Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: observations along S.H. 25

with 18 comments

Five years ago today, near the end of our second New Zealand visit,
we found ourselves driving north from Thames along State Highway 25.

I stopped several times along the shore to record photogenic things.

Photogenic for me often means patterned or textured.


‡         ‡         ‡


And three years ago today—oh, look how calendrically attuned I am—Quillette ran Lyell Asher‘s article “How Ed Schools Became a Menace to Higher Education.”


… Education schools have long been notorious for two mutually reinforcing characteristics: ideological orthodoxy and low academic standards. As early as 1969, Theodore Sizer and Walter Powell hoped that “ruthless honesty” would do some good when they complained that at far too many ed schools, the prevailing climate was “hardly conducive to open inquiry.” “Study, reflection, debate, careful reading, even, yes, serious thinking, is often conspicuous by its absence,” they continued. “Un-intellectualism—not anti-intellectualism, as this assumes malice—is all too prevalent.” Sizer and Powell ought to have known: At the time they were dean and associate dean, respectively, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

More than three decades later, a comprehensive, four-year study of ed schools headed by a former president of Teachers College, Arthur Levine, found that the majority of educational-administration programs “range from inadequate to appalling, even at some of the country’s leading universities.” Though there were notable exceptions, programs for teaching were described as being, in the main, weak and mediocre. Education researchers seemed unable to achieve even “minimum agreement” about “acceptable research practice,” with the result that there are “no base standards and no quality floor.” Even among ed school faculty members and deans, the study found a broad and despairing recognition that ed school training was frequently “subjective, obscure, faddish, … inbred, and politically correct.”

That could be the damning educational equivalent of Thomas Hobbes characterizing the life of man in a natural state as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Here’s another of Lyell Asher’s observations:

There might be nothing wrong with training students in equity and social justice were it not for the inconvenient fact that a college campus is where these ideals and others like them are to be rigorously examined rather than piously assumed. It’s the difference between a curriculum and a catechism.

If you’re concerned about education, particularly the way it has rapidly been morphing into illiberal indoctrination, check out the full article.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 6, 2022 at 4:35 AM

18 Responses

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  1. Yes….sad, but true.

    • What passes for “education” in the United States saddens me more than almost anything else.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2022 at 9:55 AM

      • It is tragic….our nation cannot survive another generation who have never learned to think critically while valuing diversity of opinion.

        • I keep writing and speaking out, for whatever good it does. I often think it’s too late now and the country can’t be pulled back from the abyss. I’ll be thrilled if history proves me wrong.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 6, 2022 at 1:26 PM

  2. With the sharp eyes of an eagle, you discovered more of your favourite abstract patterns on the beach,

    Peter Klopp

    March 6, 2022 at 9:48 AM

  3. Looks like a fun trip to New Zealand. I haven’t been to that corner of the world.
    Interesting read. I didn’t know that “What most don’t know is that at many colleges, the majority of administrators directly involved in the lives of students—in dorms, conduct hearings, bias-response teams, freshmen “orientation” programs, and the like—got their graduate degrees from education schools.”

    Alessandra Chaves

    March 6, 2022 at 11:51 AM

    • Education schools are the pits. When I got my Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Duke University in 1973–74, I learned zero from the education courses I was forced to take. The only courses I learned anything from were the math courses. As bad as the education schools were back then, they’ve gotten much worse since radical ideologues completely took them over.

      If you ever get the chance to visit New Zealand, go. We were fortunate in being able to make two visits.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2022 at 1:23 PM

  4. Lovely detailed observations of New Zealand. By education schools do you mean academic institutions which train teachers?


    March 6, 2022 at 9:45 PM

  5. You have a wonderful collection of textures here: each quite different from the others. I especially like the tree roots reaching over the rocks in the first photo, although I’d love to spend some time sorting through those shells. That ‘thingie’ that looks like a sea anemone must be a plant; the colors are wonderful. For some reason, it brought kelp to mind.

    Unrelated but interesting: the report is out on the Rolling Pines Fire. Here’s the news release. There’s a link to the entire report at the end. It’s interesting reading.


    March 7, 2022 at 7:12 PM

    • I chose these pictures to be rather different from one another. That’s a kind of diversity I can get behind.

      Those lower roots in the first picture do seem animate, don’t they? Maybe like birds’ legs. I’ve assumed the thingie in the third photograph is some sort of seaweed, whether a kind of kelp, I couldn’t say.

      You described the report well: unrelated but interesting. I hadn’t heard that authorities set up a committee to look into the escaped fire.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 7, 2022 at 8:05 PM

      • The committee was formed quickly, and I was pleased to see the report completed in a timely manner. They’re holding a town hall in Bastrop tonight for discussion of their findings; there will be a chance for people to ask questions or make observations. I get email summaries of TPWD activities and events, as well as news bulletins; that’s how I knew about all this.


        March 7, 2022 at 8:15 PM

        • I welcome a governmental action that’s quick and efficient (as long as it’s not nefarious).

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 8, 2022 at 4:38 AM

  6. I asked my daughter Squiddy, the marine biologist, about the thingie in your third photo, and she says it looks like dried / bleached ‘dead man’s fingers’ seaweed, Codium fragile (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codium_fragile). Happy to help.


    March 29, 2022 at 9:11 PM

    • Thanks for the tip. Your linked article notes there’s even a Codium fragile subsp. novae-zelandiae,, which could well be what I saw.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2022 at 9:48 PM

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