How To Educate Our Children

A website called Your News Wire posted an article five months ago about the success of a charter school in Florida that ditched the Common Core curriculum and decided to focus on the principles of classical education to teach its students. I am not familiar with the site, so I went to the school’s website and starting reading. The information in the article at Your News Wire article was also posted at The Freedom Project in June.

The Mason Classical Academy website states:

The Hillsdale College Barney Charter School Initiative has deliberately taken a classical approach to education. By “classical,” we mean a form of education that could be called classical, civic, and liberal but in the school reform movement these days most often goes by the designation “classical.” Some might call it “conservative,” but we prefer the term “traditional.” That is, we adhere to an ancient view of learning and traditional teaching methods. Such a choice might at first seem paradoxical or even out- of-touch with reality. Why, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, in the age of the internet, in a country that has long been addicted to the revolutionary and the novel, when almost everyone in the world of K-12 education is singing the chorus of “critical thinking skills for a twenty-first-century global economy,” should cutting-edge schools root themselves so deeply in the past? Is not newer always better? What could today’s young people learn from old books? We must answer these questions clearly from the outset.

Classical education has a history of over 2500 years in the West. It began in ancient Greece, was adopted wholesale by the Romans, faltered after the fall of Rome, made a slow but steady recovery during the Middle Ages, and was again brought to perfection in the Italian Renaissance. The classical inheritance passed to England, and from the mother country to America through colonial settlement. At the time of this nation’s founding classical education was still thriving. Jefferson heartily recommended Greek and Latin as the languages of study for early adolescence. One of the Founding Fathers’ favorite books was Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. Eighteenth- century Americans venerated and trusted George Washington in large part because he reminded them of the Roman patriot Cincinnatus. So important has classical education been in the history of the West that it would only be a slight exaggeration to say that the march of civilization has paralleled the vibrancy of classical schools. Unlike the old classical schools, today’s classical schools do not make the medium of instruction Latin and Greek (though to be classical they must require the study of Latin at some point).

Nonetheless, the Hillsdale-sponsored charter schools will remain classical by upholding the same standards of teaching, of curriculum, and of discipline found in the schools of old. Indeed, in these schools English will be taught using methods derived from centuries of teaching and learning the classical languages. Hillsdale thus takes stock in the tried and true rather than in the latest fads frothing forth from the schools of education.

So how has this approach worked? The article at Your News Wire reports:

What does the classical approach embraced by the Academy entail? According to their website, language-focused learning based on written and spoken words makes the brain work harder to convert words into concepts, while image-based approaches encourage passivity. The time-tested approach of phonics is very likely the reason you are able to read this article in the first place, and it’s hard to imagine why anyone would consider it inadequate.

Thanks to the classical approach of phonics, an impressive 90 percent of the third-grade students at Mason Classical Academy were proficient in English Language Arts, compared to just 58 percent in the county overall, most of whom rely on Common Core. In fact, the MCA third-graders were in Florida’s top two percent, while fifth graders from the academy ranked in the state’s top one percent.

These students look even better when you compare them to California, where the state average is just 43 percent proficiency among third graders. Even worse, six public schools in Baltimore do not have a single student who is proficient in either English Language Arts or math. It’s almost like students are being set up to fail.

 Of course, not everyone is happy about this school’s success. Common Core proponents are panicking because these results expose the system for the fraud that it is. The school has been on the receiving end of criticism from everyone from the district’s superintendent to the local news outlet Naples Daily News, according to The Freedom Project.

So what can we learn from this? It really does not pay to try to reinvent the wheel. Classical education works–Common Core does not. We have been sold a bill of goods in regard to Common Core. Common Core puts our children in boxes they may not belong in and collects data that no one has any business collecting. The one thing it does not do is teach our children critical thinking skills and prepare them to live in the real world. The test results of Mason Classical Academy clearly illustrate what works in education. Now we need to pay attention to the facts and begin actually educating our children.

 

 

 

A Religion Of Peace?

The February issue of Imprimis (a publication of Hillsdale College) features an article by Andrew C. McCarthy. Mr. McCarthy was Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, and from 1993-95. He led the terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a plot to bomb New York City landmarks. Following the 9/11 attacks, he supervised the Justice Department’s command post near Ground Zero.

These are a few highlights from the article:

…when I was assigned to lead the prosecution of a terrorist cell that had bombed the World Trade Center and was plotting an even more devastating strike—simultaneous attacks on the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the United Nations complex on the East River, and the FBI’s lower Manhattan headquarters—I had no trouble believing what our government was saying: that we should read nothing into the fact that all the men in this terrorist cell were Muslims; that their actions were not representative of any religion or belief system; and that to the extent they were explaining their atrocities by citing Islamic scripture, they were twisting and perverting one of the world’s great religions, a religion that encourages peace.

Unlike commentators and government press secretaries, I had to examine these claims. Prosecutors don’t get to base their cases on assertions. They have to prove things to commonsense Americans who must be satisfied about not only what happened but why it happened before they will convict people of serious crimes. And in examining the claims, I found them false.

Mr. McCarthy goes on to explain that although Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman was severely physically handicapped, he was the unquestioned leader of the terror cell that bombed the World Trade Center and was planning a number of attacks in the New York City area. The Blind Sheik (as he was known) freely quoted Islamic scripture to justify his actions. When peaceful Muslims were asked about these scriptures, they replied that they were not competent to interpret them. In other words, the Blind Sheik, whose goal was the killing infidels, was considered the standard for Islamic interpretation.

The article concludes:

The dangerous flipside to our government’s insistence on making up its own version of Islam is that anyone who is publicly associated with Islam must be deemed peaceful. This is how we fall into the trap of allowing the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamic supremacist organization, to infiltrate policy-making organs of the U.S. government, not to mention our schools, our prisons, and other institutions. The federal government, particularly under the Obama administration, acknowledges the Brotherhood as an Islamic organization—notwithstanding the ham-handed attempt by the intelligence community a few years back to rebrand it as “largely secular”—thereby giving it a clean bill of health. This despite the fact that Hamas is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, that the Brotherhood has a long history of terrorist violence, and that major Brotherhood figures have gone on to play leading roles in terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda.

To quote Churchill again:  “Facts are better than dreams.” In the real world, we must deal with the facts of Islamic supremacism, because its jihadist legions have every intention of dealing with us. But we can only defeat them if we resolve to see them for what they are.

Our government has chosen to ignore the threat of radical Islam.  In doing this, the government risks the safety of all Americans. It is time to tell the truth about a group of people who want to kill us. They do not belong in our government, and we need to admit who they are and what their goals are. To do otherwise is to commit national suicide.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It is very enlightening.

Why APUSH Is Important

Last year, the College Board, under the leadership of David Coleman, introduced a new APUSH, (Advanced Placement U. S. History) Curriculum Framework. I have previously written about the content of the new APUSH curriculum (rightwinggranny.com). If you would like to see all of the articles, use the search engine at the top of the page. However, in this article I would like to share some quotes from a speech given by Dr. Wilfred M. McClay, G.T. and Libby Blankenship Professor in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. McClay spoke on July 10, 2015, at Hillsdale College. The full text of his remarks can be found at the Imprimis section of the Hillsdale College website.

Here are a few excerpts from his speech:

…the chief purpose of a high school education in American history is as a rite of civic membership, an act of inculcation and formation, a way in which the young are introduced to the fullness of their political and cultural inheritance as Americans, enabling them to become literate and conversant in its many features, and to appropriate fully all that it has to offer them, both its privileges and its burdens. To make its stories theirs, and thereby let them come into possession of the common treasure of its cultural life. In that sense, the study of history is different from any other academic subject. It is not merely a body of knowledge. It also ushers the individual person into membership in a common world, and situates them in space and time.

This is especially true in a democracy. The American Founders, and perhaps most notably Thomas Jefferson, well understood that no popular government could flourish for long without an educated citizenry—one that understood the special virtues of republican self-government, and the civic and moral duty of citizens to uphold and guard it. As the historian Donald Kagan has put it, “Democracy requires a patriotic education.” It does so for two reasons: first, because its success depends upon the active participation of its citizens in their own governance; and second, because without such an education, there would be no way to persuade free individuals of the need to make sacrifices for the sake of the greater good.

…The 2014 framework grants far more extensive attention to “how various identities, cultures, and values have been preserved or changed in different contexts of U.S. history, with special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial, and ethnic identities.” The change is very clear: the new framework represents a shift from national identity to subcultural identities. Indeed, the new framework is so populated with examples of American history as the conflict between social groups, and so inattentive to the sources of national unity and cohesion, that it is hard to see how students will gain any coherent idea of what those sources might be. This does them, and all Americans, an immense disservice. Instead of combating fracture, it embraces it.

If this framework is permitted to take hold, the new version of the test will effectively marginalize traditional ways of teaching about the American past, and force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a perspective that self-consciously seeks to decenter American history. Is this the right way to prepare young people for American citizenship? How can we call forth the acts of sacrifice that our democracy needs, not only on the battlefield but also in our daily lives—the acts of dedication to the common good that are at the heart of civilized life—without training up citizens who know about and appreciate that democracy, care about the common good, and feel themselves a part of their nation’s community of memory? How can we expect our citizens to grapple intelligently with enduring national debates—such as over the role of the U.S. Constitution, or about the reasons for the separation of powers and limited government—if they know nothing of the long trail of those particular debates, and are instead taught to translate them into the one-size-fits-all language of the global and transnational?

Please follow the link above to Imprimis to read the entire speech. Dr. McClay has named one of the causes of the divisions we face today. Because our children have not been taught patriotism (it is out of favor right now and referred to as ‘gringoism’), they lack pride in themselves and in their country. When everyone gets a trophy, we have no one to celebrate. When everyone gets a trophy, no one is exceptional. It is time to start recognizing those who are worthy of trophies and letting those who don’t earn them at first to keep trying until they do. American History should be ‘warts and all,’ but it shouldn’t be all warts. The new APUSH curriculum is mostly warts.

A College That Is Fighting To Preserve American Liberty

This is part of an email I received from Hillsdale College:

Hillsdale College has a three-point plan to restore the principles of liberty in our once-great nation. This plan is already underway! Here are the details:

  1. Teach college students the principles of liberty underlying the Constitution—based on the idea that rights come from God, not government—which are necessary for the free enterprise system to flourish in America, and send wave after wave of them into influential positions in government, the economy, and our culture.
  2. Educate millions of Americans about the principles of limited, constitutional government so they are equipped to defend those principles, leading to a restoration of liberty. The College achieves this through Imprimis—sent to millions every year—and online courses such as “Constitution 101: The Meaning and History of the Constitution.”
  3. Host seminars and training sessions for policy makers and opinion leaders in Washington, D.C. about the Constitution and its principles of liberty. The College achieves this through the work of its Kirby Center on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Hillsdale does all this while refusing even one penny of government money—even indirectly in the form of student grants and loans—because it doesn’t want bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. telling them what to teach, who to hire, or who to admit for enrollment. 

We need more colleges like this in America.