Intelligent Life

The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits. - Thomas Edison
"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us."                  Calvin and Hobbes  (Bill Watterson)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Listen to Harry Giles

Listen to Harry Giles

National Post

"On Tuesday, this newspaper brought you news of a fascinating paper by Harry Giles, the legendary headmaster who founded the Toronto French School in 1962 and who now runs the small, elite private Giles School in Don Mills. For years, Mr. Giles has been criticizing the Ontario education system for its declining standards and its political correctness; his new "Giles Report" is a broad summary of how he would change the public system if he were given god-like powers. His proposals include charging babysitting fees to parents who send disruptive children to school; up to eight hours of classroom instruction a day, every day, for older students; and replacing B.Ed. requirements with undergraduate university courses in the subjects the teacher intends to specialize in.

Although his manner of proposing his reforms is somewhat startling, Mr. Giles says little or nothing that we have not already heard from other outstanding older and retired teachers, and in truth there is little that someone who hadn't been brainwashed by an education degree program would find to disagree with. Mr. Giles is a strong advocate of second-and even third-language education, beginning very early in life. He believes parents need to keep their children away from television and get them reading. He sees old-fashioned phonics training as the key to building reading skills. He favours independent, high-stakes standardized testing throughout the career of the student --and not just testing, but tough testing, modelled on classic versions of the British A-levels and the baccalaureat francais. He believes children should be expected to perform acceptably at their grade level before advancing to the next.

It is particularly interesting, at the end of a bitter and somewhat brutal Ontario election campaign, that Mr. Giles should have brought up that loathed A-word: Alberta. He makes no secret of his admiration for public education in that province. "I believe that monopolies are always dangerous to the consumer," he writes, "and given the steady decline in standards in public education, any monopoly must be curtailed. Charter Schools, publicly funded independent schools, [and] Model schools ? should all be considered ? Insofar as independent schools are concerned, I would have them receive 50% of the funding normally given to public schools."

In all these respects, Giles is basically recommending the Alberta system, in which accredited independent schools receive roughly 60% of the per-student instructional grant available to the public schools. Many if not most of these tax-funded Alberta schools could even be described as -- horrors! -- faith-based. Alberta also permits charter schools, and makes fractional funding available to individual kids being home-schooled. These policies, which Ontario educational unions would mostly regard as heretical, have fostered greater school choice and entrepreneurial spirit on the public side, particularly in the widely admired Edmonton system. Parents there can send their children to any school in the city, without regard to postal code, and as a result, what were formerly indistinguishable, cookie-cutter education factories have met the challenge of follow-the-student funding and blossomed into a dazzling array of unique options.

The evidence, as Malkin Dare points out in a foreword to Mr. Giles's essay, suggests that school choice is delivering good results for Alberta students, and that for all provinces there is a visible correlation between performance on international tests and school choice. Yet, strangely, when John Tory proposed to fund what would effectively be "alternative" faith-based schools in Ontario, the debate did not revolve around how school choice can enhance the public system for everyone. Certainly no one pointed out that there exists a real-world example, not so far away from Ontario, of how this actually works. The Conservative leader instead accepted a battle on the ground of "fairness" to religious minorities. As a consequence, he got trapped in a silly argument over how far this fairness ought to be carried and how much it might cost (a great deal, thanks to the top-down centralized nature of his scheme; in Alberta the taxpayer saves money when parents choose alternative arrangements outside the public system).

Small-c conservatives who might otherwise have rushed to Mr. Tory's defence have probably had quite enough of ostentatious cosmic fairness toward minorities. And he failed to provide reassurance to those who believe that public schools are an instrument of social cohesion. Plenty of Albertans believe this, but school choice is widely accepted there, not only because it is a more individualistic-minded place, but because parents know that every child must pass the same departmental tests at the end of Grades 3, 6, 9 and 12. The goal of uniform education in intellectual and civic basics is served by the imposition of common standards, not by uniformity in the schools themselves.

John Tory chose to pose as an apostle of interest groups instead of playing the populist crusader busting up a failed monopoly. One hopes that the next high-profile politician who picks up the school reform baton won't make the same mistake."

No comments:

The Other Side. Is Evolution a New Religion?


Is Education what it was intended to be or has it become a religion?

I present here some links to Intelligent Design websites. I do so only because EVERYONE is taught about Evolution but FEW if any are ALLOWED to TEACH about the ideas about Intelligent Design.

Doesn't it strike you as odd, that scientists, and quasi-scientists like Dawkins DO NOT WANT to ALLOW ID to be presented alongside evolution??

If Evolution is purely science, should it not stand up to the questions and "but's" that intelligent people have raised about it?

Isn't an important element of education to hear BOTH SIDES of an argument and then select what you believe is most accurate?

Or have we degraded to the evolution religionists who COVER THEIR EARS and DO NOT WANT TO LISTEN to anything else except what they have been taught?

Could CENSORSHIP be leveled against the adamant evolutionist community? What else explains their lack of listening to the other side? Do they want to protect impressionable minds from being deluded? Or do they want to delude impressionable minds?

Intelligent Design is simply the idea that there is so much order and complexity in the universe of life that it is possible that life shows a design not simply an accident.

I can not as a former teacher agree that evolution is all about science. I have heard Duane Gish at McMaster University present ONLY SCIENTIFIC QUESTIONS THAT SEEM TO BE A REAL PROBLEM TO EVOLUTION. He DID NOT MENTION RELIGION ONCE!

But as soon as questions were allowed, ALL OF THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST HIS QUESTIONS assumed that he mentioned religion. HE DID NOT.

NOT ONE of these objectors EVEN ATTEMPTED to answer the questions that HE RAISED in the presentation.

There was so much blindness, seemingly lack of paying attention to what he said, that it was shocking to me.

How in a university community could people who want their students to LISTEN carefully present such a poor example of LISTENING???

The only reasonable answer can be that there is such a prejudice and bias AGAINST religion that many think they hear "religion" when NONE is ever mentioned.

That is why the other side should be aired. Some are blind to anything except what they believe. If Galileo or Copernicus were in that lecture hall in a time warp going back 500 years or more would these same people who did not hear Mr. Gish also not have heard Galileo or Copernicus?

Unfortunately I see the same lack of listening on the part of many evolutionists.

So if you are open-minded at all, please at least look at the other side.

Should Evolution be Left to The Scientists?

Evolution in Education 2

Evolution Controversy


Many of these articles are from newsletters that are sent to me. I include them because they are informative. I leave everything the same except the blurb at the bottom which was directed to me. I would suggest that if you like any of them you may wish to go to the website and subscribe to get your own copy.