Archive for the ‘ Education ’ Category

These Two Issues Again?

The Arizona illegal immigration controversy and the oil spill continue to dominate the news. That’s enough to make me want to write about something completely different. Well, maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ve got some great cartoons to fill the space today—on those two issues.

We’re on the verge of the federal government suing Arizona. How ironic. There’s Arizona on the front lines of tackling the illegal immigration problem, and what does the federal government do? This is a pretty good illustration of what’s happening:

Then, on top of that, we get the news that Mexico’s government is joining the lawsuit:

The upside to that bit of legal chicanery is that Mexico’s involvement will probably make the Arizona law even more popular with American citizens.

Meanwhile, in the neverending Gulf incident, the panel of experts that the Obama administration said supported the moratorium on oil drilling . . . well, not quite:

Those who live by the experts shall die by the experts.

Obama’s most avid supporters are getting disillusioned. They expected more from their savior:

Some disappointments are harder to take than others.

If Obama is able to use this oil spill disaster to push his green policy of cap-and-trade, we’ll be in for more disappointment:

Well, don’t worry. Our education system certainly will save us. We’re undoubtedly raising a generation of highly informed and responsible adults who will turn things around, right? Right?

Weep for a while, then pray for wisdom and strength to continue your engagement in the ongoing battle for America’s soul.

Today’s Surprise: I Recommend My Own Books

In the nearly two years that I’ve written this daily blog, I’ve never, to the best of my recollection (how’s that for a lawyerly term that gets me off the hook if I’m wrong?), advertised for books I’ve authored. Today, though, I would beg your indulgence, since I’ve just had a new edition of one of my books come off the presses.

I first wrote If the Foundations Are Destroyed in 1994. This is now the fourth edition of it, complete with a new cover. Why might you want it? The subtitle, Biblical Principles and Civil Government, tells you what it’s all about. I go through what I consider to be Biblical principles and how they apply to government. These form the basis of all my analyses of current government policies. So if you are a regular reader of this blog, this book will provide a window into why I believe as I do.

I have excerpted some of these concepts on the blog already as an overview. If you are interested in a preview, just click on the “Biblical Principles” category in the right sidebar. To learn more about the book and to order it, go to:

http://ponderingprinciples.com/books/itfad/.

While I’m at it, let me talk briefly about the other two books I’ve written.

I did my doctoral dissertation on Noah Webster. While writing it, I had in mind that I wanted to make it into a publishable book. That’s not always easy with a doctoral dissertation, but I made every effort to ensure the writing style was accessible to a general audience as well as scholars. I hope I succeeded.

Webster was the schoolmaster to early America. His speller and dictionary could be found in nearly all American homes. The subtitle, A Spiritual Biography, lets you know that my goal in this book was to chart the course of Webster’s thinking and worldview. At age 50, he experienced a conversion to orthodox Christian faith. How did that affect his scholarly work? The book compares the pre-conversion Webster with the post-conversion man, while offering along the way an accounting of his contributions to American life and culture. To find out more and order this book go to:

http://ponderingprinciples.com/books/webster/.

In 2001, I completed a study of the Clinton impeachment. My approach was different than any of the other books on the impeachment written at that time. I wrote it from the perspective of the thirteen congressmen—they were called House Managers—who went to the Senate to argue for Clinton’s removal from office. I personally interviewed all thirteen of the Managers in their Capitol Hill offices; this book provides their story on why they thought it was essential to go forward with these impeachment proceedings in spite of public opposition. It’s a study in character and the significance of the rule of law in society.

At the time of its publication, it was a main selection for the Conservative Book Club. Well-known author and editor of World magazine, Marvin Olasky, wrote the foreword for me. This is the only one of my books that is currently out of print (which I hope can be changed someday), but it is still available for those who are interested. For one of the limited number of new copies that still exist, you can order from this page:

http://ponderingprinciples.com/books/misimp/.

If you don’t mind getting a used copy, check out Amazon.

I don’t offer these with any expectation of becoming fabulously wealthy. My primary concern is to disseminate valuable information. I’ve promoted books by a number of authors over the past two years. I just wanted to make sure you are aware of mine as well. I hope some of you decide to add one or more of these to your library.

My Educational Philosophy: A Summary

As a university professor, I think a lot about what I should do in the classroom. What is the proper way to teach? How much do I let my beliefs enter into the subject? One of the biggest problems in many universities is when the classroom is used primarily as an indoctrination center for leftist ideology and all the trendy movements: multiculturalism, radical feminism, environmentalism (anyone notice an “ism” problem here?).

The response of most conservatives has been to call for a neutral classroom where, supposedly, facts are presented without any particular slant. Let the facts speak for themselves; allow the students to come up with their own rationales for what they believe. To a point, there is some truth in that approach, in that every student eventually is going to decide for themselves what they believe. But how much can the professor offer to influence those students?

I have it easier in one sense than many professors who are Christians teaching in public universities. Since I teach in an evangelical setting, there are parameters for my teaching. It’s assumed by the students that I will honor Biblical doctrines. Yet the issue remains the same since not every Christian professor applies those doctrines to their subjects in the same way.

Here’s how I explain to my students the approach that I take. First, I don’t believe that it’s possible for anyone to be totally objective in teaching. I reject the idea that education can be value-neutral. What we believe will come across in some way. Therefore, we are all subjective: our life experiences, backgrounds, and beliefs systems go with us into everything we do. This is not wrong. This is inescapable. As a Christian, I want it to be inescapable.

The late Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer said it best, I believe, when he explained,

People have presuppositions, and they will live more consistently on the basis of these presuppositions than even they themselves may realize. By presuppositions we mean the basic way an individual looks at life, his basic world view, the grid through which he sees the world. Presuppositions rest upon that which a person considers to be the truth of what exists. People’s presuppositions lay a grid for all they bring forth into the external world. Their presuppositions also provide the basis for their values and therefore the basis for their decisions.

My presuppositions are Christian. It is then natural and right that I should share those presuppositions in all I teach. Knowledge cannot be separated into some tight compartment, isolated from a person’s basic worldview. I will interpret my subject area [history, in this case] in accordance with the grid through which I see the world. What I believe to be truth will impact both what and how I teach.

There is a difference, though, between being subjective and being biased. Bias is an attitude that never allows any new information. It approaches the world with a view that all things must be squeezed into a preset idea or interpretation. If facts don’t fit this prejudgment, they must be forced to fit. Any university professor who does this is not teaching; he or she is simply trying to create ideological clones.

Do I want my students to agree with my views? Yes. But I can’t force them to agree. I have to win them over by the logic of the facts I present. I have to show them how the facts fit into my interpretation, all the while staying open myself to new information that may modify what I teach.

For instance, in American history, as much as I would like to make all the Founders into evangelical Christians, to do so would be to set aside some facts and dishonestly disseminate false information. Now, I believe the founding of America was based on Biblical thinking, for the most part, but I cannot “make” Benjamin Franklin a Christian without violating my own conscience before God.

I always keep in mind this one thing: first, I am a Christian; second, I am a professor. My overriding concern has to be the one that Jesus left as a charge for all Christians when He said,

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.

So even when I teach history, my primary goal is to ensure that the study of history will lead my students into a stronger relationship with the One for whom all of life is to be lived. I’m in the process of making disciples. If I do anything that lessens their desire to know and love God, then I am a failure.

It’s an awesome responsibility, and one that I take seriously.

What Is College Teaching Your Child?

Ever since the revolutionary movements of the 1960s, college education has been altered for the worse. It already had been affected by progressivism, but the radicalism of that era injected steroids into the progressivism that already existed.

William Ayers Demonstrates His Love for America

Now, forty years later, the radicals who protested being taught Western Civilization and the free market are the professors, by and large. Homegrown terrorists like William Ayers are now inculcating their Marxist philosophy into the students’ immature minds. They still hate the nation that allows them to freely spout their propaganda.

Parents turn their children over to the professional educators and then wonder why they don’t recognize their children anymore. They’re puzzled by the changes in attitude and belief. How any parent can remain surprised after so many years of indoctrination is a mystery to me. What are we graduating these days?

And how has college added to their cultural development?

Some degrees are so valuable, students want to stay in college forever.

We’ve brought all this on ourselves. We have no one else to blame.

All You Need Is Money

One of the biggest myths with regard to education is that the more money we spend on it, the better the education will be. I want to state categorically that while I certainly am in favor of providing the best education possible, the amount of money spent on education bears no direct relationship to the quality of the education.

The worst educational system in the United States is in Washington, DC, which, historically, has received more money per student than any state in the union. Meanwhile, New Hampshire, a state whose education spending ranks near the bottom compared with all other states, has one of the highest educational achievement levels.

It’s not the money. It’s the philosophy.

Whether you start the critique with the absence of genuine phonics or expand it to include inventive spelling (yes, that does exist) and indoctrination into trendy subjects such as environmentalism, while ignoring history and other essentials, it’s the philosophy that drives how well students learn.

I remember when I was in first grade–it’s a stretch, but I can remember that far back—learning to read. Our school in my small town in Indiana apparently was a little slower in picking up the progressive trends. We were taught extensive phonics; I learned to read quickly. The funny thing is that while we were receiving this solid education, we also were reading the new Dick and Jane readers. “See Spot run. Run, Spot, run. Run, run, run.” I think it was the plot that held my attention.

Those readers were absolutely ludicrous for students who were learning phonics. I guess they were told they had to use them because everyone else was. To this day, though, I am grateful for the phonics I learned from the start.

By the way, it doesn’t take a lot of fancy technology to teach a child to read. The teacher, the phonics book, and the blackboard covered it all nicely.

How times have changed.

Education Requires Work?

It’s been three months since I lasted posted on the subject of the history of education and its effects on us today. I’d like to take a few days and develop that topic a little more.

In a previous post, I spoke about a woman named Marietta Pierce Johnson who followed the teachings of John Dewey, Father of Progressive Education. Johnson set up a school that had no exams, no homework, and no grading system. No child was allowed to fail. Of course, if there is no such thing as failure, there’s also no such thing as success. The Dewey approach, which Johnson adopted, was to delay formal learning as long as possible.

Another Dewey disciple, Caroline Pratt, started the City and Country Day School in Greenwich Village. With her idea that every child was a creator, she simply wanted to draw that creativity out of each child. Now, I agree that God made us creative beings. Education, though, is more than creativity; it requires someone in authority leading children into what they need to learn. Handled properly, this does not inhibit creativity but places it in a framework within which it can succeed. Unlimited creativity with no design or guidance is often just misguided selfishness.

If anyone has any question about Miss Pratt’s moral and theological perspective, all you need to know is that she was a close friend of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, the foremost promoter of abortion in the world.

Overall, the progressive education movement tended to downplay academic achievement and reward unstructured, experience-oriented methods. How does this prepare students for taking their place in society? 

Education does require work. Some of my students seem surprised by that. My job isn’t to make it easy for them, but to challenge them to do their best. I guess I don’t make a very good progressive educator.

Random Thoughts

Some days I don’t have a unified thesis for what I want to share. How about if I just offer a few random thoughts—with a little help from my friends, the political cartoonists?

A couple days ago, I commented on the attitude toward the Tea Partiers, and how some politicians and media outlets do their best to smear them as racists. Personally, I think some of this is due to their utter lack of knowledge of American history.

It’s interesting what qualifies as hate speech nowadays.

Yesterday I focused on Obama’s new nuclear policy, such as it is. Here’s a pretty good representation of it.

Don’t overlook the notice in the center. It’s the essence of the policy.

Education is another of my favorite topics.

A win-win for whom?

The other day Sarah Palin critiqued the Obama nuclear policy. His response was to ridicule her as someone who has no experience in foreign policy—you know, like a certain community organizer who was raised to a position above his pay grade. I’m reminded of his sharpness from time to time, like the occasion when he told his audience how many states he had visited.

I guess that’s what a Columbia political science degree and a Harvard law degree get you—daunting intellectualism.