RSS Feed Tillitsmannen, Norwegian, 1976

    March 17, 2013 by Tunya

    Today freedom has different enemies.

    It must be fought for in different ways.

    It will take very different qualities of mind and heart to save it.

                                                   – John Holt (1923-1985 home education pioneer)


  2. Accelerate the transformation !

    April 25, 2015 by Tunya

    Accelerated BC Education Plans
    An education conference in BC, Jan 29th heard David Albury, a UK consultant, proclaim:
    “This is a pivotal moment for BC . . . if we can continue to work together in this way we can build on how far we've got and really accelerate and sustain this — we'll achieve what nobody else has yet achieved and that is to transform the system across the whole province . . . to enable all young people to have the skills and knowledge to be successful in the 21st Century.”

    We’ve noticed the frenetic urgency that seems to permeate so much of the literature and planning for these 21st Century Learning transformations. What’s the rush? Where is the field-testing for these radical imperatives? Shouldn’t we be concerned — since we’re dealing with tender minds and hearts of the young — that proper protocols are in place as safeguards against amateur applications? Just what is this future that is being projected that requires these “competencies” of collaboration and communication for upcoming careers and college? Is there actually some global convergence happening that so many nations have to get on board — US, AU, NZ, UK, Can, etc.?

    Like having a magical cataract operation in both eyes I think I see what’s up! There IS a celebration to happen next year, in Washington, DC, to commemorate 100 years of the “progressive project”. AND, to top it off, it is also the centennial celebration of John Dewey’s 1916 pivotal book, Democracy and Education.

    With 15,000 attendees just wrapping up the 2015 AERA (American Educational Research Association) conference in Chicago here is the ANNOUNCEMENT of the 2016 event —

    The theme will be — “Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies”.
    We know, indubitably, that “peer review” and “research” done by like-minded partisan members should not be taken seriously, nor be considered “evidence-based”. But, it’s disconcerting how “research” and foundation papers are ground out as objective truths and are used to influence policies and programs as proofs of effectiveness or need.

    Well, WE ARE to prepare not only for these centennial celebrations — AERA and Dewey — but also for the positioning of “research to inform civic participation, engagement and organized action.” Pretty presumptuous, eh? Awareness and skepticism should be our response.

  3. usurpers’ remorse

    April 24, 2015 by Tunya


    A very quick history of public education and exclusion of parents from school matters. William Cutler, in his book — Parents and Schools: The 150-year Struggle for Control in American Education — wrote that parents and schools get along well as long as it is on the terms of the system. Never the other way around.

    The same indictment applies in Canada.

    In 1980 Simon Fraser University in BC put on a conference — Family Choice, Schooling and the Public Interest. The brochure had this quote:

    * “It is the business of education in our social democracy to eliminate the influence of parents on the life-chances of the young. “- Professor F. Musgrove, The Family, Education and Society, 1966.

    Even as such conferences play at staging important topics, this one undoubtedly did more as a caution against growing parent assertiveness for choices than for any wide “public interest”. But, of course, as seen entirely from the eyes of the industry, the “public interest” can only happen if the industry is in control.

    The question still remains — Is education a state responsibility or the duty of parents?

    Of course parents, who have been usurped from their primary role in education, still do get lip service and tokenism. Or, the opportunity to fund-raise ! It’s all symbolic use of parents.

    The literature is full of arguments why parents should be involved.. This is why the system continues its overtures and even jacked up efforts from involvement to participation to engagement.

    What parents should really be striving for is more driving the system. The idea of Education Savings Accounts which is now a reality in a number of US states, going far beyond charter schools, is what parents should be promoting. This is where for a lesser than total allocation per child, perhaps 90%, the parent can start an education account from which to draw for selected education offerings and services according to the best interests of the child.

    It’s partly remorse from upstaging parents at every turn, and partly the public relations literature that is propelling more pretenses at welcoming parents. Equity and social justice are not being served by government schools finding busy-work for parents. Nor is the education mission more fulfilled from superficial parent involvement.

  4. Toxic soup of education reform

    April 21, 2015 by Tunya

    Why Should SMART People Enter The Toxic Soup?

    “If you are a talented graduate, bursting with intellectual potential, would you like to work in an intolerant field of research, where new ideas are punished by name calling, ostracism and financial hardship, or would you prefer to apply your talents to a field where new ideas are welcome, and innovation is rewarded? – Eric Worrall commenting on lack of applicants entering climate science.

    When something is considered a “settled science”, especially if there are political/philosophical overtones in the field, opponents and skeptics are treated rather shabbily. This comment about climate “science” reminds me of the experience of one reading expert, Jeanne Chall, who experienced similar insults as described above.

    It was at an AERA (American Educational Research Association) gathering in 1964 that the first “scientific” approach to teaching of reading was proposed by Kenneth Goodman — a psycholinguistic process. He was challenged by Jeanne Chall, a longstanding proponent of the traditional method of phonics teaching, with this question: “How do you explain that your readers sometimes inserted words in their oral reading that weren't in the text?”

    Now, that’s a significant observation. What if the text said: “Cocaine is harmful to people” and the reader was heard to say that cocaine was not harmful — wouldn't that possibly be a dangerous meaning conveyed or understood by the reader?

    Goodman states in his book (On Reading, 1996) that he forgot what he answered.

    Nonetheless, the Reading Wars rage on to this day — some assert that reading must be “taught” (via phonics, Chall) while some claim that the Whole Language (Goodman) approach is superior and that reading is “caught”.

    Anyway, here is the story about Chall’s ostracism:

    Jeanne Chall died in 1999 but in a reissue of her last book a foreword written by Marilyn Jager Adams made these potent observations:

    “ . . .reviewing the research on phonics, Chall told me that if I wrote the truth, I would lose old friends and make new enemies. She warned me that I would never again be fully accepted by my academic colleagues . . . Sadly, however, as the evidence in favor of systematic, explicit phonics instruction for beginners increased, so too did the vehemence and nastiness of the backlash. The goal became one of discrediting not just the research, but the integrity and character of those who had conducted it. Chall was treated most shabbily . . . “ (pg vi , The Academic Achievement Challenge)

    Speaking now for myself, a parent and now a grandparent with grandkids in the system, I can really understand why today’s parents just don't want to engage or be involved in this toxic soup called monopoly public education. I applaud the growing movement of parental choice through Education Savings Accounts where informed choices in the best interests of the child can be made instead of having to fight or get sucked into New Age untested experiments.

  5. A profound education – Will Stack

    April 14, 2015 by Tunya

    Will Stack – What A Profound Education !

    When blame is placed on parents, schools, culture, poverty, etc. for illiteracy and bad morals we should ask — Just where did Will Stack get educated? He seems to have got it ALL RIGHT !

    “Not all officers are bad people”

    Will Stack’s traffic stop video goes viral

    The significance of this monumental event is summarized in the last point and you may want to go there first to share WHY this is such a RARE sighting — something hopefully not totally obsolete (See *** 7).

    1 First, Will Stark has the courage and self-confidence to speak up.

    2 He has the knack to produce, publish, and broadcast a selfie video on Facebook.

    3 His message is clear, hits a chord and obviously speaks to millions — gone viral.

    4 His media follow-up is equally articulate, even after some serious criticism that he fails to understand the issues. He, nevertheless, does show a rich grasp of the issues and does not diminish the seriousness of current race/policing relationships.

    5. He is humble and straightforward and not showing ego or “change the world” advocacy. He is surprised by the celebrity attention he has drawn.

    6 The BIG QUESTION is — Where did this 21 year old get his education: 1) parents; 2) schools; 3) military training; 4) culture; 5 other? This is important because with the problems we now have — domestically and worldwide — people like Will Stack are seriously needed to stop the political, polarized, knee-jerk behaviors, which demonstrate so much ignorance and poor judgment.

    What can we learn about Will’s education so that others can also gain the qualities of heart and mind so commendable here?
    *** 7 This is part of what his message is about:

    A – A police officer is a public servant who is there to protect and serve.
    B – There are protocols to follow.
    C – “Not all officers are crooked… racist, bad people”.
    D – “Just because you're black doesn't mean you're a victim, just because you're white doesn't mean you're a racist, just because you're a cop doesn't mean you're a bad person.”
    E – “This world really needs to stop putting labels on people and things and see them as who they are: people doing things. Ignorance has no color. God doesn't see color. Why should we?

  6. Mean-spiritedness & politics-as-usual

    April 12, 2015 by Tunya

    Mean-spiritedness Or Responsiveness — What Guides School Decision Making?

    The decision by the Nanaimo School Board to designate a K-7 elementary school as Departure Bay Eco Academy does not come without political overtones.

    In a statement to the press Board Chairman, Steve Rae, said, “We're hoping this kind of thing draws kids back from the private system.” Thus one must wonder if this move was based on educationally sound principles or adopted as a recruiting tool to boost enrollment.

    Unfortunately in BC right now, if one follows the social media, we would note a persistent undercurrent of activism trying to undermine the rather harmonious relationship currently in place between the public and independent systems in education.

    This Nanaimo decision reminds me of what happened in Maple Ridge School District 15 years ago.

    In their effort to appear responsive the Maple Ridge school board decided to survey parents as to their preferences. The survey form clearly stated the results would “help plan the future direction” and listed 10 choices including “other” or “None of the above”. The models listed were:

    – Traditional (emphasis on basics, discipline, parent involvement)
    – Progressive (children learn by discovery, less emphasis on grades)
    – Environmental
    – Self-directed (emphasis on independent learning)
    – Fine Arts (e.g., music, art, drama)
    – Skilled trades
    – Sport academies
    – Technology academies

    When the results were released a month later the media headlines picked up on the leading result — Support for traditional school. The tally was 63% for traditional, 53% for fine arts, 32% for sports academies, 31% for progressive, and 28% for environmental.

    But the politics soon kicked in. The “progressive” school of thought (the predominant philosophy operating in BC public schools) rallied against the conventional parent point-of-view (which is generally your back-to-the basics, traditional expectations) and guess what? It was an environmental school that was the new program!

    It is really too bad that parent choice and voice are so dismissed by those who push a totalitarian progressive approach. In Nanaimo it was parental choice of private schools that was the target. In Maple Ridge it was the parent voice showing a preference for traditional schooling that was skillfully thwarted.

    I think it’s time that the provincial government, through new laws, provided a level playing field for all parents in BC. There should be a uniform code of behavior that applies equally to both the public school sphere and the independent.

    There is a little known clause in the Independent School Act that forbids the practice, promotion or fostering of “social change through violent action or sedition”. In simple terms sedition is the subversive undermining of the peace and authority of the established social order. It’s time that the Public School Act had a similar clause applying to the 89% of schools that are public. Families should not be under constant bombardment from activists who would deny education alternatives in our free province of BC!