Tag: Education

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When it comes to going after the “invasion” of the Chinese into our education system, I doubt that any governor has been more aggressive than Ron DeSantis. Due to his condemnation of the Chinese, however, I have to question whether all his actions are warranted. Let there be no doubt that the Chinese have been […]

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‘The Courage to Be Free’: A Book Review


“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is to be gravely regarded.  Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.  It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system – ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.” — President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address, January 17, 1961

This is a quote that Gov. Ron DeSantis chose to place in his new book, The Courage To Be Free, and sums up the contents of this book.

I happened to catch the last few minutes of an interview by Mark Levin of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Levin commented that he read the book and found it was not your typical political read. He said to DeSantis that the governor doesn’t attack his competitors in the upcoming race in this book. It is a snapshot of how he grew up and how he came to make the choices he’s made. He wants to give people a picture of who he is — as a person, a governor, a husband and father, and a candidate for president of the United States. If Levin was impressed, I wanted to read it, and I am also impressed.

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Perennials are flowers that grow back every year. Once planted, the flowers can continue to bloom from one spring to another. The word “perennial” signifies what the flower does, coming back each year. In history the word perennial means “evergreen, continual, or lasting.” I have taken the definition upon myself to identify who I am […]

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I Don’t Give Grades, Students Earn Them


My favorite teacher movie is The Emperor’s Club. Kevin Kline plays Mr. Hundert, who inspires his students to learn the great principles of history. Mr. Hundert makes no apology for the hard work it will take to master the subject. And the teacher has high expectations for his students as well as himself. But I think the down-deep reason I resonate with The Emperor’s Club is that education is meant to be rigorous.

Perhaps Mr. Hundert’s ideal is behind the two questions, I ask my students to ask themselves. In each of my college syllabi, the questions are posed: (1) What do I want out of this course? And (2) What am I willing to do, to get what I want out of this course? If students decide to go to college because they want a degree, then the result of their work is theirs alone. Students decide how important the class is. Students are responsible for the work they do. Students account for what they produce in a class. Students earn the grades they receive. Students oversee their own learning.

And here is a story you won’t soon forget. I used to hate my students. I know. That sounds very harsh. But hear me out. I never had an education course before I started teaching and had no idea what to expect. I thought students would hang on my every word. Ha! Nothing could be or is further from the truth. But here is the thing. I discovered that my responsibility was to do the best teaching I could do. I surely failed many times. But the next lesson was a life-changer in my second year of teaching. It dawned on me that once the teaching was given, the student was responsible for the learning.

This week on The Learning Curve, guest cohosts Charlie Chieppo and Alisha Searcy join Dr. David Steiner for a wide-ranging discussion about the importance of education as a means of transmitting enduring wisdom to young people. Dr. Steiner discusses differences in K-12 education between the U.S. and the U.K., explores how schools of education may be contributing to the decline of K-12 education, reflects on the politicization of U.S. history and civics education, and talks about what states, governors, and state legislatures can do to lead systemic academic improvements. Dr. Steiner concludes the interview with a reading from his new book A Nation at Thought: Restoring Wisdom in America’s Schools.

Joe Selvaggi speaks with Thomas Berry, research fellow at Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies; they explore the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, how it mostly bars race as a factor in determining who gets admitted to college, the sharply contrasting views of American history the decision exposes, and what comes next for colleges seeking to ensure diverse enrollments.


Target’s Deceptive Transgender Agenda


You probably thought the big story about Target was their selling transgender clothing in the front of their stores. How clueless they were! Didn’t they learn anything from the Bud Light debacle? After the initial kerfuffle, they felt they needed to place the merchandise in a more subtle location; we assumed that they at least got the message that their blatant support for transgenderism was not acceptable to many in their customer base.

We were wrong.

I learned today that Target has been affiliated for years with GLSEN, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. GLSEN has co-sponsored Target’s transgender activities, led by Carlos Saavedra, Vice-President of brand marketing at Target—and the treasurer at GLSEN. Target has also provided donations to GLSEN reaching $2.1 million.

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As some of you know, I studied Zen Buddhism for 20 years and had aspirations to become a teacher, a sensei. But the closer I moved to my goal, the more difficulties I seemed to encounter. My teacher and I were experiencing a lot of tension in our relationship. Periodically she lost patience with me […]

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It Should Be the Same Everywhere


It is the question I am often asked, “How do you teach at a public university?”

Honestly, the answer should be the same wherever I practice my craft: I try to teach with excellence and benevolence. I explained the words this way.

“Excellence” to me means that I hold myself to a high standard of both content and communication. I want to set before my students the best content ideas that will help them hone their skills as thinkers and writers. For example, if I am teaching about ethics, I set before them great thinkers such as Thomas Sowell, Bari Weiss, Glenn Loury, or Robert P. George to help them wrestle with what is right or wrong. And as a communicator, I spend hours ahead of class time to make sure the message of that session comes across in ways that students will understand.

Introducing Great Books to Children


The decay of the American public school system has parents rightly worried. Public education’s abandonment of the western canon of literature and its replacement with woke substitutes has many parents homeschooling or supplementing their children’s education.

“Before Austen Comes Aesop: The Children’s Great Books and How to Experience Them,” by Cheri Blomquist, offers a roadmap for parents looking to supplement their children’s literary education. Blomquist goes beyond the traditional canon of great books of Western literature aimed at adult audiences. She argues that a subset of great literature was written for or adapted to children. She maintains young readers profit by studying age-appropriate great books before delving into books too mature for them to understand.

Blomquist opens the book developing and defending her thesis. Children better appreciate literature by starting with children’s classics, especially important classics as indicated by literary history. She expands this by explaining how and why children benefit from this approach. She outlines how parents can guide their children’s literary education.

Americans have always had mixed emotions about schooling: in popular literature and television, teachers are often depicted as tyrannical authorities, even as in classroom settings they often try to style themselves as “friends.” Dr. Rita Koganzon, professor of political science at the University of Houston, discusses the history of the idea of authority in education, dwelling on Enlightenment thinkers like Locke, Rousseau, and Bodin. Along the way, she covers contemporary issues like homeschooling and parents’ rights, and how attitudes towards those concepts have changed from the Early Modern period to the present.

More on Dr. Koganzon, https://uh.edu/class/political-science/faculty-and-staff/professors/koganzon/

This week on The Learning Curve, Cara and Gerard speak with University of Virginia Professor Dan Willingham about cognitive psychology and K-12 education. Professor Willingham discusses the psychology of learning and the research that shaped his thinking and writing, including his advocacy of using scientific knowledge in classroom teaching and education policy and his critique of the “learning styles theory” of education. They explore what elements appear to be missing from American K-12 schooling and schools of education; his support of E.D. Hirsch, Jr.’s Core Knowledge curricular work; and what must be done to improve students’ enjoyment of and performance in primary and secondary education.

Stories of the Week

LOL (or WOL)


Americans, like a majority of people on the planet, now walk around with the equivalent of the Library of Congress and an old-school, room-sized supercomputer in our back pockets. An inquiry that once involved perusing the annual publication listing all published magazine articles (remember that?) or scanning miles of microfilm, or even just picking up an encyclopedia … now merely requires us to ask Siri.

And so this, the present age is revealing the real obstacle to human progress: not the absence of sufficient information, but our own, profound lack of curiosity and/or common sense.

This week on The Learning Curve, guest cohosts Jay Greene and Mark Bauerlein interview renowned U.K. Oxford and ASU Shakespeare scholar Prof. Sir Jonathan Bate, discussing the timeless play Julius Caesar on the Ides of March. Sir Jonathan explains the Roman lessons for American constitutionalism, including warnings against the dangers of dictatorship and civil war. He explores the influence on Elizabethan England and Shakespeare of the classics, including the works of Cicero, Seneca, and Plutarch. Sir Jonathan explains the differing rhetorical styles Shakespeare uses in the funeral orations of Marcus Brutus and Mark Antony, as well as Brutus’ noble though ultimately failed effort to preserve the Roman Republic.  Sir Jonathan concludes with a reading from his book How the Classics Made Shakespeare, focusing on Cicero’s idea of “the peculiarly heinous nature of civil war.”

Stories of the Week

Don’t Believe Anything I Say


I was embarrassed. It was a stupid mistake. And I mean, “stupid.” I posted something on social media that looked “true,” when, indeed, it was false. Not “false” in the way of trying to mislead, but “false” in the way that I missed the clarification, “Upon further review, this story is false.”

I didn’t read all the way to the end. I rushed and did not do due diligence. True, it is a small thing. Not many read my reportage, save one, a friend, whose “wounds,” in this case, were good and true.

The momentary glitch in my thinking reminded me of what I have told students from Day One, “Don’t believe anything I tell you. Go. Search it out for yourself. Make sure what I’m saying is true.”

Quote of the Day: Without Education


“Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.” – G.K. Chesterton

Throughout my career, I have worked closely with educated people, engineers, educators, doctors — even lawyers. Some of them are highly educated. I consider myself educated. I have worked most of my life as a space engineer (the fabled rocket scientist) and have a master’s degree. After nearly five decades of working closely with educated people, I have to agree with G. K. Chesterton (certainly the epitome of an educated man) that you fall into error when you start taking educated people seriously.

What’s Wrong with Rule by ‘Elites?’


Part of our contemporary political rhetoric seems to be an objection to something like the “rule of elites.”  This objection appears particularly prevalent on what we call the political “right” or the “conservative” side, although it’s possible that it’s more characteristic of libertarians, who are actually on the political left (in my view).

In any event, why would we object to the rule of, or at least leadership by, “elites?”  Isn’t this what we should want?

Joe Selvaggi talks with constitutional scholar Ilya Somin about the merits and likely success of the two Supreme Court cases Nebraska v. Biden and Department of Education v. Brown, which challenge the President’s constitutional right to cancel more than $400 billion in student debt.