Happy 4th, or, umm…UPDATES

Happy 4th, or, umm…UPDATES July 3, 2010

When I was in elementary school, the typical class had 52 students, with one nun in charge of getting information into our heads.

The public schools had a better student-to-teacher ratio, but outside of religion the courses were the same, and they included a quaint little class called “civics.”

Civics class taught you things like: when, how and why America was formed. What the Declaration of Independence was; what the Constitution said, and the origination of the Bill of Rights. We learned about Federalism, the separation of powers, the structure of our government and why it was thusly formed. Our history classes taught us about Minutemen, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Dolly and James Madison, Marbury vs. Madison, Slavery, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Industrial Revolution and so forth. We learned the history of Europe, too, but American history had primacy.

Back then there was no federal Department of Education. Children went to school and had the times tables and the civics lessons drilled into their heads via rote memorization, with critical thinking applied to those lessons, in the upper grades, via “Current Events” classes. Students were rather the same as they are now, bored, social, cliquish, bullying or retiring, and they even formed tight, exclusive friendship. Their teachers did not tell them they were special. They were expected to be able to work individually and in groups, and test scores were configured on the correctness and completeness of actual test questions. Points were not given for merely “trying,” or for managing to begin and end and essay question with a stated thesis.

I have a good friend who teaches social studies in a “very good” local public high school. By “good” I mean it is well-funded by the taxpayers and routinely performs well in accordance to federal guidelines. She is a good teacher who feels truly called to the profession, and some of her stories could make your hair stand on end. She recently had to give a passing grade to a truly deplorable and undeserving student because, under the guidelines, the additional points she was forced to credit the student for managing to note that her concluding paragraph was, in fact, a conclusion, gave her the passing grade she needed to graduate. The student had already failed the test twice, but had finally learned how to take it, in order to pass.

45 years ago, we did not spend on education anything near what we spend, now. But as we see here, the people who were educated in the bad-old unenlightened, uncoddled days of rote memorization and unforgiving tests can actually answer a simple question like, “how many colonies were there, at the founding of the United States?”

Watch this; it’s depressing, and it makes one wonder if our kids are purposely being shortchanged in schools.

Perhaps if you want to control a country’s future, you must first insure that its citizenry are ignorant of its past, and distracted by its present.


Ed Morrissey: 1300 Words that Shook the World – a must read.

Our Divided Nation

Born on the 4th of July: Big Peace

Related on this Independence Day Weekend:

A Palate Cleanser:
64 Valedictorians?

An Iraq Vet: Reclaiming his life

Department of Justice not doing its job, or is it lying? Is this an abuse of power?

Richard Fernandez: And Justice for All

Doctor Zero: The American Faith

Leadership and putting politics first.

The Plague of Vague Laws

Jeb Bush: Not afraid of throwing kerosene on a bonfire

The Battle of Gettysburg

Fakery and shills

Sinking: under towering debt

WHY is the clean up so incredibly slow?

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