Archive for October, 2011

Making better look worse

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

This isn’t the popular view, but I think the country’s recovering. The thing is, suffering is such a powerful marketing tool. For years after inflation disappeared in the ‘nineties, people wailed over how things got more expensive ‘year after year.’ Now, the pundits make their money trumpeting how ‘desperate’ our situation remains.

Hey, things aren’t great, but the rich folks just stole trillions of dollars and kicked the middle class a few rungs down the ladder. It takes a while to work out of that.

Of course it’s hard to listen to the political tax slogans and the ‘anti-regulation’ propaganda. It makes you feel sick about what people will do to each other. But it’s always been so. A lot of Americans benefit when their country suffers, and they’ll keep doing their best to keep it down.

How and what to teach

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

A kid who gets interested in something can whip through years of instruction in months. Children who have been failing for years suddenly pay attention and graduate at the heads of their classes. These are more than curiosities. This reflects what human beings are.

We were a country of unlimited opportunity. We really were. We went to school and some of us took to it and some of us didn’t. Those with a bent were encouraged to lean that way, and we built a new world.

When we turned education into a policy,  and opportunity into a set of available choices, we turned against ourselves. Some kids will compete to get the best scores on a test, but most won’t. And nobody’s going to choose test-taking as a career.

I’ve wondered before about our national fascination with math and science, advertised as the disciplines of our salvation. With my own children, I notice teaching math and science is simply the easiest teaching, because the answers are obvious and the scores are clear. I suspect that’s what’s really behind our national mistake. We built this country without standardized tests. With them, we’re slowly tearing it down.

Who’s in charge?

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

When I got a bit presumptuous, or over-confident, my grandfather – a religious man – liked to say, “who’s in charge?  Who’s in charge?”

I hear a lot these days about governments battling markets, and the fate of the whole world is supposed to be at stake. Probably, already, your life has declined a little. Maybe quite a little. You’re still hoping your old heroes – finally – are about to pick up the fight and win the day.

Governments and markets: today’s kings and bishops, fighting over hearts and lands. “Who’s in charge?”