Manliness: A Contest

One of my former students, Nathan Martin, had worked with Reagan culture czar Bill Bennett on his sequel to The Book of Virtues, a collection of classic and contemporary readings entitled  The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood.

It explores the traits and virtues of manhood, some arguably lost in our feminized and gender-neutral age, using stories, poems, and reflections from authors ranging from Homer and Shakespeare to Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan.  (Luther even makes an appearance!)  The book is divided into chapters  dealing with Man at War; Man at Work; Man in Sports, Play, & Leisure; Man in the Polis; Man with Woman and Children; Man in Prayer and Reflection.

The Acknowledgements credit not only Nathan but also a slew of other Patrick Henry College products:  Christopher Beach, Olivia Linde, Brian Dutze, Shane Ayers, and David Carver.  That’s virtually the whole research team, drawing on their background in the Great Books, their perceptive thinking about these issues,  and their writing and editing skills.  So I’m very proud of them.

Nathan is also a fan of this blog (you might also recognize some of those other names as occasional commenters) and of the discussions that we have here.   He sent me two copies of the book, one for me and one to give away on my blog.

So I will celebrate my birthday Hobbit style:  Instead of getting a present, I will give a present.  Well, actually I’m not giving it; Nathan is.  And it won’t really be a gift.  Unlike God, I am making you earn it.   I’d like to start one of our famous discussions.  And the person deemed to have made the best comment will receive the free book.  (I haven’t quite determined how this will be decided yet.  Maybe it will be obvious.  Maybe we’ll vote on it.)  The comments, for the purposes of the contest, will be closed at midnight Eastern time on Sunday.

So here is the topic for discussion:  What is “manliness” in your thinking and in your experience?

I’d like to hear from women (what are the masculine traits that you look for in a man?) and men (when did you have to “act like a man,” and what did that entail?), and from people in various stages of life (boys, youth, husbands, fathers, and old guys like I have now become).

By the way, if you don’t want to hold out for a free book, you can buy one by clicking the links.

 

Different takes on the LCMS school case

Here are two different framings of the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC case that was just heard before the Supreme Court.  The first shows why so many religious groups are backing the LCMS school:
Washington Wants a Say Over Your Minister–Wall Street Journal

The second is slanted towards the rights of the disabled:

Supreme Court Weighs Rights Of Parochial-School Teachers : NPR.

Then there are many confessional Lutherans who disapprove of teachers being conflated with pastors and so oppose the congregation’s claim for a “ministerial exception.”

I suspect there are also LCMS teachers and others who support the notion of the teacher’s “call” and yet sympathize with her for being discriminated against because of her disability.

How do you think the court should rule, and how do you think it will rule?  What measures should the church body take to address these issues?

Study supports structured homeschooling

Science Daily reports on a Canadian study of homeschooling, one that comes across as objective and unbiased, finding that kids homeschooled with a structured curriculum really do perform better than their public school peers.  “Unschooling,” though, the approach to homeschooling that is even more progressive than public schools in doing away with structure altogether to just let kids do what they want, does NOT work.

A new study from Concordia University [in Canada, not a part of the LCMS university system] and Mount Allison University has found that homeschooling — as long as it’s structured or follows a curriculum — can provide kids with an academic edge.

“Structured homeschooling may offer opportunities for academic performance beyond those typically experienced in public schools,” says first author Sandra Martin-Chang, a professor in the Concordia Department of Education, noting this is among the first nonpartisan studies to investigate home education versus public schooling.

Published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, the investigation compared 74 children living in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick: 37 who were homeschooled versus 37 who attended public schools. Participants were between 5 and 10 years old and each child was asked to complete standardized tests, under supervision of the research team, to assess their reading, writing, arithmetic skills, etc.

“Although public school children we assessed were performing at or above expected levels for their ages, children who received structured homeschooling had superior test results compared to their peers: From a half-grade advantage in math to 2.2 grade levels in reading,” says Martin-Chang. “This advantage may be explained by several factors including smaller class sizes, more individualized instruction, or more academic time spent on core subjects such as reading and writing.”

The research team also questioned mothers in both samples about their marital status, number of children, employment, education and household income. The findings suggest that the benefits associated with structured homeschooling could not be explained by differences in yearly family income or maternal education.

The study included a subgroup of 12 homeschooled children taught in an unstructured manner. Otherwise known as unschooling, such education is free of teachers, textbooks and formal assessment.

“Compared with structured homeschooled group, children in the unstructured group had lower scores on all seven academic measures,” says Martin-Chang. “Differences between the two groups were pronounced, ranging from one to four grade levels in certain tests.”

Children taught in a structured home environment scored significantly higher than children receiving unstructured homeschooling. “While children in public school also had a higher average grade level in all seven tests compared with unstructured homeschoolers,” says Martin-Chang.

via Structured homeschooling gets an A+.

HT: Joe Carter

College football reshuffling

Well, my team, the Oklahoma Sooners, ranked #1, beat the highest rated team on their schedule, #5 Florida State, making me think they are for real.  OU has had a habit of losing games like this–early in the season, on the road, pre-mature hype–but this time, though it was a very hard-fought and exciting game, there was no choking, no appearance of disorganized panic when things got hard, just relentless football that ground out a 10 point victory.

But now I’ve heard that OU is seriously considering leaving what’s left of the Big 12 conference–along with Oklahoma State and maybe Texas, and I don’t know who all–for the Pac 12.   Oklahoma is nowhere near the Pacific ocean!  We are two time-zones away from the West Coast! A 7:00 p.m. road came will start at 9:00 p.m. in Oklahoma 5:00 p.m. in California!

I am opposed to doing violence to regional identity, language, and mathematics.   This is not the only conference shuffling in the works.  Texas Christian University, in roughly the same longitude as Oklahoma, is joining the Big East!  I don’t know the reasons for these shifts–I suppose the other conference members aren’t bringing in as much money for the pot as the members of these other conferences do–but I hate the loss of primordial rivalries (such as OU and Nebraska, which has already absconded to the Big Ten, now consisting of 12 members, with the Big 12 consisting of 10 members; the conferences should at least exchange names, until next year when the Big 12 may shrink to the Little 7).

I do see one potentially silver lining.  There are currently six Division-1 conferences in the BCS system.  The Big East is also bleeding members, with Syracuse and Pittsburgh considering joining the Atlantic Coast Conference.  If the Big 12 dissolves and the Pac 12 growing to unmanageable proportions, maybe it could split into two.   We could have four major conferences:  Perhaps a northeast, a southeast, a northwest, and a southwest, or if football wants to eliminate regions in favor of these artificial alliances, so be it.  But then with only four conferences, the winners could play each other.

Maybe all of this conference re-shuffling is the free market making possible a true national championship.

The end of cursive handwriting

When I was in grade school, penmanship kept me off of the honor roll.  Today most schools have not only dropped penmanship, they do not even teach cursive writing anymore

Most states don’t require children to learn cursive writing anymore. Some 46 states have adopted the Common Core Standards, a set of educational guidelines that do not require cursive writing as part of a school’s curriculum. The state of Indiana recently announced it would drop a district requirement to teach cursive writing as of this fall. Instead, students must be able to type on keyboards.

Technology has pushed cursive writing off the agenda of many school systems across the country. As a result, Handwriting Without Tears founder Jan Olsen sees more sloppy handwriting in schools today.

“If you stop teaching handwriting in the second grade, you’re going to have a generation of people who write like second graders,” says Olsen, whose company teaches a clean and simple style of cursive that avoids the fancy curls and swirls of old-fashioned script. . . .

“Handwritten documents convey important cultural information about authors,” says Davis Schneiderman, novelist and chair of the English Department at Lake Forest College. “These documents also suggest an authenticity that electronically produced documents do not. The Declaration is an index of its time as well as clue to the physicality of its signers. Imagine ‘John Hancock’ typed in an 18-point Times New Roman font. The proud fury behind his oversized signature would be lost.” . . .

Granted, most workplaces are more likely to be dominated by computers and technology than pens and pencils and handwritten thank you notes. Its makes sense that computers are the go-to resource for researching and writing papers and other homework assignments.

And some writing experts aren’t worried about children not being able to read the original Declaration of Independence or sign their names in cursive. Historical documents can be reprinted in print form and children can be taught to sign their names in cursive for legal documents and birthday cards.

Yet teens who can’t write legibly — multimillionaire teen celebrities aside — do suffer. Even though many children use computers to write papers at home, most writing done within the school walls is still done by hand. (The country’s ongoing economic problems won’t likely add many computers to our nation’s public school classrooms in the next few years.)

“Without it [cursive handwriting] you lose the sense of having your thought process through your hand movements to create your language and thoughts to someone else,” says Michael Sull, a master penman in Spencerian script; past president of the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting; and author of four books on handwriting including, “American Cursive Handwriting,” which was released last month. “There is a great loss in the progress that could be made with children fostering their motor skill development, literacy training and concepts of communication.”

via Nation of adults who will write like children? – CNN.com.

Should we just let cursive go, like cuneiform, in our new word-processing information environment?  Shouldn’t we at least teach kids to, you know, sign their names, something that credit cards and legal documents still require?

Education & religion reconsidered

It has long been said that the level of a person’s religious commitment goes down proportionately to how much education that person has received.  But now it turns out that church attendance and Bible reading actually increases with education.  And so does theological liberalism:

People tend to become less religious as they become more educated, right? Not necessarily, according to a new study.

After analyzing data from a large national survey, University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist Philip Schwadel found that people actually tend to become more religious – by some definitions, at least – as they further their education.

“It all falls down to what you consider to be religious,” said Schwadel, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “If it’s simply attending religious services, then no. Highly educated people are not less religious; in fact, they’re more religious.”

“But if it’s saying the Bible is the literal word of God and saying that only one religion is the true religion, then they are less religious,” he continued.

Schwadel used data from the highly regarded General Social Survey, a cumulative and nationally representative survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago biannually since 1972.

Social scientists rely heavily on the “gold standard” General Social Survey, which provides cumulative data collected regularly between 1972 and 2010.

His study will be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Review of Religious Research.

Schwadel found that with each additional year of education:

– The likelihood of attending religious services increased 15%.

– The likelihood of reading the Bible at least occasionally increased by 9%.

– The likelihood of switching to a mainline Protestant denomination – Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian USA or United Methodist – increased by 13%.

via Study: More educated tend to be more religious, by some measures – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs.

So what do we make of that?

 


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