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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Leigh Bortins announces new book

Check out: 1 Smart Mama for Leigh Bortins announcement of a new book in the works for 2011 on the second stage of Classical Education, the Dialectic stage.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Census Cost?

Well this is kind of funny, and sad.

An article on Fox News talks about census cost going from projected 13 Billion from 8 Billion (only the government could overspend by this much).

Well if you check out their website they have a bunch of Census ads on their site. Now Why would they take Census ads on their site and why is the Census still spending out money on advertising after going this much over budget?

I don't blame the census group as much, I don't really expect them to behave. It the equivalent of not being surprised the school bully beat someone up.

I do blame FoxNews and any organization that is not taking Census money. It is our money they are spending to tell us about how they are spending it. In order for us to get back to financial stability in the US our businesses and citizens need to rejects government money and demand freedom.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Welfare Reform and Education

As I talk to school teachers that I am friends with I hear that if parents are involved then the children do much better in school. They also say they have trouble getting parents to come to 30 min open house and parent-teacher meetings.
So parents who went through government education system, feel that they don’t need to be involved in the system. That means when they were in the system the first time, this wasn’t a priority.

These are just general statements and don’t apply to every situation, but when looking at the big picture of government schools this is clearly an issue. If parents don’t care, then their child will likely not care.

If you look at social and economic issues typically those who do not have a high education, are less likely to care about schooling. Children from a troubled house simply are not likely to do well in school. Thankfully this is not always the case. So if a child is from a troubled background, their family is less likely to care about schooling and therefore the child is less likely to succeed in education.
Currently unemployment in the United States sits around 9.7%, that number for the college educated is closer to 5.1% and thus the unemployment percent for those without degrees is much higher. If you are unemployed you are likely on some sort of welfare (unemployment checks, government benefits, prop 8 housing).

I am not for government intervention, the less the better, but clearly in the US our current policies do not line up with this thinking. Since programs will not be done away with, how can we modify them for the result we are looking for and what is that?
Current goals of education are stabilize social and economical conditions to keep society is as safe as possible condition. Create students that are capable of being employed, keep their positions, and move as new technologies are developed. If you search for Welfare reform and changes, you will find articles about tying Welfare to school attendance. I say tie to school performance.

Currently if you have a child and are on welfare, you get additional handouts (benefits) for the government to make sure those children receive a living standard. Why not tie this amount into the child effectiveness in school. If you average a 2.5 you get that standard amount, say you average a 3.0 you get 5% more and if you average a 3.5 you get 10% and a 4.0 you get 15%. On the same token, if you get a 2.0 you get 5% less, 1.5 10% less, 1.0 15% less and 20% less if you drop out (since you will now have time to find a job).

Those with special needs or situations could be exempt. I’m not going to get into those details here.

This plan will promote education as a benefit to those from troubled backgrounds, and provides them with a means to better themselves financially, while doing so educationally. This way teens wouldn’t be encouraged to drop out of school to help pay bills. The adults will be more interested in ensuring that their child does well in school, because it will give them more money to provide food and shelter.

The more educated people we have the more we can get in taxes, the less we have to pay out for services and the more fruitful our society becomes. Education is seen as a way to get out of poverty, but current welfare system promotes people staying in poverty because of how it is administered and does not promote educational growth.

I would like to see some other sides of this plan, I obviously posted the positives, but I am sure there are negatives to this plan and I would like to hear those. I'm just trying to get the discussion going.

Monday, December 13, 2010

PISA scores show Memorization is important

PISA scores came in last week while I was on vacation, read more about it here. No surprise to those in the USA who follow education, we have failed our students. Not only have we financially burden future generations with deficit spending – the next generation is not receiving the education needed to be able to right this ship and pay off this bill. The snowball is still small, but be warned it is getting bigger fast. We are on an educational course which will doom our future if not fixed quickly.

If you look at China, who leads in virtually every category, you will see that they have emphasis on memorization of facts. They place a high level of focus on the first and foundation of the Trivium. Clearly China has other issues to correct that will hold them back in the future, but education will not be one of them.
The great thing about a classical education is it doesn’t require as much funding as current programs. So it is a great way to have a better education, for less money.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Having young children memorize facts detrimental to their educational growth?

Having young children memorize facts detrimental to their educational growth?

You would think the answer would be an obvious “yes”, but tragically that in not the case.
One of my professors got indignant. "That's just so sad!" she said, "I would never make my kids memorize facts. That is so useless -- especially since now you can look the facts up somewhere, in a book, online, or something. Memorization of knowledge is a worthless education tool."

This is a common misconception.

In Plato's Phaedrus, Socrates tells a story about the invention of writing, in which the Egyptian god Thoth shows his written characters to another god, Ammon, who rebukes him: "This discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember themselves."

Before the invention of radio, television, video games and the internet philosophers and educators were worried about the mind losing its ability. Obviously the written word would eventually allow everyone to be educated and educators listened to the concern of Socrates and Plato and memorization was an important part of that education. That is until modern history and education methods found it boring and tedious and it is no longer an important part of being human. How much more do we need to focus on memorization today!

Have you ever been paying a bill and the cashier cannot figure out your change? They never memorized the grammar of adding and subtracting. Can an education system be considered successful if a 15-16 year old (minimum age of most state for working) cannot do math they should have learned in elementary school? Yet this memorization is consider not helpful for the student when they get to the real world.

If you ever have played a sport or read about an exceptional athlete you have heard the term muscle memory. Did the coach show you how to do a motion properly (swinging a tennis racket, golf club, bat) and you absorbed that into your muscle and did it correct the first time and every time after that? Of course that did not happen. You practiced, practiced, practiced until it was engrained in your body and you still occasionally fail. Yet we expect our student to learn how to do reading, writing and arithmetic without memorizing the rules and motions of the subject.
Clearly modern education methods of “how do you feel” and “what are you experiencing” questions and methods are not working. Our students are falling behind other countries, other countries who still require memorization. Sure our students feel good about themselves and have a high confidence, unfortunately that confidence and self esteem has not translated into actual learning.

Classical Education requires memorization of grammar as the foundation of learning. A house built without a foundation blows away in the lightest of wind and our students are being blown away by global competition. More and longer education as Arne Duncan is purposing may be helpful, but without anchoring knowledge into our student it will be useless and expensive.

“1st come Augie dog, then the Flintstone Kids, inspector Gadget and Popeye too owe doo daw day” I still know the morning cartoon lineup from when I was a little kid, because I heard it every Saturday morning. Too bad I did not put memorization of important things to the forefront of my education. Why did I memorize it, because I heard it over and over again and it was to a catchy song. Memorization does not have to be boring as many think, we just need to know how to make it fun.

New Websites

Omaha, NE CC blog that is very informative on the work of a Classical Conversations community.
Homeschool Testing Service a service that helps you with your end of year testing

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Repeal 1099

When the government passed socialized medicine we had to “pass it” according to Nancy Pelosi to find out what is in it and now that we have found out the American people decided it was not what we want. We can only hope the higher court finds the law illegal. Meanwhile Congress is scrambling to change parts of the legislation. We can only hope that they will at least repeal that part about 1099s. It is a small business killer.
The law basically says that you have to send a 1099 to anyone that did more than $600 worth of business. The basic idea is that American’s cheat on their taxes and the government was going to be able to get more taxes. If you own a business you probably buy a lot of goods, from a lot of place – which means you make copies at Staples, save your receipt, because at the end of the year you will need to send them a 1099. Of course Staples will have to process all this paperwork and the business will have to keep, track and report all those expenses.
A small business I talked to estimates it will take 5 people an entire week just to process the paperwork due. This isn’t some big corporation it is a small business. Obviously this isn’t something that is affordable. Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. Making it harder to do business will not help them turn our economy around. When we are in the great recession burdening the sector that will get us out of it with more baggage just doesn’t make sense.
CNN - Top Dems join GOP to repeal 1099

Monday, November 8, 2010

Meeting all week

I'll be out training all week with the Classical Conversations State Managers in North Carolina. This years theme is Integrity we are reading John F MacArthur "The Power of Integrity" all week during the evening and answering questions in the morning.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Congress and Department of Education

The Federal Department of Education is unlikely to change much under the new congress. In 1994 under a republican controlled congress spending in the DOE actually increased. We will be lucky if this congress can keep it from expanding. The issue is control.
Definition of FREEDOM (according to Webster’s dictionary)
1: the quality or state of being free: as
a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action

2: to compel to an act or choice
When the Federal Government distributes funds when sovereign States act a certain way towards school (no child left behind, race to the top) – it fundamentally must destroy freedom.
Now perhaps American (home of the free, land of the brave) is okay with this intrusion of freedom.
So the Federal Government takes taxes from citizens (who probably live in states) – spends about $0.10 to create a policy to improve education, then gives about $0.90 back to that state to spend how the federal government wants it to. Unless that state wants to improve education some other means that may be better and more efficient for its people. In that case the government takes that $0.90 and gives it to someone else’s kids.
The more money the DE spends the more it can coerce states into following its national standards. BTW has the DE helped the US? Since its creation America has dropped from #1 in almost every educational category to anywhere from #9 to #23 among developed nations. You tell me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Election Results for Classical Education Supporters

Congrats for your successful campaigns in 2010. Serve your state and country well! 8 of 12 candidates on my blog won - that is better then Sarah Palin's numbers.

Anthony Cannella running for State Senate in California.
Kevin Lundberg is running for Senate in Colorado's 15th district.

Kevin Priola is running for Colorado state legislator house in district 30.

Dennis Richardson Oregon house of representative district 4.

Warren Daniel running for North Carolina senate for Burke and Caldwell counties.
John Ekberg Winnebago County Board Commissioner.
Bryan Simonaire running for Maryland
State Senator in district 31.
David Casas Georgia State Representative.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election results

The day after the Red Wave election of 2010 the results are in. The Senate remained in Democrat control – but republicans picked up twice as many seats than the average election (3.5 seats in midterm). The House was a sweep by Conservatives, destroying the projections by over 20%. The big news is the Governors Mansions, picking up key states that are going to be redistricted in the next two years, meaning more conservative control in the house and moving our country back toward the RIGHT direction for the next 10 years.

The real question will conservative be exactly that or will it be business as usual like the last 10 years? The Right failed America last time they were in power by increasing big government, have they learned the lesson from the past or will they continue to grow government. Will the democrats understand that their citizens want a smaller government as exit polls suggested and get on board with this new wave.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Crossfit and Classical Education

I am part of a group called Crossfit that promotes a full body workout and healthy living with trainers. Yesterday there was an interesting conversation about education and crossfit. If you took 120 hours of 100 and 200 level course would know a whole lot, but not really be employable. Crossfit helps you be a good/great overall athlete, but it doesn’t help you excel at necessarily a particular field. I didn’t interject my own opinion into the discussion, but I will here. The only comment I did make was “I’m trying to be good at sports, not exercise” which is clearly a utilitarian perspective of the work we do at the gym.

In Classical Education methods we teach the grammar first, at crossfit they do the same. You can’t do a power snatch until you know what it is and then practice with a plastic light weight tube until you get the motion correct. Then you can get a bar and add some weight. You will start light and slowly add more weight as you master each step. Each time you do a workout, even if you have done it before you still grab the plastic bar and practice the movement. In a Classical school the children will first memorize the facts, and they will practice until it is embedded in their minds. Then slowly they will add more facts (weight) or ideas to those facts (weight) and move on to more when they are ready. Each day they will then review those facts and add more.

Contrast this to the Modern Education and Globo Gym. Modern Education seeks to make you look good to employees, with little to no guidance. Globo Gym’s seeks to make you look good for the opposite sex, with little to no guidance. Let’s teach the children about being green; let’s do some curls. Let everyone graduate, no child left behind; Let’s go do some bench press, grunt it out. There is no actual substance in either. Sure if you work hard you will look real good, do fine finding a job and the ladies, but you will be at the mercy of others, because you don’t have a good core.

As you grow in crossfit you start adding meat to your workout, you learn to put knowledge from one work out to another. You learn how to apply methods of rowing to sumo deadlift high pull. In the same manner in Classical Education after the child has mastered the basics and has moved into what is now called “middle school” they start logically putting subject matter together and using the basics they know and applying it “logically” to what they are learning. Meanwhile Modern Education is still doing bicep curls.

Finally as you get good at Crossfit in one area you start helping the new people out. You may not be the best at each workout, but you have been there before and you can “model” the workout for others and show them the basics and correct movements. Guess what the Rhetoric stage (high school) is of Classical Education? It is explaining to others what you learned in the Knowledge and Logic stages and Modeling that to younger children. Meanwhile Modern Education is still doing bicep curls.

Another important similarity is that you work at your own pace. If you excel at box jumps, but need help with over head squats there are systems in place for you to move at your own pace and over practice what you need help with. Just because 25 16 year olds are in the same class they aren’t going to be at the same place and trying to treat them like they are is only going to give us the education system we have, which no one is defending according to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

So like a Classical Education will teach you how to excel at anything, I can only come to the conclusion that Crossfit will help you excel at any sport or activity. We learn to glorify God, all truth is from God and to learn it is to glorify him even if you don’t use it for some utilitarian purpose. Doing Crossfit for the sake of being in shape and living a better life is just as acceptable – utility shouldn’t be the end. Our goal should be everything pure, wise and beautiful for the sake of being pure, wise and beautiful.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Don't forget to Vote November 2nd

I follow politics, but I do not plan on endorsing any particular candidate. Here are links to some candidates that support home centered education. This by no means is a complete list. I would like you to learn about and definitely pray for them as you should do all candidates who will help shape our future.

Anthony Cannella running for State Senate in California.

Joe Budd is running for Congress in Florida's 19th district.

Kevin Lundberg is running for Senate in Colorado's 15th district.

Kevin Priola is running for Colorado state legislator house in district 30.

Dennis Richardson Oregon house of representative district 4.

Warren Daniel running for North Carolina senate for Burke and Caldwell counties.

John Ekberg Winnebago County Board Commissioner.


Bryan Simonaire running for Maryland
State Senator in district 31.

Dean Poirier who is running for NC Court of Appeals.
His wife, DeAnn Poirier is running for District 21 NC House.

David Casas Georgia State Representative.

Wendy Tucker running for School Trustee in Anderson, SC District One.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Barnes and Noble launches Kids Expert Circle

Barnes and Noble Kid's just launched a new Expert Circle. Author Leigh Bortins and my Mother is one of the experts. Be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Interesting Links

College Measures is a new site that exposes the amount of money the state and federal government are paying students who never make it to a second year of college. I believe the reason for this failure is that students are not prepared for college, we will see what solutions the government comes up with - probably more tax payer money needed. It is good to see someone challenging the hidden costs of education.

Currently State and Federal Governments spend 9.1 billion dollars a year to pay for 1st year students education a year that will not be back for a second year (30% of freshman). President Obama is calling for more people to go to college - so expect this number to balloon.

Special thanks to eduflack for writing an interesting opinion piece on this new research.
Finishing the first lap is a great study that outlines these cost.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Arts - the last classical education

Advocates of the arts will always point out how students who are active in them do better in school. It is really no surprise when you break down the science of learning. Other school subjects no longer teach the skills needed to succeed at anything, instead they are focused on that subject and having enough of the students get by. The issue with the normal subjects is the way they are taught is not conducive to create students who think, but students who will be good workers. This isn’t because of teachers, but because of special interest and the federal government. So we will examine the process of learning the arts and why these programs are possibly the last to teach students to be more.

The first step of learning any arts is learning the grammar, be it the notes, how to hold a pencil (a declining talent), paintbrush techniques or how to hold your hands when using an instrument. The next step is to practice the basics until they are second nature. This takes practice, practice and practice until the basics our engrained into the mind, soul and body. Rules must be memorized and followed. The next step is to use the master’s work and copy it. If that is playing music that a great composer has played, or redrawing a great work or learning a Shakespeare play. After they master the basic skills, copy the masters they are then able to write their own plays, make their own music and draw originals.

This is the same process that classical education methods employ, first you must learn the grammar of the subject, then you must practice it by going to original documents and copying those, finally you use those experiences to express yourself. In math students are no longer required to memorize multiplication tables, you don’t need grammar to be a writer, and the sciences aren’t memorized until the mind has matured and is no longer in the memorization stage of development. No wonder we have fallen behind the world in the math and sciences.

The muse for this article can be found at

Thursday, October 7, 2010

“Of what use us money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?” Proverbs 17:16

“One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.” Proverbs 18:9

If you pay attention to the news or start to you will begin to hear we need “more money for education.” The US already spends over 5% more based on budget % alone then the average 1st world country. So we already are giving a lot of money into the system and not getting anything out of it. Obviously we are being slack with those funds. No wonder our education system has been all but destroyed by our peers. We need educational reform, but if a politician tells you this year that it will require more money – that reform is not going to be the type that will work. Only going back to tried and true methods of learning that cost almost nothing and worked for 2000 years causing the rapid rise of society can we regain our nation back, we must use classical methods of learning.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fight Teacher Burnout

I misspoke when I said tomorrow on Thursday, but I will make it up to you today!

A couple of other interesting points from the Arne Duncan interview that I would like to discuss today and offer viable solutions. If a student has 3 good teachers in a row they will be a year to a year and half ahead of their peers, 3 bad teachers in a row they will be a year behind. 33% of teachers will be out the profession within 3 years of becoming a teacher and 1 million children a year are dropping out of school. Teacher burnout is one of the leading causes.

I believe that a classical education system would eliminate a number of the problems. Teachers have a new set of students 4-6 times a day and those groups change every year. So that means a teacher is going to see somewhere between a 100-150 students a day and only for 1 hour each of which according to government studies only 20-30 minutes of that time is actually being used to teach. That is going to be a lot of different personalities and issue to deal with for that teacher. No wonder they get burnt out. Instead a teacher, especially in elementary (formerly grammar) school should teach all subjects to the students. This would allow them to deal with 20-30 students through the day. They would be better prepared to deal with certain children’s issues because they would have a chance to form the teacher-student bond more effectively. It would also allow the child to spend significant time with an adult that would increase the chances that they would take their school work seriously. A true classical education setting would mix ages and grades to allow proper demonstration of skills from the older children to younger children. This is the ideal setting for gaining social skills as well, since people will eventually work with people from a variety of ages and not just people there exact same age. This leap is probably too much to ask the school system to do at this time, so I will refrain from that if they will go to the 1 teacher model that worked for so long.

This system would reduce the number of teachers burning out and decrease the number of drop outs of our school system. The issue with this system would be the “bad” teachers. If a child had one of those they would drop behind in every subject instead of maybe being good at one with a “good” teacher and being bad at ones with a “bad” teacher. While this may be a temporary issue the proposed system would reduce the number of good teachers leaving and would reduce the number of “bad” teachers because there wouldn’t be so many burned out. I don’t believe anyone in the teaching profession goes into it without good intentions of helping the children learn, so “bad” teachers are a product of our education system.

Practice, practice, practice is the motto of classical education. You cannot become good at something until you gain experience at it. A typical job takes 8mo-1year to learn how to do. So if we are turning our teachers over 33% a year due to drop out how can they ever get good at it? They have no one modeling how to be a good teacher. This turnover allows the “bad” teachers to stay in the system because the administration is just happy to have a warm body.

Rearranging of class setting and schedule to a classical model is an easy first step for the public school system to take in order to save itself and our country.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Arne Duncan talks about Home Centered Education

I listened to NBC interview with secretary of education Arne Duncan this morning and he said a lot that I agree with and he really cares about changing the state of our education and moving away from the status quo “No one is (defending) the status quo.”

“Parents are always going to be their Children’s first teachers and always their most important teachers.” As a home centered education advocate I cannot agree more with this statement. Arne Duncan said they are going to “double our budget in parental involvement.” I’m not sure how money will make parents more involved in their children’s lives unless it involves bribes. I would hope the fact that they are your children you would already be involved; obviously this is not the case. A teacher actually asked him if they are looking at forcing parents be involved under legal penalty. Thankfully parents that are participating in home centered education have already taken responsibility for their child’s education. “Good things happen when families learn together” thank you Arne Duncan – we who educate our children around the home already know this. Learn more at and Classical Conversations

Tomorrow I will address some issue with teacher burnout, dropout rates, and other spicier subjects in the interview.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Gap - Between Rich and Poor

I hear this term all the time the gap between the Rich and the Poor is growing. Therefore we need to tax the rich to help the poor out more. This Logic is false. The rich got there by providing a service better, cheaper and more effectively than anyone else and people were willing to pay for that service or product. Therefore all the people that bought that product were better off because of this person. This also gave the person more time/energy/money to spend on a different activity/economic stimulation that they wanted to do. This activity/purchase was provided by someone who was able to perform the desired task at a less expensive, more efficient, better way than his competition. This is how a free market and free choices work.
Thomas Edison was very intelligent, would taxing his intelligence and giving it to someone with less means made the world better off? Would the light bulb been invented? Sure this is a stretch, but not as much as you would imagine. You can’t legislate intelligence any more than you can whose rich and poor.
Democrats sight Warren Buffet as a rich person who says he needs to be taxed more. If Warren Buffet wants to be a free person (which I tend to doubt) he could either : 1.) Not pay accounts tons of money to do his taxes and just send in what he think he should pay above and beyond his current tax amount. This could save him money and he would pay the taxes he thinks are fair. 2.) The government has set up a separate tax account that you can pay into if you feel like you don’t pay enough. 3.) He could set aside that extra money he feels he should be taxed every year and give it to an organization that currently is getting government money.
Warren Buffet know much more at making money than most people in the US, especially me. If he really wanted to make a difference in the nation he could use his money in one of the 3 ways I mentioned above. He could even devote his time to a charity and make it so valuable that it didn’t need tax dollars to operate – wouldn’t that be wonderful. His statement on his taxes therefore is not based on his actual feeling on his wealth, but on political motivation to see people’s choices controlled by the government. He knows how the government operates and how to make money off government controlled programs better than anyone(then Al Gore), of course he wants us taxed more!
The best way to close the gap on the rich and poor is to better the education in the USA. You can’t do this by pouring money into the system, you can only do this by teaching people how to think. When you teach people how to think you don’t need big government, you don’t need unions, you don’t need others to do for you, because you can do for yourself. Maybe this is why it is going to be impossible to turn education around in the US, without a fundamental change to the way we view it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Education week has started on NBC
“Education – The act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life”

NBC Education week has started. I am encouraged that we are addressing Education as a national concern. I am a firm believer that if we had a good education system we would not be in the economic turmoil we are today. We would require less government control, which would mean a smaller government, we wouldn’t be in to debt to China who knows how much and we would be experiencing more individual freedom than ever, as opposed to being restricted more than any time in the history of the United States.

Currently we rank “25th in math and 21st in Science out of 30 developed countries” according to data obtained by NBC and their polls show 58% of the public believe we need a complete overhaul and 77% give our public schools a C grade or less. So the public is finally starting to understand how poorly our public schools are doing. My theory is because of the high unemployment and the realizations that they were never educated.

According to Arne Duncan we have “A lot of money in the reform movement” and we are not giving it to the “status quo.” I think by now we would have figured out the spending money on education was not the answer. We spend more money than anyone on education, and receive significantly less bang for our buck. Our education system is the equivalent to a brand new fully stocked BMW, but without an engine. We have the bells and whistles; the children are entertained, when not sleeping on their desk.

The issue will not be solved by increasing our dependence on Chinese yen (see debt). We must go back to the same teaching methods as the 1 room school house. Where an untrained 16 year old could teach 4-15 year olds how to conquer a country, read and comprehend Greek and Latin. We must teach our children how to be free by giving them the tools to think for themselves. There is a simple solution and it is real inexpensive. 1.) Teach young children to memorize, and how to make it fun. 2.) Teach children in middle school how to think, logic, about the information they are learning and how to relate it to the world around them. 3.) Teach children in high school how to logically think and express their opinions in their unique way.

From Arianna Huffington , Editor-In-Chief, Huffington Post new Book “If America’s Public Education System were a product, it would have been recalled. If it were a politician, it would have been impeached.” In the 1960’s the greatest generation had over 90% prose literacy rate and very little federal government involvement. Schools were run by local school districts and designed to educate, not build up false self esteem. Now when schools are designed to build up self esteem and not to educate prose literacy has dropped to 14%. Our children may feel real good about themselves when there 16, but being unemployed, not having the ability to think, pay bills, vote intelligently is not fun and they will not feel good about themselves when they turn 24 and reality hits them in the face. It’s time to get back to the HARD WORK of learning and teaching the students to teach themselves. It is time to go back to the future: classical education.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

President Bill Clinton I have an answer for you!

Perhaps this morning I finally found my muse for writing on my blog title. Today it is President Bill Clinton. There was a very interesting interview today on MSNBC on the economy and on his Global Initiative. His initiative since it is not a corporation or government is able to cut through red tape and do things “faster, better and more quickly.” So he just admitted that a free market is the best market for turning our economy around. Now he was quick to say that he won’t comment on if the “government or corporations” are the best means of doing that. Kind of funny since he will fully admit that his free market Initiative is doing awesome, but this will not be the focus today.

The quotes that really got me were if we could fill the open jobs that people are not trained for “we would be in a different world we’d be looking at 6.9% (unemployment) not 9.6%” and “How can we get people trained for those jobs quickly.”
The second quote is where I will focus. The issue with education today is it is focused on jobs. Our public school system is designed to educate the masses to be obedient and good workers. However those who are innovators are changing the world so quickly that by the time a person is a College Graduate over 50% of what he learned as a Freshman no longer applies. That is if they graduate in 4 years, not 5.5 like me. How can a school system work when its focus is on making people job ready, when we don’t even know what jobs are going to be there for them in 5, 10 or 15 years from now. It is rather presumptive by our school boards and federal government to say they know what is best job path is for our children.

So what is the answer? Children must be taught to think, love to learn and know how to learn; a classical education. There is a basic cycle to learning and you cannot deny it and be true to yourself. Take something you love to do and are good at it. The first thing you did was learn the grammar behind it. What words describe what you are doing… you may have learned those words early in life and it is second nature, such as for a golf shot “bend your knees” or it could be new words you have to learn like in rugby “the prop shall not bore into the opposing prop and cause the scrum to collapse.” The second step is to learn how to do that action well. After years of practice I finally hit all my drives straight because I have my knees bent in the proper position every time. The third step is teaching it to someone else. Johnny when you hit the gold ball you need to keep your knees like this, and you’ll have to practice a lot to hit your shots straight every time. These steps are call the Trivum: Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom.

If we understand for a person to be good at something, they will take these three steps if they want to or not. So for someone to be good at a job it would be wise he has these steps ingrained in them and the skills to master these steps. It doesn’t matter if they are making photo cells for solar panels or building a house. If they have these skills they can adapt to any job that is presented to them. Imagine if you had a job opening as someone came in for an interview; “I know I’m not qualified based on my resume, but I know how to learn. I will learn the terminology of my new job, I’ll work on doing it perfectly by coming to work every day and doing my best in every task you give me and since I’m new to this industry I’ll do it for less money than the ad says because I know there will be some extra training cost to you. By the time I’m done training I’ll be able to explain how to do it to the next person you hire.” That person would be hired in an instant. If he did what he said he would do then he would move up the company very quickly.

Instead our education system is designed to create mindless drones who are told what to do, just graduate and there will be a job for you. Thankfully a good number of you, 60% now a days, strive for something more then what the government gives you in education and do quite well. The rest are getting left behind. The masses are beginning to notice. The only way to have sustained unemployment numbers below 5% without future destructive government policies, like we saw in the 90s, is through education, a Classical Education.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The hits keep rolling

Watching HSN this morning this popped up. To be fair it probably wasn't the pubLic schools fault. Although I have not heard where the 4 people who reviewed the spelling were educated. "As a product of public school my entire life I can say I'm not surprised," said one of the HSN analyst.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

CNN Homeschooling Report Response

CNN had a very neutral home school report today. It was almost a very positive report, but of course they had to reiterate some stereotype thinking. The article itself, which you can read here is very positive:

The issue I had was with the onscreen reporters. I understand they have to report on a number of issues and homeschooling is probably something they did not take time to research and it was not a big part of their day. So I do not blame them, but I do want to answer some questions they brought up.

How do they know they are not falling behind or how do they get caught up to other children? They then touched on the fact they are tested yearly, and the “parents” say they are doing well. This is true, but you don’t have to ask the “parents” you can look at the statistics. According to research by Dr. Brian D Ray,, “Repeatedly, across the nation, the home educated score as well as or better than those in conventional schools 15 to 30 percentile points higher.” It is not a maybe homeschoolers are doing well according to their parents, it is a Statistical FACT! Perhaps a better question would have been what can parents who send their children to a traditional school do to keep up with their homeschooling peers?

This is the question our Government needs to answer. I believe until they answer this question a teacher who spends 8 hours a day, for 8 months and never sees the child again can only have a limited impact on that child no matter how much they care and try. A child is not meant to learn from 1 Adult with 29 other kids distracting them.

They also brought up the fact that parents are trained teachers and how that is an issue. Another interesting fact according to 2009 study by Dr. Brian D Ray,, “Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.” So this thought that a Mother or Father who is not traditionally trained in teaching can’t do a good job is incorrect. The text books that homeschool students use are designed to be read and self teaching. Meaning a parent can read it and the child can read it and they can understand it together. As the children get older the less they need to ask the parent to help. The parent doesn’t have to know everything about everything, they just need to know how to read the text book and help the student out where he is struggling. If you don’t feel confident in helping someone 20+ years younger than you understand something, it is probably because you are not confident in the education you received. So instead of trying to understand that subject and struggling through it you want to send your child to the same education system that made it so you couldn’t teach someone a basic math, science or grammar fact, that my friend is the definition of insanity.

Monday, September 20, 2010

College Transition

I was home educated my entire life. As the oldest of 4 boys I can safely say that I was the Lab Rat. My younger brothers are receiving a higher quality education than I ever received. I am not worried about them going into college or the real world, and neither should you worry about your child because if I did it, then so can your student.

In college you have to study on your own, you have to make yourself go to class; you have to know how to read a text book and study. All of these skills are better learned at home than in a modern school setting. So being prepared for the college academic experience is not the issue people must worry about.

I believe the question must refer to home schooling socialization. I had no trouble making friends, sure I didn’t know all the in and outs of making fun of people and how to act at the big frat party right away, but is that true and good socialization? This was probably due to how I was raised and that I wasn’t at the high school parties and I enjoyed building up my friends. I also believe that my personality is just that, my personality. When you come from a different background people assume that is why you act how you do. You are home schooled people assume that your quirks are because of that. I can safely say that neither I nor any of the home school students I know that went to college had any issues making friends or acting socialized. Typically I was asked why I behaved so well.

I never once had a person ask if I was home schooled, so I must have fit in well. Personally I probably fit in too well. Which is another concern of parents, will my children continue to follow the values that I lay forth. According to Research done by Dr. Brian Ray ( 94% strongly agreed or agreed to the statement, “My religious beliefs are basically the same as those of my parents.” Contrast this to information found on “After your kids spend 12 years in public schools, there is a 70% chance that when they leave home, that they will quit going to church.” So if your goal as a parent is to raise your child to love God, then home schooling is clearly beneficial.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Classical Education and Freedom

Classical Education and Freedom - Jennifer Courtney
For centuries, the classical model of education prepared generations of young adults for the challenges of leadership and government. The goal was to produce virtuous leaders and citizens, not to produce skilled workers. This focus on free thinking and self-government is especially crucial to the life of a democracy. A classical education focuses on critical thinking skills, logic, debate, and rhetoric, i.e., the art of expressing the best ideas in the best way. In the true sense of the liberal arts, the lessons in a classical education are designed to make men and women more free. As Americans search for solutions to current issues, we should address past educational models that worked.

With its focus on critical thinking skills and practice in eloquent oral and written communication, a classical education prepares students in a democracy to be informed, self-governing citizens. In his book, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes our Future, Mark Bauerlein notes Thomas Jefferson’s understanding of the link between freedom and an educated populace: “Education would preserve the sovereignty of the people, and without it, the very system designed to represent them would descend into yet another tyranny in the dismayingly predictable course of nations” (2008, 212). Modern schools aim to produce good workers, a form of utilitarianism, while turning their back on the important task of raising adults who understand human nature and the complexities of human institutions.

Classical education is steadily gaining momentum as more and more classical schools open around the country. Likewise, many home-educating families have turned to this model, and they seek to educate their children with excellence. Leigh A. Bortins has founded a company to address these needs. Her corporation, Classical Conversations, has established classical communities across the country to support families who wish to give their students a classical education. Students meet once a week to discuss great literature, debate current events, conduct science experiments, present philosophy lectures, and generally sharpen one another’s thinking and communication skills. In her book, The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education, Ms. Bortins outlines the goals of a classical education: “Both factory and computer education rob a child of the need to think and replace loving, caring mentors with a machine or a system. The classical model emphasizes that learning feeds the soul and edifies the person rather than producing employees to work an assembly line” (2010, 5).

Now that the goals of a classical education are established, the method itself can be examined. To summarize briefly, the classical model occurs in three phases of learning known as the Trivium, which is Latin for “three roads.” Grammar, the first stage, roughly corresponds to our elementary schools, lasting until the student is 11 or 12. This stage involves memorization of the rudimentary facts of any subject. Memorization comes easily to these young students and is critical preparation for the higher orders of thinking. The goal of this stage is not rote memorization or cramming of meaningless facts that will soon be forgotten; in contrast, parents and educators train students to acquire a base of facts that they will use in later studies and to develop a mental system for organizing and retaining those facts.

Logic (or dialectic) comprises the next stage, corresponding to the junior high school grades. Students naturally become interested in asking why, debating issues, and reconciling ideas. The classical model complements their natural tendencies by teaching them formal logic and debate. In preparation for their own debates, they must be equipped to recognize and avoid errors in logic. Classical educators work with a student’s natural developmental tendencies at this stage by facilitating Socratic discussions of history, literature, philosophy, and science while helping them hone mental discipline through studies of Latin, formal logic, debate, and higher math.

Grammar and logic, the first stages of a classical education, have prepared the student for the final phase of the Trivium―rhetoric. By the end of the rhetoric stage, students should be able to speak and write persuasively and eloquently about any topic they have studied. One of the fundamental premises of a classical education is that words are important. During the logic stage, instructors teach students not to fall prey to the words of others. During the rhetoric stage, classical educators teach students to captivate others with their words. Like logic students, rhetoric students continue to discuss big ideas through history, literature, philosophy, and science. In addition, they now cultivate the best means of communicating these ideas through writing and speaking. They are not working to create clever or catchy sound bites (this is our modern conception of rhetoric); rather, they are honing their skills of recognizing what is true, good, and beautiful, and persuasively and eloquently communicating their knowledge to others.
A concrete example will help to illustrate the Trivium. A grammar stage student will learn that George Washington was the first president of the United States, that he was inaugurated in Philadelphia in 1793, and that the Constitution gave him certain powers as the leader of the executive branch. A logic stage student may delve more deeply into the reasons the Founding Fathers felt so strongly about separation of powers and checks and balances and may discover why Washington voluntarily stepped down after two terms. A rhetoric student will apply Washington’s leadership lessons to a position in a student legislature, deliver speeches about presidential precedents, or debate current events and legislation in light of Washington’s presidency.

In addition to employing a methodology that works with the mental and spiritual developmental stages of students, a classical education embraces material that prepares students to understand the philosophers, political leaders, authors, and artists who have influenced our culture. Perhaps it is time for American educators to re-examine the classical methodology in order to produce leaders who are prepared to preserve and re-energize our democratic society. Perhaps we could aspire to John Milton’s vision in Of Education by stirring our students to have “high hopes of living to be brave men and worthy patriots, dear to God, and famous to all ages.”

Jennifer Courtney, with her husband Tim, has been classically home educating her four precious children for six years. She currently serves as the Oklahoma State Manager for Classical Conversations, Inc. In this role, she recruits and trains directors in the establishment of classical home education communities. She also writes classical education articles and speaks to parents and other educators who want to understand and implement a classical education. Jennifer graduated summa cum laude from Oklahoma State University with an Honors degree in English. Her background in the liberal arts inspired her to encourage others who desire to mentor young people as they explore the great ideas of the past in preparation for the future.