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8:23 a.m. - October 22, 2005
Just a note before going downstairs for Day 3: Assessment. About 85 teachers which is too big a group for me to enjoy but the fees pay the mortgage so the more the should-be-merrier. These folks are more aware of the New York State Learning Standards than their up-state brethren, but not more savvy - the overall impression I have from this jaded group is Just tell me what I have to do, the pet peeve that burns hottest. Whether a teacher or layperson feels state or national standards to be good or bad, an undue governmental involvement or a socially-responsible model to encourage, guage, and qualify competence in any course of study, the overwhelming fact is that today's students are receiving substandard education, from pre-school to university. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported a while ago of a U. of Michigan team tracking the top performers as they meander through university with devastating preliminary findings: The so-called cream of the crop isn't very sweet. Imagine - if the best of the best aren't well prepared or lack that inherent desire or zeal for knowledge for its own sake as opposed to a socially-expected life event or career launchpad that is the myth of the modern university, what does it say for those who did not graduate in the top 5% of their class?

The worst, most salient point for me, is that nobody cares. Today's intelligentsia was yesterday's B-average students; tomorrow's intelligentsia will be today's A students only because an A today is yesterday's C-level achievement. We're slipping, folks, and literally dumbing ourselves into oblivion. We are too rich, too focused on luxury, overly concerned with the individual's little universe, too dumb to see the end times of the long succession of great poets and thinkers and the elocutionary tradition of fine thought and inquiry coming to an end.

P.S. Joel, I got your messages. Will call when I get home.


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