Most people take the alphabet for granted. It has been a part of our culture and civilization for so long that most of us haven't the faintest idea of how or where it originated. Yet the idea of using abstract symbols — which we call letters — to stand for the speech sounds of a language is one of the greatest intellectual inventions in all of human history. Prior to the widespread use of the alphabet, the earliest known form of writing was pictography. Ancient scribes drew pictures on the walls of their caves, and in that primitive way they were able to communicate some simple stories. The pictures looked like the things they represented. An animal looked like an animal. A human being looked like a human being. A tree looked like a tree. You didn't have to go to school to be able to "read" these pictographs.
The other day I was having dinner at a friend's house and was chatting with his 12-year-old daughter who attends a local public school. I asked her how she was doing, and she told me that she hated school -— not merely disliked school, but hated it.
I told her I thought I knew why she hated school -— because it was boring. "Yes," she replied. It was boring. And then I said, "And you're probably not learning much also."
She wanted to know what I meant by that. So I asked her to name the first three wars that the United States was involved with. She got the first one right, the Revolutionary War. But the only other war she could think of was the Civil War, and she had no idea when that took place.
The full-blown insanity of feminism may have found its fullest expression at a Swedish pre-school, according to a news report, where the teachers have banned the use of "him" and "her" to describe boys and girls and men and women.
The leftist school, the Daily Mail reports, has adopted a "genderless" vocabulary, it says, so the kidlets are not confined to traditional stereotypes.
The school, not surprisingly, is called "Egalia." Women run it. Their goal? To let the kids become whatever and whoever they want, regardless of the equipment with which God endowed them. And banning "him" and "her" is just one of the many ways the school ensures that its students don't think boys are boys and girls are girls.
By now I assume that most of my readers have already seen the Oscar-winning movie of 2011, The King’s Speech, the dramatic story of King George VI and his debilitating speech impediment and how it was cured by an eccentric Australian speech therapist.
But that’s only part of the story. It is also about England in the 1930s, leading up to World War II, and so it is also a great lesson in history. It is also the story of the British royal family dealing with the strained relationship between the two brothers, David the older, Prince of Wales, heir to the throne, and George the stammerer. When their father dies and David becomes King Edward VIII. But he is very unhappy because he is not permitted to marry his twice-divorced lover, the American Wallis Simpson. He abdicates the throne in order to be able to marry the woman he loves. This became one of great love affairs of the 20th century, in which a King gave up his throne for a woman. The former king and his wife become the famous Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
President Obama’s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Some wonder if that is what is taking place in Michigan. A new state law, Public Act 4, signed earlier this year, grants much wider powers to emergency financial managers (EFMs) who are assigned to fiscally troubled cities and school districts. Though the measure has drawn the criticism of political analysts as well as interest groups, proponents say it will prove to be beneficial to struggling cities, as drastic times call for drastic measures. While the law provides EFMs increased authority, the EFM program was not established under the new law. The Blaze explains:
The authority for the EFM program was established by Michigan’s Public Act 72 that was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jim Blanchard in 1990. If the state determined that a serious financial problem existed in a municipality or school district, Public Act 72 granted the governor’s office authority to intervene in local government administration as a last resort means of shoring up budget deficits. But as the state’s budget problems only continued to grow, it became clear that while well-intentioned, the EFM would not have the necessary tools to be successful.
The United States is hardly the only country whose teachers who have formed unions and then threatened to hold children hostage. In the United Kingdom, the National Union of Teachers (whose acronym has not been lost on comedians) has joined with another group, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, to institute partial or total shutdowns on Thursday of 5,000 schools in England and Wales — in protest over changes to their retirement fund.
As many as 300,000 teachers could be involved, and hundreds of schools have yet to decide whether or not to participate in the strike.
For years I have been telling parents and educators that the kind of reading difficulties afflicting perfectly normal children in our schools today are being caused by the teaching methods and not by any defect in the children themselves. The educators have been telling us for years now that the reason why so many children are having problems learning to read is because of a learning disability they've been born with.
In fact, the official position of the federal government on this issue is summed up in the 1987 Report to the Congress of the Interagency Committee on Learning Disabilities which defined "Learning Disabilities" as follows (p. 222):
The 1850 edition of Noah Webster's Dictionary defines "rote" as: "To fix in memory by means of frequent repetition." That certainly is the essence of what we mean by rote memorization. My 1988 dictionary, however, defines "rote" as: "A fixed, mechanical way of doing something." That definition misses the mark of what memorization is all about. The true purpose of rote memorization in education is to create automaticity, so that, for example, when a child sees a letter or group of letters he or she automatically says the sounds. The child does not have to think about it. The response is automatic.
Repetition, in fact, is not only the easiest way to learn something, it often is the only way to learn something. Today's public educators, of course, look down on rote learning and consider it akin to a form of child abuse. Imagine, forcing a child to actually memorize something! They see rote learning as an old-fashioned teaching method associated with birch rods, dunce caps and other quaint paraphernalia of the strict, disciplinarian educational practices of the past.
Have you ever wondered why it was that for a couple of hundred years before the Founding of the United States, and for nearly two hundred years after the Founding of the United States the Bible was permitted, even encouraged to be taught in America’s schools? I think we all know the answer: parents and educators understood what the American Founders understood, that a true education was not just about developing smarts, talents, and skills that enable graduates to make a living — as important as that was and is — but about developing the moral wherewithal to apply these same smarts, talents, and skills in ways that bless rather than curse themselves, their families, their communities, and their nation.
The idea that there is little or nothing to be learned from "Old Dead Guys" is a pretty ridiculous notion. In the first place, everything we have today was built on their shoulders. They labored and toiled, they investigated and invented, they suffered and died. There is so much we can learn by studying their lives, because they experienced it all: from birth to adulthood to old age to the final journey into eternity.