Education is more exciting than I realized

Even though I know nothing about education (and even less about a field of study called "Education"), I was frightened enough reading about the teaching of "Education" to write a post about it. That post (and many other, far-better-informed ones) now appears in this week's Carnival of Education.

I never thought I'd be so interested in something so "non-political" as education, but my morbid fear and loathing of politics is heightened every time I see politics reach out and destroy another important thing in our lives which should not be political.

Here are a few examples from the Carnival:

  • This horrifying post reveals that teachers (at least in Virginia) no longer have to know basic math, while this post reveals why: teachers tend to study a thing called "Education" -- which in no way guarantees that they have any knowledge of what they will teach.
  • (The easiest way to solve the problem might be to simply prohibit anyone with a degree in "education" from teaching anything but, well, "education.")

  • And here's a common sense question: How can standardized tests be called "biased" if the low scorers had low scores because they were unable to read? Doh? What sort of idiot would argue that if you flunk a reading test because you can't read that the test is biased? I don't know, but I'll just bet that it would be the sort of idiot with a degree in education.
  • I had no idea how bad things were.

  • This post about dress codes is depressing, too. Students need dress codes in elementary schools -- not to instill self-respect or a sense of seriousness or professionalism in the kids, but to prevent gang violence. In elementary schools? (I've long thought school dress codes are good for kids, because, by inviting the trivial rebellion of flouting the dress code, they provide a rebellion-absorbent sort of buffer, thus distracting kids who might otherwise rebel in more destructive ways. Whether they're legal in public schools is another matter.)
  • Anyway, whatever the students might wear, the important thing is what they learn, right? But according to this post, "educators" can't teach reading, and they're upset to have people find out about it.
  • If that isn't bad enough for you, consider "ethnomathematics" -- a "culturally sensitive way to teach mathematics:
    we are now seeing the rise of "ethnomathematics":....could you image teaching one student only how to use quarter notes and another only whole notes because of their cultural background. That is insane of the face of it, and so is this "ethnomathematics." It would be like teaching pink kids that a chair is called table, brown kids should call it aardvark and yellow kids should call it kumquat.
  • I'm beginning to get it. The goal of the educrats seems to be to foster as much ignorance and illiteracy as possible as quickly as they can, thus creating more problems which demand solutions in the form of more and more money, and more and more "educators" with degrees in the mumbo jumbo which creates the mess. Nice way to build a political power base, but I think they should be made to stop calling it education, because it isn't.

    The Carnival of Education makes me glad we still have the First Amendment.

    Thank God for the Carnival! Until today, I never knew that mathematics could be made political, but the above post aroused my curiosity, and I found this:

    By showing that math is not just the product of white-male thinking, a number of professors hope to make math more agreeable to nonwhite students and to women.

    Or math meets politics: In the words of Ubiratan D'Ambrosio, a Brazilian mathematician who is a founder of ethnomathematics, the movement, which tries to increase respect for other cultures, is nothing less than "a step toward peace."

    "Mathematics is absolutely integrated with Western civilization, which conquered and dominated the entire world," Mr. D'Ambrosio wrote in response to an e-mail interview. "The only possibility of building up a planetary civilization depends on restoring the dignity of the losers and, together, winners and losers, moving into the new."

    I don't see what such nonsense has to do with dignity.

    Will it "restore the dignity" of my dead white illiterate ancestors?

    No. I much prefer thinking forward to backward thinking.

    Read the rest.

    posted by Eric on 06.29.05 at 10:51 AM


    "What sort of idiot would argue that if you flunk a reading test because you can't read that the test is biased? "

    Pretty much every politician, journalist, parent, educator, and student who've never bothered to learn much about psychometrics and/or who have an axe to grind against tests. I constantly find myself pointing out on my blog just how rarely anyone quoted in the press uses the term "bias" correctly.

    This error is so prevalent that I refuse to believe that everyone making this mistake is ignorant of the truth. Instead, I think many deliberately misuse the word "bias" because it's a loaded term and it makes for a good sound bite.

    Kimberly   ·  June 29, 2005 2:18 PM

    The media are biased (bi-assed) against guns and gun owners, as Jeff Soyer at Alphecca shows every week, but math tests are not biased against anybody except the dumb and lazy (i.e., me).

    Every day, in every way, I'm becoming more and more biased in favor of private schools, vouchers, and home-schooling. I'm against "progressive, permissive, regressive education (degenerate Deweyism)", as H. L. "Bill" Richardson called it. And that was back in 1965! The best book I have ever read or will ever read on education was and is Dr. Max Rafferty's Suffer, Little Children (1962). His style!

    The study of education is meaningful when it gets into such areas as how to effectively help children with learning difficulties, or how to notice the differences between how boys and girls learn, or how toddlers learn vs. how teenagers learn, and so on.

    The problem is that there isn't all that much there to justify an entire degree in the subject unless one intends to be a scientist studying the subject of human learning. Otherwise it would seem wise if most teachers had a few classes on education science and theory and practice--and otherwise concentrated on the basics of what they intend to teach.

    That would seem somehow to make sense, which may be why it's not done.

    Dean Esmay   ·  June 29, 2005 5:42 PM

    Well, it does kinda make sense to teach kids where various innovations in math have come from, simply because it's history and it's interesting. It does sort of wake kids up when you explain why our number system is called "Arabic."

    Other than that, most of the stuff mentioned in this "Carnival" is useless rubbish.

    Raging Bee   ·  June 30, 2005 3:13 PM

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