The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

"What is feudalism?" asked the professor of History at St. Stephen's. Student after another tried to answer. One said something about lords and vassals. His voice trickled away weakly. The professor sighed and said, "I recommend you read a work by John Locke. It's called On the Remains of Education".

Okay, it sounded funny at the time. But the thought behind it is invariant: every generation bemoans the falling of standards of the one that follows - in culture, or manners, or good looks. To this list, you can add education.

Now that I am a father, I find myself wondering and worrying about the boy's future. Will he find school intellectually stimulating? Will his coursework be dumbed down? Will I have to spend weekends coaching him to bring him up to scratch? My friend Narinder (who is awaiting his own son's advent as we speak) thinks that we'll have to intervene actively in the education of our kids. He - as the eldest of several cousins - taught them mathematics and the sciences as they grew up, and he is convinced that standards have plummeted.

Time after time, surveys are published showing that American students are less and less prepared to enter college; their general knowledge is abysmal; their facility with mathematics is far worse than their peers in the developed world. The British complain equally vociferously about the dumbing down of the A-levels and the GCSEs. I haven't looked at the public opinion in France or Scandinavia, but it probably wouldn't surprise me to hear similar stories.

No doubt the truly motivated student can get around the deficiencies of the educational student. But what of the myriads of average kids? We aren't all dwellers of Lake Wobegon, so what to do about our possibly less-than-genius offspring?


1. A Physics Teacher Begs For His Subject Back
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3. Students Failing Basic Math in Top Performing NJ District


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