Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Up north, it snows enough that schools can’t just close every time a few flakes fall. But I live in Virginia, just outside Washington, DC, and it doesn’t snow that much here.

Weeks ago it snowed eight inches, a lot for us. The schools in my county — and throughout the region — closed.

But in Washington, DC, the schools stayed open. And controversy ensued.

Was opening the schools unsafe? Was it a waste of money, since only a small percentage of students and teachers showed up? Or was a school day too valuable to lose?

For me, that’s all beside the point. I think a day having fun in the snow is more valuable than a yet another day in class.

This came to mind again when I listened to President Obama’s recent speech about public education. Obama wants our kids to attend school more days and longer hours. Apparently, children in South Korea go to school more and score better on tests.

Not only am I skeptical about such comparisons, and those tests, I’m totally uninterested in educating my kids to best the Russians or the Germans or the Japanese or anybody else.

To me, education is all about encouraging my kids to love learning, and then facilitating their very personal pursuit of their own dreams. It’s not an international competition demanding ever-more hours of drudgery.

So, let it snow.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor

12 Comments

  1. Roger Mall says:

    Agreed regarding it being better to stay home and play in the snow, every bit a life lesson (maybe especially as to so called global warming). But I think the real reason, ever more relevant to DC is that schools are day care centers, one of the big motivations behind year round school and meals before and after is turning them into day care centers.

  2. Lyle R. Rolfe says:

    PLaul, I agree that what you say is common sense. But, hopefully they won’t stay inside in front of the computer instead of going outside and making snowmen, igloos, skating, or skiing etc. When I was kid here in the Midwest, we took advantage of those snowdays by playing outside. Of course, we had no computers or TVs etc.but we did ahve sleds and skates etc. The requirement to pass tests is the big problem with NO Child Left Behind because schools are now educating kids to pass the tests so the schools can continue to get the federal funds. The feds say play the game our way or we’ll take our ball and bat and go home. Do away with NCLB and let the schools teach the kids things they need to know to get ahead in the world, not what is needed to pass a silly test put together by bureaucrats in Washington who also make up the rules and get big bucks for doing so–at our expense. Lyle R. Rolfe in Aurora, Il.

  3. Lyle R. Rolfe says:

    Paul, I agree that what you say is common sense. But, hopefully they won’t stay inside in front of the computer instead of going outside and making snowmen, igloos, skating, or skiing etc. When I was kid here in the Midwest, we took advantage of those snowdays by playing outside. Of course, we had no computers or TVs etc.but we did ahve sleds and skates etc. The requirement to pass tests is the big problem with NO Child Left Behind because schools are now educating kids to pass the tests so the schools can continue to get the federal funds. The feds say play the game our way or we’ll take our ball and bat and go home. Do away with NCLB and let the schools teach the kids things they need to know to get ahead in the world, not what is needed to pass a silly test put together by bureaucrats in Washington who also make up the rules and get big bucks for doing so–at our expense. Lyle R. Rolfe in Aurora, Il.

  4. Shelley says:

    AGREE!! We have 1st generation Korean students in our local school. Too many of them are stressed out. One stated she was going to kill herself due to not having straight A’s. They have no time to be a kid. My home schooled and part time public school student takes Japanese and music at the school. She has had more opportunity to experience snow on the rare occasions we get it around Seattle. Snow brought to her education at home art-made snowmen, cooking/science-learned to use snow as a tool for chilling food and to make food, science experiments how snow is created in the atmosphere, and math shoveling it- it weighs differently depending on the water content. Many professions that require math, also require an imagination to accomplish the job tasks. If an imagination is never developed in childhood, when will they get it? Not in a classroom. Salute to home schoolers! My home schooler received a much more diverse education. Snow was included! Not following a school schedule gave her time for select softball and private music lessons The music lessons made it possible for her to be accepted into the Natl Wind Ensemble at age 16&17 performing at Carnegie Hall. Her public school classmates in the performing arts did not know what Carnegie Hall was or who Andrew Carnegie was and what he did for this country. She has been offered many large scholarships from colleges for test scores, talents and how well rounded a person she is. Seriously, if public school can’t teach now, more hours are not the trick. Learning is no longer fun in public school. They kill off the desire to be a life long learner.

  5. Mary Bodily says:

    We have had foreign exchange students from all over the world and our experience with them is the ones who are in school 12 hours a day are more close to their teachers than their parents. Their parents did not write to them but their teachers did. I would rather my child be part of a close family where our values are taught and not just a structured society where the state decides what is taught. That is our American way and part of our freedom. Germany, Russia, and other state run countries have had the schools be the parents and this failed. History tells the story. Also, after all that education, they are no smarter than the American kids.

  6. Hank says:

    1-Note that jugears, like all the other thieves_u-uh, I mean politicians in Dc is sending his little darlings to private, expensive schools where they might accidentally learn something.

    2-Seems to be an error here in judgement concerning how much the kids know post education-in test after test, US “high schoo” graduates come in either dead last or very close to it in math and sciences-I personally am not interested in any other field than history(they don’t seem to do to well in that, either, as they can’t tell you which states border the one they live in.

    I have taught many “high school” grads who couldn’t read their diplomas, so there is no argument there. At least, my offspring can do the reading required to at least sound somewhat educated-seven kids, six degrees and at least on Master’s with more coming, they won’t stop learning, and at good schools, too, not these hippy dungeons where the great unwashed gather.

    One more thing-a day missed in the DC “schools” won’t hurt any one except the ones who prey on the small sized kids-they’ll have no targets that say.

    Hank

  7. Joe Wright says:

    I think the schools should teach one course that it currently doesn’t. The 3 R’s are very important.

    But one of the most important would be Logic. Students need to learn how to think in principles. Logic should be a required course.

  8. David says:

    Success in school is all about attitude, not hours. I lived in Japan for many years, but when my son was old enough for first grade I took him back to the US, where he could learn to think, rather than become a drone that could follow rules and repeat back what the teacher said. That is what education is about. Japan, Russia, Korea all have very short histories as democracies.

  9. I don’t agree on two counts. Our educational system is in cardiac arrest and our kids are falling behind the rest of the world. If your attitude is they aren’t going to learn anything anyhow so they may as well play in the snow- – –
    That explains why the school system continues to be so inadequate. Parents need to demand quality and replace administrators with qualified teachers.

    My second disagreement has to do with being competitive. The rest of the world is beginning to eat our lunch because we have become fat, dumb, and complacent. Industry didn’t move overseas because of greedy industrialists. Outsourcing is the result of more efficient, spell that cheaper, production of goods.

    Sorry Paul, your thinking is on a par with the educational level of American kids.

  10. Pat Kunz says:

    Globalization has made how we educate our children into an international competition. Even if you don’t want your child competing with a student from Russia on standardized tests, he will be competing with that Russian graduate for employment.
    You’re right that children need time to be children and need to play. One day away from school isn’t terrible. It could provide a new learning experience. But to say that you don’t care how your child’s performance compares to children in South Korea or Japan or Russia is doing your child a disservice. He will compete with all of them for his livelihood. The big corporations will point to the students in Russia or China and tell him he doesn’t measure up to them. He could always be a waiter. No one in Beijing can serve you dinner in New York.

  11. Casey0 says:

    While I don’t believe that every waking moment of a child’s life should be structured, graded, compared and criticized, I do feel that the tools of information gathering need to be emphasized – especially in the younger years. In spite of many claims to the contrary the quickest way through the rudimentary levels is through repetition and exposure. The inability to read, to do arithmetic, to think logically, to listen effectively really limit the opportunities that a child might grasp and enjoy in adulthood.

  12. Nick P says:

    I work for a school district and something that I am surprised that people don’t realize, is that kids aren’t falling behind necessarily because of the teachers. I would place the blame almost squarely on the parents and the kids themselves. I blame parents for being too hard on their kids when they need to be soft, and too soft when they need to be hard. Most don’t even care how their kids are doing in school other than if they are passing or not. Got a C-? Great! Glad to see you are passing. I blame kids for not caring about their education or their future. They can’t connect the fact that how they learn, what they learn and how they act in a work/school environment greatly impacts how well they will do when they graduate.

    The second place I would place the blame is on administrators and politics. We have rules and regulations that dictate how well schools have to do on tests, and that is the ONLY thing that matters. The kids are taught to pass the test, not what they actually need to learn. It’s all about the bottom dollar whether it be for federal funds, or local funds. No one actually cares about how well the kids do, they care about how well THEY do financially, and professionally.

    PS. I would agree, kids don’t have or know how to have fun any more. They are incapable of functioning without some sort of electronic device tethered to their body in one place or another. I remember (not even that long ago) growing up and constantly being outside swimming, fishing, bike riding, motorcycle riding, shooting bb guns and generally being crazy. Those were the days…..

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