Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2005 Issue

Taken To School: What's Wrong With Education

Dunce

Today's kids aren't as dumb as they let on.


By Michael Stillman

Do you want to know what's wrong with education today? I know. Recently, I had an opportunity to return to class with a bunch of high schoolers, some 40 years after my own graduation. Now more observer than participant, it all became clear. It's not poor teachers, old books, bad facilities, or any of the other things we blamed when we were students. No it isn't. The problem is with the students. Let me explain.

My son recently got his first car and first license. Do you know what insurance costs for a young male? If not, you don't want to. I asked the agent if there was anything I could do to reduce the cost. One suggestion was that he take a drug and alcohol awareness program. That would save him 5%. Then, she added, "you too can save 5% by taking the course." The course is given in two-hour sessions, over three days. Well, I was going to have to drive him to class, and probably sit around for the two hours anyway, so why not join in and save the 5%? The manager warned me that they did not have any sessions specifically for older drivers, so I would primarily be in class with younger people, but that I would still earn my discount. So I signed up.

Let me tell you, they weren't kidding about it being a class of younger people. My son was the second oldest student in the class, and I've got 40 years on him. This was a class of high school students, one college student, and one geezer. For three days, I reported to class, and observed the behavior and interactions between my fellow students, and came away understanding why they aren't learning anything in school.

The course was for the most part what I expected. The instructor long ago realized you can't make kids do anything. Telling them they shouldn't drink and drive or do drugs and drive is as likely to be counterproductive as successful. Not even movies about or other explanations of the terrible consequences of drunken driving was likely to move them. So he approached the course as informational. He essentially told the kids he couldn't make them do anything, so instead he would just present the data. What, if anything they did with it, he explained, was up to them. All he could do was present the facts.

Speaking aside to me before class, he explained he would be happy if someone, just one, of these kids was affected by what he taught. He was resigned to the fact that it might impact no one. As he explained, those who are concerned about the dangers aren't going to drink and drive. Those who aren't concerned, or lack the self-discipline to resist the pressures that lead them to drink and drive, will continue to do so anyway. Effectively, these kids would spend six hours ignoring what was said in the classroom and then go about doing what they were going to do anyway. They were only there to save 5%, and once they put in their time, they would get that certificate which entitled them to a discount. All else would be forgotten.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> SANGGI, Chong (1678-1752). Korean Atlas. Manuscript map on mulberry bark paper. C. 1750-1790. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AKERMAN, Anders (1721-1778). & AKREL, Frederik (1779-1868). Pair of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes. Stockholm, c. 1800. 23 inch diameter, each. $60,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> BENNETT, Lieut. William Pyt (d. in action, 1916). AN IMPORTANT AND APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED SERIES OF GELATIN SILVER PHOTOGRAPHS OF LHASA AND TIBET TAKEN DURING THE CELEBRATED YOUNGHUSBAND MISSION OF 1904. $60,000 to $80,000

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