I recently read Neville Holmes’ article “Digital Technology and the Skills Shortage” (see APPEND #1 below) in the March 2007 issue of IEEE Computer. It is a classic. It motivated me to revisit and update my ideas on education. They follow.
1, Who is responsible for an individual’s education?
- the individual is to some extent at all times but solely at maturity (circa age 27) - unless society feels in danger
- parents (or in loco parentis) until circa age 17 – unless they feel in danger – then until circa age 27
- society until circa age 27 (beyond if the society feels in danger) – parents and individuals who do not agree with society’s constraints should drop out
2, What are the purposes of an individual’s education?
- the individual chooses his purposes when he can
- the purposes of the parents may be many – but their only non-arguable purposes are to produce an individual who is able willing to take care of himself, able to produce viable off-spring, and able and willing to take care of the parents when they are no longer able to do so themselves
- society’s purposes may be many – but their only non-arguable purposes are identical to those of the parents plus to produce an individual who will help to perpetuate the society
3, What kinds of education are there?
- - Formal and informal self-education
- - Formal and informal education by parents or parent surrogates
- - Formal and informal education by society
4, What is the content/ends of education?
- - (much of education content/ends is covered in the Neville Holmes article below)
- - values
- - habits
- - skills
- - knowledge
- - judgment (aka wisdom, common sense, etc.)
- - confidence
- - happiness
THOUGHTS ON TRAINING/EDUCATION, 1999 – revised 2007
The purpose of this document is to present as briefly as possible my thoughts on Training/Education gained from over 70 years participation. It is intended primarily for homeschoolers but may be of interest to others. It addresses current educational practice and technology and advocates: an eclectic approach, tailored to individual cognitive styles, making appropriate use of new technology. It maintains that parents are key, that T/E must be active, not passive, and that TV is the work of the devil. For brevity, discussion is limited to core T/E, what in an earlier time was the common school curriculum (though APPEND #2 describes a four-year liberal arts curriculum and APPEND #3 describes a school for grades 9-12). The value and requirement for a wide variety of T/E, some before the age of 13, most later, is not in question: the visual and performing arts, physical T/E, vocational and military, etc.
The thoughts on Training/Education (T/E) that follow, apart from the more specific APPENDs, are directed toward contemporary North American native English speakers ages 0-17, with emphasis on 0-12. They are based on my experience but should be considered in conjunction with the ideas of two methodological theorists of education, Howard Gardner and E. D. Hirsch, Jr. Their ideas are well presented in a lengthy article in the "New York Times" of September 11, 1999, where they discuss their own and each other's ideas. Though they apparently disagree strongly, I think they both are right. I will try to bridge their ideas below. The best book on education I have read, Kieran Egan's "The Educated Mind", does this indirectly. I hope that he will produce a new version of his book, aimed at parents, which will do this directly (as of March 2007 he has not done so).
A suggested reading list is in APPEND #4: it is purposefully short. Here I will suggest some books I like in addition to those in APPEND #4.
- Anything by the Opies, Kieran Egan, Howard Gardner, E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Melvin Konner, I. A. Richards, Andy Clark
- Piaget’s “Genetic Epistemology”
- Bruner’s “On Knowing”
- MacIntyre’s “On Virtue”
- Baldacchino’s “Educating for Virtue”
- Lakoff and Johnson’s “Metaphors We Live By” and “Philosophy in the Flesh”
T/E is the inculcation and/or self-acquisition of values, habits, skills, knowledge, wisdom/judgment, self-confidence, and happiness/equanimity. Some say that training vis-a-vis education is a distinction without a difference. Others cite the old joke distinction, "Everybody knows the difference between Sex Education and Sex Training". I think that discussing training without discussing education, or vice-versa, is like discussing the sound of one hand clapping: they are inextricably linked with training being anterior to education and primarily applicable to habits and skills. Education requires appropriate habits and skills and is primarily applicable to knowledge and wisdom.
William James defined "habit" as "the flywheel of society". Others have defined habit as "the gyroscope of the self". William Wordsworth was less sure about habit: "... Shades of the prison-house begin to close/Upon the growing boy ...". But correct habit is the necessary underpinning of T/E: eating, sleeping, hygiene, safety, punctuality, attention ... sacrificing today's good for tomorrow's better ... all are a question of habit. Ritual is not the same thing as habit, but good rituals make for good habits (see Rappaport's "Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity"). Ritual is both public and private. Habits are private.
Like habit, skills come in a multitude of forms: from walking to riding a bicycle to plowing a furrow to playing a musical instrument to reading, riting, rithmetic, rhetoric and recitation … all are skills. Some are necessary for survival others are necessary for the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom. As one moves up the educational ladder, new skills are required to continue -- and sometimes new habits.
Knowledge requires both facts and meaning. Just as training and education cannot be discussed separately in the context of education, so facts and meaning cannot be discussed separately in the context of knowledge. One may have facts without meaning, but one cannot have meaning without facts, nor knowledge without both.
Wisdom is usually employed to designate good judgement/common sense in personal and social affairs. Here I use "wisdom" to mean good judgement in all human activities, from having money left at the end of the month to building a better mousetrap to establishing a better society. "Concepts" give meaning to facts, "meta-concepts" give meaning to lower level concepts. Some have said that man is the story-telling animal. The mind's narrative (word, image, motor, ...) solves problems. Good solutions show good judgement, that is, wisdom. Poor solutions show lack of wisdom. One may be wise without being brilliant (i.e., providing good solutions to less difficult problems) and brilliant without being wise (i.e., providing poor solutions to more difficult problems).
T/E can be formal, informal, or a mix. Formal T/E is planned, structured to some extent, and generally employs a fixed time and place. Informal T/E can occur anywhere at anytime: by accident or in conjunction with some other activity, for example, a trip to the circus. OJT, helping mother with the dishes, and collecting eggs from the hen house are examples of mixed T/E. (APPEND #5 contains some tips on formal teaching.)
Sane organizations and individuals have two ends which are not means: survival (though on occasion organizations and individuals will sacrifice themselves to ensure the survival of offspring or the larger group) always and happiness frequently. All other ends are means to one or both of these primary ends.
T/E always has multiple ends in addition to one or both of the primary ends, depending on the entity in charge. Public education wishes to insure the survival of the controlling political entity and so seeks to produce the good citizen: one who obeys the law, produces more than he consumes, and helps to produce other good citizens. The Welsh think that communal singing should be taught as a means to this end. Most focus on history or literature. All provide ritual.
Parents often focus on teaching filial obedience, respect for ones elders, and the obligation to support ones aged relatives.
In addition to survival and happiness, I think the focus of education should be "Be all you can be", that is, teaching the habits and skills necessary to achieve excellence in one or more socially sanctioned fields. This should be as good or better a way to survive and be happy as any other. (NB: I also believe in moderation. Excellence is relative to the individual and does not entail world class.)
About 95% of children can be accommodated by a standard curriculum and a standard classroom (though the "standard" may be tailored to suit tracking by maturation, sex, talent, or purpose). About 5% of children are exceptional (mentally, physically, and/or emotionally) and require special education. "Mainstreaming" is damn foolishness.
But in that 95% being accommodated by the "standard", each individual is unique and will profit more by one way of doing things than by another. In ad tech work I did for IBM in Rochester, Minn., we/I pretty much came to the conclusion that no two "cognitive styles" are the same and that the computer needed to provide a variety (3, 4, or more -- cf. Gardner's "multiple intelligences") of "cognitive interfaces". The best of all possible worlds being where the computer could adapt its interface to the user's particular preferences -- second best being where the user was given choices to permit him to tailor the interface.
I will use myself as an example. I am pretty much standard. Certainly I went through a standard public school system (it was segregated by race but took in 95% of the white youth of both sexes from a lower middle class neighborhood) and emerged looking pretty much like everybody else. Fortunately, I had 2-3 teachers who recognized my cognitive style and helped me to come up to the "standard".
My cognitive style has, perhaps among others, the following peculiarities. One, though genuine tone deafness is rare, I am tone deaf. It is not just that I cannot carry a tune: my hearing is discontinuous. There are some tones in the normal range of hearing that I cannot hear. This was not recognized until I was in the 6th grade. After that, I was excused from music and given special treatment in elocution.
Two, I have exceedingly poor visual memory. Not only do I have trouble spelling, I often do not recognize people I know well and get lost on an often-traveled route. I was on the point of being held back in the 9th grade because I could not pass the spelling test then required to advance into the 10th. One of my teachers took me aside for counseling. She said, "Lucian, you are never going to be a good speller, but you might be able to pass the test if you spell the word like it sounds rather than the way you remember it." Either the advice was good, or the rules were bent, because when re-tested after that bit of counseling, I "passed" the test. But, whatever, I passed into the 10th grade.
Three, though I have quite good large-muscle co-ordination, I have poor small-muscle co-ordination and use cursive writing only to sign my name. In the school system I attended, they were keen on cursive writing. My 3rd grade teacher and my 4th grade teacher and my 5th grade teacher insisted that I practice cursive writing. My 6th grade teacher was a little wiser. She said, "Lucian, you are never going to be able to write a legible cursive script. Use printing now. Learn to type as soon as you can." I think this was good advice -- at any rate, I type ("keyboard") quite well. In fact, I earned my living for some months in 1958 as an IBM keypunch operator.
Almost all children (and adults) learn better by doing than by observing or reading (except, of course, where one is learning to observe or to read). But, some are word oriented, some image, some motion, some perhaps other oriented (tone, smell, etc.). It has recently been discovered that craftsmen and surgeons have brains shaped differently from those who are not craftsmen or surgeons (perhaps they actually do "think with their hands").
The good teacher will adapt the "standard" curriculum and methodology to the various aptitudes and interests, the cognitive style, the multiple intelligences of the student.
Finally, about 95% of children will benefit from formal T/E up to puberty. Perhaps 50% will benefit up to about 17. About 25% will benefit beyond 17. North America does not accommodate this situation at present. Even improved OJT/Apprenticeship programs will not fully accommodate this problem. I think it a problem without a good solution, but the problem might be alleviated if it were generally admitted. (This was recently addressed by Charles Murray in a series of three articles on the op-ed page of the January 16, 17, and 18, 2007 WSJ.)
Some seek cost-effective T/E. For others this is not a concern. In general the T/E Guidelines listed in the next section take cost-effectiveness into account, but it is not an overriding principle.
T/E technology has improved significantly in the past 50 years. Some employ the new technology well, others employ it poorly, many do not employ it at all. Those who employ it well KNOW that learning is not a passive activity and seek to take into account individual cognitive styles. TV should be used sparingly in both home and school.
The improved T/E technology consists of hardware and software and well-structured learning programs. These may employ the traditional tools of text, paper, and pencil only but more generally consist also of multimedia equipment (e.g., language labs, math labs, computer assisted drill and practice) and hands-on kits. It is good now and improving rapidly. It is necessary to stay abreast of new developments, particularly in what is called the "Edutainment" industry. (This is addressed in more detail by Neville Holmes in APPEND #1.)
The guidelines listed in this section address formal T/E, no matter where conducted: school, home, business. Though various areas are covered, the focus is on reading, riting, rithmetic, rhetoric and recitation for ages 0-12.
1. Formal T/E (hereinafter in this section called T/E) should be fun. But in all significant human endeavor, there is no gain without pain. Hard work is required and drill and practice are necessary.
2. T/E should consist of short spurts with playful breaks. Appropriate spurt length will vary with the individual but generally increases with age. Almost all spurt lengths are less than 45 minutes.
3. The optimum number of spurts within a 24-hour period varies with both the individual and the subject matter or matters. Most adults should not spend more than five hours out of the 24 on a single subject.
4. Trial and error is required to determine the correct tools and usage for each subject for each individual.
5. The home is responsible for introducing the child to those habits necessary for survival and happiness, generally in an informal manner. For those children who go to school, the school will continue this in the beginning years. Formal T/E will later cover some of the material in "science" classes (e.g., home economics, biology). For some, religion is a matter of habit, for others a matter of knowledge, and for still others a combination of the two.
6. Language and number seem to be part of being human -- but need to be encouraged by parents. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are relatively new and are the basic skills required to progress in T/E. They should be introduced to the child as soon as it is ready: every parent should be in the homeschooling business even if the child goes to a public or private school. The three R's should be introduced as play -- and continue as such as long as possible. Some schools are quite effective with reading and arithmetic. Few schools are effective with writing, as it is very expensive to teach writing skills.
7. Parents must read to their children -- and their children must read to them. Silent reading should be introduced as deemed appropriate, but reading aloud should continue in conjunction with silent reading until 9 or 10 or even longer. Nursery rhymes and songs are a good start -- first as talking/singing, then as reading. Poetry should be emphasized as much or more than prose. Memorization and recitation are important. If any musical capability exists, then singing is important too.
8. Writing follows reading as reading follows listening. Writing is difficult and less fun but it must be emphasized as much as talking. (I recommend Bartholomoe and Petrosky's unfortunately named book "Facts, Artifacts, and Counterfacts" for background reading in this area.)
9. In addition to verse, children should be introduced to both fictive and factual prose works. It may be that the reading of prose fiction is only appropriate to women and children, but it is very appropriate for a child's T/E. Narration is a mandatory skill for problem solving.
10. By the age of 12, the child should have been introduced to some of the great works of English literature -- some will have learned to read them with pleasure. Between 12 and 18, most children should continue the study of literature at whatever level is appropriate to the individual. Recitation, public speaking, singing, and dramatic performance should continue for those interested and able. Creative writing will be appropriate for a few. Most should increase their skills in factual writing.
11. Skills in counting, measuring, and integer arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) must be in place before moving on to fractions and decimals. By the age of 12, the child should be skilled in all of these -- both with paper and pencil and with computers and calculators -- and should have some knowledge of number theory and how to guestimate measure and number. Between 12 and 18, various children will develop other math skills. All should, but won’t, master business arithmetic up to double entry bookkeeping and enough geometry for a carpenter. The more mathematically inclined will learn additional number theory, algebra, geometry (plane and solid), trigonometry (plane and spherical -- enough for surveying and navigating), and probability and statistics. Calculus can wait.
12. By the age of 12 the child should have appropriate knowledge of history, natural science (including geography and astronomy), civics, and economics. This starts with his home and family, goes on to his neighborhood and country, and eventually includes the world and the solar system. Between the ages of 12 and 18, these subjects should continue with more sophistication.
BEGIN APPEND #1 ç Neville Holmes article
Digital Technology and the Skills Shortage
University of Tasmania
Governments and businesses in many advanced countries complain about the current skills shortage. They blame it for high wages, lowered economic growth, outsourcing, the need to import skilled workers, the failure of medical care, the high rates of car accidents and unemployment, and pretty well any instance of technical malfunction and project failure.
The irony of this is that digital technology could be used both to raise the average skill level of most young people and also to depopulate jails by using the same technique to rehabilitate the misfits who so often end up there. To achieve this, however, our whole approach to education must be redesigned, the education profession reorganized, the school system remodeled, and parents constrained to share the responsibility for their children's education. Even then, it would take a generation for the investment to start paying off.
Skill and intelligence are closely related. Intelligence is perhaps best defined as the unconscious application of skill to the conscious solving of problems. Therefore, the more skill someone has in any area, the more intelligently that person can function. For example, the better a person understands and can manipulate numbers, the more intelligently they can solve numeric and mathematical problems.
Skill of any kind has several essential features: It develops through practice, is best developed early in life, and develops accumulatively. The accumulation widens skill while intensifying it. These features are well known to people who train athletes and musicians, but they apply to all kinds of skills.
Although there are many kinds of skills, the types overlap. Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences (Frames of Mind, HarperCollins, 1983) map onto multiple skills extremely well and give a basis for effective skill development.
There are three objective skills. Spatial skill applies to the perception, classification, and identification of objects. Logical-mathematical skill addresses the individual and collective properties of objects, and relates to numeracy. Bodily kinesthetic skill concerns the perception and use of one's own body.
Two skills—language and music—are abstract in that they deal with sequences of sound or movement. Two social or personality skills can also be defined: Intrapersonal skill helps people perceive and control their own thoughts and feelings; interpersonal skill lets them perceive and affect what others are thinking and feeling—it relates to orality.
That basic skills are best developed early is well recognized, but just how early is not well appreciated. The abstract skills start developing in the womb, and manufacturers have claimed success for devices that reportedly accelerate such learning (www.babyplus.com). In any case, the newborn baby is neurally undeveloped and thus requires training in very early childhood to establish the neural circuitry that forms the basis for later learning by synaptic modification. For example, the newborn child can barely see. Its visual system, comprising the nerves themselves and their connections, develops by extending the connections that sharpen an image and sloughing the connections that blur it.
Any kind of skill can have different qualities, ranging from unthinking reaction to purposeful action. For example, naming a well-known object can be done unthinkingly, but learning what a newly encountered word means requires conscious endeavor. Increasing skills lets a person do unthinkingly what would otherwise require thought, and to do thinkingly what otherwise wouldn't be possible.
People develop skills through drill and practice (Philip E. Ross, "The Expert Mind," Scientific American, Aug. 2006). At one time, most classroom activities in primary school involved this method. My 1940 Grade 1 report card lists the subjects taken as Reading, Spelling, Writing, Transcription, Written Arithmetic, Practical Arithmetic, Mental Arithmetic, Art, and Handwork. The skill levels attained in schools could be vastly increased by reintroducing that kind of skill training and by using digital computers rather than teachers to deliver and assess the drill.
Personal computers could be used for drill, but machines like game consoles and iPods would serve as well, if not better. Special software technology must be developed to enable cheap and fast development of drill programs for all kinds of skills at all levels that would run on any suitable machine. The programs would have to adapt the drill to an individual student's needs and inclinations, and it would need to store performance data to monitor each student and identify particular difficulties. Support for speech synthesis and recognition would be crucial, especially for very young children.
The following examples focus on the needs of very early learning and sketch only a few possibilities. The sketches are intended merely to suggest; professional trainers would not only need to find the most effective ways to do the suggested kind of training, but also to assess the learning child to find the mode and rate most effective for that student. Once the learner has acquired a taste for skill, the need to extend and reinforce it by drill can be expected to continue throughout schooling and beyond. To meet this need, the drill software
technology must be adaptable and extensible.
Drill for learning spatial skills primarily extends vocabulary. Learners acquire the names for displayed objects and their properties. Drill would introduce, say, a specific cat from various angles and induce the child to say its name. Then different cats could be used to teach the use of the word cat. Then different species of cat could be used to teach their names and the broader meaning of cat. And so on. The learner should be able to ask simple questions about the object being studied, and this could lead to different areas of learning either immediately or later on. As another example, in conjunction with musical skills development, students could learn the names of notes and the instruments used to produce them by drill.
For logical-mathematical skills, drill primarily extends the ability to reason about systematic properties. Learners acquire the names for numbers by learning to say—or, for large numbers, guess—how many objects are displayed. Then, if the drill displays dogs and cats together, the learner could be asked how many cats, then how many dogs, then how many animals altogether—thus learning to add.
Drill for body-kinesthetic skills extends the use of the body. The simple voice-responsive drill for early spatial skills would combine with improving pronunciation and could be used to improve listening and seeing. Drill for use of the limbs and the body as a whole would require attachments to the basic drill machine: for example, a stylus for teaching writing and drawing.
Drill for musical skills extends the ability to recognize and produce rhythms and tunes and to learn and compose poems and songs. Drill for language skills extends the ability to understand and speak phrases and sentences, to read and spell, then to understand and compose extended text.
Digital technology offers an awesome potential in the language area. Children could be taught to read their own language in more than one writing system. Evidently, they could also learn other languages easily by starting early, and, arguably, they should be taught the local sign language. Circumstances allowing, children can learn much more than they are presently allowed to and much earlier, although some things would need to be done differently.
Table 1. Renaming the consonants of the alphabet.
For early reading and writing, for instance, vocal interaction must be at the letter level. For this purpose, the present names of the letters in the alphabet are unsuitable, and schemes like alpha/bravo and able/baker go too far the other way. Single syllable names are needed, ones phonetically distant from each other, ideally with each name of a consonant different from every other in at least three phonetic features. In the exemplary Table 1, a stands for the vowel in back, u for the vowel in buck, and oo for the vowel pair in book. The letters C, Q, and X are peculiar, and thus have peculiar names, otherwise the names suggest the notional sound. The vowels left over are best named after their long notional pronunciation, without rhotacism. Thus, A = ah, E = air, I = ear, O = awe, and U = ooh. Simplicity is the virtue here, but to prevent them running together, two consecutive vowels will need to be separated by a th, as in thin, when spelling words out.
Social skills Family and schools bear the responsibility for developing social skills. Some drill, however, could be of great assistance. Drill for intrapersonal skills could increase self-awareness by conversation, as did the legendary Eliza program, by teaching psychological and anatomical vocabulary and by tracking and advising on personal health and hygiene. Drill for interpersonal skills has tremendous potential for reversing the present trend to inorality, which is of great concern in many societies where children start school unable to converse. But in a way, the drill for other skills provides a basis for building interpersonal skills by amplifying the number of things that children can do together. For example, drill could be used to teach children their parts in choir singing or playacting.
Using machines to deliver drill and practice as I've described makes radical change necessary for both schools and the teaching profession. To begin training from very early childhood means that a new branch of the teaching profession will be needed to work with parents, even from before the child's birth, to help them deliver training, handle special problems such as autism and dyslexia, and manage the transition from learning entirely in the home to learning also in a school. Primary schools would need to be changed drastically. With most skill learning done by machine, the teacher's role would be to monitor that skill learning and create activities in which students can apply those skills intelligently. Many of these activities would be done socially so that social skills and intelligence develop as well. Because basic skill learning will proceed at a different pace for different students, fixed classes and curricula become counterproductive. Primary school teachers will thus need different training and will assume different responsibilities. When it comes to later schooling, the changes resulting from primary school transition will mean even greater changes, but these are more difficult to predict. Some possibilities are canvassed in Chapter 3 of my book, Computers and People, "Computers and Education" (Wiley, 2006). Drill and practice has been denigrated in many circles for decades, especially teaching circles, where it is usually dismissed with a sneer as drill and kill. This is partly because delivering such instruction is boring and trivial for teachers. Computers can do so much better and at the same time remove teachers from the role of judges. Part of the reason is that it's seen as boring for the students. But what bores older children can greatly interest younger children. Further, the same digital technology that makes videogaming addictive can make drill and practice addictive. The benefit could be enormous. A modest 5 percent per year increase in skill acquisition would double the skills otherwise learned in the first 15 years of life, and this is modest indeed, especially for the very early years. A feasible 10 percent per year would do the same in about half the time, and triple the skills in around 12 years. Adopting such a program would be expensive and socially difficult, but given the problems looming for the next generation, the survival of the human race could well depend on the technology such an increase in skills would make possible. Neville Holmes is an honorary research associate at the University of Tasmania's School of Computing. Contact him at [email protected] Details of citations in this essay, and links to further material, are at www.comp.utas.edu.au/users/nholmes/prfsn.
BEGIN APPEND #2 ç proposal for a four-year liberal arts degree
A Modest Proposal:
Four Year BA Degree – no options/majors - 40 one-semester courses (over and above bonehead courses, Glee Club, PE, ROTC, etc. – possibly Glee Club and PE will be compulsory, unless excused for good reason, during the first two years, ROTC for four years)
History (10) -World History – 2 - Introduction to Historiography - 1 - History of Philosophy and philosophy of history – 1 - History of Mathematics – 1 - History of Science and Religion – 1 - History of Technology and Engineering – 1 - History of Art, Architecture, and Music – 1 - Political and Military History - 1 - Economic History – 1
Philosophy (10) - Introduction to Philosophy – 2 - Ontology - 1 - Epistemology and Truth - 1 - Logic – 1 - Foundations of Mathematics – 2 - Philosophy of Science - 1 - Ethics and Aesthetics - 1 - The Good Life and the Good Society - 1
Literature (10) - Introduction to world literature – 2 - Eight great books – 2 - Ten great books – 2 - Survey English verse – 2 - Survey of creative writing (other than verse) – 1 - Survey of English essays, letters, and journalism – 1
Language and Communication (10) - Introduction to communication – 2 - Symbols, signals, and noise – 1 - Information theory - 1 - Survey of world languages – 2 - Introduction to rhetoric – 2 - Introduction to media - 2 Eight great books: The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, Orlando Furioso, Jerusalem Delivered, The Divine Comedy, The Faerie Queen, Paradise Lost Ten great books: The Anabasis, Five Greek Romances, Gargantua and Pantagruel (abridged), Don Quixote, Candide, Pilgrim’s Progress, Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe, The Pickwick Papers, The Education of Henry Adams BEGIN APPEND #3 ç description of a formal school for grades 9-12 600 students plus or minus 100 -- 45 faculty and staff plus or minus 10 Head: genuine interest in education, middle-of-the-road morally and intellectually, good people judgement, politically astute (including good memory for names and faces), well read Faculty and staff: competent, middle-of-the-road Student body: fairly similar culture and capabilities (some wild ducks a plus -- not too many -- circa 1%) Curriculum: whatever (the five R's (reading, riting, rithmetic, rhetoric and recitation), literature, languages, history, math, science) -- must include physical education, music (particularly singing), and art (visual, plastic, dance, drama) -- Jr. ROTC a plus Plant: healthy, quiet -- aesthetic if possible -- good library, IT facilities, and science labs nice
BEGIN APPEND #4
a short reading list
A Child's Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play, Vivian Gussin Paley
American Education 1607-1980 (3 vols.), Lawrence A. Cremin
End the Biggest Educational and Intellectual Blunder in History, Norman W. Edmund
Far Away and Long Ago, W. H. Hudson (also, Idle Days in
I'm the Teacher, You're the Student, Patrick Allitt
In Plato's Cave, Alvin Kernan
In the Early World, Elwyn S. Richardson
Math for Humans: Teaching Math through 8 Intelligencies, Mark Wahl
Nebel’s Elementary Education: Creating a Tapestry of Learning, Bernard J. Nebel
Paideia (3 vols.), Werner Wilhelm Jaeger
Teaching Tips, Wilbert J. McKeachie & Graham Gibbs
The Aims of Education, Alfred North Whitehead
The Art of Teaching, Gilbert Highet The Art of Teaching, Jay Parini
The Craft of Teaching: A Guide etc. (2nd ed.), Kenneth E. Eble
The Educated Mind, Kieran Egan (also, Teaching as Story Telling, An Imaginative Approach to Teaching, and in press How to Educate People)
The Essential 55, Ron Clark
The Prelude (all versions), William Wordsworth (also, the Immortality Ode)
The Quest for Certainty, John Dewey
Theory of Education in the United States, Alfred J. Nock
What the Best College Teachers Do, Ken Bain
Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum, Behrens and Rosen ---mainly for math teachers
Math Through the Ages: A Gentle History for Teachers and Others, Expanded Edition, Berlinghoff and Gouvea
The Historical Roots of Elementary Mathematics, Bunt, Jones and Bedient
Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being, Lakoff and Nunez
Foundations and Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics, Eves Paradoxes, Sainsbury
BEGIN APPEND #5
tips on formal teaching
1. Know at least a little more about the subject than your student(s). Look for, and correct, errors of stupidity, ignorance, or carelessness/typos in written matter supplied for the students' use. Master the peculiarities of any tools used in lab, workshop, etc.
2. Stimulate interest in the subject matter (note to the slow: among other things, this means you got to be interested and au courant).
3. Don't talk too much: most people learn more by doing than by listening, and most teachers don't lecture all that well anyway -- no class should consist of more than 50% lecture/presentation, and the average should be about 20%. Use lots of visual aids (in computer classes, USE COMPUTER PROJECTION, in other classes, USE COMPUTER PROJECTION) -- but be sure to make lots of eye contact. Most students have a tendency to go to sleep with their eyes open after about 15 minutes of lecture/presentation (some, of course, with their eyes shut -- and a few after about 5 minutes). If you must lecture/present for more than 15 minutes at a time, DO SOMETHING TO WAKE THEM UP (giving a five minute quiz works just fine).
4. Give appropriate assignments (these may require some years to evolve). Give lots of quizzes (pop and other), few if any exams (if possible, call all exams quizzes, all quizzes "today's class written assignment"). Encourage group work (with the possible exception of exams). Mark all assignments carefully (if student help is employed, supervise closely).
5. Walk around and look over students' shoulders (if this appears to bother a particular student, don't look over his shoulder): try to have some individual interaction with each student each day. If you cannot find the time to do this, get smaller classes or get out of teaching.
6. Use guidelines from Behrens and Rosen’s "Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum" (https://wps.ablongman.com/long_behrens_wrac_8/0,7072,212970-main,00.html). In particular, use short answer quizzes and exams rather than T/F or multiple-choice.
7. Do NOT analyze errors in front of the class: it increases the probability for most students of making that error (repeatedly). Teaching by the dissection of error should be done only on an individual basis, and then with caution.