What Kind of Society do We Want to Have? (plus an important addendum on “Back to School Night” and textbooks)

Thursday, 9/5/2019 – I’ve taken a break from blogging this summer due to the press of personal obligations, but recently posted a short note about Dutch parenting techniques.  The Dutch, according to UNESCO, supposedly raise the happiest kids in the world.  By contrast, last school year in the SMHUSD the month of September focused on suicide prevention.

I will contrast the article above about Dutch parenting to a book that I eagerly read several years ago entitled “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom” by Amy Chua.  As an interesting follow-up, here is a 2018 note from her younger daughter.  The two of them frequently engaged in screaming matches as described in the book.

A new documentary has also been recently released on Netflix entitled “American Factory” and I strongly encourage everyone to stop whatever you are doing and watch this film ASAP!!  It describes a former GM plant in Dayton, Ohio (this city was a recent site of yet another mass shooting), and the attempt to revitalize it as an automotive glass manufacturer as part of the Chinese company Fuyao.  The culture contrast is stark, and Americans have a lot to learn from this film.  Here is some initial Chinese and American reaction on Bloomberg News.

Finally I want to put in another word for a book that I have mentioned in the past as one of my favorites on education: “The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way.

I mention all of the above as a preamble to an upcoming review article, and I hope my readers will take the time to read/view this material first.

It is time for America to take a long hard look in the mirror… particularly before the next election!


One other short but important note – tonight is “Back to School Night” at Aragon High School.

School has now been in session for three weeks, and I still have students who have not received textbooks.  In other classes, students have been given textbooks but were told by their teachers that they will not be using them.

This is reflective of a growing trend of handing out xeroxed worksheets to students instead of using textbooks. I personally find this abhorent.

Sure, textbooks have become outrageously expensive in many cases, but a critical part of an education is to learn how to learn, and, despite technological advances, the vast storehouse of human knowledge is still in books.  I also believe California law requires each district to certify that their students have adequate textbooks.

I don’t care if the books are hardcopy or electronic.  I do most of my reading with the Kindle software these days.  That said, your children need to develop the skill of learning on their own by reading.  If they don’t, they will have been deprived of a critical component of their education.

If your child is in this boat, please speak up at Back to School Night and request that they be given textbooks!!

 

Author: David Kristofferson

Retired scientist, teacher, bioinformatician, IT director, software product manager, AAAS Fellow, avid cyclist (7690 miles and 724,300 feet of climbing in 2015), backpacker, you name it! Current avocation is tutoring high school students near San Mateo, CA in mathematics, physics and chemistry. Please see the Bio link in the right sidebar for my detailed background information.

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