Indiana Teacher of the Year Reviews the Primer UPDATED

Steve Perkins is the 2014 teacher of the year for the state of Indiana. This accolade is most impressive to me because he teaches Latin. The very concept that a classicist can be honored in the present regime of schooling is a surprise and a sign of hope and promise.He came across my book, A Primer for Philosophy and Education, at First Things, in Stephen Webb's theological review, and has begun writing a series about it at his blog. Like all good book reviews, he adds to the book itself and … [Read more...]

Why I’m Not Too Worked Up About Common Core

The history of compulsory schooling in the United States resembles the political history of Latin America, only its successes are fewer and shorter-lived. It is replete with failure, reform, reform of the reform, and more failed reform.From the Common School Movement in the 1830's, founded by Horace Mann, to the Common Core of today, there are identical language and themes along with unrealized and misguided aspirations throughout.If you look at the reforms stretching from National Defense A … [Read more...]

Lessons from a Veteran, Teacher

National holidays tend to bring out the most annoying personality traits of the mirror-imaged two sides --- the liberals and the conservatives --- that clutter the public discourse of this country. Sadly, I have a tendency to get caught up in that song and dance, too. But this misses the real opportunity that any holiday brings: a chance to recall stories, lives, and lessons, rooted in the person, not the ideological accoutrements. HERE IS A SHORT STORY AND TRIBUTE about my Tio Meme, Manuel R … [Read more...]

6 (-2) Reasons to NOT Send Your Son to College

<Editor's note: the original post had six reasons but then two of them seemed to be true so it was reduced down to four.>Most students in college would be much happier if they could buy their credentials at K-Mart and then train on the job and get started. I once polled a class of young men, asking them if they would rather let me hit them with a baseball bat and get an A or try to earn one the old fashioned way, and they all preferred the sporting method. Everyone knows that beating … [Read more...]

Compulsory Schooling and Preventative War — Or, Why Children Have to Go to School

In the secular liturgical cycle of the American year, two seasonal certainties stand out: going to school and filing taxes. In the late summer and early fall, we send our children to school under penalty of law. (Even students at charter, private, or home schools are still under the same structural authority, leveraged by truancy laws, as those who attend public schools.) In the late winter and early spring, we file taxes under similar legal compulsion.We all know that truancy and tax evasion … [Read more...]

Primer Update and Sneak Peek

My latest book --- A Primer for Philosophy & Education --- was released two weeks ago. Since then, there have been two reviews --- here and here --- posted on Patheos blogs and there are several more to come from Patheos and elsewhere.Entering this crucial third week, I'd like to ask you for your help once again. Anything helps: Facebook liking and sharing, Tweets, and especially personal recommendations to people you think might be interested are all a huge help. In the end, the proof is … [Read more...]

Sex Miseducation: Abstinence Doesn’t Make Sense UPDATED

Calah Alexander has written a powerful essay about the psychological and spiritual violence that is often inflicted on women by abstinence-only sex education.Read it.Since I seem to be in a womanist mood these days, I'd like to fully endorse her argument and bolster it with a very simple addition: teaching fertile females and virile males to abstain from having sex is crazy. It is almost as crazy as instructing trees to abstain from growing leaves in the spring.A student once interviewed me … [Read more...]

Constructivism and Its Discontents: An Interview

About a month ago, I was interviewed by one of my doctoral students, Emmanuel Mensah, for his qualitative social science research project on constructivism and teaching. I was shooting from the hip in a casual, coffee-shop environment, but I think I managed to think through some things, and make some distinctions, that I hadn't done before. My comments follow closely to a talk I gave at Wabash College in February, titled "The Teacher-Centered Classroom."For those who find the term … [Read more...]

The Teacher-Centered Classroom

Last week I gave two talks at Wabash College. The second talk was unfortunately not recorded. The administration at Wabash College seems to find very serious and somewhat technical lectures on aesthetics, philosophy, and teaching very dangerous these days---so much for the liberal arts. I recorded the noon talk, and the very interesting discussion that followed, myself; here it is, for those who might be interested: The Teacher Centered Classroom. Next week, I'll be training to Portland, OR, to g … [Read more...]

Benedict XVI’s Support for Catholic Schools

Father Ronald Nuzzi, a leading speaker and author on U.S. Catholic schools and director of the Alliance for Catholic Education’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, has a nice reflection on Benedict's support for Catholic schools.He cites Benedict XVI's pastoral visit in 2008, where he described Catholic schools as “an outstanding apostolate of hope.” He goes on to quote Benedict: [Catholic schools] provide a highly commendable opportunity for the entire Catholic community to contribute genero … [Read more...]