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Thursday, January 27, 2011

SOTU and Education

I just finished reading the SOTU speech and got to sit in on a interview with Arne Duncan on Facebook, which it appeared to be mostly viewed by pro pot people and the unemployed – at least according to the comments. Secretary Duncan answered questions from a panel of concerned groups from Mother’s to MTV. While I do not agree with having a US department of education, if Secretary Duncan does “narrow its focus” I will admit to being content under our current political landscape.
For the SOTU I thought President Obama was on top of what needs done in education “It’s the family that first instills the love of learning in a child” and “Let’s remember AFTER (my emphasis) parents, the biggest impact on a child’s success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom.” He also talked about the need for success to come from “the work of local teachers and principals; school boards and communities.” This emphasis will get us on the right track. Unfortunately states are looking at using these comments to mandate parent involvement.
When the public modern school system started taking place the only group that really broke out of this mold was the Catholic school system. So unless you are Catholic and raised Catholic until recently you likely went to public school. Using this assumption, these parents that are currently not involved, must have learned sometime in their 12-16 years of public education that they aren’t needed. They had to learn that assumption somewhere. It took a few generations for our education system to degrade to the point where it is today, it will likely take generations to fix. So how do we speed up this reversal, how do we step back?
The obvious answer is to encourage home centered education. “Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done,” the President eloquently put it. Many parents don’t feel adequate helping their child. This is because the system they went through failed them. These same adults feel the need to put their child into the same system that failed them. Many of these Adults were raised in the time our public schools ranked #1 in the world (now #9 according to PISA). That would indicate even when we were #1 our population wasn’t getting the education they needed.
Our system is designed for job training. When in our fast paced technology changing world jobs change our adult population hasn’t been trained to switch careers with easy. The problem is they were educated with a certain job in mind, instead of educated to love learning and how to learn. The people who know how to learn will not be unemployed long because they can pick up a new skill quickly. If we can teach our children today how to learn instead of learning certain subjects we can turn our education system around faster.
The only education system that teaches you how to learn is the Classical model. It is the only method that is used now to train our elite athletes; it is the method that our most learned uses, even if they don’t know that is the method they are employing. First you must know the grammar of what you are doing, swinging a bat, manufacturing tires, and developing green technologies cannot begin until you can discuss it with others and that is having a common language. The next step is practice and applying that knowledge to the unknown. The final step is explaining what you now know to someone else. A good tip in college was studying in groups and if you could explain a question and answer to the group then you likely knew it. Can you think of anything you do well that did not follow these steps? If not, then why don’t we use them to teach?

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to fix the Postal Service

Granted I don’t have savings associated to my plan, but I would think that this would cut their deficit significantly ($8.5 Billion). The main issue is the laws/rules that the post masters must follow that basically do not let them manage their branches. So if they had their hands untied and could actually try and run a successful business the American taxpayer could cut out 8.5 billion + interest.
The second issue is working 6 days a week. I think allowing them to cut out a day or two on deliveries based on each areas needs, and not on a national level. If the place is profitable they can continue to run 6 days a week. Local management is the key. It makes no sense to come down with a national policy.
The third issue is that everyone has a mailbox in front of their house. I’m confident that this isn’t a given right or need. All new neighborhoods should have 1 central location for mail, like an apartment complex. This would decrease the number of drivers needed to deliver the mail. This could be applied to rural communities so that they wouldn’t lose services, a big concern to politicians looking for reelection.
What are your thoughts?

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Role of Technology

Technology is the answer to our education problems, at least that is what those who spend money on Capitol Hill would have you believe. We need more computers, electronic white boards and Ipads or our students won’t be able to meet minimum requirements for jobs. Here lies the issue, minimum requirements. Our education system is based around minimum requirements, what do you have to know to get by. Literacy used to mean being able to read and understand classical books such as Moby Dick and Plato, now Literacy is if you can read the McDonalds menu. In math calculators have replace the human mind. What happens if the person accidently hits the wrong button, they don’t have their mind to reference that 20X21 does not equal 2100 and they must have pushed a wrong button
That is not to say the computers and technology shouldn’t be taught, but they should not be used as a crux to learning. Eventually you have to walk on your own, you can either be taught how to do that when you are young and it is easy for you to do that and you have plenty of time, or you can wait till that crutches have been pulled out from under you and your pushed into the real world, when it will be a struggle, because you are still starting from the beginning and now you have to fend for yourself.
Our nation has become one of minimum requirements, and that is what we receive. Technology may have a place in modern education, the one that keeps failing us, but to a classical education it is only a tool to be used after the mind perceives, not in place of the mind.

SC to cut teacher training

Zais - South Carolina should cut teacher training to save money. Too bad there isn't a free training seminar offered in South Carolina. Wait there are about 5 free 3 day trainings offered by Classical Conversations (none posted as of this writing).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Week of Learning

Classical Conversations is having is third and final State Manager training this week. There has been some good conversation on what is "Leading the Way with Integrity" and how to apply it to our own lives and our business model. We are using John F MacArthur "The Power of Integrity".

So what is your definition of "Integrity" and how can our society recapture it?

Please discuss below.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


As the New Year and a new congress is upon us small and medium sized businesses have ramped up their hiring. In fact December saw the highest one month private job growth since it started being tracked. The main factor I believe and has been noted elsewhere was the extension of the Bush tax cuts. I like to think of it as stability. The Federal government held hostage the unemployed while waiting until the last moment to determine the 2011 tax laws.
Not QE1 or QE2, which if my memory serves me cost 1.4 trillion and was handed out to big business, but at a cost of 800 billion (over 2 years) extension to “we the people”. Had this been done sooner we would have seen a recovery in mid 2010, and maybe the democrats would have held onto the house. They prefer to control your money and give it out as they see fit instead of allowing you to use your money as you see it.
The thing is if more people are employed then the Feds can bring in more tax dollars, which, shockingly, would bring down the deficit and help stabilize the economy through the use of free market principles. When free market principles are used to spend money, more money is made. When money is spent by the federal government they may do so on programs that doesn’t make sense, essentially wasting the money and making it even harder for those who can increase the standard of living in the US to do so.
In 2012, an election year, our small and medium business the engine of our economy will again be faced with the same economic tax uncertainty. Around the world it has proven “progressive” policies do not work. For 200 year America showed free market policies did, unless we return to those policies we will be face with the same economic problems Europe sees today.