ILLA Blogs

Commentary and reviews by classical Lutheran education commentators.

Common Core Nose Dive

The Education InvasionJoy Pullman, executive editor of The Federalist, recently blogged about the nose dive in math scores on standardized tests in California. Pullman correlates the data this of this decline to the adoption of Common Core.

Will we see a comparable decline in all states which have adopted Common Core standards?

Amazon.com carries her book, The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids, and Issues, Etc. recently conducted an interview with her.

A Wikipedia entry: Mathematically Correctwas a U.S.-based website created by educators, parents, mathematicians, and scientists who were concerned about the direction of reform mathematics curricula based on NCTM Standards Created in 1997. It was a frequently cited website in the so-called Math wars, and was actively updated until 2003. The website went offline sometime in late 2012 or early 2013 but has been preserved on the Internet Archive.

I wish someone would resurrect this site. It shows that problems with math curricula are not unique to Common Core, especially in California. It has been going on for quite some time.

Lutheran schools get it wrong when they emulate public schools in methods and curricula, attempting to improve enrollment numbers by demonstrating that they are "just as good" as public schools while adding some Bible stories.

Classical Lutheran education represents an entirely different educational philosophy while  featuring a catechetical program which shows the distinctively evangelical character of Lutheran orthodoxy.

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Latin Tutor Resources

Adjective PairsThose teaching Latin might benefit from some of the resources found in the archives of Gray Fox Tutors and the Carmenta Blog.

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C.S. Lewis - Our English Syllabus

The title of this lecture might lead readers to think that Clive Staples intended to comment on grammar and literature, but what we find in these opening paragraphs is a distinction between education and vocational training. The full text of the essay may be found here.

 

Schoolmasters in our time are fighting hard in defence of education against vocational training; universities, on the other hand, are fighting against education on behalf of learning.
Let me explain.

The purpose of education has been described by Milton as that of fitting a man ‘to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously all the offices both private and public, of peace and war.’ Provided we do not overstress ‘skilfully,’ Aristotle would substantially agree with this, but would add the conception that it should also be a preparation for leisure, which according to him is the end of all human activity. ‘We wage war in order to have peace; we work in order to have leisure.’ Neither of them would dispute that the purpose of education is to produce the good man and the good citizen, though it must be remembered that we are not here using the word ‘good’ in any narrowly ethical sense.

The ‘good man’ here means the man of good taste and good feeling, the interesting and interested man, and almost the happy man. With such an end in view, education in most civilized communities has taken much the same path; it has taught civil behaviour by direct and indirect discipline, has awakened the logical faculty by mathematics or dialectic, and has endeavoured to produce right sentiments -- which are to the passions what right habits are to the body -- by steeping the pupil in the literature both sacred and profane on which the culture of the community is based.

Vocational training, on the other hand, hand,prepares the pupil not for leisure, but for work; it aims at making not a  good man, but a good banker, a good electrician, a good scavenger, or a good surgeon. You see at once that  education is essentially for free men and vocational training for slaves. That is  how they were distributed in the old unequal societies; the poor man’s son was apprenticed to  a trade, the rich man’s son went to Eton and Oxford and then made the grand tour.

When societies became, in effort if not in achievement, egalitarian, we are presented with a  difficulty. To give everyone education and to give no one vocational training is impossible, for electricians and surgeons we must have and they must be trained. Our ideal must be to find time for both education and training: our danger is that equality may mean training for all and education for none – that everyone will learn commercial French instead of Latin, book-keeping instead of geometry, and knowledge of the world we live in instead of great literature. It  is  against this danger that schoolmasters have to fight, for if education is beaten by training, civilization dies. That is a thing very likely to happen.

One of the most dangerous errors instilled into us by nineteenth-century progressive optimism is the idea that civilization is automatically bound to increase and spread. The lesson of history is the opposite; civilization is a rarity, attained with difficulty and easily lost. The normal state of humanity is barbarism, just as the normal surface of our planet is saltwater. Land looms large in our imagination of the planet and civilization in our history books, only because sea and savagery are, to us, less interesting. And if you press to know what I mean by civilization, I reply ‘Humanity’, by which I do not mean kindness so much as the realization of the human idea. Human life means to me the life of beings for whom the leisured activities of thought, art, literature, conversation are the end,’ and the preservation and propagation of life merely the means. That is why education seems to me so important: it actualizes that potentiality for leisure, if you like, for amateurishness, which is  man’s prerogative.

You have noticed, I  hope, that man is the only amateur animal; all the others are professionals. They have no leisure and do not desire it. When the cow has finished eating she chews the cud; when she has finished chewing,  she sleeps; when she has finished sleeping, she eats again. She is a machine for turning grass into calves and milk – in other words, for producing more cows. The lion cannot stop hunting, nor the beaver building dams, nor the bee making honey. When God made the beasts dumb He saved the world from infinite boredom, for if  they could speak they would all of them, all day, talk nothing but shop. That is my idea of education.

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Memoria Press: The Classical Teacher

Memoria PressThanks to Pr. Rene Castillero of Martin Luther Grammar School in Sheridan, Wyoming, I was reminded of an online publication produced by Memoria Press called Classical Teaching. Back issues may also be read there. You may sign up to be put on their mailing list here. Discussions on any of these articles or issues may be initiated using our website's EasyDiscuss features. (If there is any difficulty accessing that feature, please let me know so that I may get it working.)

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Students (and Disciples) Asking Questions

Web Attribute: http://clipartstation.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/student-clipart-1.jpg

One skill I try to engender in every subject is the students' ability to ask questions. It is so much easier to teach a class which is curious about a subject. It is so much more rewarding when a student who does not understand something is able to ask questions of the teacher.

This past week, I asked my students in math class why they didn't ask questions when they got problems wrong or when they didn't understand a concept. For some, homework is a drudgery. They just want to get it done in class so they don't have to do it at home -- and asking questions keeps them from doing their problems. For others, my explanations simply took too much time. For still others, they did not want to appear ignorant in the presence of their peers (in spite of my attempts to make all students feel comfortable about the learning environment). It was worth the time it took to address these issues in class.

In the historic lectionary for Jubilate, the Third Sunday after Easter (John 16:19 which we read today), we read, "Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, "Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said . . .  ?" There are other similar instances recorded in the Gospels. After three years with Jesus, why didn't the disciples just come right out and ask Jesus? Jesus apparently had to teach His disciples how to ask questions as well.

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