Category Archives: Education

FRED REED: The Possible Virtues Of A Salutary Distance

Affirmative Action, Conflict, Crime, Education, English, FRED REED, Intelligence, Law, libertarianism, Multiculturalism, Race

By Fred Reed

Most of the profound anger and apparent actual insanity afflicting the United States stem from racial antagonism: The Floyd riots, the tearing down of statues, affirmative action, the renaming of buildings, hostility to everything Confederate, racial attacks on whites by blacks, critical race theory, the fury over trials. Racial policy isn’t working and isn’t going to. America had better find another approach before, one day, the guns come out.

Sez I, a massive step toward racial reconciliation could be achieved simply by deregulating the schools. The races have very, very disparate cultures and want different things. In the integrated schools, either blacks must be forced to learn things of interest only to whites, or whites must be prevented from learning these things. It is hard to see why black students or their parents would have any interest in Jane Austin, Mark Twain, Shakespeare, or Beowulf. Nor is it clear why whites, of either generation, would care more than passingly about Africa. Why, unworkably, force each to do something both alien and of no interest to it?

Many object that the study of mathematics constitutes racism, or is a means of oppressing blacks. Why force math on blacks or, more importantly, prevent white kids from learning them? Similarly, English grammar is now said to be racist. Why should black young of a background having no interest in such things have to be burdened with it?

These difficulties could within an administrative district be remedied by allowing different groups to establish such schools as they chose, for such students as they chose, teaching such material as they chose. Charges of discrimination could be avoided by requiring by law that all students be subsidized at the same per-pupil rate. Further, allow schools to select such students as they choose. If some schools wanted only white students, or black, or racially mixed, so be it. As long as they were given equal resource’s, it would be their business. If some parents preferred schools of mixed race, it would be their business.  Evangelical schools? Fine. Jewish? Equally so. Chinese? Equally.

The right of schools to choose teachers without governmental bureaucracy—most importantly, certification—would be crucial. Certified teachers are often of low quality and always carriers of industrial-strength political correctness. The teachers unions are just that—unions, interested chiefly in the good of the membership, not the students. I would not be allowed to teach either writing or journalism whereas a half-literate political hire would be.

This would also allow parents of very bright kids to use such tests as they chose to find the extraordinarily smart and then to teach them at their level.  Those opposed to testing could avail themselves of schools not engaging in testing. Forcing kids of IQ 140 or better to agonize in classes at the level of “Mommy Beaver had two sticks and Daddy Beaver had two, how many did that have in all” is child abuse. A child in that range in the second grade is reading at the ninth-grade level and school is nothing but an obstacle. Why do this?

In aggregate these measures—we could call them “freedom”—might go far to reduce hostility.

Smaller and seemingly less important matters count in racial relations. Blacks often deprecate other blacks for “acting white.” This is not unreasonable. People naturally want to be around others who share their culture, manners, and ideas of consideration and propriety. I don’t want my children, or people around me, “acting black.” I don’t know what “acting white” means and I don’t care. I don’t want my children wearing their pants below their knees and saying “muggafugga” every second word. These practices do no actual harm, but are extremely disagreeable to most whites. While I do not want to dictate the culture of blacks—it isn’t my business—neither do I want them transgressing mine. Would not separation be the comfortable solution?

Housing is another matter in which less government would be of use. Here again, policy is disastrous. The races obviously do not want to live together. When blacks move into white neighborhoods, the whites leave. When whites move back into the city, “gentrifying,” blacks are enraged. Upon reaching university, blacks often demand dormitories only for blacks, courses only for blacks, student centers only for blacks, and graduations only for blacks. If whites had the same privileges, friction would diminish. By (again) providing these things on a rigid and transparent basis of equal money per student, discrimination could be avoided.

Since the races usually want to live apart, why not simply let them? Those who wanted to live in mixed neighborhoods could, but if a black neighborhood wanted to avoid gentrification, it could vote to do so.

The voluntary separation of races would greatly reduce the very high rates of crime against whites by blacks, and the fear and intensifying hostility caused by this crime. I don’t know how to end crime, but reducing the fear of blacks would go far to encourage racial reconciliation.

Blacks say that white police discriminate against them.  Whether this is true would make no difference if blacks policed black neighborhoods and whites, white. Cities typically burn because white policemen have beaten or shot a black. The blindingly obvious solution is, in racially homogeneous regions, to have the local race do the policing. Friction might in some degree continue between police and policed, but at least it would not be racial.

Further, though it will at first sound strange, I suggest that black and white neighborhoods be permitted to decide what laws to enforce, at least in those matters affecting only the neighborhood. If blacks chose to ignore use of marijuana, drinking in public, selling crack, or driving without a license, why should they not? Do they not know their neighborhood, its needs and problems, better that I? Why are these things my business either way? The result would be vastly fewer arrests of blacks by whites and fewer blacks in prison, both of these contributing greatly to hostility between the races.

I am not recommending the abandonment of black neighborhoods to crime, but rather letting those affected decide. For example, blacks often hate stop-and-frisk policing. Why not let those affected make the decision? This would reduce the impression of the police as an occupying army, often white.

Nor am I suggesting the subjection of blacks to a punitive regime. I believe that all citizens should have access to good medical care, that providing schools with textbooks of their choice is a proper function of government, as is maintenance of streets, water supply, and electric supply. If a black university wants microscopes or a computer, it should get them. And universities should be free to hire any staff they choose, depending only on the willingness of the staff to be hired. The various forms of welfare should be continued as there is no choice other than causing great hardship–even hunger.

Since the races are in America, and none is going to leave, finding a workable approach to amity would seem a good idea. What we have hasn’t worked, is not working, shows no sign that it ever will, and indeed things are getting worse. A little distance might go a long way. If there is ever an explosion of the very real, very deep anger in the country that the media are hiding from themselves, it might make Floyd’s uprising seem trivial. In the Floyd riots, the guns didn’t come out.

 

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FRED REED describes himself as [previously] a “Washington police reporter, former Washington editor for Harper’s and staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, Marine combat vet from Viet Nam, and former long-haul hitchhiker, part-time sociopath, who once lived in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital.”
His essays “on the collapse of America” Mr. Reed calls “wildly funny, sometimes wacky, always provocative.”
“Fred is the Hunter Thompson of the right,” seconds Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign Policy magazine. His  commentary is “well-written, pungent political incorrectness mixed with smart military commentary and libertarian impulses, topped off with a splash of Third World sunshine and tequila.”

FRED’S BOOKS ARE ON AMAZON, HERE

FRED’S ARTICLES ARCHIVE

Math Ability: Is It The Kids Or The Method Of Teaching Them?

America, Conservatism, Education, Human Accomplishment, Intelligence, Kids, Race, Science

To continue the math-related conversation begun in “U.S. Kids Can’t Read, Write Or Do Math, But Are No. 1 In Critical Race Theory,” here are more warnings from The Economist:

The writer says that, “Conservatives typically campaign for classical math: a focus on algorithms (a set of rules to be followed), memorizing (of times tables and algorithmic processes) and teacher-led instruction. Pupils in these classrooms focus on the basics, exploring concepts after obtaining traditional skills …”

“…Progressives,” he argues, “typically favor a conceptual approach to math based on problem-solving and gaining number-sense, with less emphasis on algorithms and memorizing.”

Irrespective, the achievement situation on the ground is as follows:

In 2018, American 15-year-olds ranked 25th in the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries. American adults ranked fourth-from-last in numeracy when compared with other rich countries. As many as 30% of American adults are comfortable only with simple maths: basic arithmetic, counting, sorting and similar tasks. American employers are desperate for science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills: nuclear engineers, software developers and machinists are in short supply. And while pupils’ maths scores are bad enough now, they could be getting worse. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a national exam, 13-year-old pupils’ scores dropped five points in 2020 compared with their peers’ in 2012. The status quo does not add up. But teachers and academics cannot agree on where to go next.

This is not purely about “the conceptual approach to math,” versus an emphasis on “algorithms and memorizing,” as the writer frames it.

However important, more than the methods of teaching math, American failures are about the kind of kids America has and the philosophy undergirding their education—a highly variegated population educated under the philosophy of egalitarianism. Not everyone can learn math, yet this is the premise of American education.

Yes, “highly ranked mathematical nations” such as Singapore, China and Japan have the  best math in the world and are NOT teaching by progressive methodology.

But the East Asian nations are relatively homogeneous and have kids with the good potential (IQ). Although important, the statistically significant variance is to be found, I would wager, in the kind of population, more than in the method of teaching, however important.

I hate to say it, but as far as raw human capital goes, America is fast becoming a bit of a shithole.

MORE: “America’s maths wars:How teaching multiplication tables became another victim of the political divide.”

RELATED READING:
The Wussification Of The West: Will We Ban Shakespeare For Othello And Shylock?
U.S. Kids Can’t Read, Write Or Do Math, But Are No. 1 In Critical Race Theory

*Image credit

UPDATED (10/15): NEW COLUMN/Video: U.S. Kids Can’t Read, Write Or Do Math, But Are No. 1 In Critical Race Theory

Argument, China, Critical Race Theory, Education, English, Family, Intellectualism, Intelligence, Kids, Left-Liberalism And Progressivisim, Psychology & Pop-Psychology

NEW COLUMN is “Homegrown Retardation A Bigger Problem Than Homegrown Terrorism” or “US Kids Can’t Read Or Do Math, But Are No. 1 In Critical Race Theory.” It’s now on WND.COM, The Unz Review, Townhall.com, The New American, and CNSNews.com.

Excerpt:

America’s crumbling education system is in the news. On October 5th, Joe Biden managed to disgorge some dismal indicators as to the future prospects of America’s youth compared to the rest of the developed world.

Joe didn’t quite say it, but America’s kids, the product of an obscenely well-funded school system, rank last in the developed world in reading, writing and math, making homegrown retardation a far more pressing problem in modern-day America than homegrown terrorism.

Yet conservatives have kept insisting, throughout the Covid lockdowns and quarantines, that kids were missing out on an education because they were out of school.

To paraphrase Joan Rivers, how can you miss out on a rash? (When Madonna accused Lady Gaga of stealing her music, the great, late, lady Joan wanted to know how you could steal a rash.)

A particularly startling fact caught my attention in the Economist. “At 15, children in Massachusetts, where education standards are higher than in most states, are so far behind their counterparts in Shanghai at math, that it would take them more than two years of regular education to catch up.”

This last fact is enormously telling and alarming. It tells you that America’s best schools and students can’t compete with the world’s best.

As the author further quipped cynically, “American children came top at thinking they were good at math, but bottom at math.”

There’s no doubt that American kids are drowning in self-esteem. As someone who had warned, in the early 2000s, about unrealistic, dangerous levels of self-esteem—I would contend that inflated self-esteem and narcissism not only mask failure, but create pumped up nihilists, ready to unleash on their surrounds, unless met with palliative praise.

Yes, self-esteem is the royal jelly upon which America’s children are raised. Our child-centered, non-hierarchical, collaborative, progressive schooling has produced kids who do not believe they can and should be corrected; and when corrected lash out in anger or bewilderment.

Indeed, to listen to our university students speak—is to hear a foreboding amalgam of dumbness and supreme confidence combined. Yet they are often high achievers in the kind of schools “tailored” for just such sub-par output. The achievement Bell Curve has been skewed. …

READ THE REST. NEW COLUMN is “Homegrown Retardation A Bigger Problem Than Homegrown Terrorism” or “U.S. Kids Can’t Read Or Do Math, But Are No. 1 In Critical Race Theory.” It’s now on WND.COM, The Unz Review, Townhall.com, The New American, and CNSNews.com.

WATCH:

‘American Kids Come Top At THINKING They’re Good At Math, But Bottom At Math, Reading, Writing’

UPDATE (10/15/021): It appears that my “American Kids Can’t Read, Write, or Do Math, But Are No. 1 in CRT” beat the news again.

However, whereas my dismal assessment of the state of U.S. kids’ intellect was derived largely from The Economist—an excellent source, despite its liberalism—sources stateside euphemize the dire situation of American kids, writing:

America’s Kids Earn Disappointing Grades on Nation’s Report Card”:
‘I’ve never reported a slide like that,’ an official with the group that administers the Nation’s Report Card said after analyzing the results.”

These results are not compared to other populations in the developed world. As I said, we’re at the bottom.

The NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what students know and can do in subjects like math, reading, science, U.S. history, civics and geography. Its long-term trends exam is administered every eight years in math and reading only, and reports results nationally by age – as opposed to the other NAEP exams, which are administered every three years and report results by grade level and are broken out by state and city.

The assessment was administered to roughly 34,000 9- and 13-year-olds during the 2019-20 school year, just prior to coronavirus pandemic disruptions to school. Typically, the results also include data for 17-year-olds, but COVID-19 restrictions prevented the age group from participating.

UPDATED (8/8/021): ‘American Children Came Top At Thinking They Were Good At Math, But Bottom At Math’

America, Canada, Education, Kids, Pop-Culture, Psychology & Pop-Psychology

On average, Canadian schools, primary and secondary, are better than American schools. When we arrived in Canada from Cape Town, South Africa (in the good old days of high standards), my daughter had to be bumped up two years. Had we emigrated straight to the USA, it would have been three years, easily. A 12-year old South African would have been in class with 15 year-old Americans.

A US-based correspondent for The Economist confirms that, “After two years of school in England, our six-year-old was so far ahead of his American peers that he had to be bumped up a year, where he was also ahead.” And his child was in a “good” American school!

In fact, as our author notes, “At 15, children in Massachusetts, where education standards are higher than in most states, are so far behind their counterparts in Shanghai at math that it would take them more than two years of regular education to catch up.” UPDATE: (8/9/021): This last fact is enormously telling. Our best schools are un-competitive with the best in the world. 

He writes,

At the heart of the problem is an educational ethos that prizes building self-esteem over academic attainment. This is based on a theory that self-confidence leads to all manner of other virtues, including academic achievement, because children who feel good about themselves will love learning – right? Not entirely.

American children came top at thinking they were good at maths, but bottom at maths.

I covered the self-esteem cult for kids as far back as the year 2000, when I had reviewed the book of a brilliant Canadian professor by the name of Marilyn Bowman.

In a 1997 monograph, Bowman forewarned that, while “every kind of social problem is analyzed as the outgrowth of low self esteem,” and while “treatment programs to teach people how to love themselves are put forward as the means of raising self-esteem,” not only is “the relationship between emotion and well being not robust, causal or meaningful,” but, on the contrary, there is a dark side to self-esteem. “The prototype aggressor,” explains Bowman, “is a man whose self-appraisal is unrealistically positive.”

American kids have dangerously elevated self-esteems. Drumming up feel-good ignorance can be risky business.

Concludes the Economist in 2016:

American children came top at thinking they were good at maths, but bottom at maths. For Korean children, the inverse was true: they considered themselves poorer at maths than the children of any other country, but were the best. The OECD study, similarly, found that American children believe they are good at maths and, indeed, are adept at very simple sums; but give them something halfway tricky and they struggle.

This is perverse. The self-esteem movement is drenched in the language of mutual respect; yet encouraging in children an inflated idea of their accomplishments is not respectful at all. It is delusional.

READING:

New York Times:

On the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) two-thirds of American children were not proficient readers.

The most recent PISA test was given in 2018 to 600,000 15-year-olds in 79 education systems around the world, and included both public and private school students. In the United States, a demographically representative sample of 4,800 students from 215 schools took the test, which is given every three years.

Although math and science were also tested, about half of the questions were devoted to reading, the focus of the 2018 exam. Students were asked to determine when written evidence supported a particular claim and to distinguish between fact and opinion, among other tasks.

The top performers in reading were four provinces of China — Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Also outperforming the United States were Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong, Estonia, Canada, Finland and Ireland. The United Kingdom, Japan and Australia performed similarly to the United States.