Category Archives: ‘D’ for Dunce

It may not be the fault of the student. Maybe it’s the family situation at home. Maybe the teacher is a lackluster educator. Either way – one or more of them has earned a ‘D’ rating – for “DUH!”

Some on the Left Now Criticize the Students They Created

In the last few weeks, there has been a spate of columns by writers on the left condemning the left-wing college students who riot, take over university buildings and shout down speakers with whom they differ.

These condemnations, coming about 50 years too late, should not be taken seriously.

Take New York Times columnist Frank Bruni. His latest column is filled with dismay over the way Middlebury College students attacked Charles Murray and a liberal woman professor who interviewed him (she was injured by the rioters).

I have no doubt that Bruni is sincere. However, sincerity is completely unrelated to wisdom or insight. Continue reading

My Students Don’t Know How to Have a Conversation

“Students’ reliance on screens for communication is detracting—and distracting—from their engagement in real-time talk.”

Recently I stood in front of my class, observing an all-too-familiar scene. Most of my students were covertly—or so they thought—pecking away at their smartphones under their desks, checking their Facebook feeds and texts.

As I called their attention, students’ heads slowly lifted, their eyes reluctantly glancing forward. I then cheerfully explained that their next project would practice a skill they all desperately needed: holding a conversation.

Several students looked perplexed. Others fidgeted in their seats, waiting for me to stop watching the class so they could return to their phones. Finally, one student raised his hand. “How is this going to work?” he asked. Continue reading

K-12 Quagmire: Problems with Sight-Words

Why do we have millions of children who never become fluent readers? Easy. Our Education Establishment prefers methods that don’t work.

Every language is either a sound-language such as English or a picture-language such as Chinese. They are opposites. You cannot mix them without creating mental chaos. But what do you know? Our public schools insist on mixing them together. This is dogma in today’s K-12.

Most Americans have heard of “balanced literacy.” That’s jargon for mixing them together.

Sound-languages are also known as phonetic languages – for example, Latin, German, Italian, and English. Children read these languages by first learning an alphabet, the sounds represented by the letters, and how to blend those sounds. Then they can read a million words. (They see CAT on the page and blend those three letters into one spoken word. Note that the sounds are contained in the printed words.)

Picture-languages are also known as hieroglyphic, ideographic, or sight-languages – for example, Babylonian, ancient Egyptian, and Chinese. There is no alphabet to learn. Instead children memorize whole diagrams or designs one by one. Continue reading