Jan 17 2009

Marsalis on today’s music students

Category: education,higher education,music,societyamuzikman @ 9:39 am

Here are comments by a legendary musician on music students today. Some of his comments may apply to students in other areas, but it’s really about the music. Mild language warning.

Branford Marsalis’ take on students today

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Jan 02 2009

Self-defense is your duty and a form of community service

Category: education,national security,societyharmonicminer @ 10:43 am

When you don’t defend yourself from attack (when that option is available to you), you are a co-dependent with your attacker, and bear at least some responsibility for the fate of future victims of your attacker. Doug Giles has an interesting article about giving his daughters martial arts lessons here. It’s all very interesting. The money quote:

If you decide to attack your aggressor, do so quickly and with complete conviction. Attackers are most often cowards and prefer to attack easier and more submissive targets.

In the article, Giles interviews the martial arts trainer of his daughters, and it’s all pretty good advice, not Hollywood unrealistic, just straightforward common sense, highly recommended.

I think this is something most parents should consider providing for their children. And parents should teach children to be aware of their surroundings, by sharing with their children what they are thinking when they’re out and about. Sadly, most parents have been taught to be victims by schooling and television/movies, where any sort of weapon waived around is thought to be a magic wand causing complete paralysis in the victim, and where only heroes with black belts can successfully defend themselves.

If you can possibly do so, put your kids into training in something that is not oriented to “dojo ballerinas” but is more practically oriented to getting the job done, without what Bruce Lee called “the flowers”, i.e., moves that look pretty but are complicated, hard to remember, and depend on your opponent doing what you expect in order for your counter to work.

My personal recommendations: 

1)  JKD (Jeet Kune Do), Bruce Lee’s “system” (it isn’t, exactly) that borrows the most practical aspects of many different arts

2)  Krav Maga, an Israeli adaptation with enormous amounts of real world experience backing it up

3)  Jiu Jitsu –  a Brazilian adaptation of Judo and other arts

These are all “current generation” arts, i.e., they are not essentially the same as they were 300 years ago (or 1300!), but represent evolutionary adaptations and blending of multiple streams and traditions, a blending that took place in the last few decades, and represents the best of the best.

My kids study JKD.  We were lucky enough to live near one of the few students of Bruce Lee.

And, to requote:

If you decide to attack your aggressor, do so quickly and with complete
conviction. Attackers are most often cowards and prefer to attack
easier and more submissive targets.

This has a certain bearing on foreign policy and war-fighting, does it not?  I have wondered more than once what would have happened in Iraq if we had shot looters from the beginning, and responded forcefully to the first couple of terrorist acts, especially in Fallujah, Mosul and such.  Our weak initial response to these events left the populace feeling that we would not or could not protect them, and left the Islamofascist cretins with the impression that we could be had.  And that was very nearly true, before the surge.  If we had taken early, very stern action, showing we just would not tolerate looting, terrorism, or people who provided safe haven for terrorists, we would have been criticized for harshness, but consider the tens of thousands of lives, mostly Iraqi, that would have been saved.

When your enemy (the one who has decided HE is YOUR enemy) is allowed to think, even for a moment, that he can proceed with minimal resistance, you have just multiplied your problem by an order of magnitude.  It is still possible to defeat a confident enemy who thinks victory is assured…  but it’s lots harder, and costs more.

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Jan 01 2009

I knew they were nuts

Category: education,higher education,societyharmonicminer @ 10:43 am

I have recently played a part in the revision of the general studies curriculum at a Christian university. One of the topics of discussion was whether all students should be required to take psychology. Many of us felt that psychology is a “baby discipline” without fully formed content as yet, as witnessed by the “fad of the decade” approach to theories of personality, theories of cognition, etc.  A psychology faculty member argued (incredibly, to me) that half of our incoming students had serious psychological problems, and that we had to address them.  I asked if there was any evidence that students who had taken an introductory college psychology course had better mental health at any point later in life.  (There is none, of course….)  By way of admitting this without admitting it, my faculty friend insisted that the way HE teaches it is different, and he IS effective at teaching the content of “intro to psychology” while also achieving therapeutic goals.  All of this struck me as “special pleading”, of course, but it seems that maybe he was right that half of college students are whacko:

Results Almost half of college-aged individuals had a psychiatric disorder in the past year. The overall rate of psychiatric disorders was not different between college-attending individuals and their non–college-attending peers. The unadjusted risk of alcohol use disorders was significantly greater for college students than for their non–college-attending peers (odds ratio = 1.25; 95% confidence interval, 1.04-1.50), although not after adjusting for background sociodemographic characteristics (adjusted odds ratio = 1.19; 95% confidence interval, 0.98-1.44). College students were significantly less likely (unadjusted and adjusted) to have a diagnosis of drug use disorder or nicotine dependence or to have used tobacco than their non–college-attending peers. Bipolar disorder was less common in individuals attending college. College students were significantly less likely to receive past-year treatment for alcohol or drug use disorders than their non–college-attending peers.

Conclusions Psychiatric disorders, particularly alcohol use disorders, are common in the college-aged population. Although treatment rates varied across disorders, overall fewer than 25% of individuals with a mental disorder sought treatment in the year prior to the survey. These findings underscore the importance of treatment and prevention interventions among college-aged individuals.

Can’t we just put ’em all on Prozac and teach ’em algebra, instead?


Dec 31 2008

The demise of the university

Category: education,higher education,societyharmonicminer @ 10:43 am

Victor Davis Hanson

Until recently, classical education served as the foundation of the wider liberal arts curriculum, which in turn defined the mission of the traditional university. Classical learning dedicated itself to turning out literate citizens who could read and write well, express themselves, and make sense of the confusion of the present by drawing on the wisdom of the past. Students grounded in the classics appreciated the history of their civilization and understood the rights and responsibilities of their unique citizenship. Universities, then, acted as cultural custodians, helping students understand our present values in the context of a 2,500-year tradition that began with the ancient Greeks.

But in recent decades, classical and traditional liberal arts education has begun to erode, and a variety of unexpected consequences have followed. The academic battle has now gone beyond the in-house “culture wars” of the 1980s. Though the argument over politically correct curricula, controversial faculty appointments, and the traditional mission of the university is ongoing, the university now finds itself being bypassed technologically, conceptually, and culturally, in ways both welcome and disturbing.
Continue reading “The demise of the university”

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Dec 18 2008

Incoherent ignorance, squared

Category: education,higher education,mediaharmonicminer @ 11:57 am

In a recent survey listing medical workers as the most trusted, educators scored very high in trustworthiness.

Other eligible — and admired — professions were education, at 14 percent, and science and technology, at 10 percent.

Educators and doctors were also voted the most trusted by an overwhelming 86 and 87 percent, followed by homemakers and those in science and technology.

Only one percent picked retail professionals as partner-material, and those in media and marketing, as well as entertainers, did little better at two and three percent.

These professions were also among the least trusted by respondents, who, across the seven markets, picked the media as the single least trusted group.

Why is this incoherently ignorant?  Simple.  The professoriate and the major media agree about almost everything. Education is no longer primarily about learning facts and how to reason from them, it is now mostly about indoctrination in left-wing “principles.”  Just like the major media.  If you trust one, and not the other, it means you don’t know what either are really about these days.

Apparently, all have been doing a great job in informing and educating the public, since the public seems largely unaware of this, and actually thinks modern educators and the media are up to different things, when in fact they are two of the great arms of the grand left-ward slide of our culture, the third being government entitlement programs, upon which both depend, but in different ways.

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Dec 12 2008

The biggest special interest in America?

Category: educationharmonicminer @ 10:04 am

The teachers unions are reflexively against any adjustment to the status quo, and are notorious for Blocking Education Reform

Big labor unions have destroyed countless American industries, including the Detroit automakers who are now begging Congress for a bailout. But these unions don’t just control factories and assembly lines. Our public education system is a slow-motion car crash, driven by the same union special interests that brought the auto companies to the brink of bankruptcy.

This is a particularly apt analogy, since if public education WAS a business (instead of an entitlement), the teachers unions and most school districts would be bankrupt, for failing to produce a product that enough people want to buy, producing it at too high a price, and offering lousy customer service.

Much more and video at the link. Highly recommended.


Dec 05 2008

Enough is Enough!!!

Category: educationamuzikman @ 1:27 am

The California Teachers Association, the largest, and some would say the most powerful teacher’s union in California has been broadcasting paid radio advertising spots since 2007.  Unfortunately one of the radio stations to which I listen continues to air these ads. I am subjected to them on a fairly regular basis and I must say I’ve about had it!   (And I thought equal time had to be provided to opposing views – but I digress). The latest gem is called “Faces”.  If you’d like to hear the current ad or any others from the CTA archive click here.  If you’d like my personal “Cliff Notes” version of their ads, here it is –  “California schools have a lot of problems.  We could solve all the problems if you would just give us more money.”

Continue reading “Enough is Enough!!!”


Dec 02 2008

On compulsory service

Category: education,higher education,societyharmonicminer @ 1:39 am

That brilliant observer of society, Thomas Sowell, on “service” requirements.  The whole thing, as usual, is worth reading, but this part stands out to me:

The most fundamental question is: What in the world qualifies teachers and members of college admissions committees to define what is good for society as a whole, or even for the students on whom they impose their arbitrary notions?

What expertise do they have that justifies overriding other people’s freedom? What do their arbitrary impositions show, except that fools rush in where angels fear to tread?

What lessons do students get from this, except submission to arbitrary power?

Supposedly students are to get a sense of compassion or noblesse oblige from serving others. But this all depends on who defines compassion. In practice, it means forcing students to undergo a propaganda experience to make them receptive to the left’s vision of the world.

I am sure those who favor “community service” requirements would understand the principle behind the objections to this if high school military exercises were required.

Indeed, many of those who promote compulsory “community service” activities are bitterly opposed to even voluntary military training in high schools or colleges, though many other people regard military training as more of a contribution to society than feeding people who refuse to work.

In other words, people on the left want the right to impose their idea of what is good for society on others– a right that they vehemently deny to those whose idea of what is good for society differs from their own.

The essence of bigotry is refusing to others the rights that you demand for yourself. Such bigotry is inherently incompatible with freedom, even though many on the left would be shocked to be considered opposed to freedom.

As with many such issues, it’s what you call it that matters. If instead of service, we substituted “compulsory performance of duties other people think someone should do”, we’d be in better shape on this one.

Is it any less “service” to participate in the creation of a useful product that society would not have as much of without your efforts? I don’t think so.

Those who think serving in soup kitchens is more laudable than growing wheat tend to be people who think motives matter more than results, and for whom only certain results are acceptable.

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Nov 27 2008

Ignorantly decrying ignorance

Category: education,politicsharmonicminer @ 10:22 am

Kathleen Parker has not been my favorite person of late, due to her support for Obama, for what I consider to be trivial reasons, but she quotes an interesting study on voter ignorance. The report from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) on the nation’s civic literacy finds that most Americans are too ignorant to vote. After quoting all the various bits of ignorance on the part of the public about basic historical and constitutional principles and facts, which I’ve discussed before, we are treated to this:
Continue reading “Ignorantly decrying ignorance”

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Nov 12 2008

The Foundation for Economic Education

Category: economy,education,freedomharmonicminer @ 1:48 am

One of my favorite sites is the Foundation for Economic Education.

There’s a small joke involved:  access to the site is FREE, but the url is http://www.fee.org/.

Get it?  OK, I’m amused by small things.

Anyway, I’ll be adding a link to this place in my blogroll soon, and I urge you to visit and read, often.

Just skulk around.  Click here and there.  Read a bit.  It will be worth your while in understanding two critical things:

1)  How the USA got so rich


2)  How it can become much poorer

And once you understand these two things, you have some idea of how we can help societies that are now poor to become richer.

I’m for that.

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