Sunday, February 13, 2011



My wife in her classroom - an Indian village in Alaska

I hate that adage. We are living in the here-and-now and we are fucking up our here-and-now. Children will have their own chance and time to fuck up their here-and-now, when they stick you, their parents, in the old-folks-home. (Actually, I don’t have much future and no kids to stick me in an old folks home; so, I am just sitting here reflecting on how I ended up who I am.)

To be fair to the little darlings, we have set a Herculean task for them. Not only has our population doubled every forty years, but our information base has also increased exponentially.

For those of you that don’t understand the math concept of exponential – it means doubling. If you take a chess board with sixty-four squares and place one grain of rice on the first square, two on the second square, four on the third square and eight on the fourth square etc. – you would end up burying the earth under 18.5 quintillion grains of rice (185 with eighteen zeros behind it.)

But I digress.


Let’s profile a comparison of the educated person of 1900, 1955 and 2011.


Repository of Knowledge:    The individual

Resources:    Newspapers and personally owned books

Ability:    Read and write – basic arithmetic


Basic Arithmetic/ basic science/ history/ literature

Desired Education:    High School

In 1900, high school was considered an adequate education. The individual’s personal knowledge was his repository of information and his resources were news papers and the few books that he owned. He could read, write and do mathematics computations. He had a basic knowledge of math, general science, history and literature


Repository of Knowledge:     The individual with access to books and libraries

Resources:     Newspapers, Radio, Library access: reference books, technical manuals

Ability:     Read and write – higher math and science


Math/ Algebra/ Geometry/ Calculus/ Trigonometry/ Chemistry/ Biology/ Physics/ History/ Civics/ Literature/ Grammar/

Desired Education:     College degree

By 1955 most businesses considered a two or four year college degree to be an adequate education. The individual was still his own repository of knowledge. His resources were news papers, radio, TV and books he owned or had access to through library resources, which including encyclopedias, atlases and technical publications


Repository of Knowledge:     World Wide Web – libraries and archives

Resources:     Computers, i-pads, cell phones

Ability:     Read and write – higher math and science – techno literate


Recent advances in Math/ Algebra/ Geometry/ Calculus/ Trigonometry/ Chemistry/ Biology/ Physics/ Earth Science/ History/ Civics/ Literature/ Grammar/ Electronic media/ Computer literacy/ Internet fluency/ Technology

Desired Education:     Graduate Degree

In the present, most businesses would consider a graduate degree as desirable. The base of knowledge has become so vast that the individual can not possibly retain all that he needs to known. His resources are now the World Wide Web, with instant access to information on an unprecedented scale. Our education depends as much on our ability to access and process information as to the retention of information.


The focus of today’s schools, thanks to political interference, is so broad that teachers are floundering in the information jungle. We need to get back to basics. Our elementary schools should focus on reading, writing, math and science. Our middle schools and high schools should focus on civics, history, geography, language arts, higher math and advanced science. All high school students should be furnished a laptop computer and have technology incorporated in the basic subject core. Disruptive students should be removed from the regular classroom and placed in alternative school where they have smaller classrooms and constant supervision and cannot disrupt the process of education. Sports programs should be an after school activity, but never operated in conflict with the academic curriculum

Schools should teach and parents should be held responsible for the welfare and behavior of their children. Schools can not be tasked to take over the parent’s responsibilities for health and welfare. Parents need to feed, cloth and get their children to school on time. Parents need to be held responsible for their children’s behavior in school, and out; and their supervision after school, with a responsible curfew and bed time. Birth control and the supervision of the child’s sexual activity is definitely a parent’s responsibility; though, sex-education should be a required class for junior high students. Social services, not the school, should be responsible for parenting shortfalls.

All educators know that parents and teachers must work together to educate children; but, the division of labor should be that schools supply the academic enrichment and parents be responsible for all the rest.

Is this idealistically? Absolutely, since the only require for being a parent is the ability to breed. And, as long as we have young, irresponsible women who breed and drop kids, society (and the schools) will have a problem dealing with the results.

These feral kids come to school with aberrant social behavior, psychological problems and with little or no parental control or oversight. They are incorrigible and disruptive – they have little basic knowledge and no desire to learn. When placed in a classroom with twenty or more students, these kids can and will bring teaching and learning to a halt. On the darker side, some of these kids are dangerous.

So we see that education has become a complex social issue that can not be solved with more teacher testing, standardized curriculum and a required standardized testing outcome. The failure in education is the failure in parenting and government over-regulation.


1. Remove the federal government from the educational process – their business should be funding only.

2. Remove all national standards from education.

3. Local school boards, made up of parents and other non educators, should be disbanded, or - at the most, convened in advisory capacity only.

4. Each state should have a State Board of Education, made up entirely of educators, that decides the process and standards for their unique populations.

5. Alternative schools should be instituted for habitually disruptive students.

6. More teachers should be hired and class sizes should never be more than 15 to 1 student/teacher ratio.

7. Educators should be paid professional salaries that correspond to their education and experience, with additional compensation for difficult placements.

8. Student loans should be forgiven for new teachers willing to accept difficult placements.

My next blog will be my third and final dealing with the problems of education:  we will take a look at the politics in education at the local level that negatively effects in-classroom teaching. 

1 comment:

  1. You are indeed an ole buzzard. I found your essays on education quite thoughtful and detailed. Well done.

    As to getting old, being old, I am just starting to appreciate that part of the trip at the ripe young age of 58.

    Your post on bill folds made me chuckle.

    Anyway, just another Mainer stopping by to say hey - "Hey"

    You keep writing and I'll keep reading. Thanks.


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