Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The State of the Ruin Speech

Streams of light break through the clouds...?
A couple brief comments before bed, on the President's State of the Union speech. The first is that I've got to give President Obama credit for one thing, he has made great strides towards living up to two of his campaign promises:
"I just think we ought to spread the wealth around" and his promise to begin "... fundamentally transforming the United States of America."  
I was surprised to hear one of the pundits say that 'there were no big proposals in this speech'... I don't think they listened too clearly. For instance, I didn't hear the pundits mention this part,
"We should start with our tax code. Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it.
So let’s change it. First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.
Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here."
Leaving aside the issue that if he believes the first part, then he ought to talk to his Jobs Czar, Jeffrey Immelt of G.E. who recently outsourced factories to China, or his Justice Dept telling Gibson guitar that if they want to continue doing business, they should outsource their jobs to Madagascar, but that pales in comparison to the rest of it. This is a huge suggestion, intimation, threat... or maybe a 'Nudge' is the better word for it, towards govt actively 'spreading the wealth around', and an assurance for even more of the mess we currently find ourselves in. Govt using its power to take from those it dislikes, and using it to favor and reward those it has warm feelings for... and amassing power to itself through the process.

And then there was this transformational little horror,
"We also know that when students aren’t allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. So tonight, I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen."
Good lord, police state doesn't begin to cover it, but it was an incredibly appropriate bookend for the soft nationalization of American industry which his previous 'tax cuts' comments proposed. In case you missed it, following up on his earlier Youth Corps and TFA proposals, what this proposal amounts to, is nationalizing your children, America. But then since most parents seem to be just fine with govt monitoring of their kids 24/7, I guess that's a big yawn, right?

Talk about fundamental transformation. OMG.

And in ComPLETEly unrelated news, D.C. 'lawmakers' want mandatory 'college' for all students:
"Lawmakers in the nation's capital have floated a plan to require high school students to apply to college or trade school -- even if the students have no interest in attending."
Lawmakers in the nation's capital have floated a plan to require high school students to apply to college or trade school -- even if the students have no interest in attending ‎... I mean, after all, who cares what the student wants to do with their life, pshaw! Everyone knows that legislators know what's best for all, and the rest of us simply must, as Rousseau put it, be 'forced to be free'.

No cause for concern there. Nope. Moving on....

Perhaps most disturbing of all, was this:
"Some of what’s broken has to do with the way Congress does its business these days. A simple majority is no longer enough to get anything – even routine business – passed through the Senate. Neither party has been blameless in these tactics. Now both parties should put an end to it. For starters, I ask the Senate to pass a rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days.
The executive branch also needs to change. Too often, it’s inefficient, outdated and remote.
That’s why I’ve asked this Congress to grant me the authority to consolidate the federal bureaucracy so that our Government is leaner, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people."
He could have simply said "I've asked this Congress to grant me the authority to..." and left it there, because that is what he means by it. No big proposals? Maybe not in explicit plans, but the overall tone of this speech was overwhelmingly ominous. IMHO.

And finally a last couple visual observations.

One, maybe it's just me, but did anyone else notice how the camera repeatedly came back to the the flood lights streaming down before Obama, and how remarkably they looked like sunlight streaming through the clouds. Has anyone noticed that overt an effect being conveyed time and again in a State of the Union speech?

And two, did anyone notice that as Obama was making his way through the crowd and approached the seats of the Supreme Court Justices, that he turned his back to, and sidled around, Chief Justice Roberts, a conservative, and then he immediately and warmly shook hands or embraced the leftie justices Breyer, Kagan and Ginsburg?

It's late and I've got to get to bed, but if I had to give one impression (without substantiation for the moment) for this State of the Union speech, it would be that it is a fundamentally anti-American message, sure to bring the American state to even further ruin.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Real Educational Trojan Horse: Deleting Western Civilization 101

The Real Educational Trojan Horse: Deleting Western Civilization 101
My daughter brought home an assignment for her 7th grade social studies class 'Ancient Civilizations'; I wish I had been able to make a copy of it. The worksheet was several pages long, with four or five parts which summarized legend of the Trojan War, and did so remarkably similar to how Wikipedia does (which came first, the wiki, or the rotten egg?)... with one, very notable exception.

The assignment was really an exercise in the typical sort of pap our schools passes off as 'preparation for success!', feeding the kids two or three sentences, then asking a few fill in the blank questions following the paragraph, you know the sort of stuff I mean, the stuff that ensures improved test scores!, such as this:
"The Ancient Greeks believed in many Gods. Zeus was the king of the Gods and was believed to have ruled the world from their home on Mt. Olympus.
Review questions:
1. The king of the Gods was ____ and he lived on ______________."
What a challenge, eh? Can you say building Excellence?! - but at least it was long, right? (sigh), Four or five parts & pages worth, that was sure to fill homework quotas.

Anyway, I don't know how familiar you are with Homer's The Iliad, but I've read it a few times, I've read the surrounding myths and histories often and have generally thought about it... more than a little, and I was curious how they would choose to present the topic - as myth? as murky history? Both?, but I was at least assuming that they would present it.

You know what they say about assuming.

It started off well enough, going into the back story with the goddess Discord discovering that she hadn't been invited to the big wedding, and then doing her thing by rolling a golden apple into the party that was inscribed with 'For the most beautiful', which of course soon pitted several of the Goddesses against each other and sent them looking for someone foolish enough to judge who was most beautiful. Zeus was too smart to step into that one, and directed them to a shepard boy, Paris, a judgment which would eventually lead to the Trojan War.

It went into the Greek kings competing to marry the beautiful Helen, talked about Helen deserting her husband to go to Troy with Paris, and how the Greeks went to war with the Trojans over the 'abduction'. It noted that the war dragged on for 10 long years, that Achilles was the Greeks greatest warrior - it doesn't mention that Achilles was the child born of that earlier wedding, or how important that was to other myths and later plays, but hey, what can you expect of such excellence, right? - and then it mentioned that Achilles was distraught when Patroclus was killed an...

sssSCREEEECHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! What?!!! What the... really?! It jumps from the war's 10th year, to Patroclus being killed.


For three thousand years, the heart and soul of Western Civilization began, and in many cases ended, with Homer's telling of this brief episode of the Trojan War. In the epic of 'The Iliad', its first famous line of
"Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles ...."
is amongst the most famous first lines in all of Western literature. The Iliad, which was essentially the equivalent of The Bible to the Greeks, was Homer's telling of the conflict which resulted when the high King Agamemnon, upset at having to return his captive to her father, a priest of Apollo, turns and demands that Achilles give up his reward, the captive Briseis, whom Achilles loved, that Achilles give her to Agamemnon because Agamemnon was the king, and as king, he had the authority to take her, and so he could and would.

The anger of Achilles at this unjust action, and how he deals with it IS the Iliad. How he turned away from his just rage and listened to the Goddess Athena, goddess of Reason, that he should not kill Agamemnon, but instead should listen to Reason and bide his time, is a vital core of Western Civilization. As is his defying his king by refusing to fight any further in Agamemnon's war against the Trojans, his refusing all entreaties and bribes to return. Achilles instead goes about preparing to abandon 'the unjust king', choosing to turn away from the undying fame and glory which prophecy said was his if he were to fight in the war, though at the cost of an early death; Achilles instead chose to return to a calm, happy and long life.

But then his dearest friend Patroclus is killed while fighting in his stead, fighting because the Greeks were so in need of Achilles that they would perish without him, and so partially yielding, he allows Patroclus to wear his own armor and go into turn the tide of battle as if he were Achilles... if he would promise to return then and there. Patroclus does this, and he turns the tide of battle... but then he forgets his promise and pursues glory and is killed by the Trojan Prince, Hector, and with that, in anguish and rage, Achilles returns to the war, kills Hector and continues to burn in near madness, until Hector's father, King Priam, comes to him alone, and begs for his son's body. Achilles anger is put out, he allows Priam to take his son's body and promises him sufficient time for a proper funeral rights, and that is the end of the Iliad.

There is no significant trait of what has become known as The West, that does not find its origin in The Iliad. Our tendency to rebel at authority, the inventiveness and effectiveness at, and disgust over, war; our striving for excellence and our wariness at achieving what seems to be success, our wiliness... and so much more - it is our tie to the Greeks, to Philosophy, to our most famous plays, it connects us to Rome... the source and form of our culture, all traces back to The Iliad.

And all of that, except for Achilles killing Hector in revenge, which becomes trivial, a mere tit for tat reaction without the rest of the story to give it form... they left it all completely out.

That story, that passage IS the Iliad, it IS what makes the Trojan War worth recounting, That IS the only reason why any of the other myths and histories they did include, have endured over the last three millennium.This, the oldest tale in Western Civilization (bite me Gilgamesh), whose study was once considered the means, material and mark of Education even up through our Founding Father's time and beyond, this was deleted from their recounting of the Trojan War. They deleted it without even a hint of its existence, deleted it from the worksheet, and as I'm sure they hope, deleted it from your child's mind.

Why would anyone even bother with telling any of the other myths, without telling that portion? They are nothing but meaningless trivia without that key....

And that is more likely than not, exactly why it was deleted.

This was no accident. You could not possibly include what they did write about, without knowing about the conflict between Agamemnon and Achilles - absolutely Could Not. The deletion was deliberate, on purpose, intentional. There is not even the uber-feeble excuse of political correctness, for that part of the story contains no dicey PC issues, no non-multi-culti scenario, no further violence, no uncomfortable topic, which wasn't similarly included through the other parts as well... all that the Iliadic portions contain... is what gives them meaning, and it was simply and entirely omitted from the lesson.

Much Ado About Nothing?
Maybe you think I'm making a big deal out of nothing. Maybe there aren't many people who are left who'd know or care about this as I do, but... there is a reason for that as well - Western Civilization has been progressively bred out of Western Civilization for over a century, by those we entrusted our education to and the process is now nearly complete.

Gretchen Logue told me how she had just been talking with neighbors who recently put their kids in another school district, who told her that their child’s teachers were teaching them how another hero of the Iliad and the Odyssey, Odysseus, was being portrayed as a nasty, hater of women, the poor and of other cultures, as were the Greeks in general.

What a surprise.

Ladies and Gentleman, have a look around at the rest of the world... cast an admiring eye upon the cesspools... civilizations of the middle east, Africa, Cambodia, etc., drink it all in and familiarize yourselves with it, meet and greet their deep wells of decadence, poverty, hatred and above all, ignorance. You might as well do it now, their examples are soon to become your realities, because their world is all that will remain after the West has past beyond memory.

Your schools, your so called 'educational systems' have nearly succeeded in deleting what it is that makes the West, the West... and you really think that the most important issue of the day is whether we'll have Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney or Barack Obama as our President?

You really wonder why these are the only choices you have to choose from?

You goddamn idiots.

What kind of an education you get, is more important than getting a lot of education
You are being made into a people of Esau, eagerly disavowing their heritage for a bowl of pottage, which our Educational Czar, Arne Duncan, today calls 'life skills', and in so doing, you are becoming a people who are no longer descendants of the Greeks, but of the Trojans, and like the Trojans of Ilium, you have fallen for the ruse of the Trojan Horse, you have welcomed it in into your gates, disassembling them for the privilege, just as your spiritual ancestors did all those millenia ago.

But this time when we've all finally gone to sleep, while it won't be Greeks who crawl out of the bowels of this Trojan Horse, I garaundamntee you, they will bring you fire and sword and complete destruction. Had our education included more of the patrimony of the West, that which formed the education of our Founding Fathers, and was still significant even to my grand parents day, and for my parents education as well, treasures such as the Iliad, you might have guessed that.

But don't worry, I'm sure your kids will all get straight A's.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pissing away our priorities

No doubt you're all aware of the video that surfaced of Marines taking an ungentlemanly piss on some dead taliban terrorists, recently room temperature'd after a life or death battle with the same newly relieved Marines.

Some of our high-minded fellows were piously pissed off at said pissing.

Some weren't.

Dana Loesh mentioned on her radio show that the outrage was bizarre and that given the situation, she'd be more inclined to 'drop trou' and join them, which thoroughly pissed off the pious of the left and the right. A blog I'd not seen before this, SooperMexican, gives a good account of it, Dana said,
“Can someone explain to me if there’s supposed to be a scandal that someone pees on the corpse of a Taliban fighter? Someone who, as part of an organization, murdered over 3,000 Americans? I’d drop trou and do it too. That’s me though. I want a million cool points for these guys. Is that harsh to say? Come on people, this is a war. What do people think this is?”
And please, do be sure to scroll down to the bottom of that post where he's provided a selection of the righteously pissed off's own commentary. If you believe that they give a fig for simple human decency, congratulations, you are virtually the most deluded fool I've had the misfortune to meet. Today.

The first I heard of the marines waterworks incident was on Adam Sharp's page (Adam, always eloquent, expressed a very correct political viewpoint "Oh, I'm sorry am I supposed to give a sh*t?"), that there was an investigation being called for, and my reaction, doing somewhat of a disservice to the marines, and more service than is due to the taliban, was that the investigation should be over why they didn't bring a kegger with them.

Do I feel bad about that?

No, no I don't. Do I understand how important it is to have respect for your fellow man? Yes I do. Do I think it is important that our military have the highest standards of professionalism? Yes I do. Do I feel bad about what I said or what the marines did?


And before you get too riled up at that, here's another question - do you think this was a casual, thoroughly well discussed and deliberated action upon the part of the marines involved? Do you think that if they were approached in normal circumstances, and asked if they thought that pissing upon dead taliban would be a proper and acceptable everyday behavior for someone to engage in, that they would think it would be?

I do not think that they'd answer yes to that.

Do I think they should have done what they did? I really don't think that's a serious question, but I'll go ahead and put my response this way: if I were to hire someone to build a fence for me, and they talked filth in front of my kids, I'd have a few well chosen words to say to them before escorting them off the property. But if I was confident that I'd hired competent professionals, and we heard them when they happened to swear after smashing their finger... I would probably not make too much of a deal out of it.

Multiply the circumstances involved there by several orders of magnitude, being sure to factor in the difference between a hammer striking your thumb, and an IED shredding your closest friends to jagged chunks of flesh thrown into your face and into the dirt along the side of the road, and magnify everything else by several similar orders of magnitude, and then I think that you should begin to see a feeble, though reasonable, comparison.

Now. If you are one of the people all a-flutter over this, let me ask you another question. Are you unable to see how a significant measure of courtesy and understanding should be extended to people, mostly twenty year olds, who are half way around the world, involved in actual war, defending your life by risking theirs; kids who are seeing their friends wounded and killed, seeing women & children slaughtered and maimed by these taliban they are fighting - and who they are there fighting because the taliban brutally slaughtered several thousand of your countrymen who were simply peacefully going about their lives... are you really unwilling to cut some slack to these Marines who are tasked with the horrifying job of having to kill those who'd like to kill you?

If so, I not only question your priorities, but whether or not you have any. If you can't understand that, then I suppose it's also highly unlikely that you'd understand that others would quickly step up to defend them; it's unlikely that you'd see the importance of people quickly stepping up and supporting those which our nation has sent into violent conflict, and so now I question more than your priorities.

A friend drew my attention the other day to this bit in the Daily Caller which sums the flap up well
"Let this be a lesson to everyone: If you want to pee on a dead terrorist, first wrap him in an American flag. Then Keith Olbermann, Eric Boehlert, and other leading lights of liberalism will cheer you on."
For those on the left, it is despicable, but expected - for those on the right, particularly those settling personal scores on the backs of the Marines caught up in this 'urinationgate', it is doubly despicable.

Oh, and if you did serve in the military, maybe even did see combat yourself - sorry, that buys you no pass in this matter with me... in fact it reflects even worse upon you, IMHO. Once upon a time you apparently had actual priorities, and now you've allowed others, of little or no significance, to take their place. Shame on you.

Perhaps you can catch a whiff of what those lost priorities should be, in the actions of those who clearly did understand their priorities... and who, amazingly enough, once expressed themselves in a manner similar to these maligned Marines.

Those of you who know anything about Gen. George S. Patton, or even saw the movie, you might recall that Patton, who often stepped out of line with the sentiments of the time, expressed himself in a similar manner, was even photographed in the act, and surprisingly (to the righteously pious & pissed off), did not receive his usual heaping helping of controversy over the incident of his pissing in the Rhine, which was in fact symbolically pissing on an entire people.
"I drove to the Rhine River and went across on the pontoon bridge. I stopped in the middle to take a piss and then picked up some dirt on the far side in emulation of William the Conqueror."
A curmudgeonly fellow over at RedState put it well,
"George Patton knew damned well that, when he urinated in the Rhine River, that the very image (a once-iconic image, by the way, which was snapped by enterprising Army photographers, and that has hung in years gone by in innumerable VFW halls throughout the land) he was sending, indeed, a message to Greater Germany: I’m pissing on you. And you deserve it, for the horrific slaughter you’ve unleashed on mankind.
In short, he was pissed off. And I’m still pissed off at the “Taliban”."
Seems that Patton felt that since the the enemy was the reason for his being there, and the reason why his troops were being killed in battles they'd prefer not to have to bother having to fight, that that enemy wasn't worth any respect at all, and the people of the United States agree with him.

As far as the dead taliban go, another friend had this to say about the moistened mujaheddin:
"Piss be upon them"
Personally - I like that a lot.

But I'll give the last word (almost) to Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a former Army lieutenant colonel, who emailed a comment on this issue,
“I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.
“All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?
“The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.
“As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”
That, to me, seems much more like an example of someone who has their priorities in order.

IMHO, a person's priorities in matters such as this should reflect an understanding that our soldiers swear their lives to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States of America, which provides for the laws which protect the lives, liberties, property and freedom of speech of us all, their priorities should reflect an understanding that those in our military not only put their lives in jeopardy to do that, but they risk enduring hell on earth in order to defend the Constitution, the nation and the lives of us all.

It seems to me that a persons priorities in matters such as this should allow for cutting some slack to those who might not behave as if they were in a corporate boardroom or public classroom, while fighting for their lives with brutal barbarians in an actual war.

To allow those priorities to take a back seat to a concern for politically correct sensibilities, to let those priorities take a back seat to scoring political points, to let those priorities take a back seat to settling personal issues with a person, such as Dana Loesch, who spoke up in defense of those who are defending us… is to piss away your true priorities, and I find it to be despicable.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Pied Piper comes to collect your children-lab rats

On the heels of my last post on the issue of Education taking a back seat to pushing a political agenda, the article which this post from the Missouri Education Watchdog links to asks “When is the line crossed between better health and surveillance?”, and it asks it regarding this:

In early 2012, wristwatch-like devices called Polar active monitors will be used by older students in PE classes at all 18 Parkway elementary schools… focus of the monitors' use will change gradually, so that by the end of the year students will continually wear the monitors for a full week at a time [24/7] to assess activity levels.
"We want to be able to look at both physical activity and sleep patterns," Ramspott said. "We also want to see how various activity levels correlate to student achievement and behavior
They want to monitor, track, record, the activity levels of your children, examine their sleep patterns, they want to have your children way an electronic monitoring device not just at school, but at home, at play... around the clock.

These are elementary schools. They are supposedly for Educating your children... ok, not even I believe that... but they are at least supposed to teach your child to read, write, calculate and have some semblance of a scientific and historical perspective. They are not research labs for testing the performance quality of human resource units - your children, my children, are not being sent to school to function as lab rats so that government 'education professionals' can tweak their performance.

I’m sorry, but if you can’t see that this doesn’t even deserve the question of when a line might be crossed, and instead leaps directly to inquisition mode with 
Who the hell conceived of this and why do they still have a job around our children?!
, then… I find it very difficult to see how the name ‘American’ applies to you in any way other than as a geographical reference. If you don't think that this, and worse, so very much worse, is coming to a school near you - soon... you are insane. That much ignorance of the progression of proregressive education is not excusable by ignorance or negligence, you are insane, and perhaps criminally so. 

I don’t know how to string together enough four letter words to adequately express my outrage on this properly, so I won’t bother trying, but as Sam Adams said
 "... May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!"
UPDATE: With Sam Adams quote firmly in mind, a person anonymously commented at Mo Education Watchdog's site, that 

“Nobody can force kids to wear these things at home…”
You can look at this and seriously identify that as the key issue? Good lord, I hope I don’t know you.

What part of Reading, R’iting and ‘Rithmatic do you see monitoring a child’s activity levels and sleep patterns as falling under? Do you not grasp what assumptions this makes about not only the role of the School System, but its role in your life? Have you been so assiduous about not ‘over-reacting’, that you are willing to entertain any invasion of your life, any assumption of your child as a resource unit, as long as it isn’t ‘forced’ upon you?

Do you completely lack sufficient warmth of imagination to see what will follow once this is accepted as being the rational norm? Here, let me help you, this is from the article,

“… a pilot project started in April provided the monitors during physical education classes to students at Henry and Ross elementary schools. Shenandoah Valley Elementary School in Chesterfield joined the pilot in August.
At the district's Dec. 7 Board of Education meeting, the board approved expanding the project beyond the pilot phase.”

It began as providing monitors during phys ed classes, and is now expanding the project beyond the pilot phase… what do you suppose the ultimate purpose of the program is? This is every bit as much of a ‘pilot phase’ as wearing the monitors in phys ed class was, are you not able to see that?
“… but over-reacting isn't a rational way to deal with anything. “
How anyone can see this even being proposed, and not react with seething rational fury is beyond me. Personally, I’d be hard pressed to call anyone’s response to this, an over-reaction, and not reacting is just plain sick.

The proprietor of of "The 3Rs of Education: Respect, Reality, Reason" recently supplied this from Thorndike’s definition of the art of teaching, from his The Principles of Teaching based on Psychology (1906), that it,

"Stimulus and Response Using psychological terms the art of teaching may be defined as the art of giving and withholding stimuli with the result of producing or preventing certain responses In this definition the term stimulus is used widely for any event which influences a person for a word spoken to him a look a sentence which he reads the air he breathes etc etc The term response is used for any reaction made by him a new thought a feeling of interest a bodily act any mental or bodily condition resulting from the stimulus The aim of the teacher is to produce desirable and prevent undesirable changes in human beings by producing and preventing certain responses The means at the disposal of the teacher are the stimuli which can be brought to bear upon the pupil the teacher's words gestures and appearance the condition and appliances of the school room the books to be used and objects to be seen and so on through a long list of the things and events which the teacher can control The responses of the pupil are all the infinite variety of thoughts and feelings and bodily movements occurring in all their possible connections."
If that is accepted as the definition of Teaching, and it is in all of the Teaching Colleges which certify  Teachers, you can be assured that what it is that is being taught is not compatible with Liberty... but it goes fabulously well with 24/7 electronic monitoring.

Monday, January 02, 2012

What Finland's schools can teach us about making political points

Let me ask you something, if you discovered that another country was being hugely successful in educating their students, and doing so without either the endless classroom hours and brain busting homework loads of the Asian model, or the relentless testing and assessing barrages of the American model, wouldn’t you want to know what it was they were doing in their classrooms? If you were going to write an article to inform your nation of this great success story in Education – wouldn’t you discuss what it was they were doing?

I just read, what I’d hoped would be an interesting article on how successful Finland’s school system has been, called “What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success”, but having read it, I find that it might have been better entitled “What American journalists can score political points with while Ignoring what’s made Finland's Schools Successful”.

What I found most interesting, is that the author of the article, and the Finn contact, relentlessly present the 'secret' of Finland’s success in Education, as having to do with issues which have nothing whatsoever to do with how they actually go about Educating their children.

Why would an article on educational success... not discuss what makes their system of education so successful? Interesting, isn't it?

The contact, Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education's Center for International Mobility, apparently taught mathematics and physics in a junior high school in Helsinki; but do we get to learn how he went about teaching those ‘notoriously difficult’ subjects to his students? Nyah. Apparently that’s just not pertinent to an article on another system of education.

What they did find to be pertinent, was going on and on about how there are no private schools in all of Finland,
“There are no private universities, either. This means that practically every person in Finland attends public school, whether for pre-K or a Ph.D.”,
Practically? I wonder what that means? Keep wondering, because they ain't gonna tell ya. And,
“None is allowed to charge tuition fees. ” and “In Finland parents can also choose. But the options are all the same.” And “More equity at home might just be what America needs to be more competitive abroad.”
All the options are all the same… say that sounds great, doesn’t it? And more ‘equity’ too! Btw, ‘equity’ in this context, probably means even more of that ‘spreading the wealth around’ that we Americans have found so swell lately, but why would a journalist who is interested in communicating truth and understanding bother with making sure that their readers understand what is truly going on?

Why do you suppose an article on education, would be so concerned about issues of politics?

Apparently this fine journalist, Anu Partanen, who btw is writing a book about "what America can learn from Nordic societies", along with her editors at Atlantic Monthly, could find no reason to point out that if no tuition fees are allowed to be charged, and all classes teach the very same thing throughout the nation, then that must mean that the Finnish government has apparently dictated that no one will be permitted, by law, to teach what they might see as being important for their children to learn… nope… no issue there, fuhgeddabout dat 'liberty' stuff, we've got 'equity' for you, nothing to see here dear reader, just move along. Now.

Instead, they find it much more useful to point out that their schools aren’t in competition with each other – hey would a journalist find it interesting to point out who it that set up the system of American schools and specifically sought to foster competition and rivalry between them, especially in high school? Oops, sorry, that could be dicey stuff for a leftie rag like the Atlantic to delve into. Instead, the article describes how the political delivery system of education is organized and publicly funded, and it also mentions, repeatedly, the lofty ideals that led them to that ‘equality for all’.

And that is nice and all, but strangely, for an article on a new and exciting educational system, it tells us very nearly nothing about what happens inside their classrooms… which is after all the ‘product’ being delivered.

Why do you suppose they neglected that? Hey, you don't suppose that one of the things that Anu thinks that we Americans can learn from Nordic societies, is socialism, do ya? Ya think?

When they do get around to mentioning issues which do have a direct relation to how the Finnish‘deliver’ Education in the classrooms, they are only mentioned because the Finnish Do Not engage in them: endless testing, assessments, teacher accountability, and they are mentioned almost in passing, humorously even, as a way to chide their American counterparts. Sahlberg says,
"Americans are consistently obsessed with certain questions: How can you keep track of students' performance if you don't test them constantly? How can you improve teaching if you have no accountability for bad teachers or merit pay for good teachers? How do you foster competition and engage the private sector? How do you provide school choice?"
The article doesn't bother to mention that those very features; testing, assessment, homework, production line like delivery and competition for grades, etc, were the signature innovations brought to our modern American 'system' of education by our founding proregressive leftists, such as John Dewey & Co. Nope, nothing useful in learning that, I suppose.

Amazingly the article gives barely a few sentences to what the Finnish actually do, do in their classrooms. One sentence tells us that,
" Finnish schools assign less homework and engage children in more creative play. "
Which is intriguing to me, how is it, do you suppose, that they so successfully engage their students, and in creative play at that? I for one would really like to know. But… apparently it’s just enough for us to know that they do, not how they do. And for what is probably the most significant issue of all, that the Teacher is the one who personally design's a test for each one of their individual students, they go all out and give us two sentences,
“Instead, the public school system's teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves. All children receive a report card at the end of each semester, but these reports are based on individualized grading by each teacher.”
THAT seems to indicate that the Teacher is in charge of teaching their own classes, rather than following a top down, turn by turn, compendium of policy instructions on exactly what to teach and how to teach it – which is an utter and absolute refutation of the entire formulation of the modern American educational model in general, and Obama & Arne Duncan’s model in particular!

I would love to know what sorts of materials they use in the classrooms to teach from, do they use textbooks? What type of content do they contain? How do the teachers utilize them? What sorts of ‘creative play’ do they engage in? How do the teachers go about putting together their lessons? Do they have particular academic goals for the semester? For the year? Do they even have semesters?

But alas, those questions were apparently not of any interest to the author of this article on the successes of the Finnish educational system. It really is a shame that this article on ‘education’ tells us so little about how the Finn’s actually go about educating their students… but, I guess when you’ve gotta choose between making a political statement, and stating the subject of your story, the choice is obvious – go with the political statement.

That certainly seems to be one of the lessons that journalists do manage to learn in their schools.