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  1. FREEDOM

    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. unforgiveable – causing parents to betray their children

    September 12, 2016 by Tunya

    “Smoking Gun” Tells A Lot More Than “He says, she says” !

    [This is the case of a school in Vancouver, an “inquiry school”, which on Day 1 had Grade 7 students given a number ID, assigned to a “faction”, and arbitrarily punished or rewarded by teachers.  There was no consent nor information to parents.  They were asked to keep this “confidential” via email.  2 stories appeared in the Globe  & Mail with many comments.  Google — Vancouver school role-playing.}]

    Yes, parents can now be found to support of this Salish Sea project. A whole host of people can come forward with opinions, interpretations, apologies, etc.

    BUT, the fact remains — we have one glaring piece of hard evidence, Exhibit #1, that lays bare a whole litany of educational transgressions — the letter to parents, Sept 6, 2016 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/static/interactive/graphics/0908-nw-na-experiment/District%205488%20Overview%20for%20Parents.pdf

    Here are just a few of the violations to highlight:

    √ surprise — Not only were the students unaware of the project, but so were the parents. Informed parental consent is not mentioned so obviously this was not done. Parents are to be involved by “playing along”, “help them debrief” but always to keep this “confidential” from their children. (Parents will actually be betraying their children’s natural trust that they would keep them out of harm’s way!)

    √ playing with the minds of children (ages 12/13) — These are some of the emotions that the children might display — “overwhelming”, “off putting”, “discomfort”, “we expect and want students to experience a range of emotions”.

    √ depersonalization — Students are given a number ID, called “followers” and are assigned to a “faction” where “The Establishment . . . arbitrarily demotes/promotes”.

    All this is in the letter that closes with this pacifying and cajoling point: “Always focused on the core competencies and BC Ed Curriculum, students will engage in a variety of activities that will help them build the capacity and skills needed for deep inquiry. "

    Is this role-playing being done in the name of the Ministry of Education?

    What is my background to be so disturbed by all this? In the 70s my young children were in a VSB experimental school program from which we soon withdrew after a research report showed students behind in reading and math. I was a member of a parent group (non-PTA) active in improving parent involvement (a new superintendent from Que was hired) and our group received a grant from the Federal Secretary of State to found a service to help parents be involved. One of the first things we did was to codify parent rights in education from sources from around the world (NZ, AU, USA, UK, etc.).
    Amongst the rights was this one about Safeguards:

    “To expect strict supervision over new programs, innovations and experiments, and that parents have special rights in these instances:
    • to receive a written description of the program, rationale, goals and supporting references
    • to grant or refuse permission for their child’s attendance
    • to receive satisfaction that the program is run by qualified, well-prepared personnel
    • to be involved in the ongoing evaluation.”

    In view of technological and cultural changes I think it’s high time that Family Rights in Education be updated and brought forward to address 21st C Learning concerns.


  3. Parents Need Outlets for their outrage

    September 5, 2016 by Tunya

    FACILITATING THE PARENT VOICE IN EDUCATION DECISION-MAKING May 17, 2012

    Ever since the teacher unions gained legal voice through collective bargaining parents have been shunted to the side. The PTA was no longer useful. Education decisions increasingly were made by and between bureaucrats and the unions.

    Parents as a class never had much voice and as individuals it was the most ardent and persistent individual families who got anywhere with the public schools.

    Compulsory schooling and monopoly public schools effectively usurped parents from the role Nature endows them with — the duty and instincts to safely bring up their children.

    It is in times of crisis that parents feel most alarmed and anxious that their children’s’ well-being is being threatened. This current teacher strike — nearly nine months already — illustrates just how robbed of voice parents have become.

    So, in this age of communication, parents, as the ultimate educators of their children, find themselves gagged.

    Thus we can see how this website, Where Is My Kids Report Card? has proved so profoundly effective.

    1. Without the complaints about missing, blank, scanty Report Cards here on this site it is unlikely we would have seen the LRB and BCPSEA and the Ministry in concert to restore some legal sanity to this matter.

    2. Without this site frequently using the word “pawns” it is unlikely that so many people would now be using that term as a regular term for those hostage kids caught in the middle. See: “Most vulnerable are hurt the most by BCTF strike”, May 09, by a retired superintendent: http://blogs.theprovince.com/…/geoff-johnson-most…/

    This quote is precious:

    “Using those kids as pawns in a political dispute is so wrong it defies description.”

    3. This site and others (Janet’s Report Card, Parents Saying NO, etc.) are providing a most welcome voice to muzzled and browbeaten parents, suffering far too long at the command of “the establishment”. Productive and positive results have already been seen. Long may these sites thrive !

    [comment on Facebook site Where is my Kid’s Report Card?]


  4. GROUPTHINK Is The Agenda

    September 4, 2016 by Tunya

    GROUPTHINK Is The Agenda

    From the 30s at least there was an interest in “the new man”. George Counts wrote: “Dare The School Build A New Social Order?” Carleton Washburne, a school superintendent, travelled the world, then wrote: “Remaking Mankind” reporting how different nations viewed education and the state.

    In 1952 Raymond A Bauer produced: “The New Man In Soviet Psychology”.

    The point is that educators are and were deeply involved in — not only educating, but also “transforming” society and man and the group — mostly in the direction of being useful and obedient to the state. Often posed as “the common good”. What we have today is considerable effort to play down “the individual” and favor the group.

    Groupthink is both the method and the desired outcome. Parents of university students report that convocation speeches often project these messages. One parent heard the president actually say: “We all know that groups think better than individuals alone.”

    Of course, our topic here is Math and how group work and discovery methods are interfering with the learning of the basics. Experiential learning, collaboration and the rest of the 21st Century competencies (note the word competencies, not skills) are the talking points of new curriculums. It’s the collective, not the individual, which is to be developed.

    A 1999 book by Lieberman and Miller: “Teachers Transforming Their World and Their Work” emphasizes community-building to even include parents. Now, that’s a change!

    And don’t let’s forget, we’re not in the olden days anymore. We now have technology, pre-loaded IPads and gaming to bring forth “the new man” ! Are plummeting academic scores the only time we ask fundamental questions about what our public schools are doing?

    [I’m writing from Canada. Same problem.]

    [This comment was published last night at http://www.sgvtribune.com/opinion/20160902/does-common-core-add-up-for-californias-math-students-guest-commentary ]

    [Also a comment to Globe and Mail about Math decline in Ontario, Anna Stokke article http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/ontarios-math-system-is-broke-so-why-isnt-the-government-fixing-it/article31664784/ ]


  5. Ed Wars — crimes against Humanity

    August 23, 2016 by Tunya

    The Education Wars Are Also Crimes Against Humanity

    Geoffrey York is to be praised for reporting on the International Criminal Court’s latest case dealing with crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. This case dealt with willful cultural destruction. The individual who pleaded guilty said he was “really remorseful”, and apologized for falling under the influence of “deviant” and “evil” people when he instigated destruction of religious monuments in Timbuktu.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/islamic-extremist-pleads-guilty-to-historic-timbuktu-rampage/article31484866/

    I want to make the case that the current Education Wars — Reading War, Math War and Science War — be referred to the ICC as soon as possible, not only for damage already done but yet to be committed under the category of crimes against humanity.

    1 The guilty Timbuktu person admitted he was under the influence of “deviant” and “evil” people. In education we have so many fads proliferating. The absolute worst of all being the current 21st Century transformation shift from skills and knowledge to “discovery learning” where students are to “construct” their own knowledge. None of this constructivism is evidence-based, is actually anti-enlightenment and spreads via malicious Groupthink. These are some of the features of Groupthink: a type of hysterical excitement takes over; the opportunity is there without opposition; there is a belief that this is the correct thing to do; and the individual is not held responsible because it’s a group thing.

    2 In the Reading War and Math War there is a deliberate withholding by many teachers of the standard long-held methods of mastering the basics before going into creative, exploratory exercises. Instead, today, students are urged to read by “guessing” words from the pictures attached and urged to do math by “discovering” things instead of memorizing the times tables, for example.

    3 In the Science War this “child-centered teaching” downgrades textbooks and is “not to teach content but to help students become mini-scientists”. (Nova Scotia curriculum) There must be “group work” which is just as likely to discover ignorance as it is any “truths” that might happen.

    4 Students complain that teachers don’t teach. The teacher mantra is “Learning is caught, not taught!” A Society for Quality Education (SQE) report on science teaching concludes “One might hope that science teachers, in particular, might . . . be willing to question the continual ebb and flow of fads and quackery in education.” — Teaching Science in the 21st Century http://www.sqecanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/SQE_Science_Report.pdf

    5 Now here is the kicker. There is a massive effort to be launched called the EGRA project. Look it up — Early Grade Reading Assessment to bring English literacy to illiterate areas of the developing world. In the Toolkit is this ominous one sentence: “The reading ‘wars’ are alive and well in many low-income countries, often miring ministries of education and teaching centers in seemingly endless debates between the ‘whole-language’ and ‘phonics-based’ approaches.” (p4) Now this goes beyond unethical. Is it not a crime against humanity to let loose a project, which is open to appropriation by a method or methods discredited, lead to spiteful contests, and that will predictably cause harm instead of good?

    Would Geoffrey York or someone with standing please refer this matter to the ICC?

    [comment in G&M story, ECC, EDUCAN, FB]

     


  6. How Mass Hysteria Spreads In Education

    August 9, 2016 by Tunya

    How Mass Hysteria Spreads In Education

    No other discipline — medicine, engineering, accountancy, judiciary, architecture . . . — is so rife with fads and fallacies as in education. Of course, the case to be made is that because it is SO undisciplined, education should not qualify to be called a discipline or profession at all!

    This little essay will not go into listing all the fads that have beset education — the ita alphabet, the self-esteem movement, learning mathematics through “discovery”, learning to read through guessing, (reading is “caught” not “taught”) etc., etc. I will go into the “why’s”.

    One may wonder why a field, which purports to be a helping profession, so frequently goes chasing after one passionate belief after another, trying new theories and experiments without any proof of positive results and to actually keep persisting long after something has been undeniably discredited. Can’t this do harm? Can’t this be open to malpractice suits?

    Very few have pondered the “why’s” of the matter so as to circumvent future faddishness. Professor Patrick Groff (1924-1914) who wrote on how to prevent reading failure had a few points to make on the topic of why so many teachers adopted Whole-language in so many countries, despite contrary evidence of effectiveness.

    http://www.readinghorizons.com/research/whole-language-vs-phonics-instruction#special

    “The Special Attractions of Whole-Language (WL)

    1 . . . educators historically have been notorious for their inability to resist the lures of educational innovations, regardless of whether or not they have been empirically validated.

    2 . . . WL relieves educators of much direct personal accountability for the results . . .

    3 . . . WL appeals to many educators’ romantic and/or humanistic interpretations of what is healthy child development . . . honoring children’s freedom and dignity is held to be more essential than how literate they become.

    4 . . . in the past, educators have ignored or rejected most of the empirical findings in practically all aspects of their field of endeavor.

    5 . . .the apparent simplicity of WL is alluring for teachers . . . With WL, teachers do not have to submit to pedagogical discipline that a prescribed course of direct and systematic instruction demands.

    6 . . . educators who have liberal social, economic, and political views doubtless are charmed by WL’s decidedly left-wing agenda . . . ”

    Add to Groff’s insights the information of how groupthink occurs and you have the ingredients of mass hysteria that the author of this Huffington piece claims overwhelms the education field. Coming down the pike are some very serious, calculated efforts to install what seems like yet another fad — Social-Emotional Learning — and we should be prepared to closely examine the validity of this effort and and not fall for yet another passionate fad.

    [Above is the comment made to the Huffington story. Also sent to Education Consumers Clearinghouse Aug 09,’16]