastbound lane, for parking your car in the median, or careering recklessly across the road. Progressives, on the other hand, view academic freedom as something like a can opener. It is good for opening things up and that’s about it. –National Association of Scholars

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