What Does It Mean to be Educated?

What does it mean to have an education? I have my own prejudices about that. I think that every kid who graduates from high school should be able to read a newspaper article (especially since today’s newspaper articles are so “dumbed down” from what they were 50 years ago), be able to express themselves in writing in a way that other people who are members of the common culture can understand, and be able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide without recourse to a calculator or other computer as well as have a basic understanding of algebra, geometry, and trig. They should have a basic understanding of American history and of world history as well as a basic understanding of our political system. In addition to being able to speak Standard American English with some fluency they should have a basic conversance with some modern foreign language.

Some basic survival skills would be handy, too. Grocery shopping. Opening a bank account. Balancing a checkbook. They should know how to swim.

Some of today’s shibboleths are IMO completely absurd. While understanding computers is handy, being conversant with a particular version of any particular program is next to useless. I think that being able to program a computer is no more necessary for most kids than knowing how to build a car or a telephone. It’s pretty handy knowing how to perform really basic ordinary auto maintenance, for example, filling a gas tank, changing a tire, but a lot more than that?

Think I’m setting too low a standard? Think again. A lot of college grads these days don’t have the skills I’ve outlined above.

What skills do you think a high school grad should have? A college grad?

43 comments… add one
  • michael reynolds Link

    Dave, they have all those if they graduate from a middle-class American high school. A Chicago school full of poor kids from broken homes? Maybe not. But every single American High School graduate from a middle-class school has all of that and a lot more.

    Honestly, your post is so utterly out of touch with reality it’s mind-boggling, not to mention insulting. Balance a checkbook? Sorry, grandpa, can they learn how to use a Wells Fargo app instead? My kids have their own bank accounts, their own apps to track same and, sadly, my son has three of my credit cards memorized so that he can add to his collection of ancient Apple collectibles in between doing sixty math problems from his AP pre-calc.

    I’ll introduce you to Jake some day. I think it would be a very clarifying experience for you. Because I don’t know what high schools you’re talking about, but our high schools here are doing their jobs. The Chicago ghetto is not the world.

    This is the student newspaper from my son’s school. http://redwoodbark.org/ It’s entirely student-written and student-edited. It’s not the New York Times, but the general level of writing is superior certainly to, say, Huffington Post. The front end is all Jake’s work, done over the course of an uncompensated summer.

    Yes, these are well-off schools. But they are not run along revolutionary principles, they’re just well-run and have a fortunate student body. But if anyone was going to somehow be hampered by political correctness, lack of rigor, or all the other imaginary ills of liberalism, you’d think it would be Marin County, no?

    Here’s the GreatSchools write up on Redwood. http://www.greatschools.org/california/larkspur/3490-Redwood-High-School/ If you read the comments from Redwood people you’ll see that almost all of the very limited negativity has to do with too much pressure, not too little.

    It’s not liberalism, it’s not the system (though I think the whole thing is dated), it’s not the teachers, there is no problem with schools per se, there’s a problem with poverty. Control for poverty and surprise! We do just as well as Finland which was the great go-to example before we all decided we had to be South Korea and push kids until they killed themselves.

  • Michael, if you can’t balance a checkbook, you can’t identify errors made by the app, either. That’s the point. Knowing how to use a computer application is not enough. You’ve got to be able to detect when the application screws up.

    You won’t find abstract complaints about liberals from me, Michael. What’s your solution for the kids who live in urban Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York? Move to suburban Marin?

    At least here in Chicago this is not a partisan issue. Our Democratic mayor has given up on the public schools, too.

    You clearly think I’m arguing something I’m not arguing. I’m not arguing that you can’t find any schools where kids are learning great things. I’m strongly suggesting that you can find a lot of schools where they aren’t.

  • TimH Link

    Here’s the problem with your standard: As you point out, a lot of college grads would fail your test.

    I have friends that are professionally successful, educated (in terms of having college, and frequently graduate or professional degrees) who don’t seem to have what I would consider a rudimentary understanding of the world as it relates to them: E.g. They own a home but have no clue how their property is taxed. They have student loans but don’t know how much their debt is, what they pay in interest or when they’ll pay it off. If they have an issue with something on their car or home breaking, they don’t know who to fix it or who to call.

    Ironically, most of these problems would be solved if the person in question could read (for comprehension; and they can), could use Google (they can). The problem I think is not making the mental connection between “this is a problem?” and “Do I know how to find a solution?”

  • TimH Link

    I should add that I don’t disagree with your standard; I just think it doesn’t predict e.g. professional success which is often used as the ultimate goal of education (“Go to college so you can get a better job.”)

    I think being able to read a newspaper – and having a habit for doing so – is essential to being a good citizen in a democracy.

    Michael: There’s also evidence that one of the differences between poor and middle class families is that they understand financial products very differently, with poor people not having a grip on banking, credit cards, how their income affects their ability to consume, etc. Financial literacy is important – I’m assuming that’s what “balance a checkbook” meant, more than just comparing bank statements to checks and figuring out if the balance is where it should be.

  • Here’s an example. According to the American Association for the Teaching of Foreign Languages only about 40% of American high school students even study a foreign language.

    Now, you can argue that foreign languages aren’t important or relevant. Why study a language when you’ve Google Translate? I disagree. There’s more to learning a language than bad translation. There’s more to mathematics than getting the right final answer. There’s more to all of the skills I’ve listed than the equivalent apps convey.

    Michael, 20% of African American households do not have bank accounts. My question is what every kid should know not what every kids whose family is in the top 1% of income earners should know. “Just use an app!” The contemporary equivalent of “Let them eat cake!”

  • Modulo Myself Link

    I’m not so sure it’s a wealth thing. My girlfriend went to super-posh boarding schools, art school, and then an Ivy, and her education is all over the place. She can make furniture and build a building but has no idea how to do algebra, did not know Vermont borders Canada, and thought that Clinton was impeached and removed from office. She’s twenty-seven, ten years younger than me: there’s definitely a technological divide going on. E.g., I can read a map whereas she simply enters her destination onto her iPhone.

    Overall, you have people who can do certain specialized things really well, but be completely clueless in the face of other tasks that should be simple. And it often makes no sense–abstract thinking is supposed to be universal, but certain abstract tasks are simple to one person, but others are like magic.

    Or it makes no sense until you think about technology and what it does to make things easier. Somewhere Plato has Socrates saying that writing and the storing of writing in libraries destroyed what came before it: memory. Or look, for example, at the ability to read music and play an instrument, which was in the 19th century a necessity for the enjoyment of music, and has now, for most people, been replaced by recorded music.

  • ... Link

    Both high school and college grads only need one “skill”, and it is an either/or situation. They either need to hit the genetic lottery, or have useful connections. Everything else is worthless.

  • ... Link

    Now, you can argue that foreign languages aren’t important or relevant. Why study a language when you’ve Google Translate? I disagree. There’s more to learning a language than bad translation. There’s more to mathematics than getting the right final answer. There’s more to all of the skills I’ve listed than the equivalent apps convey.

    It’s all irrelevant unless you’re born rich or with some esoteric “skill” (I recommend being seven foot tall and male), or have worthwhile connections. What in Chelsea Clinton’s education indicated she should have had a job at a fucking hedge fund, for Christ’s sake? Her vast expertise in distressed debt and CDOs?

    Fuck education. Have connections or win the genetic lottery. Education, hard work, attitude, everything else just doesn’t fucking matter anymore.

  • Jimbino Link

    I am at the point where I cease to be amazed at how dumb Amerikan kids are, whether high-school or college students. When I consider what it is they need to know to embark on life’s journey, I ask myself:

    If I had to consider embarking on the voyage of Shackleton, Joshua Slocum, Marco Polo, Meriwether/Lewis, or TR on the Rio de Duvida, or climbing Everest, traveling by VW Kombi from London to Mongolia, sailing around the world, or traveling to Mars, what kind of skills would be in demand?

    Math, statistics & accounting, physics & engineering, chemistry & cooking, geography, navigation, carpentry, masonry, welding, hunting, rock-climbing, swimming, boating, botany & gardening, zoology & sex, linguistics & foreign languages, electronics & “fixing things,” contract law, and emergency medicine.

    Yesterday I quizzed two 13-year-old boys I was given charge of for 4 hours. They speak no foreign tongue and English like Amerikan kids (“…like…like”…). They haven’t a clue about most else, couldn’t manage the Tower of Hanoi, had no interest in an abacus or slide rule, couldn’t imagine that Achilles couldn’t overtake the Tortoise, complained that the only sex education in their school consisted of “abstinence,” didn’t recognize the word “rubber, had to be taught how to make a proper fire, and had never been camping. One is studying Latin, has a deep interest in meteorology, and knows his world capitals. Neither has a father in residence.

    They did have an interest and skills in football, baseball or basketball, of course, all useless in their future. Both are near the top of their classes and find school boring. I commented that, if I were their Dad, I’d whisk them off to wander around Brazil, where they’d learn more useful stuff just hanging around the streets and forests than they’d ever get from their school. They agreed.

    The best you can say is that we Texans squander only $10,000 per pupil in 9 months of public mis-education; in Vermont, they squander $17,000. I commented to the boys that I thought Amerikan public education a form of Child Abuse, and they agreed. There’s no way I’d subject a kid of mine to an Amerikan education that features abstinence in those things most important in life.

  • jan Link

    This video was made for 20/20 eight years ago. However, many of it’s points are just as valid, if not more so, today than it was in 2006, illustrating the frustrating stalemate and state of our education, contributing to it’s title of: Stupid in America.

    Some of the major complaints about our educational practices are:

    1. There is no competition in the delivery of public education because ‘no choice’ is normal for America. Other countries have vouchers and stipends attached to the child (not the school), giving him/her options regarding which school to attend, causing schools to stretch competitively by improving their curriculum to appeal, not imprison, students. In the United States, there are no choices except to seek private education, which many can’t afford, or be rich and reside in an affluent neighborhood, like Michael. Most kids, though, are locked into school districts, simply because it’s where they reside.

    In a few cases lotteries are held, giving families outside opportunities that the majority simply don’t have. In San Francisco, there is a random selection process, allowing poorer neighborhoods extra advantages to join a better rated school. Because of this, some desperate middle-class families will uproot themselves, move to a poorer area for a period of time, just to have their child be given a chance to start out with a good school. Once they are in, they can then live anywhere they chose to live. My “LA daughter,” did just that, and was lucky to win the slot she wanted, and then moved to a middle-class neighborhood.

    2. Union work rules make it impossible to get rid of bad teachers or make innovative workplace changes. They hold education to standards that fit their own needs, similar to many business monopolies, which are free to impose what they want to on a captive public.

    3. Lack of parental involvement.

    4. Poor management of money and resources — much of it spent on top-heavy administration, or on educational facilities that do little to increase the quality and/or quantity of education for it’s students.

    As for the aspect of poverty tainting the educational experience — it’s a factor, but not the primary one. At the end of the utube piece, it compares two schools, with the same economic and demographic components. One, though, is a charter school, the other is a publicly run school. The different achievement outcomes and enthusiastic participation rate, however, is incredible. And, it appears to be based entirely on the ability to be innovative, hold teachers accountable, have discipline in the classroom, and make the whole idea of learning to be ‘fun,’ and interactively interesting between pupil and teacher.

  • TastyBits Link

    Once again, I will point out. New Orleans is mostly charter schools. All public school teachers were fired after Katrina.

    This is reality not theory. Compare and contrast. No talking points please.

  • Ben Wolf Link

    The purpose of education is not to impart life skills, and it’s really depressing to see intelligent people laboring under that illusion. Education is for making one into a better person, a person able to think critically, to act with deliberation and enlightenment.

    Who cares whether someone can read an article if they lack the ability to deconstruct and place it in the proper context? Without that sort of training an article is just passively absorbed propaganda and nothing is gained from it. It is worse than useless unless we can analyze it by asking why it was writtenwhowanted it written and what the writer or source is trying to get away with.

    To do that we must have a grasp of politics, history, philosophy, art, culture and psychology; in short, an education is being trained to understand other humans and to expand consciousness beyond the self. To look at the whole rather than being distracted by the piece right in front of you, to seek answers and new questions, to understand the difference between ignorance and knowledge (harder than anything else to learn because we all are susceptible to thinking we know something when we really don’t).

    Skills are not wisdom and accumulating facts is not a virtue.

  • ... Link

    For the life of me I can’t tell if Ben Wolf is being sarcastic or not.

  • I think I’ve mentioned before that the best class I took in college was a History of Modern Japan course. Waaayyy outside of my field of study but I had the quaint idea that a college education should be about learning things you don’t know rather than things you already know.

    The midterm was at the end of the first week of classes. It was a multiple choice test on the history of Japan from prehistory to the 20th century. Names, dates, places. If you failed you were out.

    The balance of the course consisted of class discussion. Each person in the small class (there were 12 of us) picked an area in which we had a special interest and we spent, maybe, a week researching and discussing that area. I remember one of the women in the class said she wanted to concentrate on Japanese feminism. The professor responded “there is no such thing as Japanese feminism. Pick something else.”

    The point here is that dry facts and mechanical skills form a basis for comprehending the broader implications. You’ve got to be able to read. You’ve got to be able to reason. Some things must be learned by rote. The transaction cost is just too high otherwise.

  • Modulo Myself Link

    Charming story, Dave–except that there has been, since the 70s, a feminist movement in Japan.

  • michael reynolds Link

    You won’t find abstract complaints about liberals from me, Michael. What’s your solution for the kids who live in urban Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York? Move to suburban Marin?

    Okay, I’m not an educator, but with that aside, I have something of an experimental setting in my life. My son has never known ten seconds of hardship or want in his entire blessed life. My daughter however spent her first 3 1/2 years in a Chinese orphanage in the ass-end of nowhere. No love, no attention, no enrichment, no media, no books, nothing.

    Then at age 4 she was essentially kidnapped by white people and hauled off to the US of A. She has been diagnosed with an array of learning disorders.

    I think what we should do with impoverished, abused, ignored kids is use some of the tools we have for teaching LD kids. The similarities are obvious between kids with diagnosed LD’s and kids who have been deprived of all the support my son and his ilk have had from birth.

    I’ll mention one: Lindamood-Bell. My daughter was reading almost not at all. Her very good (but not LD) private school got nowhere. Then we started Lindamood. The transformation gave me chills. It was astounding. In about 8 weeks IIRC, she jumped two grade levels. Today she still tests a year or so behind on her overall reading, especially on issues of fluency. But her “word attack” skills – what Lindamood teaches — rate at first year of college. We get her scores and it’s 5th grade, 6th grade. . . and 13th grade. That’s what you can do with that kind of intensive intervention.

    But it was expensive as hell. It was intensive – four hours a day, five days a week, for eight weeks, one on one, very systematized. I think it was something like $400 a day. Yeah, so, not cheap. But effective.

    Now she’s at an LD school where they do some Lindamood light and apply various other strategies and she’s either keeping pace or catching up to the norm. That school costs $50,000 a year. We are self-pay, but a lot of the kids are covered by their districts from all over the Bay Area.

    There are ways to do serious, effective intervention with kids who for whatever reason have fallen behind the curve. Harvard? No. But Culinary Institute? Yes. Plumbing? Carpentry? The military? The police force? Sure.

    So, we have here a little girl who had nothing and was way, way behind – including needing to move from Mandarin to English which isn’t exactly easy – who we believe has been rescued by massive application of resources. Put that same girl into an average inner city school and I think we can all guess where she’d end up.

    The tools exist and they work. But they are devilishly expensive.

    I can hear the people decrying throwing money at the problem. But the truth is we of course threw money at our son, too, as does every family that can afford to do so. A nice home, healthy food, stability, parental time and attention, medical care, freedom from fear – these are all the expensive tools we’ve used for him. Just like all the other Marin parents did for their kids. The money was thrown, we just didn’t call it “education,” we called it a middle-class lifestyle. Parents who have the ability to make it to their kids’ parent-teacher conferences because their jobs let them do that, unlike the Wal-Mart worker who’ll be fired if she misses a shift, or the fast food worker who simply cannot afford to miss two hours of paying work.

    Money matters. We can’t turn the clock back on kids who’ve been dealt a bad hand, but we can intervene and salvage them. Most of them at least.

    This is the difference between us and the Finns, to go back to that example. We have poor children. We have lots of poor children. They don’t. No Finnish child ever spends the entire night sitting in an emergency room while waiting for his little brother to get an ear infection treated and then has to take a test the next morning. No Finnish child is ever told he can’t eat because the food stamps have run out. They have decided, as a society, not to allow their poorer children to be treated as disposable, even contemptible the way we have. So they don’t have as many exhausted, hungry, scared, lonely kids showing up to take standardized tests as we do.

    We can either fix that larger problem, or we can spend the kind of intervention money I’m talking about, or we can shut the hell up because we don’t really give a damn and don’t really intend to do anything but score political points on the backs of children.

  • michael reynolds Link


    I basically agree with you with the caveat that every kid is his or her own story. There are kids who need a fairly defined path from where they are to where they can make a living, and there are kids who should be given great leeway. I have one of each and learned that lesson almost too late, since I’m predisposed to favor a laissez faire approach. Children are humans and are endowed by their creator with innate strengths and weaknesses, their own personalities and needs. The trick is to find out how to foster what they’ve already got going on, without being so rigid that you close off avenues you may have missed.

  • ... Link

    The best class I ever took was the 4000 level (Abstract) Algebra II course, taught by Professor Alexandre Turull, and it was a course most of us hadn’t planned on taking. But a bunch of other 4000 level courses got cancelled (insufficient enrollment) so we all ended up in there.

    The first day, Prof. Turull tells us we’re just going to have a little fun, but to write everything down and save the paper for later in the semester. Okay, check, got it. And that day we discussed several of the problems of antiquity, and I believe one or two others that had cropped up since then. Put the paper away at the end of the day. The next lecture we started in on all the usual stuff, ring theory, ideals and whatnot.

    Eventually we get to Galois Theory. And after a few lectures on that, we come in one day and he tells us to take out the paper from the first day of class. Out come all the papers. And in the space of 50 minutes we dispose of all of those problems with ease. Problems that had defied the Greeks and mathematicians up to the 19th Century (under the constraints imposed by the Greeks themselves, that the solutions consist of a finite number of steps), and Galois’s wonderful theory just CRUSHED those problems. My God, but it was beautiful!

  • ... Link

    Charming story, Dave–except that there has been, since the 70s, a feminist movement in Japan.

    I’m pretty sure he took the class before that, or at least contemporaneously with the 1970s.

  • TastyBits Link

    @michael reynolds

    If I were in school today, they would have me on every drug known. When I was in grammar school, I was in the hall, in the principal’s office, or in detention. Why? I was effing bored.

    It sounds like your daughter just needed somebody to take a different approach with her. She probably see the world in a different way, and she needed a few techniques to help her.

    Does she have talents that are not captured on the standardized tests? If so, why are her talents not part of the standardized test? I am very serious.

    My sister had complications at birth, and she is partially deaf and is a slow learner. She has used this as a crutch and shield. Like most people, she may not understand the first time, but most people who do not understand the first time will ask a second or third.

    But, my sister “knows” she is a “slow learner”, and a “slow learner” is stupid. Therefore, she must not have understood because she is too stupid. Once I get past the nonsense, I can explain it to her, but she can be a pain in the ass.

    Unless your daughter has a drool cup hanging off her chin, she is not LD or any other other alphabet combination. My sister has missed out on a lot because of a dumb ass label.

    Your daughter is probably a nice young lady who sees the world in a different way. When I order off the menu, I expect a special dish created by somebody who does not see the world like everybody else.

  • Charming story, Dave–except that there has been, since the 70s, a feminist movement in Japan.

    As suggested, the course pre-dated the rise of a feminist movement in Japan.

  • Michael, maybe I’m misreading your comment but it looks to me as though you’re agreeing with jan.

  • Jimbino Link

    Fine story about your two kids, Michael, but you end up offering us a false dichotomy: either steal from the childfree to shore up public education or set kids adrift without any help.

    Here’s what we need to do: prohibit folks from breeding unless and until they have provided for the contingencies of child-rearing, freeing the childfree to pursue their own goals in life! Who died and gave the breeders the right to determine life goals for everyone?

  • michael reynolds Link


    Unless your daughter has a drool cup hanging off her chin, she is not LD or any other other alphabet combination. My sister has missed out on a lot because of a dumb ass label.

    I agree. But the reality is that because school is seen as a single number line and your chronological age must mesh perfectly with the agreed curriculum, you’re either LD or a discipline problem or “Gifted.” In all three cases you can be pushed aside, pigeonholed.

    Now, when we start talking about where schools should be going as opposed to where they are, or the fantasy right-wing version of where they are, then we can get the essence of that norming problem. There is very little reason why, given current technology, that we cannot treat and teach kids as individuals, with lesson plans and techniques geared for their individual needs.

  • Andy Link

    Interesting thread, a couple of thoughts:

    I basically agree with Ben about the desired end-state. I’m not sure everyone can get there though. Regardless, to get the to the self-aware stage requires the building-block approach and the basics Dave describes using a combination of teaching specific skills, knowledge as well as education that teaches one how to think and solve problems. Math, art, music and foreign language may not be useful in terms of future employment, but

    Michael is at one extreme – very, very few people in the world can throw $50k a year at a special school. I’m skeptical that elite and specialized schools can be massed produced for general population. It’s not just a matter of money.

    Social cohesion is incredibly important. As a society we are increasingly isolated and atomized as traditional institutions that provided a sense of community along with various moral and social standards are gradually replaced by ideology and mass culture. There simply aren’t the institutions that incentivize education – it’s left to parents and the education bureaucracy and both represent single points of failure.

  • michael reynolds Link


    Actually, Jimbino, since by refusing to have children you’ve contributed nothing to the long-term future of the American people, we should be charging you double. After all, I’ve produced two future taxpayers who will be paying for your retirement and medical. That would make you a freeloader. You can write me a check.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Foreign languages suck and they don’t belong in any description of basic educational requirements. I’ve never used my four years of German. Perhaps Dave means everyone should go live in a foreign country for a while. (In which case I would have chosen Tahitian) If you don’t live in a foreign country or find yourself the need to speak with someone in the language you randomly choose at too young of an age, its a wasted effort. (I ended up having more opportunities as a young adult to speak with Chinese nationals than anything, but Mandarin wasn’t offered in my school, nor would I have foreseen the need).

  • PD Shaw Link

    Plus, too much foreign language and you start misspelling “Amerikan” words.

  • Sadly, only about a third of Tahitians speak Tahitian. Most speak French.

  • Andy Link

    Oops, part of my comment got cut off:

    “Math, art, music and foreign language may not be useful in terms of future employment, but they are important to the development of “thinking skills.”

  • PD Shaw Link

    To use Michael’s “Great Schools” ratings (the methodology of which is not clear, but presumably its whatever test a state is using), my daughter is in a school ranked “10” and its a middle class magnet, with about 30% eligible for free lunch. That’s slightly below the city average, and is suggestive of poorer, but active, parents. Comparing the rating of my two kids schools:

    Elementary (Territorial district with mandatory bussing): 5
    (Low Income: 2)
    (Non-Low Income: 7)

    Middle (technology magnet): 10
    (Low Income: 8)
    (Non-Low Income: 10)

    Suggestive of family income being an important factor, but perhaps not determinative. (Two anecdotes = data)

  • PD Shaw Link

    @Dave, you speak Tahitian to avoid getting sent to Francophone Africa by mistake.

  • michael reynolds Link

    I waver on the foreign language thing. I think given that English is the Latin of the day, and given that I can now communicate pretty well with my foreign fans – even when I don’t recognize the language, which happens – by using Google Translate, it’s certainly less useful than it used to be.

    It’s certainly good for the brain. So from the Ben Wolf approach I see the beauty of it, but t’s of diminishing practical usefulness.

    However, as to balancing checkbooks, the report from the front is that in fact Life Skills (or whatever they call it,) is the most popular elective at Jake’s school. They teach things like bill-paying, applying for jobs, shopping. . .

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’d like “Recognizing in advance that your carry-on will not fit,” and “Moving that slow-ass Prius out of my way,” should be regular classes.

  • TastyBits Link

    @michael reynolds

    I think your problem is local. You are among a bunch of stuck up assholes. They are bigoted shitheads. Anybody who does not meet their standard is prejudged to be a second class citizen. Does any of this sound familiar?

    You should at least hold your nose around these liberal pukes.

    For your daughter’s science homework: maillard reaction.

    As to the political bickering, you all were both given your homework. New Orleans schools are the right-wing’s wet dream. Is it working? Yes or No?

  • PD Shaw Link

    @Tastybits, the last I heard the complaint about New Orleans charter schools is that they have been given generous license to suspend and expel the difficult kids. I suspects its too early to make broad pronouncement, but it goes back to a comment Dave made in the last post, is there a way to improve education beyond selecting the right students?

  • michael reynolds Link


    No, learning differences are recognized in pretty much all schools. Has nothing to do with stuck up snobs. Dyslexia is one such LD. Auditory processing disorder is another. These aren’t made up, they’re quite real, and are considered so even in places like Alabama. Here’s the link to Alabama special needs services: http://alex.state.al.us/specialed/


  • Thanks for this post, Dave.

    Three of my “educated person” criteria are these:

    1) Someone who has learned how to learn;

    2) Someone who thoroughly understands how (and how easily) any human being can be emotionally manipulated; and

    3) Someone who has gained profound respect for the limits of rationality, as well as for its powerful applications.

    IMHO, widespread (3) inoculates better than anything else I can think of on a theoretical plane against societal over-concentration of power (whether corporate, governmental, or anything else), while widespread (2) does the same on a practical level. Anyone can be stampeded, but it is easier to see (and far less effective) when you know where to look.

  • TastyBits Link

    @PD Shaw

    I am not in Orleans Parish, and we sent my stepson to Catholic schools. I have not looked into it very much, but I suspect it is going to be the old school system in a different package.

    What I find interesting is that the people who push charter schools seem to have missed an entire city of charter schools.

  • michael reynolds Link

    At least 90% of my education came from my own experience and my own interests outside of any formal educational setting. School didn’t teach me to read, my mother did that. And school did everything it could to discourage me from continuing to read, but I did anyway.

    I’m not sure I learned a single thing in 10 years of schooling and half a year of college. Learned a hell of a lot working restaurants. Being in trouble, being poor, that was educational as hell. Life and work and curiosity taught me everything.

    Wait, there was one dude. A single philosophy class at San Jose State – a university in which I’m not sure I was actually enrolled – lit up an interest in philosophy. Belated shout-out to Professor Peter Koestenbaum, if he should happen to ego-Google his way here: I was just there initially to write papers for this girl I was sleeping with. Sorry about that. I don’t know what became of her, but your course changed my life.

  • Jimbino Link


    It’s more than amusing to read what a person who speaks no foreign language thinks about how it would benefit him if he could. Who the hell needs math, now that we have calculators? And who needs sex, now that we have access to so many porn flicks and sex toys?

  • TastyBits Link

    @michael reynolds

    If you have not noticed, I get tired of seeing people put down, put upon, and pushed around just because somebody is able to so. Being labeled something because you do not come within 10% of the ideal standards is unfair.

    Maybe I have it wrong, but when it comes to the little guy and gal, I would rather get it wrong first and apologize later. If your neighbors have never made your daughter feel bad about herself, I am sorry for disparaging them.

    At one time, kids with dyslexia or hearing problems were considered “retarded”, but today, there is no reason why they need to be in a special class. Labels are a convenient way for people to categorize groups of folks, but they are often misleading and unfair.

    IQ and standardized tests measure the ability to regurgitate canned answers. Is this a correct answer? 1 + 1 = 10 Yes. @Icepick and a few others should know why. This would be a far more creative solution, and in today’s world, a far more applicable solution. Bonus points for knowing how this relates to Snark Hunting.

    Special needs students get federal funding. More special needs students means more money. Do I need to elaborate.

  • ... Link

    Sadly, only about a third of Tahitians speak Tahitian. Most speak French.

    Who cares? They’re in freakin’ Tahiti!

    Math … may not be useful in terms of future employment ….

    Don’t I know it.

  • michael reynolds Link


    Actually I’m reasonably fluent in French having been raised for three years in French schools in Royan and Rochefort Charente Maritime. I’ve lost a bit of it since then, but I read it easily and speak with no discernible accent – aside probably from a Charentais regionalism.

    Try again.

Leave a Comment