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November, 2016

  1. Socialization & political socialization

    November 29, 2016 by Tunya

    Two Kinds Of Socialization

    The question about “socialization” of home-educated children recurs frequently. What we find is that parents will usually give a two-fold answer: 1) The children do participate outside the home in social networks, community service, etc. and are socially comfortable and 2) Negative socialization such as bullying, unhealthy competition, drugs, groupthink, regimentation, etc. are purposefully avoided. These are answers most outsiders would praise.

    However, there is a second meaning to “socialization” not usually acknowledged — the political dimension. Actually, in a roundabout way, this observation has arisen as demographic reports keep mentioning the “uneducated” as a large voting block favoring the Trump campaign.

    I propose that the more specific term “unsocialized” replace the term “uneducated”. This is the demographic that, through lack of extensive “schooling” through the public schools and secondary institutions, has not had the steady barrage of progressive education thrust upon them till they become normalized to that mindset.

    I wrote about this political dimension in my 1987 article (see Home Education: Third Option, saying that parents wished to avoid the “political agenda being foisted on the schools to change society, rectify social ills, alter human nature, etc.” Today, 30 years later, I would add that home educators are dodging the competency movement that aims to diminish the hard skills (3Rs) to be replaced with soft competencies (collaboration, creativity, communication, critical thinking, character, etc.). And, of course, we can add these other agendas that home educators may want to downplay — environmentalism, social justice agendas, massive data collection, “neuroscientific” experimentation, etc.

    The political socialization of Western nations can trace its origins to two authors, a century ago, Edward Bellamy and John Dewey, when the ideas of social reconstruction emerged. Bellamy’s book, Looking Backward (1888), foretold a socialist society where everyone had a good life. After close observation of talents demonstrated at school, everyone was guaranteed equal-pay work according to their abilities. John Dewey, father of progressive education and admirer of Bellamy, through his writings and lab schools helped set the path for our predominantly progressive slant in public education today.

    In his book, Deschooling Society (1970, available for download on the Internet) Ivan Illich wrote: “School has become the planned process which tools man for a planned world, the principal tool to trap man in man’s trap. It is supposed to shape each man to an adequate level for playing a part in this world game.”

    Teachers trained in teacher education faculties in our Western nations are influenced to be activists for social change. No other “profession” sends its graduates out on a social mission to change the world! Our Canadian Deans of Education subscribe to an Accord where one of its 12 principles “encourages teachers to assume a social and political leadership role”. Similar agreements undoubtedly inspire other education faculties around the world.

    If Betsy DeVos does become the new Education Secretary in the Trump cabinet we know that education choice will be a huge priority. Home education will become a more pronounced option. Overall, families will have a greater choice than the near monopoly now existing that has the dual effect of both socializing children for the larger society as well as socializing the young for political agendas parents may or may not ordinarily choose.

    [  comment posted on FEE article — It's a great time to be a homeschooler, Kerry McDonald  —  ]



  2. Effective Schools for all

    November 21, 2016 by Tunya

    Consciousness, guilt and shame should tell us it's inappropriate for some children to be disproportionately left behind from education.  One fact stands out as particularly outrageous:  2.3 million Americans are behind bars and 40 % are blacks (mostly males) and blacks make up just 13 % of the population.  Here is an article which shows how black teachers feel disrespected — they who should be especially encouraged and celebrated in trying to help this left-behind population.  Black teachers feeling tolerated, not celebrated  I sent a comment to this article as below:

    I Like Your Bottom Line

    That you commit to not giving up is so heartwarming!

    I subscribe to your blog and also to a lot of other education sites. You’re one of the best! Your insight comes across as very enlightened and informed by much experience. Please keep asking these questions, bringing forth good research and keeping up-to-date on the statistics. I’m sure there also must be good news about how black children and black teachers and black families can achieve the best possible results from good education opportunities.

    I’m a granny now but when I was active in school reform it was on behalf of parent rights. We used to quote Ron Edmonds often, especially his 1978 quote: “We can whenever, and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need in order to do this. Whether we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven’t so far.”

    He developed an 8-point checklist, which if it were seriously applied, would, I’m sure, have contributed much to good schools for everyone. Perhaps the one point most seriously ignored was the one about avoiding pitfalls: “Retain awareness of good educational practice plus keep current in the field concerning promising and discredited practices.”
    Much of today’s schooling deviates from proven practices. Perhaps Edmonds can again be an inspiration today! We do need to celebrate good teaching!

  3. Education shakeup — way overdue

    November 20, 2016 by Tunya

    Contradiction Between Knowing & Doing In Education

    Much is known about what works and what doesn’t in education. The biggest problem — at least in relation to the goal of at least equipping students with the basic skills of reading and math — is the huge gap between certain populations exhibiting or not exhibiting those skills. Consistently, poor and minority students are left behind. And, they disproportionately are the clienteles of the criminal justice systems.

    No need to look for neuroscientific magic bullets in reading and math. There is considerable research and evidence to correct those lags now.

    Our popular BC radio broadcaster and economist, Michael Campbell, pointed out these contradictions this weekend in face of the US election results:

    • 2.3 million Americans are behind bars, 40% are black, while they are only 13% in the general population.
    • That inner city schools are a disaster is a failure of the establishment elites to drop politics and work on behalf of these forgotten and dispossessed.

    While Campbell rages about education contradictions here and in the US he is completely stumped as to why there is no uprising against the education elite. Over the last year of his broadcasts he correctly foresaw both Brexit and the Trump election as reactions against political establishments. What will it take for a shakeup and correction in the education establishment?

    [posted in Educhatter,]

  4. Teachers — Advocate or Educate ?

    November 19, 2016 by Tunya

    Teachers — Educate or Advocate?

    This story from San Francisco illustrates some of the issues about the role of teachers in public schools.

    San Francisco teacher defends lesson plan calling Donald Trump racist, sexist —

    To what extent do teachers have the right to bring their personal views into the High School classroom?

    This teacher made up her own lesson plan, not approved by anyone or any authority. The School District said it had no part in it. But, when the news came out, the teachers’ union and the National Education Association advertised it in their media outlets.

    A Republican spokesperson was quoted: “It’s boiling down the results [of the election] . . . into two words: racist and sexist . . . Some of these students probably have parents who voted for Donald Trump. How are those students going to feel . . . ?

    This opens up questions in our neck-of-the-woods.

    Do teachers have “autonomy” or license to create their own lesson plans?
    Do teachers use lesson plans that might be controversial that are provided by the teacher union? See this controversy —

    Should teacher unions produce lesson plans? And why do they fight tooth-and-nail during collective bargaining for increasing power over professional development? See these obvious left-slanted PD Math workshops last month in BC:

    * Social Justice as a platform for problem solving — Social justice lies at the intersection of school mathematics and students lives. In this workshop we will explore initiatives to engage students with social justice issues through problem solving . . .

    * Social Justice and mathematics: Beyond the equation— . . . mathematics through a social justice lens. Social justice, in general, is about equity and the development of a critical mindset that can identify inequities is an essential competency of an educated and democratic citizen . . . mathematics may be one of the most accessible and productive ways to develop this critical mindedness. I will draw on and share numerous mathematical inquiry activities and general approaches to mathematics teaching supporting the revised curriculum and its move toward a socially-relevant education.

    I think we urgently need to reconfigure education so that parents can choose between activist progressive schools and those that educate, not advocate! Parents should be at the forefront, with transparent information available, to sort out what they want for their children and be able to avoid discredited, crappy, and obviously political agendas if they don’t want them!

    [ ssubmitted to Educhatter blog on topic — ‘Crap-Detection’ in Teaching: How Do We Separate the Good ‘Brain Science’ from the Bad?  ]


  5. where does truth stand today?

    November 18, 2016 by Tunya


    Where Does Truth Stand Today?

    I think this SINNer is protesting too much. Self-identifying non-neuroticism is probably not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition — yet. But as the saying goes, it takes one to know one, or, it’s the pot calling the kettle black . . .

    Caplan points to the two tribes, left and right activists. They both use sadness, anger and fear to try and sway some reform or change. Both try to evoke guilt as a method to work for change.

    There’s another way that’s going the rounds in expressing polarities of thought — authoritarian or libertarian — either of which also tries to evoke guilt in persuading others to their side.

    But Caplan belongs to a tribe that claims objective truths and evidence-backed research to bolster their field. But, here again, there is no agreement. The famous quote by George Bernard Shaw still holds — "If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion."

    Thankfully we live in our Western cultures, which allow competition of ideas to flourish and for surprises (Brexit/Trump effect) to happen.

    Thanks for the opinion-piece, Bryan Caplan, and hopefully we can grapple more effectively in this, our post-truth world. In case it’s not widely know, Oxford Dictionary has just proclaimed “post-truth” as the word of the year and perhaps the defining word of our time!…

    [comment to FEE — Bryan Caplan — How Neurotic People Abuse The News}