Higher Education and Jehovah's Witnesses

Bill Bishop looked at American migratory patterns for humans, not birds, and he found Americans like to live and speak and breathe with those who think just like themselves. For example, when George Bush squeaked out re-election in 2004.…the popular vote was almost even….almost half the vote came from “landslide counties,” where one candidate trounced the other by 20 percentage points or more. Back then, playwright Arthur Miller asked: “How can the polls be neck and neck when I don’t know one Bush supporter?” He lived in a landslide area, that’s how, surrounded only by those who thought just like him. (the Economist, 6/21/08, p 41)

Bishop’s book, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing us Apart found many other factors segregating citizens. Cable channels that feed viewers only the viewpoint they already agree with, for instance. Even more so with the internet, the author observed. Tell me about it……sometimes I think that nobody has ever changed their mind about anything on the internet, that it’s just one giant forum for preaching to the choir.

But since “education broadens minds,” can we not look to advanced education for hope? Nope. The better educated people are, the more they segregate themselves, found Mr. Bishop. Whether by choice or necessity, less educated persons tend to stay put.

Don’t you get tired of those who insist that education is the answer? Education will solve our problems, they say. Education will bring us all together, they say. Hogwash! Bishop’s book (though I’m sure this is not his point) shows how people use their education: they stake out opposing positions and hurl intellectual bombshells at each other. Nowhere is that more evident than on the internet. It ought to give us pause in the way we view higher education.

The world is screwed up not because people are stupid….for the most part those who run things are both clever and educated…..it is screwed up because they are greedy and selfish and arrogant. These are the glaring defects of human nature, not lack of intellect. Yet today’s world deems it top priority to feed the intellect. Colleges exist for just that purpose. The more important moral qualities are largely left to chance…catch as catch can, with no one especially concerned whether you catch them or not. Occasionally some scandal forces a temporary concern with teaching “ethics,” but what qualifications do colleges really have to teach it? In the wake of Enron, I took a college business course. There was the hastily inserted chapter on ethics. Look deep into yourself, readers were advised, before making this or that decision. Does this decision make you feel good about yourself? Can you live with yourself afterwards? Sheesh!…..the 911 terrorists felt real good about themselves, though, strictly speaking, they were not able to live with their decision!

Watchtower literature frequently observes that the best education available today is Bible education. To people who link education with landing a big career, this counsel seems ridiculous. But put aside that link for a moment and it makes sense. Surely it’s reasonable to conclude that today’s world…..political, economic and religious….run by the most educated of persons, is a practical demonstration of today’s aggragate wisdom. Seeing that said wisdom has produced such disastrous results, how wise can it be to immerse oneself in that atmosphere for four or six years through higher education? Doesn’t higher education typify today’s wisdom? For that reason, Watchtower publications are decidedly cool toward university careers.

Of course, one must make a living. Those same publications speak of training one’s children so that they can “support themselves decently.” For some, the economic benefits of college outweigh detriments in other areas. But on the bell curve, JWs lean toward vocational degrees, technical and certificate programs, or trades. Where youngsters go to college, it is recommended that they do so while living at home. Dormitory living, where the only adults present are those raining down condoms as confetti, does not agree with the moral training with which parents try to equip their children. Still, a member of the Ithacacongregation tells me there is usually a small stream of Witness college students at their meetings who attend either Cornell or SUNY Ithaca. Sometimes they do all right spiritually, sometimes not. Education is a family decision, and all are advised not to stick their noses in another family’s business. People being what they are, however….that counsel is not uncommonly breached.

Since their beginning, Jehovah’s Witnesses have constructed their own houses of worship. Even Assembly Halls that seat one or two thousand are built by volunteers. Same with “Bethels” around the globe, organizational headquarters. Organization has been streamlined to the point that Kingdom Halls are built in one or two weekends of volunteer effort. A number of our youngsters thereby pick up the building trades….electrical, HVAC, plumbing, etc….and go on to make a living in that way. Often they go abroad as Western aid jumpstarts Kingdom Hall building in lands where people don’t have much.

With such a restrained view of education, might the really high-flying careers elude our people? Yeah….they do, at least for those who adhere to the advice. But that’s by design. The apostle Paul recommended that those using the world, “not use it to the full” since “the scene of this world is changing.” (1 Cor 7:31) Jehovah’s Witnesses view this world’s system of things as passing away, soon to be replaced by government of God’s design. Generally speaking, they don’t shoot for lofty careers in such a world. They prefer to focus on a ministry which tells of the coming changes and trains people in godly ways. Many of our youngsters school for “portable” skills allowing them to pick up and move and work part time as desired, so that they can more readily put their ministry first.

Your religion is fine, just keep it in its place is the advice people sometimes offer us. Last place is usually what they have in mind. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t feel that way. Meantime, Bible education has produced a people who long ago overcame nationalism, and racism, who enjoy overwhelming unity, and who can cooperate towards a common end as no one limited by this world’s wisdom can.

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

John T Gatto and Growth without Educators

When did we lose teachers and gain educators? Isn't that new word pretentious? Doesn't it imply that we'd all have empty heads without them?

It's just just the opposite. It's hard to prevent children from learning. Witness their ability to pick up a language. Without any instruction at all, they absorb whatever language is spoken in the home. If two languages are spoken, they absorb two. If three languages are spoken, they absorb three. We read a lot to our children when they were infants and toddlers. Classics like Go Dogs Go! and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. They picked it right up and were both reading before kindergarten. Beyond pointing to the words we read, we never showed them how. 

If learning is so natural why do so many kids not do it? It's not because we have too few educators. It may be because we have too many.

John Taylor Gatto was named New York City Teacher of the year in 1989 and 1990 and 1991. In 1991, he was named New York State Teacher of the Year. But then he turned on his fellow educators! Yes, he agreed, he was a good teacher. But it was only because he bucked, at every turn, the stifling strait jacket of the school system. The district where he worked twice suspended his license for insubordination. He was too innovative, and the bureaucracy too inflexible to accommodate. In 1991, he quit. Writing to the Wall Street Journal, he declared that he could no longer "hurt kids to make a living."

But might he have waited for "school reform?" He observed: "Socrates foresaw if teaching became a formal profession, something like this would happen. Professional interest is served by making what is easy to do seem hard....School is too vital a jobs-project, contract giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be "re-formed." [italics mine]

Visit Mr. Gatto's websiteand you'll see he's working on a Ken Burns style documentary about the education industry, The Fourth Purpose. "The time for pussy-foot measures with the forced schooling institution is long past," he says. "....What justice cries out for to break this logjam is shock treatment." It promises to be good.

In the right environment, flowers will grow all by themselves. It's a natural process. They don't need professional "sprouters" to measure and critique every move. Our homeschooled son never went to school, save for a brief stint in the 6th grade. He went through a phase in which he would read for hours on end. Huge tomes, mostly history. My wife, Mrs Sheepandgoats, had some allies in the school system and she went running to the local principal. "I don't know what to do," she pleaded. "He won't do any of his workbooks. He just sits and reads all day!" "He reads? said the principal incredulously. "Don't do anything!" Yet had he been in that principal's school he would not have been allowed to read. They would have made him do those workbooks. Thus a naturally enjoyable experience (learning) would be made hateful.

Our boy entered 6th grade mid-year. It was time to give it a try. Rochester City has an odd system of school assignment. You are usually but not necessarily assigned to your neighborhood school. But since our boy went suddenly, he had no say whatsoever and was assigned to a gritty school with a cross-city bus ride. Never being in school before, how would he fit in? we wondered. Would he be a nerd? Would he be beat up and picked on? Somewhat to our surprise, he had no difficulty whatsoever, turning the "socialization" myth on its head. At the end of the year, he had a choice to continue in school or to homeschool again. He chose to homeschool. "I had no time to read when I was in school," he said.

During that 6th grade year, his teacher declared pi was 3.14. My son, because of things covered before, knew that 3.14 was a rounded number, and the actual decimal value stretched on forever. He stated such, and the teacher was upset to be contradicted!

Every parent likes to think their kids are naturally bright. We do too. Yet we fear that their brightness may not have been allowed to flourish without homeschooling.

The next time the boy saw a classroom was age 16, at the local community college. They gave him placement tests since they weren't sure how to regard homeschoolers. Consequently, he was assigned remedial math (remedial from a college point of view. In other words, he was age-appropriate) Yet his reading comprehension, they informed us, was "off the charts" They were slow to believe that he had not already had college courses. Interestingly, he never regarded himself as abnormally bright. "I had no idea there were so many stupid people," he said afterwards.

Not everyone will be in position to do as we were able to. Nor was it the answer in every way. I don't mean to suggest that you can't attend public schools and thrive. You can. They hold some advantages over homeschooling. But they're not very flexible. You have to skirt around many shoals.

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me                  No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

An Interim to Save the Day?

How many times is it that the guy who isn't campaigning, doesn't want the job, and must be drafted, is the one who saves the day?

Will it turn out this way at the beleaguered City School District, long afflicted with one superstar superintendent after another? Maybe.

Manny Rivera, recruited from somewhere-or-other out of town, serving his second gig in Rochester, landed a better job as Boston's superintendent of schools. Boston is bigger than Rochester, and students need more work, since they talk funny over there, like the Kennedys. Only, before Rivera could take the reigns, he found a still better job, as education czar with Governor Spitzer. So Boston is scrounging for a new chief, just like Rochester.

Meanwhile, while scrounging, they have to have someone to preside. So they turned to Bill Cala. Cala just retired from the neighboring affluent Fairport school district, with plans move to Kenya and work in education there. That's the kind of guy he is. But while he's getting his plans firmed up, maybe he will come and hold down the fort at the City School District, until they find another superstar. Yes, Bill says, he will. So he is the interim superintendent.

Did they figure he would be merely a low-key-preserve-the-status-quo guy? That's not him, as Tim Louis Macaluso reported in City Newspaper. A few weeks on the job, and Cala charitably says: "This district isn't organized like any I have ever seen." No, it isn't. We've long suspected it. Each year they demand more money. Each year they show poorer results. When incoming mayor Pete Duffy asked for operational facts and figures (seeking accountability, since the city has to fund the schools) they absolutely bristled. And stonewalled. They didn't tell him anything other than "keep that money coming."

So Cala aims to make changes. "My biggest concern, the reason this is necessary," he says, "is we are not focused on kids. And that's the only reason we're here. There's no other reason to come in through those front doors." School 45 Principal Vicky Gouveia agrees that "the system was working to favor the needs of adults, not children."

Several weeks ago, we learned that the City School Districts graduation ratelast year was 39%. Yet the then-superintendent was named National Superintendent of the Year for 2006! Doesn't that say it all? And, alas, it suggests that it's not just local administrators who've yet to focus on kids instead of adults.

(Incidentally, the Democrat and Chronicle recently reported that this fellow's predecessor, another superstar, was just sacked from his moving-on-up assignment, the Washington DC. School District.)

"I can tell you right now that I'm looking at a leaner organization," Cala says. "Right now, there is no one in charge of curriculum and instruction, which is astonishing to me. It is divided up among many people.....what is most problematic is seeing how there can be two separate lines of communication about kids, with information that isn't shared. [!] People are working in their own separate silos, and that's got to change."

Each decision he makes, he says, he puts through a simple screening process: "How does this help the kids? If I do this, does it help them? Is it neutral? Or does it hinder them? That's all that really matters, and I want everyone here to use the same set of guidelines. What am I doing? What am I spending my time on that helps kids?" How can you not like this guy? Surely the man must know how to speak educatese, but there's no sign of it here.

Most do like him, but a few don't. One critic from the school board association points out that big city school districts are "incredibly complex." Maybe Cala, from the bucolic suburbs, doesn't realize that. But, in general, you should watch out for people who carry on about things being "incredibly complex." What you look for is someone who can simplify them.

Not everyone thinks Cala should be making structural changes. He's only the interim super, after all. Let the permanent super make the changes. Cala's unimpressed. He'll be doing the next guy a big favor. "It will make the job more attractive. I know that I wouldn't want to walk into this. Besides, I am addressing the problem in phases. I have 27 years of experience. I know how educational systems should work, and I know what's best for kids."

So maybe, just maybe, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not an oncoming train. Most likely the district, wowed as usual by theories instead of results, will again hire some overpriced clod who speaks fluent educatese, but at least he will inherit less of a mess than he would have before.

http://waterbuffalopress.wordpress.com/tag/manny-rivera/

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Leaving the Kids Behind

When "No Child Left Behind" became law a few years back, politicians were ecstatic. Finally, no child would be left behind! They had been left behind before, as many as 61%last year in the City School District. (in spite of the law) Incidentally, that assumes that the 39% who did graduate were well equipped academically, an assumption not everyone would be willing to grant. But, who knows, perhaps before No Child Left Behind, it was only 29%. How could anyone not be excited?

Nobody wanted to be left behind on the "not left behind" craze. Thus, the local bus company declared that no passenger would be left behind! Everyone was enthused. On day one of the new program, almost all passengers were there right on time at the first bus stop. But a few didn't show up. These ones would have been cheated before, but with the new policy, they would not be left behind! The bus driver waited and waited and waited and waited. Still they did not show. Not a problem - this had been anticipated! Each bus had some rousting personnel on board, and those rousters went right to the laggards' homes and rounded them up! Finally, everybody was on board. The bus reached downtown with no passenger left behind! Of course, they all missed their appointments.

My uncle was a hell raiser as a kid. Back in the 1940's, long ago. Constant complaints from his teachers. Finally, his dad said: If the boy won’t behave, pull him out of school. He was “left behind!"

I knew in the first week it was a mistake, he told me later. In time, he got his act together, and lived out the remainder of his years a productive person.

Guys my age cannot help thinking that, years ago, jettisoning the hell raisers, or at least segregating them, might have averted today's educational catastrophe. We try to get over it, we really do, but there's that nagging suspicion that we've all been sold down the river by educators, who proudly strut the deck of a sinking ship, blaming everyone but themselves for letting the ship fall into disrepair. Yes, we try to get over it, but.....isn't it possible, if you'd long ago let students "fall behind," that 6 percent would have, and that half of those, like my uncle, would later realize their mistake and catch up? Then you'd have 3% permanently "left behind." That is a sobering thought.

But it sure beats the 60 percent effectively left behind today, either through not graduating or through graduating with dumbed-down curriculum that caters to the most disruptive and dysfunctional kid.

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Communist and the Kids

I called on a old fellow in the door to door ministry who said he was a Communist. He wasn't especially pleasant, but he was genuine, and unique. Didn't the fall of the Soviet Union and its satellites disprove Communism as a viable system? I asked. (It had only recently happened) No, because Communism was imposed by force upon a agrarian country. It wasn't the revolt of the proletariat, such as one might have foreseen in the U.S. at one time.

He had a house full of antique inventions, among them an Edison phonograph.

I homeschooled my daughter then. A few weeks later I had her out with me in the ministry. She was about 9 or 10. I stopped in on the Communist.

"So how's the discipling going?" he asked (or something similar). "Just fine," I replied. "I'm sorry to hear it," he said. Had I not left myself wide open?

"So what do you want?" he demanded, more gruff than even his prior gruffness. Just as gruff, I shot back "I came to show my daughter your antiques!" He opened the door, let us both in, gave us a tour, explained the different machines, and could not have been more pleasant! How often does a child get to see such old gadgets?

Kids are useful in the ministry. Of course, we don't "use" them. You don't bring them along unless they're ready to come, and you don't let them speak unless they want to. But in my experience, they usually want to. Joel Engardio, producer of the documentary Knocking was raised a Witness but left for a career in journalism. Nonetheless, he assures us, as a kid he was the designated doorbell-ringer, a "cool job for a 4 year old." As a teenager, he continues, "I gave presentations at doorsteps around town in hopes of becoming a "publisher," or minister, of the Bible. I found fulfillment in telling others - anyone who cared to listen -that all of mankind's plagues would be solved when God's kingdom arrived." So there is something to training children in the ministry, when (and if) they are ready.

My kids, as with Joel, wanted to speak at a quite young age, so I obliged. But it seemed that I ought to introduce them. After all, when I approached a house with a waist-high child, and it was the child that did the talking,  I always imagined the householder looking at me as if to say "you dumb lug....why don't you say something?" And frankly, you'd want to screen householders.  Not all are the warm fuzzy kind that you'd want to feed your kids. So I'd say something like: "Hi, I'm Tom Sheepandgoats. I've got my boy with me, Georgie. We take turns talking and.....it's his turn." That was my son's cue. As long as he was willing and able to handle matters, I would stay silent. The householder might listen to him, but answer me, and I'd say "sorry....it's his turn." All this within the bounds of common sense, of course. In most cases, towards the end, I would chime in somehow. As the kids got older and more capable, they got tired of being introduced, it became unnecessary, and I chimed in less and less.

My kids are grown and gone now. I just got done working with Jakie, a 6 year old. Someone else's son, it seems to me he was bashful at age 4. He sure isn't now. Distributing invitations for the upcoming district convention, he would have none of "being introduced." So I said he could introduce me! Either that, or just take the door himself. He did every door, except 3 or 4 that were a little awkward, and so I took them. In some cases I'd tell the householder "I'm far too bashful to talk to you right here at your door, so I brought my buddy here to speak for me!" He did just fine. Most youngsters do when they can go at their own pace.

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"Is that your son?" the homeowner asked Dave McClure, our old circuit overseer, about a youngster he was working with. "Nope," he replied. "But if it was, I'd be proud of him."

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Homeschooling and Manny Rivera

When Mrs Sheepandgoats and I decided to homeschool our 2 kids, 21 years ago, some challenged us. How could we expect to do better than professional educators? they wanted to know. We looked at it differently.

How could we do worse?

To be sure, had we lived in one of the suburbs, we might have been less confident. But we didn't. We lived in the City School District, which last year achieved a graduation rate of 39%. Yet I'm glad we lived there. Not only did our kids' homeschool education surpass what a suburban school would have offered, but they became "streetsmart," and learned to mingle freely with persons of all ages, levels, and cultures.

My daughter carries herself well. At her workplace, a spa that caters to the well-to-do, co-workers ask her where she was raised. "We lived on a side street off Hudson," she says. "Oh...," they murmur in confusion. (Hudson is in a poor area) But then they brighten... the street ends in better off Irondequoit. "You mean the part in Irondequoit," they say knowingly. "No," she replies, and leaves them scratching their heads. 

But she would not likely have had such poise had she actually attended the Hudson Ave schools. Superintendent of those schools, Dr. Manny Rivera is just leaving, headed for greener pastures, taking an education job with the Spitzer administration. City! newspaper interviewed him on his tenure with the District. What had he learned?

"I learned that we couldn't do it alone," he says. "It's too big a problem to think we can handle it by ourselves. We needed our college and university partners." Also the "unions." Also the "business community."

We all want "higher performance," he says. "but you have to have systems in place to get there." The trouble is  [when speaking with the mayor] "we didn't get to a strategy for implementation.....If this community can come together and embrace key strategies, Rochester would get the results everybody wants to see."

We need "systems," "our partners," our "key strategies." Not only our key strategies, but we have to "implement" those key strategies, and to do that we need to "come together!" Fine words. How can one not be enthused? Yet the skilled interpreter of Educatese can without difficulty detect the underlying message: don't expect any changes in your lifetime.

Trouble is, this is the same baloney we heard back in 1986 from Rivera's predecessor. Had we entrusted our kids to them back then, would they be any smarter than cats today?

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me            No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Hal and the Astronaut Farmer

The name of the rocket was Dreamer. It's builder was a dreamer.

With "The Astronaut Farmer," my wife and I knew we were in for a quirky film straight from the opening scene, a blend of two American icons. There he is on horseback, riding alone on the deserted plain. But wait! Zoom in steadily and we see he's not a cowboy at all, but an astronaut, or at least a guy in a spacesuit.

It's an irresistible movie. Part endearing family tale, part reckless pursuit of a dream, part good guys vs bad guys, part fantasy. Fantasy, because clearly, the plot could never happen. If you're one of those picayune people who huff over improbabilities, stay away. Everyone else gets a green light. Billy Bob Thorton plays Charles Farmer, an ex NASA rancher determined to pilot a rocket from his barn, with his family's help. It's a homeschool project, no less. Billy Bob has that eternal optimism, that unshakable good nature, and most importantly, that absolute inability to see when his goose is cooked that makes him unstoppable. In real life these guys make invincible salesmen. In movie life, they orbit the earth.

Each time we see a movie, I read internet reviews afterwards so I can tell my wife if I liked the film or not, a habit which drives her nuts. Reviews of Astronaut Farmer were mixed. The deciding factor, I discern, is whether you can imagine and appreciate a kook like Farmer. I can. Take Hal, for instance.

Hal enjoyed the same combination of qualities. Incurable optimism, unyielding good nature, bedrock decency. And absolutely oblivious to obstacles. People loved Hal. True to calling, he was a salesman. You'd sooner get his customers to bump off their mothers than buy from a rival. If only I had half his nature.

In the congregation, Hal was fully capable of off-the-wall remarks, as unpredictable as they were nutty, like how you could forget the resurrection if you died on an amusement park ride since you had deliberately risked life and limb. Fortunately no one took him seriously. "That's just Hal," they would say. The secret of human relations is to appreciate folks for their fine points, and cut them slack on the rest.

He'd be offered oversight of this or that department at the circuit or district level. Of course, he'd accept. Never turn down a privilege. They'd dig up some assistants for him. The assistants would putz along, confident in Hal's sure hand and direction. But two thirds of the way through they'd realize, to their horror, that Hal had absolutely no idea what he was doing. So they'd work their tails off, doubletime, tripletime, and as a consequence, all would turn out well. "You see?" Hal would chime in, "Jehovah provides!"

And who's to say that's not leadership? The assignments got done. Those assistants developed skills they never thought possible. In fact, I believe Hal attracted a corps of young Ministerial Servants eager for the challenge.

But I wasn't one of them. We both served for a time on a committee looking into a Kingdom Hall build. Hal was enthralled with those then-new fold down baby changing tables. "We have to get one of those," he'd gush. "Put it right there in the men's room! Why should it be only the sisters who change babies? Times are changing! Not just the wives, but also the husbands should share!" On and on he'd go, so enthused.

For crying out loud, we hadn't even located land yet!

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Tom Irregardless and Me      No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Resume Padding at MIT

MIT Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones got pretty good at spotting applicants who had padded their resumes. Nevertheless, the school fired her (April 27). She had padded hers!

Padded it quite a bit, actually. She'd claimed BS and MS degrees from Union College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Albany Medical College. That's how she'd landed her first job 28 years ago. But she'd only studied at Rensselaer for a year and had never graduated anywhere.

They caught someone in Rochester doing that too. She had been director of the Urban League. Alas, I cannot recall her name. Turned out she'd fudged everything. The lawyers, I heard, were going to have a field day, retrying every case in which she had testified!

Sheepandgoats, righteous as he is, could never countenance lying. I suppose you have to kick these people to the curb without mercy. But amidst all the indignant blather, one fact should not be ignored. These two had proved themselves excellent at their jobs!

Frankly, you cannot read Marilee Jones without liking her. She wrote an editorial for USA Today (1/5/03) in which she related a note she'd received from an applicant's dad: It read "You rejected my son. He's devastated. See you in court."

The next day came a note from the applicant himself: "Thank you for not admitting me to MIT. This is the best day of my life."

In an era where hard-driving, ambition-blinded parents can push their more have-a-life offspring to the point of suicide, Ms. Jones offered unheard of nurturing and common sense: lay off on the self-stress, enjoy life, stay healthy, stop trying to be perfect. MIT officials, even as they canned her, were universal in their praise. "She's really been a leader in the profession," said her predecessor Michael Behnke. Her peers concurred. Ms. Jones was "one of those people who was trying to bring sanity back to the whole admissions world. She's spoken persuasively and thoughtfully both to parents and admissions deans about restoring the humanity to this process and taking some pressure off kids," said a fellow dean of admissions Bruce Poch. But now she's gone and insanity can reassert itself.

The surface lesson here has to do with always-tell-the-truth and so forth. But the real lesson I've not yet heard anyone state: what a load of horse manure all these "credentials" really are. They exist for two reasons, neither of them noble.

1. They make hiring easier, since you can cart two thirds of all resumes to the trash, unread.

2.  They inflate the education industry, ever eager to dream up new areas of expertise, for which they can teach and write outrageously overpriced textbooks.

The process serves to eliminate the creative and innovative folks in favor of the plodders and the dull.

My wife, Mrs Sheepandgoats, and I ran up against this mindset when we set out to homeschool our kids, many years ago. There were plenty of educators who huffed at our not being certified teachers. It led us to uncover the truth that certified teachers taught absolutely no better than uncertified ones. (yet they cost far more) Catholic schools rarely use certified teachers, yet achieve results as good or better than public schools!

It's in this light that we can understand the recent Democrat and Chronicle headline: "Computer Workers May Have to Report Child Abuse." (5/2/07) Lawmakers in two states think this is a good idea, and it's hard to resist a notion like this, since anyone who does obviously thinks pedophilia is a good thing. Apparently, the technician at Best Buy and even the shop two doors down now, should this become law, will have to alert the cops when they spot something unsavory on your hard drive. I suspect most of them already do, just on the basis of being decent people

Michael Wendy, spokesman for a the Computing Technology Industry Association, based in Illinois, offered some common sense hedging. Sure, technicians want to help out, he said, but they're concerned about liability should they miss something.

As well they should be. Lawyers, undoubtedly, will love this new proposal. As will insurance people. Technicians will have to load up on liability insurance. Repairs will be so expensive that no one will bother....you'll just junk your machine and buy another. And repairmen will need a Master's Degree to touch your machine, with advanced courses in sociology and human sexuality.

Educators will like that.

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)