Friday, January 19, 2007

Education for Wisdom

The January 18, 2007, issue of the Wall Street Journal had an editorial by Charles Murray entitled, "Aztecs vs. Greeks." There he said the most important aim of education is wisdom. Then he says,

"The encouragement of wisdom requires being steeped in the study of ethics, starting with Aristotle and Confucius. It is not enough that gifted children learn to be nice. They must know what it means to be good."

"The encouragement of wisdom requires an advanced knowledge of history. Never has the aphorism about the fate of those who ignore history been more true."

"In short, I am calling for a revival of the classical definition of a liberal education..."

These are exactly my sentiments and this explains why the Winding Spring Process of Education has such a strong emphasis on history during the high school years.


Monday, January 15, 2007

The Five Steps of Studying

The Doctrine of the Mean identifies five steps in studying
1. Study extensively
2. Inquire accurately
3. Reflect carefully
4. See clearly
5. Practice earnestly

I showed my son how to apply these 5 steps to his 3rd grade science project.
You can go here to read more about the 5 steps.

Confucianism is the key to education for the 21st Century.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Attitude is Everything, Chu Hsi Tells Texas How to Succeed with TAKS

The state of Texas uses a test called TAKS, Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, to check the progress of its students. Some schools and some segments within schools have been failing consistently for years. Some people now want to abandon the TAKS test rather than fix the underlying problem.

One such person is Texas State Senator Florence Shapiro. On page 5 of her last newsletter of 2006, under the section on student assesments, she talks about beginning to abandon the TAKS test. She wants to use end of course exams, but does not tell you that end of course exams were used before the TAAS tests, which preceded the TAKS. In other words, she wants to return to the failed system that led to the TAAS and TAKS tests in the first place.

There are many students in Texas that fail the TAKS because they do not want to pass it. They do not care. No matter what test you give them, no matter what curriculum you use, no matter how many teachers or administrators you fire, you cannot force students to learn who do not want to learn. This is the most stubborn problem in education.

Changing the test again is just a way to avoid the problem and perpetuate failure. What can we do? One approach is too see what one of the most important educators in history had to say. Chu Hsi lived in China from 1130 to 1200 AD. Here is what he said about a student's attitude:

"Students must firmly establish their wills, the desire to learn....The students' great failing is their wills are incapable of pressing on....Where the mind is headed is what is meant by will....the mind must have the will to learn if the student is ever to advance."

We must address the attitudes of failing students if we are to make continuing progress in education. Sometimes a student's bad attitude is a reflection of bad attitudes from the parents, so parental support is also important to improving student performance. This is the hardest problem within education, but we will never succeed unless we tackle it.

Abandoning the TAKS test is a huge mistake, even if it is done incrementally by dropping it first in the high schools. No test, no curriculum, no staff changes can compensate for an attitude that despises education.


The quote I gave from Chu Hsi comes from page 104 of "Learning to be a Sage" by Chu Hsi, translated by Daniel K. Gardner

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Timeless Way Foundation

The Timeless Way Foundation works to improve communities through the Winding Spring Process of Education, which is a contemporary application of The Great Learning (the Ta-hsüeh or Da xue). The Great Learning is an ancient masterpiece. The Winding Spring Process of Education is an integrated approach to education. This process integrates the community, the families, the schools, and provides a roadmap for creating healthy, prosperous communities.

There are four documents at this website describing the Winding Spring Process of Education.