Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ratio Christi

 Mike Adams
In one week, it starts all over again. Thousands of young people will enroll in classes in the sixteen-campus University of North Carolina system. Before the first day of class is over, the professors and administrators will begin the assault on students and their Judeo-Christian values. Parents will have spent their entire lives saving money that will ultimately be used to turn their children against them. Students will unlearn everything they were taught about the foundations of liberty, the basis of morality, and will even begin questioning the very existence of truth. Before long, many parents will realize they have risked bankruptcy funding a legacy of intellectual and moral impoverishment.

I realized the situation was bad when a military officer wrote me a few years ago. While he was off serving his country, his twin teenaged girls were enrolling at Rice University. During “O” week, Rice orientation week, their orientation leader told them it was time to “experiment with their sexual liberty” now that they were off at college and away from their parents. The military officer was outraged over the incident – as he should have been. More parents would be outraged if only they were paying attention.

Later that same semester, I sat through an excruciating graduation speech by a feminist sociologist. She smugly told the parents of graduating seniors that she hoped their children were leaving college with a “different perspective” than the one they brought with them. She said nothing about knowledge during her speech. She spoke only of “perspective” – smugly asserting that hers was better than the one held by the parents who were paying her salary.

If I sound a little edgy when I broach this topic there is good reason for that. I abandoned my faith as an 18 year old college freshman – a mere two months into my first semester of college. It is true that I carried some anger into my freshman year, which fueled that abandonment. But it is also true that I took my first psychology class from an atheist professor who used the classroom to evangelize students.

There may have been a legitimate reason for my psychology professor’s decision to discuss Sigmund Freud’s theory of how man created God, not vice versa. But when he talked about how B.F. Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning “explained away” religion it bordered on obsession. The psychology professor who feels compelled to rid students of their faith is no less perverted than the orientation leader who feels compelled to rid students of their chastity.

I eventually made my way back. And reading apologetics played a huge role in my spiritual transformation. For years after that transformation, I wondered why there was no national organization dedicated to bringing resident apologists to campuses in order to establish Christian apologetics groups that would challenge campus atheists.

Then it finally happened. After hearing a speech I gave at Summit Ministries ( in Colorado, Professor Lonnie Welch of Ohio University invited me to speak at the national conference of Ratio Christi ( in October of 2011. I did not even know that my friends John Stonestreet of Summit Ministries and ADF attorney Casey Mattox were on the Ratio Christi board.

While I was there to speak, I was also there to learn. And what I learned was that Ratio Christi is the ideal campus Christian organization. There may be scores of Christian organizations already. But none prior to Ratio Christi were focusing on apologetics training. Such training is desperately needed to keep kids from falling away during college. How can students remain firm in their faith if they are not hearing both sides of the story? And how can they remain grounded if they were never grounded in the first place?


British independent school adopts  the International Baccalaureate high school exam

King Edward's school, the first school in Britain to scrap A-levels in one go in favour of the International Baccalaureate, has had some stunning results

This year’s A-level results will be announced tomorrow but King Edward’s School in Edgbaston, Birmingham, already knows how well it has performed – because not one of its pupils took the exam. Two academic years ago, Chief Master John Claughton decided that the school would become the first in Britain to ditch A-levels in one go in favour of the International Baccalaureate, an examination system as unfamiliar to the teachers as to their pupils.

For a school (founded 1552, fees £11,000 a year) whose alumni include Enoch Powell, Bill Oddie, Field Marshal Slim and JRR Tolkien, it was a sizeable risk. “We did a lot of research, spoke to a lot of people, had a lot of meetings with parents, and yet I still couldn’t quite free myself from the anxious feeling that I might be blowing the reputation of the entire school,” says Claughton, himself a King Edward’s Old Boy. “All the time, I was aware that there were plenty of schools out there, waiting like jackals and all too happy to feed on our failure.”

He needn’t have worried. When the IB results were announced last month, the King Edward’s boys had achieved scores every bit as high as at A-level – if not higher, if you accept the notion that the Baccalaureate is more bruising, both in terms of workload and intellectual demands.

Not only had 37 out of 113 boys scored more than 40 points (held to be the equivalent of four A* A-levels), but three had notched the maximum score of 45, achieved by only 109 pupils worldwide, out of a total 119,000 IB entrants. Overall, too, marginally more King Edward’s boys had won university places than their most recent A-level predecessors, with 17 getting into Oxbridge and 16 into medical school.

But what had made the Chief Master decide to set a new course through such stormy seas? “It was a feeling that the school was no longer the intellectual and academic powerhouse it had once been,” he replies. “Over the years, the intellectual life of the school had been diminished by the way the A-level course had been divided up into compartmentalised modules, and by the way in which pupils were required to sit AS-levels in the first year of sixth form. Teachers had lost a lot of the freedom they had enjoyed, when it came to teaching bright kids the things they wanted to teach, in the way they wanted to teach them. As a result, a certain sterility had crept in. On top of which, there was also a growing disenchantment with A-levels, both with the way the content had been dumbed down and with the massive grade inflation at results time.”

So much so that when the moment came, the school decided not to opt for a “dual economy” (running IB alongside A-levels) but to go for the Big Bang, and become fully IB-operational from the first day of the autumn term 2010.

During his days at King Edward’s, the young John Claughton had been able to get away with studying just three subjects at A-level (Latin, Greek and Ancient History), whereas his pupils are now having to do six IB subjects, including English, mathematics, one science subject and one foreign language – as well as a community-service project, a 4,000-word Extended Essay (on the subject of their choice) and a philosophical-type course, Theory of Knowledge.

This meant teachers were being presented with the challenge of not just keen young men who had chosen their subject out of interest, but a fair number who were having to do certain subjects in order to fulfil IB requirements. The Baccalaureate regulations specify that you can take three subjects at Higher Level (harder) and three at Standard Level (easier), plus Maths Studies (even easier). There are seven maximum points per subject (42 in total), with the remaining three points allocated for the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge.

The downside, therefore, is that the IB is harder work for everyone. The upside, however, is that a good score enables pupils to outshine their A-level rivals in university applications.

This is the bit that interested 18-year-old Jimi Oluwole (who scored the maximum 45 points, and is off to study engineering at Cambridge). “I was attracted by the fact that the Higher Mathematics would be more rigorous,” he says. “I felt that would be recognised by Cambridge. I also enjoyed writing my Extended Essay, which looked at how temperature affects a can of soup rolling down an incline. That gave me a lot of things to discuss with the professors at my interview, who were very interested in the whole idea.”

The pleasure of being stretched and tested is a theme echoed by Oluwole’s contemporaries. “I really enjoy a challenge; that’s what keeps me going,” says 18-year-old Ihsaan Faisal, who scored 43 points and is to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford. “I’m the kind of person who frets if they’re not busy, and the good thing about the IB is that there’s no time to put your feet up.”

But what about being forced to carry on with subjects that you’re not so good at? “My best subjects are science and maths, so at first, I wasn’t too keen on having to do English and French,” says 18-year-old Ravin Jain, another 45-pointer, who’s off to read physics at Oxford. “Gradually, though, I found myself enjoying those subjects, too. I even watched a whole Shakespeare season on the television, which was something new for me.”

The view from the common room, meanwhile, is that the boys will be far better equipped for life than their A-level counterparts. “Firstly, having done the IB, there’s no way they will have their socks knocked off by the pressure of work in their first and second years at university,” says Paul Golightly, head of history.

“Career-wise, too, no matter what road they go down, it will be an advantage to have a good command of a foreign language, and to be able to call upon their English language skills when writing reports.”

At the same time, the staff all say that the course has reinvigorated them. “With the IB, we have enjoyed far greater freedom, not least because we haven’t been confined to reading texts written in the English language,” says Tom Hosty, head of English. “Instead of plodding through a familiar old A-level text, we can study Greek tragedy, Ibsen plays, Russian novels, you name it.”

And there is similar breathing room in history. “In the normal A-level module exploring the one-party state, you’d typically look at Hitler and Stalin,” says Paul Golightly. “On our course, we also took in figures like Castro and Peron.”

The more unexpected spin-off is that it turned teaching from a one-way into a two-way street. “We are having conversations we never had when we were teaching A-level,” says Tom Hosty. “I remember engaging in the most fascinating half-hour debate with one of the school’s star mathematicians, over why Euripides was a better dramatist than Sophocles.

“There’s no question about it: doing the IB, pupils get drawn into the topics they are studying, and the intellectual life of the school has improved immeasurably.”

Which counts as quite a result for the Chief Master. “It has all worked out very well, and we are delighted with the points our boys have scored,” says Claughton, whose son James was among the pioneering IB cohort. “Yes, there were two or three boys who only got scores in the 20s, but by and large, they were the ones who would only have got a couple of Cs at A-level.

“The reason the new system has worked is because we introduced it for genuine, philosophical reasons, as a means of helping boys think and work in a less compartmentalised way, and not just as a more effective way of getting our boys into university. That said, there were some dark, nerve-racking times along the way, both for staff, students, and for the silly head who had the idea in the first place.”


Australia: School has to be cool

TASMANIANS must change attitudes about education, demographer Bernard Salt said yesterday.  Unskilled jobs were evaporating from Australia and skills training was imperative.  "It needs to be cool to stay on and uncool to leave school at 15," he said.

"Every Tasmanian must send the right message to kids, that the expectation is to get some form of training.

"Ten years of focus on this could change the shape of the state." Without a cultural shift, the Tasmania of the future could be a dangerous place, he said, with social discontent increasing as large numbers of people fell into welfare and became disconnected from the rest of society.

"The best thing you can do is make sure kids have some education," he said.

Mr Salt was visiting Hobart yesterday to outline the changing patterns of work and life in Australia to a national workshop of motoring clubs, organised by the Australian Automobile Association and the RACT. "Australia is not a great, bland amorphous place," he told the workshop. "It is a patchwork."

He pointed to fundamental shifts in Australian life, which threw up many challenges. One was the geographic shift of people from country to coast and city.

Within urban areas, two kinds of cities were emerging, with a growing clash of cultures between the inner-city elite and the outer suburban culture of "middle Australia".

The ethnic make-up of large parts of Australia was changing too, with the arrival of aspirational Indian and East Asian students and migrants.

One of the biggest changes was the mass retirement of the baby boomers. Here he saw opportunities for Tasmania.

"The lifestyle and value for money here is appealing to many baby boomers in Melbourne and Sydney," he said.

"Hobart is grooving up. It is becoming quite a metropolitan, cosmopolitan and fashionable city."


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