I’m also strongly opposed to the very idea of a classroom – a schoolhouse is a better idea, and even then, it should not be viewed as a place where children are managed. The example of my children might be informative: our oldest 4 (#5 is 13) all attend or did attend college, all are outstanding students – A students, magna cum laude, that sort of thing – and none of them took any formal classes at school or at home until, of their own volition, they signed up for classes at the local community college when they were teenagers. Having NO K-12 experience as commonly understood didn’t slow them down AT ALL.
I did hard time in attended four different grade schools and three high schools, some Catholic, some public,1 so I may have a somewhat broader experience of education in the United States than most people. At the Catholic schools I sometimes attended Mass, and there were religion classes, but in general there was no significant difference between parochial and public. There was occasionally a little actual education here and there during those twelve endless years, but mostly what I learned was to sit still and feign attention. There was also a lot of busy work. I eventually concluded that the purpose of school was not to “educate” students, but to keep them off the streets until they were old enough to get a job. The American education system is the greatest achievement in the history of day care.
It still makes me angry how many years I was required to spend the best part of each weekday doing nothing. I could have been reading, damn it. My brother didn’t have my patience with pointless nonsense. After fourth grade, he quit doing any schoolwork at all. He was eventually asked to leave his Catholic high school, where his GPA was third from dead last.2 He promptly took the GED, without any preparation, and scored in the 98th percentile overall, getting a perfect score on the verbal part.3
An aside: The second grade school I was sentenced to was 30 miles from home. My home was the second stop on the bus’ route in the morning and the second-last stop in the evening, so I spent two hours every day confined with a bunch of cranky kids in a noisy vehicle with bad shocks. One of the under-used arguments against busing students to schools other than where they would ordinarily go is that busing itself is intrinsically abusive.
I may not have been cynical enough. Joseph Moore has written five-part series on the history of Catholic schooling, putting its development in the context of the Prussian model of education, Irish immigration and graded classrooms. It’s worth reading. The first installment is here.
This past weekend was the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield. Never believe anything the weatherman says. He promised clear skies and highs in the lower 90°s. Yeah, right. Here’s what I heard at Stage One Saturday afternoon, when The Outside Track were scheduled to perform:
I decided not to bring the real camera along, which turned out to be a good call, given the weather. So, no pictures this year. I did bring my little sound recorder. Here’s a bit of what goes on all night long at Carp Camp. The tunes are “Planxty Fanny Po[w]er,” featuring Amanda Roberts, this year’s hammered dulcimer winner, and “Liberty,” with an unconventional bluegrass instrument toward the end. The sound is mediocre and the recorder cut the second tune short (grr), but it should give you some idea of what it’s like there.
In a week or two, there should be videos with better sound quality on YouTube and elsewhere.
… or Chile, or South Africa. A plant that flourishes in a west coast desert or mountain meadow is not necessarily going to be happy on the prairie. Some will adapt, others won’t, and the best way to determine which ones will thrive here is to grow them.1 These are the results of this year’s experiments so far. Please note that I am not an expert gardener, and someone more experienced might have had more success than I did.
From out west:
Gilia tricolor — Germination was near 100% outdoors. The plants grew quickly and bloomed freely, both those that received extra water and those that only got rainwater. The flowers are small, but there are a lot of them. All bloomed for at least a month starting in the middle of May. Those that received regular watering kept going on into July. Not the most brilliantly colorful plant, perhaps, but it rewards a close look, and it is easy to grow. I might try other species of Gilia next year.
A young friend of mine named Roger had a nice little racket going. He’d enter the old time fiddle competition at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, take second or third place, and go home with a shiny new fiddle. This year he goofed and took first. It will be five years before he can enter the fiddle competition again.1 Perhaps he’ll start collecting mandolins.
Last week’s earthquake has been upgraded to 5.8, the strongest ever recorded in Oklahoma. I came across a gif of quakes in the 48 states from 2005 on. Keep your eye on northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas.
The little inverted purple triangle signifies a “tornado vortex signature.” With luck, it will dissipate before it reaches Wichita, but I was hoping for a nice quiet evening tonight.
Update: There was a lot of wind and rain, but nothing beyond that in Wichita. Although the radar indicated three different tornado vortices during the evening, only one touched down, and that was in a rural area well west of here.
Spring has sprung. We should hear the sirens any time now.
Update II: The tornadic storm fizzled out by the time it reached my neighborhood, and all we got was an hour or so of hail, none of it larger than half-dollar diameter.2 While this was undoubtedly a great disappointment to tornado aficionados, I have better things to do with the rest of the month than find a new place to live.
The greatest danger was inside the house. The only time I listen to traditional broadcast radio is during violent weather, when one of the local country stations intensively covers the meteorological events. They occasionally interrupt the descriptions of hail and flooding for commercials and public service announcements, the latter of which are mostly courtesy of the “Ad Council.” The mean sanctimony of these PSAs is sufficient to choke 2.65 SJWs and incalculably many people of normal sensibilities. They create a powerful temptation to punch the stereo speakers, which would hurt my hand.
While I might have felt earthquakes at a greater frequency during the year I lived in San Francisco, during the past few years I have experienced a larger number here in Kansas than in all the years I lived in the allegedly more seismically-active west, most recently earlier this hour.
Here’s a little game to play in the middle of the night when you’d rather sleep: spot the tornado. The sirens are howling right now, but I can’t find any evidence of interesting weather in the radar image. Can you?