Several years ago, I read the following sentence in a newspaper article: “She decided to stop having sex after going to church.” I think that the writer meant that the woman had taken a vow of chastity for religious reasons, but the sentence made me think of this song.
European schools do a great job of teaching foreign languages. In contrast, hardly any American high school graduates can use a foreign language, unless they learned it at home. This shocking lack of foreign language skills results from two problems. One is that American schools generally do not start teaching foreign languages until after the children have gone through puberty, when it suddenly becomes harder to learn new languages. The second is that American schools have been neglecting the teaching of English grammar.
Here’s a clip from the Three Stooges’ 1938 movie Violent Is the Word for Curly.
The fact that Moe was supposedly teaching phonics to college students is particularly silly. Most of the people who were entering college in the late 1930s would have mastered phonics in the first few months of first grade.
Gosh, I wish this were a hoax. Here’s one of the planks in the Republican Party of Texas’s 2012 campaign platform:
Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
If your beliefs can’t withstand being subjected to higher order thinking, they’re probably stupid. And if a child’s fixed beliefs are never challenged, he or she may remain childish for life.
Unfortunately, this anti-education activism can cause damage throughout the entire country. Texas buys a lot of textbooks. To appeal to the Texans, textbook publishers may be tempted to dumb down the textbooks to be used throughout the country.
A few years ago, I met a woman who said that she had been a special education teacher in a poor urban area. She told me that she had observed a large number of children who had a bizarre learning disability. According to her, the children couldn’t associate what they saw on a vertical surface, such as the chalkboard, with what they saw on a horizontal surface, such as the top of their desk. As a result, they couldn’t copy what was on the chalkboard into their notebooks. She said that this must have been due to some previously unknown brain disease.