Wesley to Wilberforce, on persistence: “Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!”

London, 1802 could be USA, 2011

Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour;
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
(Wordsworth)

George Wythe structured Jefferson’s curriculum around these simple items: classics, discussion, projects, writing. Nearly the whole Founding generation did the same, and the further we have moved from this simple formula, the worse our education has become. What we need to improve education is not more curriculum, but better education, and that comes from classics and mentors.
Oliver DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education

Digital Promise?

From the ED.gov Web site, the launch of a new project to develop new learning technologies that might shorten the time to develop “expertise.” What is the goal of such a program? What is the end of such an education? Ed. Secretary Arne Duncan uses language that suggests it has more to do with economics than with education as it’s traditionally understood.

"If America is going to continue to succeed in the global economy, it is vital that we transform the use of educational technology. With technology, we can more rapidly increase opportunities for excellence and equity, as well as provide a world-class education for America’s students. And that’s a promise we need to keep."

Boys and Reading

Getting boys to read books is one thing. Getting boys to read good books is quite another. Author Robert Lipsyte addresses this in a NYT article. A couple of excerpts:

"If we’re to counter this tendency and encourage reading among boys who may collectively resist it, boys need to be approached individually with books about their fears, choices, possibilities and relationships — the kind of reading that will prick their dormant empathy, involve them with fictional characters and lead them into deeper engagement with their own lives. This is what turns boys into readers."

"To me and I think to many prospective readers, today’s books for boys — supernatural space-and-sword epics that read like video game manuals and sports novels with preachy moral messages — often seem like cynical appeals to the lowest common denominator. Boys prefer video games and ESPN to book versions of them. These knockoffs also lack the tough, edgy story lines that allow boys a private place to reflect on the inner fears of failure and humiliation they try so hard to brush over."