Banning “tag”

A Washington state elementary school banned the game “tag” on the playground.  The purpose was to prevent children from touching each other.  After parents protested, tag was reinstated, but schools are giving recess new scrutiny. [Read more...]

What’s the best way to teach violin?

My brother Jimmy, in response to my post about the Winfield music festival that we went to, made this comment and raised an interesting question:

A great time was had by all. I enjoyed visiting and picking with Fred, and you can count me in on your suggestion to have a Cranach campfire and jam session next year.

One of the things I would like to talk about is the O’Connor
Method of teaching violin. I started playing violin about five year ago. For the first year I took private lessons from a violin teacher using the Suzuki method. It was probably a good idea to learn the basic techniques and principles with private lessons. However, in the process I did learn something about the Suzuki method and I too share in the criticisms of this method voiced by Mark O’Connor. [Read more...]

New edition of our book on classical education

The book that I did with Andrew Kern some time ago is back in a new, expanded, updated edition.  Its title and subject: Classical Education. [Read more...]

Criticism leads to revision of AP History Exam

The last version of the Advanced Placement History exam, which allows high schoolers to test out of college courses–as well as the material required to prepare for it–bought into the leftist revisionist history movement, portraying American history mainly in terms of how oppressive it was.  (See this and this.)

Conservative parents and academics pushed back.  And now they have won a rare victory, with the College Board revising the exam to eliminate bias and to include more of the good things about America.  Some critics are pleased with the revision, while others don’t think it goes far enough.  But still. . . . [Read more...]

How a Nobel prize winner got fired

Timothy Richard Hunt is a biologist who won the Nobel Prize.  A faculty member at University College London, a fellow of the Royal Society, and a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, he was knighted for his accomplishments.  But he said this in a speech:

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they’re in the lab: You fall in love with them; they fall in love with you; and when you criticize them they cry.”

A lame attempt at humor.  Offensive to women.  Politically incorrect. So he got fired from all of his positions!  Even though he has a Nobel Prize!  (I wonder if they can take that away from him.)

Lesson:  No one is safe making those kinds of remarks.  You can’t joke about this kind of thing.  Your intentions won’t count.  Your career will be in jeopardy.  For all of our alleged lack of inhibitions, we do have social taboos and you will be punished if you break them.  Even if you have a Nobel Prize. [Read more...]

Marva Collins, who brought classical education to the poor, dies

A pioneer in the rediscovery of classical education died last week.  Marva Collins was an inner-city school teacher who rebelled against the failures of the educational establishment by teaching her students Shakespeare, Socrates, and other challenging–but inspiring–subjects.  The obituary excerpted after the jump is illuminating but it calls her method “back-to-basics,” as if Shakespeare and classical philosophers were merely “basic.”  Rather, her method, which employed great books and  dialectical pedagogy, was genuinely classical, as is evident in her book The Marva Collins Way. She is important in showing that classical education is not “elitist,” as it is often described, but that it can be especially liberating for the poor or otherwise disadvantaged.

Some years ago when I was at Concordia Wisconsin, we had a Martin Luther King Day program.  The speaker was one of her students.  He couldn’t have been more than 13, but he gave an oration, in his high piping voice, that was as eloquent, learned, and inspiring as anything I had heard from a student at any age.

[Read more...]