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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.