Liberty and education

I realize most people are never going to homeschool, and I'm not going to claim I never disagree with Rand [correction: Ron] Paul, but he speaks to me on education issues:
“The idea that government ‘experts’ can centrally plan a nation’s educational system is just as flawed as the idea that government can centrally plan the economy."
. . . The Ron Paul Curriculum, launched last fall, is designed to be used by homeschoolers, and takes a unique approach to education that reflects Paul’s libertarian-leaning political values.  The Curriculum includes lessons on Austrian economics and libertarian political theory, and teaches students how to start their own business on the Internet.  It almost totally eschews social studies until students are at the high school level, taking the view that early childhood social studies education mostly promotes statism.  The Curriculum also reflects a Christian worldview, with early history education putting significant focus on the Book of Genesis, Biblical Israel and the Reformation.
Paul’s program is also designed to be relatively cheap, as it uses no textbooks and is mostly self-taught, meaning there is little need for costly teachers.  High school learning builds up to students taking CLEP exams that can provide students with college credit, thereby allowing them to graduate earlier and at a lower cost.


Grim said...

The history section seems to jump over a few matters of slight importance. :)

... with early history education putting significant focus on the Book of Genesis, Biblical Israel and the Reformation.

"In the beginning, there was nothing; the Earth was without form and void. And God said, 'Let there be Jews.' And he saw that the Jews were very good. But at times they were bad, so he gave them Egyptians to punish them. But then they were good once more, so he gave them Israel, and sent Joshua to help them slaughter anyone who lived in the land that He intended them to have.

"Next came Martin Luther, who reformed the... um... something that he thought needed reform. We don't really have anything about that period here. I guess the Jews were bad again. So, yes, afterwards the good Jews called themselves 'Lutherans,' and they came to America and settled in the northern midwest. There they finally built God's intended society, based on Austrian economics and libertarian political theory...."

Tom said...


raven said...

I have oft maintained that with the current $10,000 per student per year tariff, neighborhood schools of 100-200 students with ten teachers could be a viable option. That is $100,000 + per teacher....with admin. OK, OK, initial purchase, maintenance, etc- but the root concept is viable- I would get rid of all teaching credentials except a basic background check, ditch all the administrative staff except for principal and secretary. and have a $$$ pool for measured performance standards. Make the building a cheap concrete tiltup, ask the locals to support any sports ,music etc, programs.If they don't care enough, no extras. Essentially revert to what worked in 1900.
The main problem with schools is the same problem with every other agency- they have evolved to fit Jerry Pournelles Iron law of Bureaucracy. They exist to serve themselves, and educational benefits are a irrelevant side effect.
My daughter went to a private school. A lot of South Asians went to this school. The school administrators decided to have (I am not making this up) a "Wog-a-thon" This was an fundraiser combining Walking and Jogging. When I suggested to the Principal of the school, a person with a specialty in world History!, that it might be an unfortunate choice of names, he could see no problem.
I was forced to explain in detail. Yikes.

Ymar Sakar said...

Home schooling is not the solution, but since the enemies of humanity use propaganda to make it look bad, it is a solution, if only temporary.

One person in Australia seem to think home schooling is for those extremist and dangerous fundamentalists.

Tom said...

Home schooling is _a_ solution. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

I would get rid of all teaching credentials except a basic background check

I would get rid of education BAs, require a bachelor's in a relevant topic (history, math, etc.) with a 1-year certification course on top which consisted of courses in instruction methods, developmental psych & recognizing learning disabilities, test / materials development, and a graduate course or two in the same field as their bachelor's.

Grim said...

I think Tom is right, except that I question the value of developmental psych. Still, it would be a big improvement to get teachers who actually had degrees in their subject instead of "education."

Especially if they did ongoing graduate work -- I've learned that the BA is mostly where we teach you things we used to believe, and now know are not true, but for which we have already developed coursework and strategies for teaching to students. Going to grad school is a long education in how everything you were taught as an undergrad was false.

E Hines said...

1-year certification course on top which consisted of courses in instruction methods, developmental psych

I'd bag that, and I say that from the august heights of my MS in Experimental Psych. The drool about how to teach is a large part of how we got where we are, where teaching "methodology" has become more important than actually teaching the subject matter.

As a governor once said, I'm not paying the teacher for her credentials, I'm paying her for her results.

Eric Hines

Tom said...

Yes, well, I'm not talking about making teaching methodology more important than teaching the subject matter, so your comment's not relevant to my plan.

Or are you saying there are no worthwhile methods for teaching subject matter, at all, anywhere?

On developmental psych, I've never taken a class in it, but reading a bit of it really helped when I taught elementary school. Maybe that's all the psych the program needs, then.

Texan99 said...

The Amanda Ripley book I wrote about recently argued that teaching colleges can deliver value on the methods of pedagogy as well as the subject matter, if they are taught by talented, well-educated professors and attended by people in the top of their high school classes, as in Finland. I've never known what to think about it. Everything I've ever learned about teaching colleges seemed like a complete crock, but then we don't run ours along the same lines as Finland.

I do think the ridiculous mismatch between exploding cost per pupil and sorry results is unlucky to be cured unless enough parents have serious options, whether that's vouchers, charter schools, or home-schooling. I imagine the curricula at some of those venues will turn out to be pretty eccentric, but then it has to be compared to the lunacy at many entrenched public schools.

Tom said...

The USMC seems to think one can be taught to be a good teacher.

Tom said...

Tex, I think following Finland's lead would be great for the US schools, in theory. Does Ripley talk about how it would scale to the US?

Also, I've never taken an ed. course, but I've taught for 10 years and mentored other teachers. I can tell you from experience that some teaching methods work better than others and that you can, in fact, teach someone how to teach and see them do better as a teacher.

I'm not endorsing education degrees, degree programs, or teachers colleges, and I'm not saying we should get rid of them, either, though I do think the bachelor's in ed needs to go away. If these programs are to stay, then they need some serious reforms.

However, it will be very difficult to reform them from the outside. We can put pressure on them through legislation: If public schools will no longer hire anyone with a bachelor's in education, that will have some effect. But reforming the MA and Ed. D / Ph. D programs will be pretty tough from the outside.

Texan99 said...

If I were going to be a teacher, something for which I have no natural talent, I'd sure appreciate some training in techniques. I just have a queasy feeling about whether ed. colleges are really imparting them, especially since the shift seems to have been almost entirely in the direction of pedagogical theory, not to mention political theory, to the detriment of subject matter.

E Hines said...

I'm saying the current programs in the teaching of teaching, and the emphasis on having that credential, even at the expense of expertise in the subject matter, has gotten so far out of hand that the credentialing does need to be scrapped in toto and teaching how to teach restarted from scratch.

Some teaching methods are better than others, and it's useful to teach both--the ones as examples of success and the others as examples of failure, along with what environments make them successes and failures. The current programs and hiring practices, in general, don't do that.

Eric Hines

Tom said...

Yeah, I would agree with both of your skepticism.

I'm just not sure how to make the changes.