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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.