Sometimes, the Old Ways are Better

The educational system is failing our kids and fueling some serious problems that are already showing up in the workplace. In a Letter to the Editor that appeared in today’s Orange County Register, Diane Singer makes these comments:

Standardized tests do not measure learning. Our schools train kids to take tests.

Parents should be furious that valuable instructional hours are wasted on a test-crazy movement that robs our kids of real learning and critical thinking opportunities. Sure the scores are higher; but can the child apply this knowledge, synthesize information, write a sentence or solve a math problem outside the classroom in the years to come?

We are already starting to see the effects in our colleges and in the workforce; kids who cannot write, perform basic math or think through a problem. We are on the verge of realizing a generation of children who lack basic academic and critical-thinking skills because they did not have the advantage of a learning-centered curriculum. What then?

You said it, Diane!

This very problem is something I’ve been writing about in my business blog “Writing English.” I offer a remedy that can be applied in the workplace. Companies can hire me to work directly with their employees as a “writing fixer-upper.” I review, edit, and help formulate the correspondence and documents employees need to produce. I solve the problem of bad writing for my clients, but it’s after the fact.

If anybody is seriously interested in solving the problem at its root, what is needed is a turnabout in the philosophy of education. Schools should be focusing on basic skills, core knowledge, and high standards. Pop-psych theories about self-esteem, union-driven policies that make it nearly impossible to get rid of ineffective teachers, and political correctness that wastes hours of class time dealing with all sorts of multi-cultural topics, all come at the expense of the “Three Rs.” They all contribute to the void that becomes evident after graduation when students venture out into the world.

At the risk of sounding like your grandmother, when I was in school we also had standardized tests. We had to pass a State Regents exam in every major high school subject in order to graduate. We weren’t trained how to take the test. We were just taught the coursework, and because we had to meet high standards, most of us passed the tests. We never heard of adults who couldn’t write a cogent sentence, or do basic math problems.

Last week I went to the grocery store for a few items. I bought only three things, costing $2.41, $3.45, and $1.60. I was in a hurry, so while I was waiting in line, I did the addition in my head, and took out my money. It so happened that I had exact change. When the cashier rang up my order, I already had $7.46 in my hand. The bagger, a young girl, was amazed that I knew the cost. “How did you do that?” she said. “You must be a genius.” “No,” I told her, “just old.” (In reality, I’m middle-aged, but in comparison to that girl, I’m ancient.)

Sometimes the old ways are better.

Published in: on August 17, 2006 at 8:40 pm  Comments (13)  

Come Take a Look…

writing1.jpgThose of you who read this site may be interested in taking a look at my new blog Writing English – The International Language of Business (click here). Whereas Rose Petals is my fun blog, Writing English is about my business as a “writing repair” specialist. In short, I’m a writing fixer-upper for people who need a little (or a lot of) help with their writing.

I invite a dialogue with other business owners, or anybody who cares about good writing. Perhaps you’ll join in.

Hope to see you there,

Judy Rose

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Key Concepts: assisting management, basic skills, business writing, clients, communication, conflicts, consultant, customer communi- cation, customer relations, disputes, education, effective communi- cation, employee communication, employee support services, English, English writing, formulation of text, getting clients, grammar, international companies, language, lawsuits, marketing, organization of text, sales, sales pitch, small business, spelling, text, time-saving, writing, writing errors, writing mistakes, writing repair, writing skills.

Published in: on August 10, 2006 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

No Need to Learn English

Yet another reason why immigrants needn’t bother to learn English…

Today’s Orange County Register tells of a Spanish Language school where Korean business owners are learning Spanish (click here for complete article).

…mostly middle-age Korean students…are taking language lessons at the Martin Spanish College. Many are small-business owners who do not speak English.

How can you fault them for choosing to put their effort into learning Spanish instead of English? It’s a very practical decision for them, and just another sad indicator of where we’re headed.

The school’s founder, Martin Paik, taught Spanish to Koreans in Buenos Aires, Asuncion, Paraguay and Los Angeles. In 1997, he established a language school in Southern California and now teaches 120 students in Los Angeles and Orange County.

“It’s imperative to know Spanish nowadays,” Paik said in Korean. “Here in California, lots of Koreans work with Hispanic customers and employees. If you can’t speak Spanish, you can’t do business well.”

Paik never learned English. He said he’s been too busy teaching Spanish.

Posted by judyrose July 11, 2006

Published in: on July 12, 2006 at 2:50 am  Comments (5)  

Phonetic Spelling Plan: Education for Idiots, by Idiots!

According to Associated Press writer Darlene Superville, the American Literacy Council wants to change English so that all words are spelled phonetically (click here for complete article).

Notwithstanding the errors of fact by ALC spokesman Alan Mole, who argues in favor of phonetic spelling (did you know German is a phonetically spelled language? Try Kreuz or Sie), if this is the best answer the education elite can come up with to improve our kids’ reading and writing skills, we’re in a heap o’ trouble.

Generation after generation, the native-born and the immigrant – when sufficiently motivated – have managed to master basic English. What we really need is a reaffirmation of high standards and personal discipline, maintained by parents and teachers who value real achievement over unearned “self-esteem.”

This is no small thing the Council is talking about. Words get much of their meaning from their prefixes, suffixes, and roots. Superville quotes Professor Donald Bear, director of the E.L. Cord Foundation Center for Learning and Literacy at the University of Nevada, Reno, who objects to the plan. He says:

Students come to understand how meaning is preserved in the way words are spelled.

Simply put, the entire purpose of language is the communication of meaning. The ALC plan obliterates key components of the way meaning is communicated.

Education by idiots, and for idiots, will create legions of idiots. People can learn how to spell and read our common language – if they can be protected from crackpot theorists like the American Literacy Council.

Published in: on July 6, 2006 at 11:02 pm  Comments (2)