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Where Is Excellence?

Earlier this month, I posted a video of the most honest “commencement” speech young graduates of today should be required to hear. Almost every day this week, I’ve talked with at least one person (most of whom were educators) who expressed his or her deep concern about the current state of education and learning in our country.Scholarship-clip-art-300x264In my state, there’s been an ongoing discussion about Common Core and the state Board of Education has been re-evaluating. Earlier this week, it appeared they’d be adopting another curriculum. However, decision-makers have ruled against the recommendations of a review committee and the process is dividing educators and reviewers. Continue Reading →

Poetic Artistry

Yesterday in this space, I saluted my brother and sister-in-law on the occasion of their 48th anniversary. They enjoyed an anniversary getaway in a town near us and because they were nearby, that allowed us to meet for lunch. Since they are both talented artists, we settled on the perfect meeting place, the spectacular Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.Crystal_Bridges_at_night

When I say this is the perfect lunch outing, I’m not kidding. Lunch at the museum was delightful and a splendid first course (if you will) before the entrée – feasting on world-class artwork in gallery after gallery. There’s never enough time to relish it all, but the atmosphere (and menu, if I may continue with the food metaphor) invites one back for follow-up visits. Continue Reading →

The Cost of College

About the time our grandson entered his second year of college, my Beloved and I began having serious doubts about young people (in general) seeking a college education. It wasn’t our first time to entertain these doubts. Back when our older son was in college, we noticed he was less engaged than we thought he should be.College-Graduate-w-copyright-300x225

A number of years ago before he became president, Bill Clinton used to say he wanted to make it possible for everyone to attend college. Even then, we disagreed with him. Not every high school graduate, in my opinion, needs to attend college. Then and now, a good number of young people would be better served by attending vocational schools or community colleges. Continue Reading →

Mad Indulgence

Imagine you’re standing in a gallery of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. As an ardent student of history, you’re transfixed by Benjamin West’s 1772 masterpiece The Treaty of Penn with the Indians (shown below). This work seemingly invites you to step into it, to hear the speakers and to witness the Quakers and Indians reach agreement.Benjamin_West_-_The_Treaty_of_Penn_with_the_Indians_-_WGA25555

Now … imagine it’s possible to virtually step into the painting! Your eyes dart to the left and the right, noticing what’s beyond the picture’s frame. In fact, you have a 360º virtual view of the scene! Are there boats on the river to the left? Are there buildings to the right? What else did the artist see (and choose to leave out) that your virtual tour permits you to view? Continue Reading →

Home.Edu

Chances are good that sometime in the last week you’ve interacted with at least one adult (perhaps more than one) who was educated at home. People in the workplace, teachers and professors, business owners … don’t be surprised to find some of them are products of home education.home-schooling-header-copyWhile schooling within the home and family has been a common practice for centuries, states began adopting compulsory attendance laws about 1852, ceding broader oversight of education to towns and local governments. Though precise figures are hard to nail down, as many as 2.2 million children are currently being taught in the home.

From about the 1970s (give or take), the home school movement has grown. That being the case, the earliest home schoolers are now in their early to mid-40s. Yes, there were home educated students before 1970. In fact, HuffPo provides a 2013 short article and pictorial of eighteen successful people who received their education at home. Long-time observers of home schooling could probably add to that list. Continue Reading →

Dawson Up A Creek

A student named Kevin Bruce wanted to talk with an academic advisor. Bruce, a junior at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, hoped he could get quick answers to his questions but instead found himself in the midst of a firestorm when he recorded and subsequently posted video of one advisor (Abby Dawson) accusing him of harassment. The reason for the accusation? Bruce chose to sit and wait (since he was already there) rather than return in an hour.

This situation surprises me. Insofar as I have no experience at KSU (nor any other institution of higher learning in recent years), my limited frame of reference is the university from which I graduated. Comparing my experience to what is shown on the video above is a difference of night to day! From what I recall, my professors and the associated staff members were always eager to interact with students and provide help whenever needed. As Bruce points out on the video, students are paying for this assistance! Continue Reading →

The Principal Thing

There’s a website that offers an entertaining variety of top ten lists, one of which is the Top 10 Smartest People in History. Topped by Albert Einstein, the list provides food for thought. There’s no prologue to explain how the author determined the basis for inclusion on the list. I was amused to see Jesus Christ at number 5, with Tesla, DaVinci and Isaac Newton rounding out the top 5. I’ve never thought before about the brain-power of Jesus – Son of God, the Creator! Is it even possible – in His humanity – He was not the smartest guy in the galaxy?!Wisdom-Words-of-wisdom-book

Differentiating smarts from wisdom would be a challenge. On the top ten list mentioned above, I have to wonder how many of the individuals listed possessed significant brain-power but lacked the sagacity one would hope goes with it. But just to be certain they’ve covered the bases, there’s also a Top Ten Dumbest People In History. (Adolf Hitler lands on both lists.) Continue Reading →

Grad Capt

Celebrations abound! It’s the season of Mother’s Day (on Sunday) and weddings and graduations … and the usual complement of commencement speeches through which we patiently sit and to which we attempt to listen. With Hollywood celebrities, high-profile news figures, politicians, scientists (and the occasional pseudo-scientist), CEOs and sports figures, the range of speeches will run from light comedy, on the one hand, to a more serious challenge for graduates to conquer the world … or at least find a job!grads 2015

Given the sheer number of commencement speeches delivered every single year, it’s worth asking:  how many of the addresses will be remembered in a year … in five years? Obviously, memorability – even for an excellent communicator delivering an excellent speech – depends a great deal on whether or not the speaker touches a cord that resonates with listeners. Further, a speech that’s memorable to one may be totally forgettable to another. Continue Reading →

Inves-Deflate

From the moment the Wells Report was released, social media lit up – once again – over the scandal of under-inflated footballs appearing to be a common practice for New England Patriots football games. Call it Deflate-gate if you like. Detractors and Patriots slam the report, others are demanding Tom Brady’s head … or at least a season-long suspension.deflate_1708The story/scandal has provided fodder for a slew of coarse jokes and innuendo. Given three months for sifting through information that resulted in a 139-page report – which generally blames lower-level employees while stating the quarterback Brady was “generally aware of inappropriate activities.” Frankly, when I read a few of the text messages released online, it seemed more than likely to me that deflating footballs was standard operating practice and after the press ran with the story, obfuscation and cover-up followed. Continue Reading →

Eradication Meditations

The saga of my garden continues. A couple weeks ago, I posted about my concern that last year’s raspberry canes I pruned (drastically) back in February weren’t going to sprout new canes. There’s good news to report on that front! Not only have they sprouted nicely but they look to be thriving! I can’t tell you how excited I am to have a partial victory on this! See the picture below.2015-05-04 20.14.16When my Beloved announced over the weekend he was going to purchase tomato and green pepper seedlings and maybe a few other vegetables for planting, I was both surprised and goaded into action! Until now, he had more or less ceded the raised-bed garden space to my care … but I wasn’t going to refuse his sudden interest, no, no, no! So I knew I had to take immediate action! Continue Reading →

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