Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for August 26th, 2022

Miniature amphibian

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The green heron I saw along Bull Creek on August 17th was much less familiar to me than the miniature amphibian I saw hopping about in the dry creek bed. These little creatures are only about an inch long.

Similar to amphibian is amphigory (especially if you stress it on the second syllable rather than the first; both are accepted pronunciations). Amphigory is ‘a nonsense verse or composition a rigmarole with apparent meaning which proves to be meaningless.’ This amphibian produced no amphigory, at least not while I was there to hear it.


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After teaching math for a year and a half in Honduras as a Peace Corps volunteer, I returned to New York at the end of 1969 and was dismayed to find out that no public high school would hire me as a math teacher because I’d never taken any “professional” education courses. (Oh, how I came to loathe the word “professional,” which bureaucrats wield as a cudgel.) The fact that I’d already taught for a year and a half made no difference. For three years I resisted going back to school, then somehow discovered—remember, the Internet still lay a quarter-century in the future—a program at Duke University that in just 14 months would get me both a Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics and a secondary school math teaching certificate for North Carolina. That was by far the best deal I could find, so that’s what I did. Half the courses in the program were math, which was fine, because I hadn’t been a math major in college; I particularly liked the introductory number theory class. The other half of the courses were education, and a total waste of my time. I learned nothing of any value in those education courses.

Now here we are fifty years later. Education departments are still a waste of time, but what’s worse is that now they’ve become indoctrination mills for transgressive causes. If you want a glimpse at how noxious the education schools are, read an August 19th Wall Street Journal article called “Education Schools Have Long Been Mediocre. Now They’re Woke Too.” In the article, Daniel Buck describes what he experienced when he studied for a master’s degree in education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015. For example:

We made Black Lives Matter friendship bracelets. We passed around a popsicle stick to designate whose turn it was to talk while professors compelled us to discuss our life’s traumas. We read poems through the “lenses” of Marxism and critical race theory in preparation for our students doing the same. Our final projects were acrostic poems or ironic rap videos.

In that article Daniel Buck links to a study conducted by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which analyzed syllabi in the education schools at the 14 branches of the University of Wisconsin:

On the syllabi, noticeably lacking are academic literature or manuals of classroom instruction. Instead, Hollywood movies like “Freedom Writers,” popular books like Jonathan Kozol’s “Letters to a Young Teacher,” and propaganda like “Anti-Racist Baby” abound. In place of academic essays, graduate students write personal poems or collect photographs. These kitschy activities infantilize what ought to be a rigorous pursuit of professional competency.

You can find out more distressing details in Daniel Beck’s article and in the report by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 26, 2022 at 4:26 AM

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