Friday, March 10, 2006

Where Are the Globes ???

These figures were just jumping off the monitor screen, and spacing me out...

Twelve per cent of high school seniors in the United States could not locate the continental boundaries of the USA on a world map or globe.

Nearly 25 per cent had never seen a globe.

In New York, a survey of college seniors in the Rochester and Buffalo areas did not know who George Pataki was–the two term governor of New York recently beset by ill health.

No figures were given for how many could read the "Run, Dick, Run" primers. (They are not even used any more.)

But, hold on!

When I went to Google and typed in "English, Civics Literacy", I was directed to—hold onto your seat—391,000 sites...ALL of the first pages devoted to state and federal movements and programs for "English Language and Civics Literacy" for Immigrants and New Americans.

But alas, I found no "initiatives" to press the government schools to improve the language and civics information flow to our elementary and high school population.

It is, of course, MY obsession, not yours. I will be gone before the people of this country realize what has happened.

Always the Egoist, I admit, I am "driven" to remember as a teen aged high school junior, running into a burning "Black" schoolhouse in 1940 to retrieve a large world globe, before the flames engulfed and destroyed the school. No one paid much attention.

No one paid any attention, either, to the fact that the "Black", segregated school had only nine grades.

Nor did anyone gripe about the "White" school in my town having only eleven grades. We had two foreign languages (if you count Latin) and plane and solid geometry and trigonometry. It was better than most any public high school today. More demanding, anyway.

Every high school graduate knew the name of the governor, both senators and our congressman. Most of us could name and locate all the states and capitals. William Shadburn and I played a game, alphabetically naming the states and capitals alphabetically. I could never remember Frankfort, Kentucky. He lost out on Carson City, Nevada. We lnew Tom Paine and Dr. Benjamin Rush intimately. We fenced with Bible verses every morning.

So, I ask you...Where are the Globes ????

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Crumbling Cathedrals...Queasy Quadrangles

"David Riesman said that we are living in the cathedrals of learning, without the faith that built those cathedrals. We are also living in a free society without the faith that built that society -- and without the conviction and dedication needed to sustain it."

So began a brilliant (as always) column by Thomas Sowell. It was written around the fact that Larry Summers was forced out of the presidency of Harvard University by the mediocre-mad culture leverlers and desroyers of excellence, fueled by their ignited PeeCee gas.

It is not boasting for me to say that I had two great university experiences. The first was in the 1940's when I barely fulfilled the requirements for graduation from Emory. The last was in getting a graduate degree from the University of North Florida, with only ONE "B" in one course..the rest all "A".

Shows the difference between age 20 and age 55.


At Emory, I flourished in Dr. Tom English's literature and Dr. Will Howe's visiting seminars on romance prose. I excelled in Dr. Dickie Boyd's Greek courses, and Dr. Cullen Gosnell's political science. "Goose" and I were both flaming liberals in thos days. And it was considered "weird" to be a member of the International Policy Council, as I was. There were 11 others.

I was wedded to my philosophy regimen under Dr. Leroy Loemker. His wife played in the ORIGINAL Atlanta Symphony, and this pleased me. I was very close to Dr. Charlie Lester, a genius chemist from whom I took no courses, and his brother, Jim, from whom I got two "A's" in Geology.

My very favorite person at Emory was Dean Elliott Heber Rece. He always treated me like a man, and guided me with great love and tolerance to my diploma and my cap and gown.

I named my first son after Dean Rece.

But, though I did not flunk (fail) any courses, I had a lot of D-for-Dereliction grades. I knew the essentials of the subjects, but the professors wanted me to attend class !

At Harvard--and other great universities today--no one gets a "D" unless he commits something like what we used to call High Botchery! It is a recorded fact that ninety (90) per cent of the seniors at Harvard now graduate cum laude!

That was reserved for a very , very, select few in my university days. Some Phi Beta Kappa members failed to get the "with Honors" nod.

And the fact that Dr. Summers was opposed to grade inflation, and that he fought it every day he was at Harvard, did him in.

His assertion that, maybe, women were not, as a group, well suited to the hard sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.) was not happily accepted as a lapsus lingua, by the Harvard feminista--but that is not the basis of Dr. Larry's exit.

Of allthose professors I mingled with at Emory and North Florida, some were left wingers, some were libertarians, some were Christians and some were agnostic. Nobody cared. They were all free.

But, as I joined them as an adjunct for four years, I found that even with the new wave of Dr Spock-like educational theory spewing from Gainesville and Athens, students still had to work and perform to get a degree.

Now, with teacher's unions claiming TENURE for elementary school teachers, and no punitive sanctions for either libel or plagiarism either by school boards or in academia, we who love erudition witness a slippery slope.

Dr. Larry Summers exits Harvard. Al Quaeda matriculates at Yale.

Get out of the shadow of that Ivy Covered Ivory Tower, Young'uns !!

It's Falling.

Here's a link to Dr. Sowell: