Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thomas Sowell to 11 Year Old: Get Off My Lawn!

thomas sowell, education, science, evolution, economy,

Just when I think wingnuts can't get any lower, Thomas Sowell verbally assaults a little kid.

In short, schools are supposed to prepare children for the future, not give teachers opportunities for self-indulgences in the present. you know, like doing something other than reading aloud from a book. One of these self-indulgences was exemplified by a letter I received recently from a fifth-grader in the Sayre Elementary School in Lyon, Michigan. and he makes that child identifiable, too.

He said, "I have been assigned to ask a famous person a question about how he or she would solve a difficult problem." The problem was what to do about the economy.
I'm not sure why anyone would ask this tool anything, but i thought it was kinda cute. but just being nice to a little kid is utterly beyond a wingnut, he has to make a point all over this kid.

notice to 11 year olds: stop reading this blog. srsly, this blog is not edited for family content. however, if you'd like to ask me questions as a famous person, go ahead. i'd be tremendously flattered. do try to keep your parents from suing me afterwards.

Instead, I replied to his parents: With American students consistently scoring near or at the bottom in international tests, I am repeatedly appalled by teachers who waste their students' time by assigning them to write to strangers, chosen only because those strangers' names have appeared in the media.

yes, that's why American students are falling behind: letter writing. it has nothing to do with constant standardized testing that forces teachers to teach to the test and nothing else* or the fact that a large portion of the country thinks the universe is 6,000 years old and our president may be the antichrist.

It is of course much easier-- and more "exciting," to use a word too many educators use because you can tell how effective an educator is by how boring they are. if they can put you to sleep in 30 seconds or less, they're the Beyonces of education-- to do cute little stuff like this read the preceeding seven words and ask yourself who might have benefited from a little more letter writing. than to take on the sober responsibility to develop in students both the knowledge and the ability to think that will enable them to form their own views on matters in both public and private life. in fifth graders, no less. i wonder when the last time was that Mr. Sowell was within 50' of an 11 year old. What earthly good would it do your son to know what economic policies I think should be followed, especially since what I think should be done will not have the slightest effect on what the government will in fact do? well, in your case, none. however, i think it wouldn't hurt the kid to hear a rational person's point of view. and we should we definitely teach children that unless they are currently in a position to effectuate change, they shouldn't even think of ways to do so. that's a valuable lesson to learn. And why should a fifth-grader be expected to deal with such questions that people with Ph.D.'s in economics have trouble wrestling with? that's right, we should prepare them to take on the sober responsibility to think (something), but they shouldn't think about hard stuff. that Mr. Sowell probably doesn't know anything about. yeah.

I'm guessing Mr. Sowell's house is the one that receives an unusual supply of toiletry items a little later in the month.

*My niece hasn't had science in a year and a half because of this. i've been teaching her science. i'm a legal secretary.


  1. "...than to take on the sober responsibility to develop in students both the knowledge and the ability to think that will enable them to form their own views on matters in both public and private life."

    That nearly boggles the mind. If children forming their own views on matters is so important, why are so many wingnuts obsessed with isolating their kids from the outside world? If they're so certain your views are correct, wouldn't they stand up to outside challenge?

  2. Wait a second, so this child takes a break from Obama worshiping and writes a letter to Mr. Wingnut, and Mr. Wingnut completely misses out on an opportunity to influence a young soul??????? FAIL.

  3. that is fucking *appalling* (please note: this computer is so close to dead i am amazed that it will connect to the intratubes at *all*. running a spell check of ANY sort causes it to crash. i am very, very sorry that i can't spell)

    i mean... let us assume that a 5th grade class is being taught, let us call it "Personal Economics" (5th graders *should* learn personal economics - i am still horrified that i am the only person in my high school class that knew how daily compound interest worked, or how to pay bills, or what "prime rate" meant, or how to fill out a check... and i graduated in 94). like any other course of study, one should learn not just the basics, but the applications. for instance, when you write a check, who benefits beside the person to whom you have given it? the bank both gains and loses (on the one hand, they have a customer; on the other hand, that transaction costs money). the employee at the bank earns a wage, and does the employee at whatever business it is that recieves the check; paper makers make some money because you will need more paper for more checks, same with printers and makers of ink...

    asking other people how they do it is a *good* thing, whether you are asking for trigonometry "tricks" or how to butcher a hog. the "hook" of famous people is that kids look up to famous people (that they recognize) and are more likely to absorb what a famous person says, even if they don't agree with it, they will retain the information.

    sadly, they also retain the information that some people aren't worth the paper their birth certificate was printed on :(

  4. totally OT:

    your niece and science - my niece (who is only a couple of years older than yours) is currently enrolled in an on-line junior high. want me to see if there is a way for you guys to access it for the science curriculum and materials? i don't *know* that you can, but at worst they should have recommended sites they can hand out.

  5. Denelian, if you can get the info, I'd appreciate it if you'd just post it here. My son is three, and looking at what sort of education is available here in Texas - that we can afford, anyway - is giving me a serious headache. (It's not that there aren't good schools in my area, just that I have to figure out which ones they are, get the child into one of them, and then watch closely to make sure they don't get a new principal or PTA or Random Citizen Nutcase who decides to start breaking things down.)

  6. Please do, denelian. I'm running out of "let's explore thermodynamics with our friend the dryer" experiments.

  7. hi guys. it's after 2am, because i, i fell asleep. :( i'm sorry!

    i talked to niece. she goes to a junior high online-school - BUT "remedial" classes are based off of this:

    this is an elemetary-level Science Magnet. and under their "Links: (on the left) there are eight-gajillion (ok, really, only 20 or so right now, but it is expected to grow).
    apparantly, all of PJ's online-texts are downloaded according to some school registration - they are not (apparantly, but my sister is going to check to make sure) buy-able by those not attending.
    PJ says that one of her teachers said that they are not-for-sale because there is a difference between online-school and homeschooling, and there is (according to the teach) a HUGE problem around this area with homseschooled kids getting *way* more resources and support than kids actually going to school, and for generally poorer results (Franklin County did a survey in 06-07, checking the test scores of home-schooled kids, and seeing who generally failed. it comes as no surprise that those who are home-schooled for "religious" or "moral" reason tend to have scores over 25% lower than students attending a school - but those who are home-schooled because they are "too bright" or something like that, its a crapshoot - some of them do really really really well, some of them are as bad, and test as bad, as the "religious" schooling)

    i am also hoping to get into contact with the teacher who teaches science, to see what s/he recommends - i'm still waiting on that contact info :)

    i hope this is enough to start (and isn't all stuff you have seen before)

    PF: i think you're a great person to teach science. you know enough to get the principles, and you care that she *GETS* it, not that she writes everything in X way.

  8. Turns out there's an interesting twist to this story. The enterprising kid wrote to Sowell on his own: there was no assignment.



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