Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Instead of the usual condemnation of everything American that passes for history

The past is there for our learning, could it be possible that many of societies problems that have seeped into our educational system over the last twenty or more years be due in large part to the lack of understanding and knowing where we come from?

We have a generation of parents who did not receive the best educational opportunities becoming parents of the next generation who attend public schools with barbed wire fences, metal detectors, and security guards. If we are not giving our children anything, substantial to identify with of who they are where they come from, and what we stand for could we be creating our own chaos? Without lessons from our ancestors and the generations of history that make us who we are have we robbed ourselves of grounding? What do we have to compare what we are living now with if we do not take the opportunity to learn from our past? Our history may not have all the answers, but our past is there for our learning. It helps us develop our dreams, desires, needs, and wants. When we cannot state with confidence the year of the war of 1812, what took place, and the outcome of the battle then we end up with idiot comments that all the United States was doing was trying to do was overtake Canada during that two-year war. When in fact it was Great Britain, the United States on June 12, 1812- declared war on. The United States declared the war because of long disputes with Great Britain and the impressments of American soldiers. In addition, disputes continued with Great Britain over the Northwest Territories and the border with Canada. Finally, the attempts of Great Britain to impose a blockade on France during the Napoleonic Wars were a constant source of conflict with the United States. How many of us know the difference between the American Revolution and the Civil War? What was the Battle of the Bulge? Why did the decision to enter into war against Japan bring us into WW II? How did certain political environments bring about Vietnam? Desert Storm? Our current war against terrorism? Who was it that Hitler wanted annihilated from the face of the earth and why? If we don’t study and learn why certain events took place in our history we will continue to repeat the rising powers that take advantage of strained economics and promote hatred, murder and obliteration of any tolerance for all humankind various views, cultural and religious beliefs.

Is the lack of knowledge by our students over slavery, hatred of the Jews and the abhorrence of radical Islamic followers to behead anyone they deem unfit to live why we had incidents such as- Oklahoma City Bombing?, Columbine?, The Menendez Brothers? We must ask ourselves these tough questions, our children are depending upon us. The future generations to come who will run our nations are teetering dangerously close to the edge of oblivion. Is it the lack of knowledge that leads our educators stress levels of playing teacher, social worker, parent, doctor, coach, mom, dad, provider, etc… to leaving their positions after only 3-5 years? We must address the indifferences we have displayed for far too long. If we desire teachers to teach then we as parents and society must take our responsibilities seriously and let our teachers get on with teaching.

With the importance of history in place, our children can form a sense of strong identity. Identity brings about a strong sense of community and caring for others. Children need to understand when things happened and why they matter to the lives they lead today and the events that our shaping our world today. Basic knowledge and learning timeline dates helps us to understand the impact on our world today. The value of integrating history into many facets of our education presentation would be priceless to the betterment of all humankind. History does not have to be just a part of social studies it needs intertwining with math, writing, reading, art, and music. History gives a sense of belonging to the bigger picture. It helps direct our footsteps around incidents that were catastrophic. It is the nurturing tool that feeds humankind to care, grow, and learn.....

Lastly, if we fail to learn from our past prior to our push to move forward it will not work. People will just continue to become more selfish, lack ambition and motivation to better themselves, their homes, their schools, their communities, their cities, their nation, and their world. Should we dwell on our past? No- but we need to study it, appreciate it, and learn from it. Moving forward to a better and brighter tomorrow is within our abilities to fulfill. Will we do it?

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"But math is not just about computing quadratic equations, knowing geometric proofs or balancing a checkbook. And it's not just about training Americans to become scientists. It has implicit value. It is about discipline, precision, thoroughness and meticulous analysis. It helps you see patterns, develops your logic skills, teaches you to concentrate and to separate truth from falsehood. These are abilities and qualities that distinguish successful people. Math helps you make wise financial decisions, but also informs you so you can avoid false claims from advertisers, politicians and others. It helps you determine risk. Some examples:

* If a fair coin is tossed and eight heads come up in a row, most adults would gamble that the next toss would come up tails. But a coin has no memory. There is always a 50-50 chance. See you at the casino?

* If you have no sense of big numbers, you can't evaluate the consequences of how government spends your money. Why should we worry? Let our kids deal with it….

* Enormous amounts of money are spent on quack medicine. Many people will reject sound scientific studies on drugs or nutrition if the results don't fit their preconceived notions, yet they might leap to action after reading news stories on the results of small, inconclusive or poorly run studies.

* After an airplane crash, studies show that people are more likely to drive than take a plane despite the fact that they are much more likely to be killed or injured while driving. Planes are not like copycat criminals. A plane is not more likely to crash just because another recently did. In fact, the most dangerous time to drive is probably right after a plane crash because so many more people are on the road.

The precision of math, like poetry, gets to the heart of things. It can increase our awareness. Consider the Fibonacci series, in which each number is the sum of the preceding two, (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 … ). Comparing each successive pair yields a relationship known as the Golden Ratio, which often shows up in nature and art. It's the mathematical underpinning of what we consider beautiful. You'll find it in the design of the Parthenon and the Mona Lisa, as well as in human proportion; for instance, in the size of the hand compared to the forearm and the forearm to the entire arm. Stephen Hawking's editor warned him that for every mathematical formula he wrote in a book, he would lose a big part of his audience. Yet more than a little is lost by dumbing things down.

It is not possible to really understand science and the scientific method without understanding math. A rainbow is even more beautiful and amazing when we understand it. So is a lightning bolt, an ant or ourselves.

Math gives us a powerful tool to understand our universe. I don't wish to overstate: Poetry, music, literature and the fine and performing arts are also gateways to beauty. Nothing we study is a waste. But the precision of math helps refine how we think in a very special way.

How do we revitalize the learning of math? I don't have the big answer. I teach middle school and try to find an answer one child at a time. When I can get one to say, "Wow, that's tight," I feel the joy of a small victory".

More here.


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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