Saturday, December 19, 2009

A student's thanks

I received this from one of my students from this past term. It means the world.

thank you very much god bless you forever . you know i stared english language  four years ago. since that time i have never slept enough hours because i always study when my children sleep at night time. you change my life right direction ,so i will try to work hard for next class . you make me happy  today . god makes you happy forever. see you next quarter

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Welcome Back Autumn 2009

I worked the Welcome Back table at the beginning of Autumn quarter and just came across the scribbled notes I made about a couple of the more memorable moments.

Me (Pointing at stairwell): You’ll need to go to the basement.
Student: The stairs going down?
(Ummmm ... yep. We keep the basement on the lower level around here.)

Student: “What’s the fastest way to the third floor?”
There were too many possible answers, so I just pointed at the elevators. Rocket? Teleport? Trampoline?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I found this the other day -- from 2005

Some more quotes from my ESL 100 class this term (It's nearly the end of the quarter, so this is likely about the last of these until the next time I teach the class — which will probably be next spring) —  ( Of course, I haven't graded their final exams yet, so there's still hope for some more!! )


" … [I am ] writing a book about the "Gate of Salivation" …"

[ I haven't asked him, but I'm pretty confident that the last word in that quote should be "salvation".  I'm not looking forward to having to explain the difference. ]



" (He) advised them strongly not to be extremists of prouding the ethnicity…"

         [ It's not exactly standard English, but the sentiment is great! ]


Great new word:                  neighboors        

         [ And haven't we all had at least one neighBOOR?? ]

One should proofread one's resume

Header from a resume I received yesterday --


Ethiopian cooking ... of a sort

From a placement test:

“It is very a delicious food which is made from cheeken and different spacy souces. It is not like eating spacy wings ... This food it is not like eating cheekens.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Day Without Cats? I don't think so!

Some foolish websites have tried to put forth the idea that cats rule the Internet (OK, that part's true) and that today, 9/9/09, should be "cat-free" on the Internet.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Disruptive student

For the first time in the nine years of the Basic English program, we had to have a disruptive student actually removed from class by Public Safety.

It was not a hard decision, but it was a distressing one. He was upsetting and scaring other students. One of the students came to my office to tell me about it and to let me know that she was completely “pissed up” by him.

Sure, there have been some discipline problems before, but they’ve been pretty minor. Sometimes an instructor needs to have a student leave for the day and come back only after an apology. That’s been the worst we’ve had … until now.

After nearly 10,000 students, I guess one Public Safety call is actually pretty good. I just hope the student learns how to function in class in the future – but it won’t be in our program.

Of course, as with so many unfortunate situations, there is one amusing aspect. When he met with our student conduct department, he talked (apparently at great length) about the fact that he fought against any situation that was wrong; in fact, he revolted against such things. As he said more than once, "I a revolting man."

I shouldn't find that funny.
But I'm afraid I do.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another applicant who didn't get the job

And then there was this laddie –


He sent his resume and I decided NOT to interview him. Really, all it took was reading the objective he put on his resume, which is reproduced below in all its glory:


Objective for Instruction of Speakers of English as a Second Language:

Display of constant and genuine concern for academic progress, and insurance of total class inclusion, along with clear equity and recognition of positive efforts creates confidence- the great source of success in and out of the classroom. Concentration needed to demonstrate content mastery will develop through exercises appealing to all learning styles, along with practice of mature discussion, and my frank assurances that concerted effort can render academic success, in every case. Through seven years of working with “beginners” in all subject areas who are, yet, highly intelligent, I am able to show a tacit, warm encouragement. I gently help examine possible post-secondary adventures in learning…by integrating information, vocational interests, and knowledge of just what each student holds as an academic goal. None of my students will “fall through the cracks.” Holistic instruction will bring out potentially great intellectual contributions to society. Imaginative and investigative projects will engender powerful factual and thematic deductions, and meaningful learning in general. Greater retention is certain, and innovation and thrilling accomplishments are very possible. Standardized test scores can be expected to rise, because productivity follows from preparation, relevance and sincerity.” 


The rest of the resume, along with the cover letter and the writing sample, was pretty similar.


When he unexpectedly showed up at my office, I was kind of stuck, so I talked to him. He sat across the desk from me looking very sincere and sounding just the way he wrote.


He was quite proud of the perfect attendance of his students in the GED program at a local youth detention facility. (Where else were they going to be?)


He said there had been no discipline problems, either, because if someone acted up, “I could just send him to lockup.”


I leaned forward and said very quietly, “We don’t do that here.” 

So you want to be a teacher?

I receive a lot of resumes, applications and inquiries from potential instructors. Many of them are very qualified people. Then again, I occasionally see something like the following:


“I would like to teach English as a foreign language at the Language Institute.


I am currently in-between jobs and thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to offer my services to the community. Although I do not have any formal teaching experience, I have a Master’s degree from [large university] where I tutored undergraduate students in Mathematics and Chemistry. I am a resident of Columbus having worked at both [tech company] and [large bank] in the Information Technology group.


I would love to meet with you to discuss my credentials and any possible opportunities. I can also provide professional references who can vouch for my work ethic and integrity.”


OK – so … at what point did he give any indication of any qualification to teach English?


It seems his request can be summarized as “I’m unemployed; pay me.”



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Student writing du jour

OK -- The prompt in this part of the placement test was for the student to write a note to the teacher to explain why he/she (the student) wouldn't be in class the next day. Here's one of the more interesting examples:

My teacher is very lovely and affectionate.

She is decorated and tranquillizing.

She is patient and polite.

She is clever and informed.

She is very very wanton.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Columbus cuisine

One of my instructors just told me about his chat with a new student a couple of nights ago. The student arrived in town last week and is here for only a month, visiting relatives.

The instructor asked A. what he liked best about Columbus. A. said, “The food!”

The instructor replied, “But you’re from Venice. You have the finest cuisine in the world there! What do you like so much about the food in Columbus?”

With a smile, A. responded: “Hamburgers!”

I told the instructor to direct A. to Max & Erma’s, so he can at least experience the finest of our ground beef cuisine while he's here.

In the meantime, the instructor has given A. directions to a local pizza place, so he can learn what Americans call pizza.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A bad sign?

I was supposed to go to a workshop today, but just received an e-mail saying that it wouldn’t take place. I’m a little concerned that “The Future of Learning” has been canceled due to low enrollment.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A little bit of ... information?

Every term, our Basic English students complete an information form (with the assistance of instructors, for the lower levels), so we can gather emergency information as well as demographic information. As I count and collate the responses, sometimes I find a little humor. The most recent examples:

  • One student wrote that he’s the chicken manager for a restaurant. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if that is actually his title — I just think it would look odd on business cards.
  • And then there’s the student who claims to work for the Colmubus Intarnatoin Airpot.
  • One wrote that he works as a kook. I know a number of people who do that.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A busy man

From an ESL placement test:

“He had 35 children ... I never saw him angry. He spent all his time to educate himself...”

Ummm, no, I don’t quite think so. With 35 kids, he did something other than educating himself!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ethiopian cooking

From a placement test:

Ethiopians have different calander we cellebret new years on Sept 12, every year we are 10 years behind the world. now in Ethiopian callander June 12, 2002. On that day we cook chicken stiw that takes 10 hours of cooking. we eat once in a year. Because it takes a lot of time, it is so delicious, b/c we put a lot of kinds of spicy and flavour. we cooked to gether all of my sisters; B--, L--, L-- & me.

** I hardly know what to say. **

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vague descriptions

A student just came into my office needing a make-up test. After finding out the course level, I asked who her teacher was.
Her response? “The crazy one.”
Curiously, in my world, that description doesn’t always narrow it down quite enough...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Everyone knows it's Wendy

From an ESL100 essay on recycling --

As we know that there are many source of energy like Wendy, suny, oil but American can help to save the energy by recling too.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My job description in song

[To be sung to the tune of “My Favorite Things”]

Payroll reports that don’t have information,
HR procedures that cause huge frustration,
Phone calls and e-mails and IMs and pings --
These are a few of my favorite things.

HEAT forms and COOL forms and PERFORMS processes,
Handouts and copies and files to excesses,
The site and the headaches it brings--
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the dean calls,
When the phone squalls,
When I’m too tired to think,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I just want a drink.

Committees and PrepLink and rewriting contracts,
DJFS and proposals with abstracts,
RFPs, boilerplates, funding with strings –
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the day’s work
Turns to homework,
When the world is mad,
I simply remember I’m not unemployed*,
And then I don’t feeeeel sooooo bad.

* Alternate line (depending on one’s mood):
I simply recall what I love in my job,

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

While in Massachusetts last week ...

... I was asked a fascinating question as we were talking with a local about where to go when the conference ended. She said we could find the place with Mapquest. Then she paused and asked, "Do you have Mapquest in Ohio?"

From Lina's Spanish class

"atras a mis solteros . . . "
(After my bachelor's degree . . . )

Thank you, Lina!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sigh ... just sigh.

From an ESL student's test this past week:
"In communication, men usually use quantitative way of speaking, by manupulating their mind while women cannot think critically about a situation when speaking, instead women are more fluent in verbal way of speaking than men."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Better problems?

Student sentence of the day: "Understanding the difference in the way men and women communicate is the beginning of establishing better problems between the sexes."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

While cleaning my home office...

... I've been finding some interesting bits I'd collected and misplaced (along with a lot of stuff for the recycle bin).

For example, there are these gems from my ESL 100 class in Spring 2005:

"I have a fear of height; as a result, I scare the high buildings."
       (It's probably best to get the jump on them by scaring them first, huh?)

"Don't forget to off your oven during the night."
       (I know he meant "turn off" ... but I get this mental picture of a gangland stove-slaying.)

"Did you ever been in war? Did you ever been in dungarees? I aske these qustion because I been in a lot of tragic setuation in my life."
       (I'm not at all sure what he meant by dungarees here. Dungeon? Danger? I don't *think* he considered blue jeans to be a form of punishment ... but I could be wrong.)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A moment of giggles

I almost had uncontrollable giggles just now while grading an essay during a break in the class: "As the saying goes, 'if wishes were horses, buggers would ride.'"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A question

I have a question -- this morning I happened to notice something on the can of Magic Sizing™ near the iron. On the can there is this claim: "Light Body with No Stiffness".
So ... if I spray it on myself ... ???
It *sounds* awfully good ...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The first day of class

There’s just something exciting about the first day of a class, shortly before it begins.

There’s something so very right about writing my name and the class title on the board before the students get there, as if that simple action links me to my teaching ancestors, those related to me by blood as well as all the other teachers over the generations and around the world who have done the same thing. We have a bond that is far thicker than red ink and as impossible to erase from our souls as our memories of the smile on the face of a student who has suddenly grasped a new concept.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

Here kitty, kitty, kitty

More from the National Zoo.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sloth in a box

Do the six other deadly sins also come in such nifty packaging?
(Seen today at the National Zoo, Washington DC)

Now this is a specialized school!

We saw this while walking in DC today and had to wonder what languages oysters speak. It's not surprising that they should be bilingual, however, as only from properly educated oysters could one expect to get cultured pearls.

I'm not sure what happened here...

Seen while walking in DC.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Utter quiet at the airport

I seriously overestimated the time needed to get through security at the airport, so here I sit with still half an hour to spare before I even need to think about the final pre-flight restroom trip. I've already had an overpriced lunch, and I'm about ready to go find an overpriced cup of coffee.

I don't know if I've ever been at the airport at noon before. While many places are at their busiest during the midday hours, right now there is utter silence. I'm near my gate, and I see four other people. The silence really is loud.

At any rate, I've gotten through security and am all ready for my vacation from now through Sunday in Washington, D.C. A real vacation where I leave town -- unlike my usual vacation days, in which I run errands or do projects around the house.

Where did February go?

I can't believe I didn't post anything at all during February ... or the first half of March!

Friday, January 30, 2009

And sometimes it just looks cold out there


Frozen snakes did cartwheels in our yard

Sometimes snow-covered yards are interesting.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Our back yard ... in the winter

Several months ago I posted a picture of my back yard happy place.
In January it's not quite the same place.
It's still in the back yard ... but it's not quite as happy.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New winter coat

OK, I did it.
Bought the new coat yesterday.
But it's lovely and snuggly -- and it was on sale!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A dream

I guess it's rather appropriate for me to post this today, but the night before last I had a dream that was very happy and very realistic (by which I mean that it felt real at the time, as opposed to the kind of dream where the dreamer finds herself thinking, "Gosh, what a weird dream this is.")

In this dream, I was with a group of people visiting post-war Mogadishu, Somalia ... sometime in the future, obviously.

It was hot and dry, and there were still a lot of scars left on the city from the war. Many parts hadn't yet been rebuilt. Some roads still had holes in them from bombs. But there was a government, and that government trying very hard to recreate an economy from the rubble of years of war.

I was with a group, and we were staying at some kind of hostel, until I ran into a Somali friend who insisted that we stay with him at his apartment. So we went with him, and on the way to his place (which was very beautiful) I saw street vendors selling everything from shoes to pastries, and a couple of shops that were actually air-conditioned.

The country was pulling itself back up from years upon years of anarchy, and it was making great strides toward doing so.

It was -- and is -- a lovely dream. I would so much love to see it come true.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My winter coat

It was 15 degrees below zero here the other morning, so I finally pulled my winter coat out of storage (i.e., the grocery bag where it had been stuffed, awaiting some badly-needed mending, particularly a new lining).

At this point I said to myself, "Lining, shmining! It's cold out there!"

So I tossed the coat in a Dryel™ bag and half an hour later, it looked just fine (unless one looked at the lining, which still looked as if it had been chewed by a puppy).

However, there was a bit of a problem.

Y'see, this coat is now 15 years old. (This explains, I hope, the problems with the lining. I've mended and patched this poor little fella more times than I can count over the years.)


It's light as air and down-filled, so it's WAAARRRRMMMM.

But the snaps had stopped snapping below my waist.

Clearly, the coat had shrunk while it was in the bag.

Mom explained to me that when garments are kept in the dark for a period of time, they shrink. Oddly, that is the same time when hangers procreate. It's good to have this kind of information.


Fortunately, Mom & I were able to dig up appropriate buttons, sew on loops and make the coat usable through the rest of the winter.

The painful part will come when it gets warm out, and coats go on sale, at which time I will have to consider the possibility that it's time … for … a … new … coat.

A new winter coat every 15 years? That's not too bad, is it?

Monday, January 12, 2009

And now for a moment of Butterscotch

I love the way that cats will look wherever the finger goes.

Modern journalism

In my first journalism class, the prof asked us, "What is the primary function of your daily newspaper?"

To report the news? No, that's something it does to achieve its primary function.

To present ideas? No, that's something else it does to achieve its primary function.

To sell advertising? ... You're getting warmer ...

The primary function of the regular, garden-variety newspaper -- the thing it does without which it ceases to be -- is to make money.

If the readers demand objective news, they get it.
Let me change the mood of that sentence: If the readers were to demand objective news, they would get it.

But they don't. The majority of readers and listeners/watchers go for sound bites and splashy headlines. Cotton candy for the mind. No depth. That takes too long to learn and process.

And the average folks HATE things that are really long ... like some posts I can think of. (And of which I am guilty, I will admit.) Especially if they require thought. Or -- GASP! -- background knowledge.

We haven't progressed at all since the days of muckraking and yellow journalism back in the late 1800s.

As far as broadcast media -- at least radio -- try out -- I loooooove it.
That's the way to get national & international news.
The only challenge is that sometimes there is a long discussion of cricket scores, but there are plenty of online BBC channels and plenty of programs, news & otherwise.

And one can always go play with the cats for a few minutes until the cricket chirping is over with.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Journalism - back in the day

Just to let y'all know where I'm coming from, my BA was in Journalism, way back in the day when many people KNEW the difference between journalism and slop.

That was, rather obviously, a long, long time ago.

Many of us way back when got into journalism in order to dig up TRUTH. (Yeah, I know -- it's a funny concept, huh?)

We grew up with Walter Cronkite (whom I still adore fervently -- and if you haven't read his autobiography, I highly recommend it).

We thought that Woodward and Bernstein had it goin' on, even though Watergate had been a few years prior to the time I started college, thankyouverymuch.

Do you know why Walter Cronkite retired from CBS news? It was because of the 24-hour, you-gotta-keep-talking-or-they'll-change-the station attitude. Say something, even if you're saying nothing at all. Or worse, even if you're making conjectures that you couldn't possibly justify. That's not journalism. That's keeping the advertisers happy. So he left. That's a man with principles.

When I went through the School of Journalism (henceforth known as J-school) and worked on the school paper, it was a paper with a circulation of 32,000 -- one of the larger papers in Ohio -- and it was a college paper!

Our adviser was a real newspaperman with an insistence on accuracy that would be utterly beyond belief today. We had to have TWO (count 'em!) sources for every story, or it didn't go in the paper.

Once -- and I just realized how very timely this little anecdote is -- I came in for my usual 8:00 a.m. staff meeting/class, and the word was going around like lightning among the staff. "Phil's furious! Somebody screwed up BIG TIME!" But no one knew quite what had happened until we all were seated and he walked in.

He was so angry his face was absolutely bloodless. Honestly, his lips had disappeared. He was completely pale, pale grey from hairline to collar. And he was practically trembling in anger.

It happened to be the holiday observing the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., so the paper had run a photo of Dr. King with a brief statement that this was the day of the observance, and who he was, and he had been assassinated, etc., etc.

Pretty straightforward, yes?

Welllll, it seems that whoever was on Copy Desk (I never knew who it was, but it wasn't me! ) made an eeensy error in the name of Dr. King's assassin, which was, as you will likely recall, James Earl Ray.

Most unfortunately, the paper went to press (after going through Copy Desk, final editor check and paste-up) with a nice boxed photo and paragraph prominently placed on page 1, erroneously stating that a rather famous actor with the same first two names (think "I am your father, Luke") had killed Dr. King.

Bad, bad, bad idea.

We had a scathing, fire & brimstone lecture on the responsibilities of journalists, accuracy, checking details, not assuming anything -- EVER! -- and the pesky problems of libel for a solid hour.

I don't remember all the words, but the burn marks in my brain are still there and will be there forever.

That's what journalism used to be.

'Tain't no more.

A little below average

Several years ago, when I was teaching college-level Spanish, I had one class of students that were -- oh, let's say they were special.

I had to explain the concept of adjectives several times. And there was one lad who couldn't read the (fairly simple) paragraph in the book which explained them -- and yes, it was in English.

And (sigh) -- same class -- I have to say I was a bit surprised when they asked me how to figure out how they were doing in the class, because a full page of the syllabus was devoted to explaining this and providing them a chart they could use to fill in their grades as they got them. What caused them grief was the notion that the average of their four test scores would be used as a certain percentage of the final grade.

Why was this a problem?

There wasn't one person (of 20) in the class who was able to figure out the average of four two-digit numbers. One student said, "There's a button that says 'Average' on my calculator, but I don't know how it works."

So I taught them how to figure an average. And when I'm teaching math, somebody should be scared.

Help from IT (?)

I ran across this in my Gmail archive. It's from May of 2006:

A couple (REALLY-TRULY-TRUE!) bits of amusement from our move to the new building --

Tom from IT: Scott, I need you to come with me to let me know where you want your computer locked down.

Scott: I put the X down with masking tape where I want it like Thelma told us to.

Tom: Well, it can't go there. There's no network connection on that side. Actually, there's only one place on your desk it can go.

Scott: How about you put it there?

* * * * *

John from IT moved my computer and then told me there was a problem because there was no power in my office. I said, "Funny, I had the radio and the fan on earlier."

John: Well, there's no power on this side.

Me: But the printer light is on.

John: (After checking for a loose connection) Oh, I see. You don't have a monitor power cable.

Me: I had one in the old office.

John: It's gone. We'll need to get you a new one. But your computer's ready to go otherwise.

(Mind you, we moved just across the alley -- and the cable was NOT in my old office..)

(And just how do I use the computer without the monitor??)

Tom brought me a new cable, hooked everything up and I sat down to check my e-mail and get off my feet for a little while. (Unpacking is hard work, especially when it's all files & books!)

I noticed the end of a power cable hanging out of the rat's nest of cables behind my computer. Sure enough ... it was the old monitor cable, just tangled in with the cables, not attached to anything at all. It had been there all along, and two (count 'em!) IT guys missed it.


I need to try to get out tomorrow at lunchtime. That's not always as easy as it sounds. The attempt often involves taking lunch at around 10:30 so I can slip out without being noticed, leaving only my "At lunch" sign on the door to let people know I've gone. Otherwise, there is this curious assumption that I'm in the office and am therefore available. Unfortunately, I have the very bad habit of eating lunch at my desk, and even when I have the "At lunch" sign on my door, if I can be seen, then ... well --- "Oh, this is quick." Oh, I don't mean to bother you, but ..."

But there aren't many places to take a brought-from-home lunch around school, particularly in the winter. In nice weather it's no problem. In January, though, I don't fancy sitting under a tree eating my sandwich.

I've actually resorted to hanging a shawl over the window in my door. However, that now leads people to the notion that if I have the shawl over the door, then I'm in there trying not to be bothered, and then ... well --- "Oh, this is quick." Oh, I don't mean to bother you, but ..."

And so forth.

And no, we're not allowed to paper over the windows in the doors as an ongoing defense mechanism. It annoys our interim dean, who wants to be able to walk by & see if we're actually there. I can't entirely blame him, but he has a secretary to run interference for him and protect the sanctity of his lunch.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A memory that popped up

A few years back I was in a meeting with the chair of another department, the president of our college and two higher-ups from the local school system (public school system for the largest city in the state).

The purpose of the meeting was to see if my Basic ESL program could come up with a way to "transition" some of the refugee students who were currently in 9th-12th grade out of the public schools and into my program so they could get the language/literacy help they needed that the school system was not able to provide (budget, in large part).

Not a problem on my end of things. We were still a fairly young program and I was pleased by the confidence shown by the College and by the schools.

Then -- sigh -- one of the school system folks said that they really needed to get these people out of the school system because they were dragging down the overall proficiency test scores.

Y'know, he could have left that part out ...
I didn't respond -- and that's a really hard thing for me -- because I had a feeling there might be career implications. After all, I was sitting next to the president.

Anyway, the conversation ended after the question of -- you guessed it! -- money came up. Someone was going to need to pay the fees for these students. In my program, fees are pretty darn low, but I have to bring in enough money to pay my instructors (as well as myself!), buy materials and so forth.

The school system folks said they'd see if they could get any grant money and get back to us. I've pretty much stopped waiting.

Friday, January 2, 2009

K-12 education

Just posted this on a forum to which I belong, and I thought it belonged here, too --

One of the reasons that so many people disagree about educational policies, both in the abstract and in the specific, is that the basic underlying philosophy of education may well be different for each of the individuals doing the disagreeing. And until one really considers the question, one may not have ever thought there was a question there to consider.

So ... the first question is this (and it’s a hard one):
What is the purpose of education?

Common reflex answer: “Oh, come on <rolling eyes> -- everybody knows that!”

Ohh? Really? <Spock-like eyebrow lifts toward edge of bangs>

OK, so what’s the answer?

Let’s take K-12 education first. That’s probably the easier one to resolve without shouting.


I’ll look at higher ed in my next post. (After all, I want y’all to be able to read what I write without having to take a nap in the middle of the post. Besides, it’s getting close to supper time, and I had a really long day!)

One of the stated purposes of public education in those early years was to “mold children into good citizens”. The following (from the philosopher Herbert Spencer) is an example of the notion of the 1800s: “For what is meant by saying that a government ought to educate the people? Why should they be educated? What is the education for? Clearly, to fit the people for social life — to make them good citizens. And who is to say what are good citizens? The government: there is no other judge. And who is to say how these good citizens may be made? The government: there is no other judge. Hence the proposition is convertible into this — a government ought to mold children into good citizens…” [ Source: ]

Well, THAT sure worked a treat, didn’t it? <giggle>

In Ohio, public education was established in 1825 (and was financed by property taxes from the very beginning). Public education in Ohio was not mandatory until 1921, at which time “once a child reached the age of sixteen years and had passed the seventh grade, the student could work as a farmer rather than attend school.” [ Source: ]

This implies that contributing to the workforce was a pretty important part of the picture as well. (True, only farmers are mentioned in the Bing Act, but at that time farming was an immense part of the Ohio economy.)

In the U.S., school-based apprenticeship programs are becoming more and more common (as they have been in other countries for generations) for children as young as 13, who are being asked to consider their career goals and make decisions that will affect their education and careers while still in middle school.

There are also those who believe that K-12 education is to create a relatively well-behaved, semi-rational being out of Mommy’s Little Monster. That might actually just be a subset of the first one about molding good citizens, so we’ll leave it at that.

Then there are those weird, funky hippie-folk and their ilk, who believe that the purpose of K-12 education is to help each young person learn to think critically, perform creatively and generally maximize his or her own individual potential. Children learn to use their imaginations to ask questions and create new ways of doing things.
... So what if they don’t pick a major until the third year of college?

So at this point we have three basic ideas about the purpose of education at the elementary level:
1. To mold good citizens
2. To prepare children for the adult world and workforce
3. To create creative, thinking individuals

True, you may see quite a bit of overlap among two of the three -- or all three. But it depends on your personal philosophy and Weltanschauung (“worldview”), don’cha see?

If you think that #1 and #2 overlap, you are looking at K-12 education as preparation for the adult workplace.

If you see overlap between #2 and #3, you are looking to the creative thinking power of today’s children to charge the workplace of tomorrow.

If you think #1 and #3 go together, you believe that the political and social scenes need and will need the creative power of individual thinkers to resolve the issues of the future.

If you think all three should be combined somehow into a workable system, and if you’ve been horrified at how most public K-12 education can hardly be called “education” -- then let’s do a nice, long lunch or teatime or something. You’re in my camp.