Important Skills Your Child Should Be Learning in School, but Isn’t

Is it fair to say that educators are failing in their supposed primary function?

In a recent Washington Post article, author Sarah Hamaker described how many young adults no longer know how to do simple, basic skills:

Colleges and employers alike are reporting that young people can’t do life’s most basic tasks. With all of our emphasis on academics and what it takes to get into college, essential life skills such as how to do laundry, balance a checking account, or cook a meal, have been overlooked.

Hamaker goes on to give several recommendations about the types of basic skills that parents should teach at certain stages of their child’s life:
skills such as reading labels, using kitchen utensils, fending for himself, and taking care of others.

Parents Have Been Demoted to Deputy School Teachers

In loco parentis, parents act in loco scholis!

I was giving a talk at Florida Gulf Coast University the other night near Fort Myers when I noticed a flyer on the door of the lecture hall. The sign (I wish I had gotten a picture now) read: “PARENT FREE ZONE.”

Rather than schools acting in loco parentis, parents act in loco scholis (in place of the school at home), tasked with enforcing the dictates of the school.

I chuckled at first, thinking it was more of a tongue-in-cheek joke to new freshmen who were used to having their parents around. Then my stomach sank when I had the realization that it probably wasn’t a joke.

Chances are that this sign had to be put up — not because the instructors in the classroom wanted to make a joke but because they had been harassed by parents who find it necessary to involve themselves in the academic lives of their adult children.

“Teaching is an art, not science”…and is “very dangerous to apply the aims and methods of science to human beings as individuals… ‘Scientific’ relationship between human beings is bound to be inadequate and perhaps distorted.” Lesson planning does not make a teachers teaching scientific. “Teaching involves emotions, which cannot be systematically appraised and employed , and human values, which are quite outside the grasp of science. A ‘scientifically’ brought-up child would be pitable monster… ‘Scientific’ teaching, even of scientific subjects will be inadequate as long as both teachers and pupils are human beings. Teaching is not like inducing a chemical reaction: it is much more like painting a picture or making a piece of music, or on a lower level like planting a garden or writing a friendly letter. You must throw your heart into it, you must realize that it cannot all be done by formulas, or you will spoil your work, and your pupils, and your self.”

Gilbert Highet
The Art of Teaching (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), vii-viii

Why Americans are Getting Dumber and How to Fix It

They were being taught in the 11th grade what I had been taught in the 9th grade

Recently I learned that long time economist Thomas Sowell is retiring from his position as a syndicated columnist. Curious, I flipped through an archive of his many columns and stumbled on one entitled Education: Then and Now, written in early 2006.

One paragraph in particular caught my eye. Like many of the older generation, Sowell notes that the education he received in the New York Public School system of the 1940s was stellar and well-rounded, a far cry from that experienced by children enrolled in the New York Public Schools of the late twentieth century:

Celebrated Teacher Explains Why Schools Don’t Produce Well-Educated Minds

Caesar’s "divide and conquer" strategy brought to peak efficiency

In recent years, a number of Americans have been awakening to the realization that today’s children are not receiving a high-quality education. The nation’s test scores in everything from reading to science are evidence of that.

But while many Americans now recognize what a good education is not, many are unsure exactly what it is.

Former New York school teacher of the year John Taylor Gatto once answered that question in his book Weapons of Mass Instruction. According to Gatto, the sign of a well-educated mind is one that can make connections and is connected to four different things:

There is a dilemma in American education. On the one hand, teachers are essential to student achievement. On the other, teachers unions promote self-interests of their members which are antithetical to the interests of students. So, how do we fix this problem? In five minutes, Terry Moe, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, delineates this quandary and offers solutions.

Law professors pen open letter denouncing Title IX overreach

Photo by: Elise Amendola Alyssa Leader, a recent Harvard graduate, listens while flanked by her attorneys Alex Zalkin, left, and Irwin Zalkin at a news conference, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Cambridge, Mass., about the filing of a Title IX civil lawsuit on her behalf alleging the university failed to adequately protect her and investigate complaints of sexual assault, harassment and retaliation. Leader says she was sexually assaulted between March 2013 and March 2014 on campus while she was a student at Harvard. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Photo by: Elise Amendola
Alyssa Leader, a recent Harvard graduate, listens while flanked by her attorneys Alex Zalkin, left, and Irwin Zalkin at a news conference, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Cambridge, Mass., about the filing of a Title IX civil lawsuit on her behalf alleging the university failed to adequately protect her and investigate complaints of sexual assault, harassment and retaliation. Leader says she was sexually assaulted between March 2013 and March 2014 on campus while she was a student at Harvard. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

A group of 21 law professors issued a public letter Monday protesting the U.S. Department of Education’s expanded interpretation of Title IX, which they said is chilling campus free speech and curtailing student due-process rights. The letter takes issue with a set of regulations unilaterally imposed by the agency’s Office of Civil Rights, mandating how colleges…

11th Annual Podcast Awards Are Underway

I need your support

Nominations for the 11th annual Podcast Awards are underway!

Do you listen to The Great Education Struggle Podcast? Here is your chance to nominate the podcast in the 11th Annual Podcast Awards!

This is a people’s choice award so all the nominations and votes come from podcast listeners like you.

Please go to PodcastAwards.com and nominate The Great Education Struggle in the Education category. While you’re at it, you may want to nominate some other podcasts, such as Israel and Brook Wayne’s, Family Renewal.

Nomination period ends April 30th.

As always thank you for your support and listenership.

Episode 67: Is the GED a Better Indicator of College Readiness Than a High School Diploma?

The New GED Performance Levels Announced

On January 26, 2016, I watched live as the GED Testing Service announced major changes to the GED exam.  After two years of study, GED Testing Service has decided to not just change the performance level indicators, but have also determined the old passing score was forcing GED graduates to meet a much higher performance standard than their high school graduate counterparts. Guess what they do and what it actually means?

In this episode, I explain the details and show how the GED might just be a better indicator of college and technical schools readiness than today’s high school diploma.

Episode 66: Chinese Immigrant: I have seen Common Core Before, in Communist China

Chinese-American Lily Tang Williams says Common Core reminds her of the Communist education she received under Mao Tse-tung

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Hundreds of thousands have been fighting the official federal takeover of public, private, and in large part, homeschool curriculum through the Common Core State Initiative.  Many of them see the similarities between the 20th-century totalitarian government schools systems and CCSS.  But often they are dismissed as using rhetoric, and living in the cold Cold War. But what would you say, if someone who lived in China under Mao Tse-tung rule, who completed her education in China and said, yes Common Core is the same standards and expectations Mao demanded of her and her classmates?

Yes, in fact, Lily Tang Williams has seen Common Core before!  It was the same education program she and her countrymen were forced to endure, and it has cost them and their country dearly.  Tune in this week, as we discuss Mrs. Willaiam’s Chinese education roots and experiences and how they compare to what she sees in Common Core.