Compulsory Viewing: Born to Learn

I think that it’s time to make a law that requires compulsory attendance to this web site at least once a week. After all, how are you going to learn interesting things and become educated, if we aren’t forced to learn them?

So I believe I will begin an ongoing COMPULSION series of posts that you, my loyal readers, should be forced to read, watch and learn from. Please attend these informative educational opportunities voluntarily until I can get a law passed that makes attendance on this blog compulsory.

Today’s Compulsory Viewing post is a video on how we learn naturally. You MUST watch it and learn from it. I’m sorry there won’t be a test or pop quiz. Turns out, I”m not allowed to administer tests or actually, do anything schoolish until after I have secured the proper laws that force you to attend these posts for educational purposes. Something about union rules and the tax structure…. Yeah… I skipped that lecture too.

So, consider it a free day.

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Learning Burnout? How About Schooling Burnout!

Please welcome my friend and SkippingSchool’s guest columnist, Linda Dobson. You can read more of her great work on homeschooling and learning outside the box of public schooling on her blog: Parent at the Helm.

Is Your Child Fired Up – Or Burned Out – On Learning?

By Linda Dobson

I can’t say why, when, or how it happened, but it did. At some point after compulsory schooling began a mere 150 years or so ago, our society accepted it as perfectly normal and natural: Children hate going to school. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the school culture itself enforces the notion with an unwritten rule that those who are smart and/or enjoy classes are geeks, nerds, or just plain weird.

Then there’s that compulsion feature itself, compounded by No Child Left Behind’s focus on test scores. How often does the situation in learning coach Jennifer’s home play out across the nation?

“Three years ago Bethany couldn’t wait to go to kindergarten,” Jennifer remembers, “and she thrived. But within the first few months of first grade her attitude began to change. At first she just complained that she had to go to school, but by third grade she actively fought it.” Exasperated, Jennifer was unsuccessful trying to talk with Bethany, so she turned to the teacher.

“It happens all the time,” the teacher told Jennifer. “She’s burned out.”
Burned Out on Learning

“How does an eight year-old ‘burn out’?” Jennifer asked.

“There are a variety of contributing factors,” the teacher confided. “For some kids, we move too quickly and they can’t keep up. For others, the opposite is true; they get bored and tune out. Some don’t really wake up until after they’ve been in school for hours, while others get distracted while trying to keep childhood energy in check enough to sit still. Some don’t see a purpose, and still others just plain aren’t interested in what I’m talking about. Try as we might it’s impossible to be all things to all children, and we lose some along the way. For what it’s worth,” the teacher added, “Bethany is extremely bright and creative. That’s how we lost her.”

“Lost her?” exclaims Jennifer. “My baby had months to go in this woman’s classroom and she considered her ‘lost’? I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry in my life, and I vowed then and there to change burned out on learning to fired up at home.”

__________
“By the end of their sixth year in school, children whose preschool experiences had been academically directed earned significantly lower grades compared to children who had attended child-initiated preschool classes. Children’s later school success appears to have been enhanced by more active, child-initiated early learning experiences.”
__________

So what did Jennifer do when she didn’t want to lose any more precious family time together to school-related activities? Especially when she was unable to take complete educational responsibility through homeschooling?
Being Your Child’s Learning Coach Can Help!

In the warmth and comfort of home, she became Bethany’s learning coach. Instead of acting as just another in a long string of teachers, drilling the multiplication tables or quizzing her child on a long list of dates related to the Revolutionary War, Jennifer focused on three elements vital to academic success that aren’t addressed in crowded (or even many uncrowded) classrooms.

• One-on-one attention

• Basic learning skills the child may apply to any area of study

• Educational customization based on learning style, innate intelligences, and interests

Researchers, too, are noticing the results of facilitating learning in lieu of teaching. In 2002, the University of North Florida’s Rebecca A. Marcon reported on a comparison between three diverse preschool models. The first was child-initiated, including lots of free exploration of interests. Next was the academically directed approach, focusing on early curriculum material. The third was a “combination” approach. Marcon writes, “By the end of their sixth year in school, children whose preschool experiences had been academically directed earned significantly lower grades compared to children who had attended child-initiated preschool classes. Children’s later school success appears to have been enhanced by more active, child-initiated early learning experiences.”

From The Learning Coach Approach: Inspire, Encourage, and Guide Your Child Toward Greater Success in School and in Life by Linda Dobson

Read Linda’s companion article: “You Can Help Your Child Learn: The Learning Coach Approach” on her blog: ParentAtTheHelm.com. You can also find her books on Amazon.com.
Linda Dobson and family began their homeschooling journey in 1985. They were having so much fun together that she wanted to share news of this educational approach with as many other families as possible. She co-founded a local homeschooling support group that now offers support and learning activities to a growing membership. She helped found and for the first two years served as coordinator of the New York (State) Home Educators’ Network. Upon creation of the National Home Education Network (NHEN) in 1999 she served as its first public relations advisor as a media contact providing reporters, journalists, and researchers with background information and interviews. She was also Homeschool.com’s early years’ advisor.

Quoting Thomas Jefferson: Public School Snob?

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” *

What a snob. What an elitist! What a Republican… wait. Oops. He was a Democrat, wasn’t he? I was looking through some quotes from President Jefferson, because I had been hearing way too much about how Jefferson was the master planner of the modern public school system, and how he wanted every child to be educated at the expense of the state. If Jefferson is your hero in this regard, please read on.

But if you want to remain ignorant to the fact that Thomas Jefferson was an education snob that really couldn’t imagine the idea that all children should complete their education and go on to college… maybe you should move on.

Let’s take a look at what I found! We’ll warm up with several quotes that make Sara Palin seem like a moderate:

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson: Education Snob

“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

Holy cow! Jefferson was a Tea Party hate monger!

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

Now this is where we get into the subject of Government Run, Taxpayer Funded Schooling. Taxpayers are subsidizing the propagation of ideas they find abhorrent. They have been doing so for generations. And now it’s time to think about going back to the type of public schools Jefferson really wanted.

At BigEye.com, in a post called, Thomas Jefferson’s plan for “Public” Schooling, Albert Jay Nock was quoted extensively. Nock gives us a different–and probably more accurate–perspective of how Jefferson thought public education should work: [emphasis added]

For some reason that I have never been able to discover, Mr. Jefferson seems to be regarded as a great democrat; on public occasions he is regularly invoked as such by gentlemen who have some sort of political axe to grind, so possibly that view of him arose in this way. The fact is that he was not even a doctrinaire republican, as his relation to the French Revolution clearly shows. When Mr. Jefferson was revising the Virginia Statutes in 1797, he drew up a comprehensive plan for public education.

Each ward should have a primary school for the three R’s, open to all. Each year the best pupil in each school should be sent to the grade-school, of which there were to be twenty, conveniently situated in various parts of the state. They should be kept there one year or two years, according to results shown, and then all dismissed but one, who should be continued six years. “By this means,” said the good old man, “twenty of the best geniuses will be raked from the rubbish annually” — a most unfortunate expression for a democrat to use! At the end of six years, the best ten out of the twenty were to be sent to college, and the rest turned adrift.

(Read Nock’s entire essay at the Ludwig von Mises Instutute)

Well! I am certainly all for Jefferson’s plan for educating the youth of America! I’ll fill you in on all the particulars next time you get all excited about how Jefferson wanted our schools to be just like they are now.

 

* Special thanks to the first person to comment on this article for the clarification of the first quote attributed to Jefferson. The actual quote, found here, says pretty much the same thing, only with a lot more words. But since the quote I found above is getting enough traction to warrant an “official” site to make the corrections… I thought I’d let it stand.

Skip School or Starve!

You read that right: Skip School or Starve! Sound a little drastic?

Maybe. But you’ll probably think that’s tame compared to the editorial I found at Las Vegas Review-Journal.com.

The real title of the piece by Vin Suprynowicz is called: Time to separate school and state. Yeah… we’ve heard it over and over again. Old news. Well read this in its entirety below, and let me know what you think.

In my opinion, he’s setting us up for accepting the idea of what I’ve been calling the Welfare Schools of the future. Essentially, the state will either have to crack down and force everyone into state institutions called schools, or they will have to allow people to simply leave and find their own means of gaining knowledge. This will leave, in the buildings we now call schools, thousands and thousands of children with parents who either can’t afford or can’t be bothered to provide educational opportunities for their children, outside of the instruction/indoctrination provided by the State.

But I’m taking up precious reading time. Please read this and think on it. I believe you will be able to see the future of Government Schooling from here:

Time to Separate School and State

rj-vin20suprynowiczBy Vin Suprynowicz
Posted: Los Vegas Review-Journal, December 26, 2010

We keep getting letters explaining government schools can’t turn out as good a product as private schools — even private schools spending less per student — since the private schools choose their students, while mandatory government youth internment camps have to “take every which one.”

In a speech he gave after being named New York City’s Teacher of the Year (yes, “public school”) in 1989, John Taylor Gatto famously said:

“Our form of compulsory schooling is an invention of the state of Massachusetts, from around 1850. It was resisted — sometimes with guns — by an estimated 80 percent of the Massachusetts population, with the last outpost, in Barnstable on Cape Cod, not surrendering its children until the 1880s, when the area was seized by the militia and the children marched to school under guard. …

“Senator Ted Kennedy’s office released a paper not too long ago claiming that prior to compulsory education the state literacy rate was 98 percent, and after it the figure never again climbed above 91 percent, where it stands in 1990. …

“Last month the education press reported the amazing news that children schooled at home seem to be five, or even 10 years ahead of their formally trained peers in their ability to think.

“If we’re going to change what’s rapidly becoming a disaster of ignorance,” Mr. Gatto continued, “we need to realize that the institution ‘schools’ very well, but it does not ‘educate’; that’s inherent in the design of the thing. It’s not the fault of bad teachers or too little money spent. It’s just impossible for education and schooling to be the same thing. …

“Schools were designed … to be instruments for the scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce … formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.

“To a very great extent, schools succeed in doing this. But our society is disintegrating, and in such a society, the only successful people are self-reliant, confident, and individualistic — because the community life that protects the dependent and weak is dead. …

“When children are given whole lives instead of age-graded ones in cellblocks, they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic with ease. …”

There’s a lot more. You can find it easily online.

I’m just trying to imagine the men with the bayonets explaining to the residents of Barnstable, back in 1880, “See, when Alexis de Tocqueville toured the United Stated in 1831, he reported our American working class were more literate, better read, more up-to-date on the affairs of the day than those of any European nation. But we’re here to force you to give up the voluntary, community-based schools that accomplished that, and instead herd your kids into tax-supported, coercion based, collectivist government schools on the Prussian model because a bunch of Ph.D.s think it’s a better way for government to control the masses.

“Just think of it! By 2010 this town’s high school graduates won’t be able to reliably spell, count change, or structure a proper English sentence, all things your fifth graders can do today! We wish we could promise you better results, but after all, our new tax-funded youth propaganda camps ‘will have to accept every which one.'”

The premise was that government could do the job better, if they could just wrest those kids away from the bad influence of their parents. Yet now they explain they’re failing because “The parents aren’t doing their part”! This is like the Khmer Rouge saying their revolution couldn’t succeed until they killed every Cambodian who knew how to read, and then whining that of course, things aren’t working out: those darned educated elites refuse to do their part!

The current paradigm, endlessly brayed, is that we “have a collective responsibility to pay taxes to fund the schooling of other people’s kids, because they’re our future.”

In fact, we all know the Pilgrims were starving, back in 1622, thanks to similar collectivist notions.

Prosperity only came when Gov. Bradford authorized private gardens, with each family allowed to eat what they grew, and those who didn’t work condemned to starve.

Once they did this, no one starved. They voluntarily worked.

Since the “collective obligation” paradigm has failed so utterly in modern American schooling, as well, let me propose a new one: We have no obligation to educate anyone’s offspring but our own.

In fact, while we are, of course, free to indulge our instinct to charity by offering to voluntarily help fund the schooling of orphans and such, the nation will again thrive only when we realize this is a competition. I have a vested interest in seeing my own children receive an education. Meantime, I hope all you deadbeats out there don’t do a thing to educate your kids, because that will reduce the competition for my kids.

This is not an hereditary elite, but an equal opportunity meritocracy. Learn now or starve later.

The argument will be offered that the pathetic unmarried welfare mom will have no ability to fund her own kids’ educations, even if we allow her to keep the money she’s now spending in sales and property taxes (yes, renters pay property tax, even if it’s not itemized) since the father is a long-absent crackhead.

But this presupposes that minority women must always bear children to absentee crackheads. In fact, put young women in a position to say, “Wait a minute, you mean to tell me once I bear a child there’s going to be no government agency to provide me with food stamps, housing subsidies, and a basically worthless tax-funded ‘free education’ — that this kid will be worthless to help support me in my old age unless I pay for his schooling?” and you might notice something very refreshing happening,

You might notice those young women saying, “Well then, I can’t afford to bear a child by this shiftless gangster. I wonder if that young man who was so nice to me at church is still interested. He’s a little boring, but he might be the kind who’d actually land a job and stick around and help me raise my kids.”

Why couldn’t it work that way again? Because minority women, unlike Anglo women, are incapable of figuring this out for themselves?

What are you, a racist?

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal, and author of “Send in the Waco Killers” and the novel “The Black Arrow.” See www.vinsuprynowicz.com.

The Government Education Complex Defined

“The “Government Education Complex” is the interlocking set of interests that control the vast majority of American education dollars, education policy, and the steady increase in unnecessary education job creation.”

There it is… in a nutshell. From this, flows most of my theories about how Government Schooling is damaging generations of children.

The following is a more concise definition of how I (and others of my ilk) define and frame our arguments against Public Schools, Government Schools, and State Schools. Actually, for years we’ve been discussing on my AltEdDiscourse List, the problems with Government Schools using this term as a basis for defining all of the systemic problems with Government Run, Taxpayer Funded (GRTF) Schooling. Bruno Behrend has been a huge contributor to our discussions on AltEdDiscourse in the past, and he continues with the Heartland Institute today.

And so, with special thanks to my good friend, Bruno, I would like to present his concise definition of the GEC and why our Government Schools will never be fully reformed until we fundamentally change how we pay for and deliver “education.”

If you want to discuss with me, the state of public education, please read this first. It’ll be good for you to know where I’m comin’ from.

The Government Education Complex

by Bruno Behrend

The “Government Education Complex” is the interlocking set of interests that control the vast majority of American education dollars, education policy, and the steady increase in unnecessary education job creation. The explosion of spending, debt, and taxation we’ve witnessed in the last 25 years was used to fund the growth of this Complex.

The complex is made up not only of associations of administrators and teachers unions, but an interconnected network of bond dealers, builders, architects, law firms, textbook companies, and other service providers who profit off of the overproduction of service contracts, debt, public employment, and bureaucracy. This interlocking network has played a role in funding the campaigns of thousands of elected officials at all levels and in both parties.

Like the Military Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned of, the “Government Education Complex” is politically powerful and completely self-interested in perpetuating itself. Unlike the Military Industrial Complex, which has provided America with the most effective fighting force on the planet, the Government Education Complex has failed to provide our society with the educated populace we are paying for.

Rather, it merely uses our children as a stick to beat more money out of us while providing, at best, a mediocre education for the lucky. The unlucky get to go to America’s urban drop-out factories.

The vast sum of political money raised by the “Government Education Complex” is used to write legislation at the state level to grow the complex while protecting it from any competition. State school codes are written by and for the complex and its members and passed by the political class whose campaigns they fund.

The “Government Education Complex” succeeds because of one key factor in its structure – the school district. The “district” is an artifice that provides voters and citizens with the false perception of “local control.” In fact, your local school district is merely a “franchise” of the centralized complex – like McDonalds, only more expensive. That is why America has literally thousands of school districts, almost all of which are creatures of the individual states’ school codes. While there is some variation state to state and district to district, most of that variation is due to differing socio-economic or regional factors, not district autonomy.

This raises the question of whether the “Government Education Complex” is corrupt. The short answer is, “Yes.” At any given moment, you can find hundreds of local news stories about wasted money, insider contracts, or the difficulty citizens encounter when looking into school district finances. The entire process, from the complex property tax collection system to the overly complex fund accounting dictated in many states, is designed to obfuscate spending.

The long answer is more complex, simply because a great deal of what most regular citizens call “corruption” has been legalized by most state school codes. The Government Education Complex is designed to grow itself while spending money by the billions. It is operating exactly as intended. The actual education of America’s children is not its agenda. Spending money is its agenda.

In conclusion, the Government Education Complex cannot be reformed. It must be dismantled. If you are serious about educating America’s children, you must disabuse yourself of the notion that any combination of tepid reforms – a transparency law here, a teacher merit pay tweak there, or teacher measurement improvement law anywhere – can “fix” our education system.

Dismantlement means that we need to move toward the money following the child to a much more vast array of education content providers. We need to create a “Parent/Child Education Network.” This means that there will be a place for every imaginable learning system, from the traditional school to international digital learning content beamed to tablets and smart phones. This Parent/Child Education Network must replace the Government Education Complex.

That should be your goal, and every incremental step in education reform must be measured by whether it leads there. Anything that leaves the Government-Education Complex in place will fail to improve America’s education outcomes.

Bruno Behrend works for the Heartland Institute. Here’s a similar post in his words at SomewhatReasonable.com.
Bruno Behrend
Director of the Center for School Reform
The Heartland Institute
19 South LaSalle Street #903
Chicago, IL 60603
phone 312/377-4000
fax 312/377-5000
bbehrend@heartland.org
http://www.heartland.org