Monday, March 06, 2006

Easy Ways to Improve Our High Schools

<bold><fontfamily><param>Arial</param>I am sure you have had the
experience of discovering in some article, whether in magazine,
newspaper, or online --- the espousal of ideas that you believed were
yours. It makes you think: "All great minds work in the same

So, this happened recently to me when in the Canton Repository, the
local newspaper, I read an article by one of their regular local
columnists, Rick Senften, on some proposals for school courses.

Rick, instead of supporting the idea of teaching a certain form of
Christianity and Bible interpretation in the schools ---proposes that
all schools somewhere in their curriculum be required to offer a class
that explores the main beliefs and scriptures of the primary religious
traditions. This would not violate church and state separation because
the course would not be promoting any particular belief, but would
make our students aware of the diversity of religious belief around
the world, and, indeed, these days, within our own borders.

The results of such a course: understanding, appreciation and
tolerance for the varieties of religious experience.


Another of his ideas, I did try to implement in some of my English
classes: how to listen and watch the media so that instead of being
"carried away" by their enticements and suggestions --- we step back a
little and take a more critical stance. For example, asking the
question: "What or who gains if I accept this opinion being presented
to me?" "Who really benefits by me buying this or that?" "Is this
political proposal good for me, and really good for both our nation
---and--- the world in general?"

Every time we are being persuaded: Ask WHY is this person, company,
candidate, company wanting me to go along with their ideas? Is it
really for me---or is it mainly for them? Let's face it: there are
few altruistic people, and even fewer altruistic corporations.

The Media is almost like an ocean that we continually swim in. We need
to have a "snorkel" through which we can gain a dose of clarifying


One idea that Rick does not propose, but I proposed to my high school
administration and business department---only to fall on deaf ears ---
require that all students take a semester course of "Everyday
Economics" -- balancing a check book; develop a budget; making wise
purchases, etc.

This course would be among the most practical of any offered at the
high school, but school authorities do not like people rocking the
boat. They are more content with perpetuation of previous procedures.


One idea of Rick's that I did use: spending two or three weeks with my
students teaching them study skills. Result: students are more
organized; students learn more with less effort; remember it better;
accomplish more in less time.

Frankly, from my own personal experience I have acquired a very "dim"
view of educational administrators. From my personal perspective they
are not educators --- just plodding, uninventive plant managers.</fontfamily></bold>