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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Torre and the Future
2007-11-05 21:44
by Jon Weisman

Over at, I have a new column that seeks to remind people that the composition of the Dodger roster remains the big unanswered question about the 2008 team.

Whether your regard for new Dodger manager Joe Torre elevates him to sainthood or renders him a commoner, know that his arrival in Los Angeles doesn't end the tug-o-war fundamental to the Dodger organization in 2007.

It raises the questions of how much tug will Torre have and which way he'll yank.

It's true that Dodger fans have every right to expect a more peaceful clubhouse in 2008 after they were blindsided in September by the revelation that it had become a hotbed of bitterness and resignation under then-manager Grady Little. Torre commands the kind of respect that no player is likely to rebel against -- successfully.

But the disagreement at the heart of the crisis precipitating Little's departure and Torre's arrival still festers: How much should the Dodgers expect from older or younger players? Who should be on the roster itself? ...

After obsessing over Torre for a week, most are probably ready to resume obsessing about the rest of the team.

Comments (175)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-11-05 21:56:45
1.   LogikReader
As mentioned before, Curt Schilling can now be taken off the FA list. He has now signed a short-term deal with the Red Sox.

I'll be on those pins and needles until somebody else falls for, er, signs Mike Lowell, Torii Hunter, Livan Hernandez, Reggie Sanders, et al.

2007-11-05 22:00:50
2.   Greg Brock
Jon Weisman, on this Minotaur person:

He is regarded with such awe that some Dodgers chat room commenters avoid even uttering his name, for fear that it might poison his destiny.

Well, duh. I don't talk about former US President Crispus Johannsen either...Because he doesn't exist. Just like the pitching prospect you are wont to conjure from time to time. Really, let's stay in reality, Weisman. Your flights of fancy strain credibility.

Once again, really good piece, Jon.

2007-11-05 22:01:10
3.   trainwreck
Well since Torre and Ned both seemed to talk about pitching today I expect us to try to keep Wolf, make an offer to Pettite, and explore trades. So many teams seem to be offering up young pitchers, so I think we may look to that area.
2007-11-05 22:06:48
4.   dzzrtRatt
I can't help but hoping that your comments in SI will have some weight on how the front office approaches the off-season. They have to realize there won't be universal cheering if Kershaw and Kemp are jettisoned for a one-year rental of any player from Santana on down.

I guess management types can look at blogs as pesky aberrations. But SI, that's major media.

Don't you kind of wonder what Jeff Kent said on that "long" phone message?

"Joe, the whole season was symbolized by that trash can...."

2007-11-05 22:06:48
5.   natepurcell
Id try to keep Wolf and see if Colon would take a NRI.
2007-11-05 22:08:12
6.   Gagne55
2 I wonder if Manbearpig would be a good guy to sign to shore up the rotation.
2007-11-05 22:08:28
7.   dzzrtRatt
5 Colon will not need to take a NRI from anybody.
2007-11-05 22:09:42
8.   trainwreck
I am confident that Ned won't trade top guys for Santana, because one thing he has said is that he won't trade young talent for a person that won't be on the team very long.

If the Dodgers could negotiate with Santana and get him to agree to a deal...

Then yeah, I could see it happening.

2007-11-05 22:11:49
9.   Greg Brock
4 I can see Jeff Kent wandering the streets one day, muttering incoherently, Cuckoo's Nest-style...

"Yes...But the trashcan, you see...The trashcan...He moved it. He moved it. I'M TALKING ABOUT FORM! I'M TALKING ABOUT GOD, THE DEVIL...INTERRELATIONSHIPS!"

2007-11-05 22:14:11
10.   natepurcell
As a Viking fan, Adrian Peterson gives me the same goosebumps as much Loney, Martin, Billingsley and Kemp....combined.
2007-11-05 22:18:10
11.   trainwreck
I was wishing for him to be a Raider all of last year. But of course we screw that up.
2007-11-05 22:20:03
12.   trainwreck

How appropriate.

2007-11-05 22:20:09
13.   Greg Brock
11 As you were told you would.
2007-11-05 22:21:07
14.   LAT
Brock you should know I am hating all middle school history teachers right now. My daughter is supposed to be John Langdon and has to write a speech about why all states should have an equal vote in the national legislature and whether slaves should be taxed as property or counted as part of the population for representation purposes. She is a math person so this might as well be in latin. We are already on hour three.
2007-11-05 22:24:31
15.   Linkmeister
LAT, can't you work proportionality of population into the argument somewhere? That would give your math person something to work with.

Of course, it's because each state has two Senators regardless of size that a certain party still retains its effectiveness in blocking legislation despite the will of the majority.

2007-11-05 22:24:50
16.   Icaros
I don't know anything about college football. Who can I fantasize about the Rams getting with their first or second pick next year?
2007-11-05 22:26:11
17.   Greg Brock
14 That seems like an incredibly difficult assignment for Middle School. Sounds like an eighth grade assignment, where teachers overestimate a 13 year old's ability to combine History and English Composition.

Of course, there is a parent out there, somewhere, wondering why their 13 year old has to learn how to solve quadratic equations. So you're all equally unhappy.

Welcome to rushing our children into adulthood. Don't look at me...I hate it.

2007-11-05 22:27:27
18.   trainwreck
DT Glenn Dorsey from LSU. You guys already got a RB, QB, and two OTs (even though they are hurt for this year), so Dorsey is the guy.
2007-11-05 22:27:38
19.   Greg Brock
16 Offense or defense? Quarterback? D-Line?

Glenn Dorsey is the guy I'd want. Plus, his name is old-timey. Sounds like a band leader.

2007-11-05 22:27:42
20.   natepurcell
Who can I fantasize about the Rams getting with their first or second pick next year?

Probably either Jake Long (OT) or Glenn Dorsey (DT).

2007-11-05 22:28:24
21.   Greg Brock
18 I go for the joke and you beat me by eleven seconds. Booo!
2007-11-05 22:28:38
22.   natepurcell
Dorsey's a BEAST. So is Chris Long (Howie's kid), but he fits better into a 3-4.
2007-11-05 22:31:40
23.   natepurcell
I also really like Brian Brohm but Rams just spent alot of money on Bulger.
2007-11-05 22:33:11
24.   Greg Brock
23 Petrino will get Brohm, come hell or high water.
2007-11-05 22:34:58
25.   trainwreck
Matt Ryan will go before Brohm.
2007-11-05 22:35:57
26.   trainwreck
Yeah, unless the Falcons are the first team to draft a QB.
2007-11-05 22:39:13
27.   natepurcell

If he plays the same way the past two games, he won't.

Minus the last 4 minutes against V-tech, Ryan's last 116minutes of football has been less than stellar.

2007-11-05 22:40:48
28.   Icaros
Somebody needs to save Bulger from getting murdered. I don't even want him to play anymore this season. What's the point?

Dorsey sounds good. I like how he spells Glenn with two n's, like Glenn Danzig.

2007-11-05 22:40:51
29.   natepurcell
I'm not sold on the fact that since Petrino coached Brohm that he will draft Brohm, no questions asked.

He coached Okoye, and they went DE Anderson over DT Okoye this past year. I think Petrino will also look at Darren McFadden really hard and they could be decision changer to going after Brohm.

2007-11-05 22:44:46
30.   dzzrtRatt
14 How does giving an assignment like this to a 13-year-old math whiz make America a stronger country?

Have we lost our minds?

How many brilliant people are walking around thinking of themselves as failures because they couldn't get a good grade on a bogus assignment like this.

2007-11-05 22:47:40
31.   Greg Brock
29 The team that passes on Brohm will rue the day. They won't just regret it, they'll rue it.

McFadden is great, but he's way too wiry for my taste. And I really like McFadden.

2007-11-05 22:50:40
32.   still bevens
For those of you who are fond of animated .gifs I just found a doozy thats red sox related. Check it out. G-rated and all that.

2007-11-05 22:51:30
33.   trainwreck
I want McFadden or Dorsey to be Raiders.
2007-11-05 22:51:41
34.   natepurcell

I agree, I love Brohm. I hope the Vikes get a shot at him.

2007-11-05 22:52:08
35.   Greg Brock
30 Obviously, you are not an educator. This kind of maverick thinking is not welcome in education, and, frankly, your opinion is irrelevant. You do not have a credential. You have not passed the CSET or PRAXIS II. You have not attended the mandatory workshops. You do not worship at the altar of standardized testing. You just don't understand how it works. You're not a Union member.

Why do you hate America, Ratt?

2007-11-05 22:54:15
36.   bhsportsguy
Trainwreck and Brock,

Kevin Love got his second double double (when asked after the game if Love can average a double double, Howland said "Why not?"), Russell scored 17 and had 2-3 dunks (have not seen anyone leap like that since Baron Davis).

Trainwreck may have already watched Howland's post game interview but I will let you know that Collison will probably miss Friday's opener but Josh should be back, Collison showed no signs of limping, no crutches and he was jumping up and down during the game.

Smaller crowd tonight but overall, a much quicker paced team and Love is the real thing.

2007-11-05 22:55:06
37.   Bob Timmermann
Sorry if I got on anyone's nerves today. Guy Fawkes Day always brings the worst out in me.
2007-11-05 22:56:10
38.   dzzrtRatt
30 I learned to hate America from my teachers, just like everyone else!
2007-11-05 22:58:49
39.   Greg Brock
37 Guy Fawkes Day isn't any fun anymore. That stupid V movie made it cool.

38 Damn Hippies.

2007-11-05 22:59:28
40.   bhsportsguy
37 But you got a discounted book at the Student Store that cheered you up. Not the death but the destruction and fire.
2007-11-05 22:59:35
41.   LAT
Sounds like an eighth grade assignment, where teachers overestimate a 13 year olds ability to combine History and English Composition.

Exactly. TO be fair, her history teacher is incredibly enthusiastic but goes too fast because of that enthusiasm. Writing is hard for her so this was especially tough. (On me too). I'm sure the student who likes to write and loves history is being well served but have you ever come across such a 13 yr old?

(Link, I tried the math angle. In the end I had to focus on the difference between middle school and high school enrollment and show how the high school girls would win every election if it was based on the popular vote. I made a little progress with that example) I don't know how you teachers do it. I lack enough patience, even for those I love most in the world. How do you keep your patience with someone else's kid.

2007-11-05 23:00:49
42.   trainwreck
I listened to the game on the radio and that Dave Marcus guy was a lot more pleasant than Chris Roberts.
2007-11-05 23:04:55
43.   bhsportsguy
"Lets go crazy Broadway style."
2007-11-05 23:06:02
44.   bhsportsguy
42 I was wondering what all those messages were about on BRO.
2007-11-05 23:06:09
45.   Greg Brock
41 If you want the truth, Social Science teachers are terrible at explaining proper composition. They assume the the English teachers have taught the students how to construct an essay (introduction, body, conclusion, etc.), and don't have much to offer.

Middle School teachers should stay away from long writing assignments (just my opinion). Kids have a hard enough time tying complex concepts together (Hellenic/Hellenistic Mediterranean, Colonial America/Articles of Confed/Post Constitutional America) together. Students shouldn't have to worry about essay constructs.

That's upper level high school stuff.

2007-11-05 23:06:38
46.   Bob Timmermann
I was tempted to buy a book on the presidency of John Tyler, but it was $37. Just a wee bit much for me to spend to learn about the intricacies of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.
2007-11-05 23:07:49
47.   Bob Timmermann
I could have handled that assignment in middle school.

But I was a freak and no fun.

2007-11-05 23:09:52
48.   Greg Brock
47 Bob is the "pro" argument for tracking.

Most people abhor tracking. I'm a big fan, personally.

2007-11-05 23:12:26
49.   Bob Timmermann
I didn't go to 7th grade. I scoff at middle school. Actually, I never went to middle school as I went to parochial school which was 1-8 and then I went to Catholic high school for 9th grade and then on to the joyous world of LAUSD for 10th grade back in the old days of the three-year high school.
2007-11-05 23:14:42
50.   LAT
On top of this she is reading Of Mice and Men. She hates sad things and started crying when Carlson shot's Candy's old dog. She will be devastated by the end. She loves Lenny. I have read some of it with her and had forgotten what a great writer Steinbeck was. Is there a better or simpler story anywhere?
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-11-05 23:15:53
51.   Greg Brock
49 In Greg Brock's world, you would have been pulled out of the seventh grade, and put into a school of gifted children. Your high school teachers would all have MA's, and you would have spent your days at museums. You would have been separated from the common folk.

In Greg Brock's world, we track. We separate the wheat from the chaff. It's not a very popular opinion.

2007-11-05 23:17:03
52.   Bob Timmermann
Charlotte's Web?

Les Miserables?

2007-11-05 23:17:36
53.   bhsportsguy
43 I'm sorry so many great quotes from this episode.

"MMMM floor pie"

"Ohh look at the leader of the wiener patrol."

"How was jerk practice boy?"

"Stupid poetic justice."

"Ha, you don't have a son."

"The yarrest river boat there be."

"Want me to zinc your sniffer?"

"Hey there's a New Mexico"

2007-11-05 23:19:05
54.   Bob Timmermann
But if that had happened where would I have met the dozens of girls I had dates with in high school?

And by dozens, I mean one.

2007-11-05 23:19:19
55.   bhsportsguy
52 I was thinking Encyclopedia Brown and how conviently his nemisis was named Bugs Meany.
2007-11-05 23:21:59
56.   Greg Brock
50 She hates sad things

I hope she's prepared to miss a ton of great literature. If she cares about the characters, and connects with the text, well, welcome to great literature.

She's supposed to cry over Lenny. That means she appreciates great writing, and she connects with the author. The alternative is American Idol.

When you don't weep for great characters...Well, that's the day you miss out.

2007-11-05 23:24:25
57.   Greg Brock
54 You would have been in an environment where the ladies would recognize your enormous brain pan. The ladies would have fawned over your ability to deconstruct Tom Wolfe. The ladies would have loved your ability to find obscure box scores.

They would even forgive your ridiculous vendetta against pitted fruits.

2007-11-05 23:26:39
58.   LAT
41. I'm sure the student who likes to write and loves history is being well served but have you ever come across such a 13 yr old?

How could I ask such a question when the 6'6" yellow jersey clad answer is right in front of me (internet speaking, of course, he is not in my kitchen) (However, just before lunch today at La Salsa I was DTing and Griddling away. As I sat on the La Salsa patio I pondered the irony of the fact that when I got back to the office I would read what had been written 100 yards from where I had lunch. I felt a little like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. Something about eating lunch 90 yards from the Cuban line at Gitmo.)

2007-11-05 23:29:15
59.   bhsportsguy
Just a warning, just skip tomorrow's LA Times sports section.

On the otherhand, be prepared for 3 months of unrelenting words from a certain columnist about winning now. And since he just wrote a book about a certain HOF manager, look for that name to show up a lot too.

2007-11-05 23:31:58
60.   Bob Timmermann
That columnist's book was available at the ---- Store. But it was not discounted, so I did not read it. There's an excerpt of it on
2007-11-05 23:32:44
61.   Bob Timmermann
I wasn't working today. Bhsportsguy can vouch for my very grungy appearance.
2007-11-05 23:37:15
62.   LAT
56. You raise a very good point. I will explain to her how it is good to cry and feel these things.

BTW, Steinbeck would have been a huge American Idol fan. Everyone loves AI. He would have run up his phone bill voting hundreds of times times for Kelly Pickler.

2007-11-05 23:38:43
63.   bhsportsguy
61 Yep, though excited Japanese National students took his picture due to the uniform he was wearing.
2007-11-05 23:45:37
64.   Greg Brock
By the by, a couple of friends and I are putting together a baseball blog. Two authors played in the minors, one made it to the show, another guy played two years of college baseball, and all of us are statistically inclined. It should be a lot of fun. Plus, we have a couple of friends who are playing for the Rays and the Blue Jays. We're hoping they'll contribute from time to time.

It should pop up around January.

2007-11-05 23:47:16
65.   Linkmeister
50 Sticking with Steinbeck, "The Red Pony."

2007-11-05 23:48:10
66.   trainwreck
I did not have to read Of Mice and Men until high school.

And in 8th grade, I had to do hard things like memorize the Star Spangled Banner. Way to go Bay Area public school system.

2007-11-06 00:03:14
67.   LAT
64. I'm sure lots of us will support your blog but I hope it doesn't keep you from commenting here often.
2007-11-06 00:14:23
68.   Greg Brock
67 We're still working out the logistics. Most of us (the contributors) comment on other blogs, so we're trying to work out how we'll run a good site, while sticking with the blogs that we like.

So far, we have commenters from Dodger Thoughts (Me), Metsblog (a friend), DRays Bay (a friend who actually pitched in the Tampa organization), and a couple of friends who are currently in the bigs. We'll see.

I'd like to put together a quality MLB blog. Time will tell.

2007-11-06 00:35:08
69.   Bill Crain
a certain party still retains its effectiveness in blocking legislation despite the will of the majority

Gee, that sounds awful. There's somebody preventing the majority from destroying my rights and seizing my property. We got to find these guys and stop them so those of us in the minority can be oppressed and persecuted like we deserve. It must be a good thing if it's the "will of the majority." Let's go; fire up the ovens.

2007-11-06 00:36:44
70.   thinkblue0

Let me know if you need any other players, Jerry Owens (White Sox) and James Shields (Drays) are two good friends of mine. They might be willing to contribute.

2007-11-06 00:37:49
71.   bhsportsguy
68 Just remember us when you get famous.
2007-11-06 02:40:37
72.   Sam DC
Go Brock. The world needs more good blog.
2007-11-06 02:45:31
73.   Sam DC
And Congratulations Harper Lee.

May LAT's daughter, and my two sons, and anyone else you like, cry at be forever bettered by To Kill a Mockingbird.

2007-11-06 04:26:30
74.   D4P
And by dozens, I mean one

One dozen's nothing to scoff at.

2007-11-06 05:26:52
75.   Daniel Zappala
One is definitely nothing to scoff at, especially when you spend grades 1-12 at Catholic schools, with high school being all boys. I can always out-Catholic Timmermann.
2007-11-06 05:27:32
76.   Ken Noe
73 My pastor was Harper Lee's pastor when she visited Monroeville to see her sister. She has some pretty cool tales.

Back to the LADs...Gonzo now wants to be a Tiger:

Ned's comments: Sounds like Kemp is safe, and maybe even be the center fielder, but this is the man who backed Little. I think LaRoche is toast, though, if NedCo can work a deal.

2007-11-06 05:46:32
77.   Daniel Zappala
Here is my education rant.

1) We should be teaching kids the entire writing process early on. All my kids want to do is sit down in front of the computer, type whatever comes out of their head, and turn it in on the first pass. I have been teaching them the process of brainstorm - select ideas - outline - draft - revise - polish. They got some exposure to brainstorming in 3rd grade, and they have also learned about revising, but by 6th grade have still not had much emphasis on outlining as a way to organize your thoughts. There is just no sense starting to write until you know what you want to say. By the time you sit in front of the computer, you're just changing your outline into sentences, which doesn't require as much deep thinking.

At such a young age, no kid can construct her entire assignment in her head and just spit it out. It is a huge benefit to them to start practicing thinking before writing.

2) Multiple-choice tests, including standardized tests, should be completely eliminated. I would wager that they are responsible for much of the decline in our educational system. They don't test a kid's ability to think for themselves. Instead, they tell you the answer and you just have to find it among a few others. We're teaching our kids to use trial-and-error instead of thinking for themselves.

3) School districts should be made as small as possible. Parents should have direct control over how their school is run. Bureaucracy should exist solely to serve parents in helping their kids to get the best education possible.

4) Kids should be tracked at an early age, and divided into classes based on their facility in different subjects -- strong, average, remedial in each subject. Your age should have no bearing on what level of instruction you need.

5) Classes should be twenty students at most.

2007-11-06 05:51:40
78.   D4P
All my kids want to do is sit down in front of the computer

Do you have your own lab at home...?

2007-11-06 05:59:38
79.   Daniel Zappala
78 Well, there's the computer lab, biology lab, chemistry lab ...
2007-11-06 06:00:36
80.   Greg Brock
77 I hope your kids are at private schools, because all five points are heretical within the public school system. No multiple choice? Small districts and class sizes? Tracking?


2007-11-06 06:00:57
81.   D4P
Chocolate lab...
2007-11-06 06:04:48
82.   D4P
Daniel's points sound expensive.
2007-11-06 06:04:55
83.   Daniel Zappala
Not until watching the clip of the news conference on the LA Times site did it really hit me -- though some here have mentioned it before -- who are these Dodgers? An owner from Boston, a GM from Chicago/SF, and a manager from New York. It's crazy, but I suppose most teams are like this now?
2007-11-06 06:07:29
84.   D4P
At least Dodger Dogs are still made right there in The Southland.
2007-11-06 06:09:31
85.   Daniel Zappala
80 Public schools, though I never spent a day in public school until I taught at one. We actually have very few private schools available in Utah, though the public schools are good, mostly because of demographics. But we certainly don't have small class sizes -- 32 kids in each, which is just terrible. On the other hand, we do have a limited form of tracking -- talented and gifted kids have their own class, and several of my kids are in them. They also have pretty good support for kids with learning disabilities.

So it's not like the system is terrible -- not by a long shot -- but it could be doing a lot better. I shouldn't have to teach my kids so much stuff at home.

2007-11-06 06:11:04
86.   Daniel Zappala
Oh, and Utah does have a robust charter school system. Since that introduces competition, the standard public schools have had to change a bit more than they otherwise would have.
2007-11-06 06:11:32
87.   D4P
I shouldn't have to teach my kids so much stuff at home

It takes a village.

2007-11-06 06:25:41
88.   D4P
BTW: The latest installment of TMYLM was insane. So painful to watch.

Can't say I blame Palek for freaking out and wanting to leave Carolyn. They're both pretty selfish and independent, but Carolyn seems to use Palek more than vice versa.

Katie's attitude and behaviors have made Dave into the victim, and we feel sorry for him right now. He's trying hard to keep the household running and to fix things with Katie, but she's running away just as they were making some progress.

In fact, that seems to be an emerging theme. The men (Hugo, Dave, and Palek) are all sympathetic figures right now.

And all of a sudden, Jamie seems to be in the best position of them all.

2007-11-06 06:31:58
89.   uke
Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The New York Mets are scheduled to
meet with Alex Rodriguez's agent before Major League Baseball's
general managers' meetings end in two days, the New York Daily
News said.
Mets General Manager Omar Minaya will sit with agent Scott
Boras to discuss what it would take to make Rodriguez a Met, the
Daily News reported, citing an unidentified person close to the team...
2007-11-06 06:34:53
90.   D4P
Omar Minaya will sit with agent Scott Boras to discuss what it would take to make Rodriguez a Met

1. Money
2. More money
3. Additional money

2007-11-06 06:35:14
91.   uke
Did I miss commentary on the resignation of Marty Greenspun? Just saw it on the Dodger's site. Any ideas? Does is really matter?
2007-11-06 06:37:11
92.   old dodger fan
77 I agree. Where I live schools are evaluated based on how kids do on standardized (mulitple choice) tests so that is what they teach. Education, particularly middle and high school, should be designed to teach kids to think, to listen to ideas that don't necesssarily agree with their own and to form rational conclusions that they can support both orally and in writing. If a baseball GM did that he would be open to different ways to evaluate talent (I had to turn this back to baseball somehow).
2007-11-06 06:38:40
93.   uke
90 - Where would they put him? Move Wright to first and play Arod at third? Or maybe Reyes to second and Arod to short?
2007-11-06 06:40:28
94.   old dodger fan
91 says he used to be with the Yankees and he resigned from the Dodgers the day Torre signed with us. I hope it was a co-incidence.
2007-11-06 06:43:37
95.   D4P
I'm sure they'd figure something out, and I don't think they'd let this issue stop them from signing ARod.

Delgado probably makes too much money to bench, so 2B is probably the position they'd alter to accommodate Money Bags.

2007-11-06 06:46:15
96.   old dodger fan
93 Wright to left.
2007-11-06 06:53:46
97.   Sam DC
Life in O's Nation:
2007-11-06 06:57:39
98.   Frip
77 "Multiple-choice tests, including standardized tests, should be completely eliminated...We're teaching our kids to use trial-and-error instead of thinking for themselves."

No, we're measuring how well they can retain information. Which is what 95% of all jobs require. "Thinking for yourself" is a luxury performed mostly outside the workplace, and is done poorly. Schools have a tough enough time creating viable employees, much less beautiful minds.

Besides, 'thinking for yourself' is overrated. Most people could do us all a favor and simply imitate the opinions of smarter people.

2007-11-06 07:02:25
99.   Sam DC
I always thought multiple choice tests measured success at a complicated form a game theory otherwise known as "figuring out the answer when you do not know the answer."
2007-11-06 07:03:09
100.   uke
94 - I hope it is as well...
Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2007-11-06 07:24:49
101.   ToyCannon
Great idea's until it is you who have to grade the tests during your off hours.
2007-11-06 07:31:23
102.   Sam DC
Ned Colletti and Brian Sabean negotiate over a possible trade of Tim Lincecum.

(as told by McCovey Chronicles, and via Cap Punishment)

2007-11-06 07:50:12
103.   tommyl
I myself benefited from a type of tracking. From 7th grade on I was in a magnet school and its basically got me to where I am today. I went to a private elementary school and even there was mostly bored out of my mind, by 6th grade I was given a book and some index cards of math problems to do on my own. Tracking is probably bad for the masses, because it kills some kids self esteem and hence desire to learn, but no tracking at all does risk wasting the kids in the upper echelon.
2007-11-06 07:55:19
104.   Andrew Shimmin
I'm not a great fan of Link's politics, either, but I don't think we have to fret about "firing up the ovens," on his account. Anyway, Godwin's Law, and all that.

The brain-storm, outline, then write the essay theory of life is what I was taught at my public elementary school. I rebelled against it, totally. We have computers, now. Editing is a breeze, and it's a useful thing to learn, since even if you bother with the outline, it'll still probably need tinkering. For me, writing was always the best brainstorm. Not knowing specifically where I was going made writing my 7th grade History/English fusion class essays more tolerable, because it was fun. The essays, and the day dreams the English teacher half of the class inspired were the only parts of those classes that weren't awful. I did not participate in the 8th grade fusion class, so I got stuck with one of the three best teachers I ever had, teaching 8th grade English. Mr. Hoffman. I'd pit great teachers against any other theory of education reform there is. If only there were enough to go around.

2007-11-06 08:09:23
105.   Bumsrap
Reading about what Torre has said this week gives me hope that a youthful Giant fan and long-time Yankee Manager will be the one that acutally brings back the Dodger in the Dodgers.

As Torre fills out his coaching staff I want to see someone that we think of as a Dodger. Mattingly/Yankees, Bowa/Phillies, Russell/Dodgers, Karros/Dodgers, Piazza/Dodgers, Hershiser/Dodgers, Colletti/Giants, etc.

It is not enough to recognize Newcomb, Lasorda in the audiance and mention Snider, Hodges, Campanella, Furillo, Koufax, Drysdale--but it is a start.

2007-11-06 08:09:55
106.   Disabled List
102 I am not often amused by the content that appears on McCovey Chronicles.

But that was amusing.

2007-11-06 08:17:42
107.   DodgerBakers
A little late to the party, but good article, Jon. I just wish you could have put it all in a 72 pt. typeface and submit it to the Dodger's FO.
2007-11-06 08:23:35
108.   Bumsrap
Some large inner city schools have nearly 4,000 students and are crowded and at times violent. Students can get overwhelmed and are not able to connect, or feel that there isn't a teacher who really cares about what they're doing. Some gifted students lose their way as their social life eclipses academics mainly due to friends that are a bad influence. No one tells them to stay in school, and instead they are encouraged to get out as soon as possible. The result is a large segment of students who struggle anonymously until, dispirited, they give up.

In A previous chapter I talked about building campfires and how throwing logs on a strong campfire would make it thrive but throwing logs on a campfire that was just trying to get started would smother it. School must keep trying to find a student's hotspot and nourish it and not let a clock determine when it is time to throw on a log. Schools' greatest good is to get the fire burning within students and stop measuring the system by the size of the fire or how many logs they have thrown on the fire. Students should graduate if their fires are beginning to grow.

Every school does not have to have a football team, baseball, or basketball team, etc. Schools can bus those who want to play those sports to sports camps that consolidate players into teams that compete against each other. Fewer teams leads to better competition, better coaching, better equipment, and less pressure to join. Many students join a team and never play but they practice with the team and become part of the jock click just to be part of an in-group in order to be more popular. Then there are the cheer leaders and pep squads that form clicks. Its less about sports and more about separating oneself from others by becoming part of a social click.

Schools need to create student body leagues instead of just creating teams of the few to compete against other schools. The teams should not be limited to physical activity; mixed gender teams composed of various academic skills could study and practice together and then compete against other teams. Have assemblies center more on these intramural activities and less on the usual few-best type of teams. Schools should try to get most of the student body involved in teamwork through intramural activities. Watching some one else play is not good exercise nor does it teach anything of value.

We don't need to have all teachers come from the ranks of people that enjoyed high school and were great book learners. We need some teachers that have been successful working in non school environments that can share the skills and stories that made them successful in a competitive non-academic environment. And, we need teachers that are skilled life coaches working with students that are receiving course credit for those hours of participation. School officials that earned Doctorates in education perpetuate the book learning intensive system we have today and with all that education too many still don't incorporate the great research that exists on early learning.

Moral and ethical concepts and history could still be taught side-by-side non-book experiential learning opportunities. We can look at groups of people that are not evolving and losing hope and ask what skills they need.

My experience directing prison industries has taught me that in regards to workforce development what is most important is the amount of energy, amount of dedication, amount of positive or negative attitudes we put into our lives and jobs. The goal is to be energetic, to give our best with a positive attitude. Our ability to get along with others at the workplace, our ability to be motivational, our ability to be a team player, our ability to put forth the extra, all carry over to other jobs. Can schools accomplish this if they continue to push book learning on everybody? Maybe school districts need more MBAs and less PhDs.

People that can learn to put some energy into what they enjoy and totally apply themselves in training can take that ability to dedicate themselves, to push themselves, apply themselves to the jobs they might get after training is completed. Role models are important as is the company we keep. I believe if a person chooses to be negative, resentful, lazy and argumentative, do the least possible, etc., then this energy will be carried over to the next job and this stance in life will present itself again until the individual can eradicate it from his being. Schools need to find learning activities that students are not negative toward.

Schools need competition from small nimble entities. Large bulky corporations that used layer after layer of review and approval processes to implement change or create new products learned that they were losing market share and losing opportunity to nimble small businesses. The large corporation has learned to create nimble businesses within themselves that operate like a small business to better compete and survive.

Meanwhile, large school districts continue to operate without the threat of a more nimble competitor. What makes capitalism work better than any other concept is competition. It would need to be said that good companies turn down business that they do not have the capacity to provide outstanding service and quality leaving opportunity for other businesses. Schools need to be able to do this also and there needs to be enough schools for all students. Schools need to specialize and students need to be able to go to the specialty of their choice and if they don't get involved there, schools should be able to move them to another specialty at another school.

Unified school districts have a monopoly on students in their district. They have one superintendent and one board of directors. They may have multiple high schools but each of those schools has a monopoly on the students within their service area. Innovation proceeds most rapidly in a society with some optimal intermediate degree of fragmentation. History has taught us that a too-unified society is at a disadvantage and so is a too fragmented society. Unified school districts need some level of fragmentation.

Jared Diamond tells us in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel that some of us believe German and Japanese industries are super efficient, exceeding American industries in productivity but that is not true. America's industrial productivity on average across all industries is higher than that in either Japan or Germany. But those average figures conceal big differences among the industries within each country.

Japanese steel, metal, car, car parts, camera, and consumer electronic companies compete fiercely and have higher productivities than their US counterparts. The Japanese soap, beer, computer, and food processing industries are not exposed to competition, do not apply best practices, and thus have lower productivity than the corresponding industries in the United States.

Microsoft corporate leaders do not micromanage. Not only do they not micromanage they give small units of five to 10 people freedom in pursuing their own ideas. That organization at Microsoft is now popular within other large corporations. In essence large corporations are now broken into many competing semi independent units. Until some years ago IBM was a slow bureaucratic company that was getting beat by businesses with nimble organizations. Then IBM acquired a new chief executive officer who changed things drastically creating a more Microsoft like organization. IBM's innovativeness has improved as a result.

All of this suggests that we may be able to extract a general principle about group organization. If our goal is innovation and competitive ability, we don't want either excessive unity or excessive fragmentation. We want our country, industry, industrial belts, schools, prisons, to be broken up into groups that compete with one another while maintaining relatively free communication.

Private prisons are popping up all over the country and states' corrections departments are contracting with them to hold their inmates. Charter schools however, compete with public schools not only for students but for funding—funding that would be taken from public schools.

Why can't private schools be built with private money and have public schools contract with them to educate the students that exceed their capacity like the prisons do? Why can't these private schools be specialized to best teach categories of students whether they are gifted, musically inclined, candidates for dropping out, etc?

Private schools built with private money do not have to pass bonds and can be built before the crowd problem and not after. If need be, let the teachers working in private schools participate in the public school retirement system and receive at least the same benefits and pay as do public school teachers.

We need smaller more nimble school districts and we need to finance school construction privately copying the concept of the prisons using companies like Corrections Corp. of America. This is from CCA's web page: "By partnering with CCA to manage a portion of a government corrections system's inmate population, federal, state and county agencies can reduce expenses, avoid untimely capital expenditures, increase their flexibility in addressing fluctuations in inmate populations, and improve the quality of inmate programs that are fundamental to the rehabilitation process. CCA is the nation's largest owner and operator of privatized correctional and detention facilities and one of the largest prison operators in the world. Four factors set CCA apart in the minds of corrections and government leaders: performance; experience; flexibility; and value."

Some of our schools actually need to be built more securely where internal movements are controlled as well as ingress and egress. Bullies and anybody associating with bullies would attend such schools.

Divide students into three groups. The groups would be based on those that wanted to learn, those that were apathetic, and those that create distractions and intimidation. The groups should not be mixed together in the same school.

Once large schools have taken steps to manage their student populations and have become nimble they can begin to address new programs that get to the soul of students. Smaller school districts with populations under control can start implementing these new programs now.

The concept of industry has been in prisons for many years now and it is time for it to be part of school programming. If some students can exert tremendous physical effort practicing for the football team, others should have the opportunity to work and earn money as well as high school credit. Students should not have to drop out of school to work nor should they have to leave school to work. Work should be available on targeted campuses—on some of the new campuses created through private funding.

Even the best medical schools are changing from the principles they had been operating since 1910. During the last 100 years third year medical school has meant total immersion in a series of clerkships in the major fields—six weeks here and six weeks there. Students barely got to know patients. And now, that is changing. Now students trail patients instead of doctors and learn the bigger picture about personal disease and learn to treat patients as a whole individual and not a series of symptoms. America's high schools can change as well.

In Power vs. Force, David Hawkins concluded: "From our studies it appears that the alignment of one's goals and values with high energy attractors is more closely associated with genius than anything else". If students can learn to align themselves with spiritual energy they will find and convey the genius within them. So, we should be teaching more about enjoying life and trusting life and understanding spiritual concepts and about refusing to have thoughts of hatred, anxiety, anger, and judgment. And we do it with less emphasis on grades and standardized tests scores.

School is where campfires are built and attitudes improved.

Now is the time to stop letting funding mechanisms and test scores drive the bus.

Now is the time for nimble school districts and theme based schools including some secure schools, some with work opportunities built into the school, and some with dormitories to temporarily house students in threat of abuse or neglect.

Now is the time to divide students into three groups and keep the groups physically separated.

Now is the time to implement enlightenment programs and neurofeedback.

I want to make one last comment about neurofeedback. Neurofeedback merely listens to the brain and if there is a part of the brain that is slower or faster than what is either considered normal or just too different from what is going on in the rest of a brain a pleasant chime heard like we always hear things rewards the brain whenever it produces a brainwave that as needed speeds up or slows down that part of the brain. If say a student has low self esteem slower brain waves can be heard in the part of the brain that has to do with feelings of self-worth. Neurofeedback can speed up that part of the brain and thus give it more energy. We can use neurofeedback or we can tell the student they are lazy and give them a bad grade. The former improves the student the latter sends the student spiraling down into lower layers of self esteem. Now how about using neurofeedback to eliminate ADD as well?

2007-11-06 08:24:45
109.   LogikReader

I had some fun with Bill Shakin's article. It reminds me...


New York City, 1993, Upper West Side


Kramer busts through door

Kramer: Steinbrenner... he's RUINING THE TEAM!

2007-11-06 08:30:51
110.   Terry A
So Ismael Valdez allegedly bought steroids/HGH.

I guess the rice treatment for his blisters wasn't aggressive enough?

2007-11-06 08:36:18
111.   Penarol1916
All of this great education discussion. I think that I've mentioned before that I'm on the school board for a very mediocre school district in a working class suburb of Chicago and trying to figure out some ways to prepare the kids, especially the kids who are really smart, for actual college. My sister-in-law, who was one of the top kids in her class at this school, freaked out about writing a 5-page paper on "Civilization and its Discontents." Just to give you and example of the low standards here.

I"m wondering about everyone's opinion of the IB program and also the Middle Years Program that accompanies it. It seems to be very rigorous and require a lot of critical thinking, but it also seems to focus a lot on certain test taking skills as well. Does anyone have any experience with these programs? It would be something that would be very difficult for our budget to handle, and I'm still in the preliminary stages of researching it before sifting through other possibilities, so any help would be great.

2007-11-06 08:37:45
112.   blue22
110 - Along with Matt Williams and Jose Guillen.

2007-11-06 08:39:27
113.   Jimi Shelter

I agree. As a 5th grade teacher, I assign a multi-paragraph writing assignment every two weeks; that is, the kids have two weeks to write the paper. Every essay has an opening with a thesis, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. After about three papers, most of my kids know how to tackle a prompt and a blank piece of paper. Many of them even enjoy it. :-)

When my kids come back to visit me as middle schoolers, they usually say the teachers just assign writing- they don't teach it.

Personally, I think the Great Compromise assignment was a pretty good one.

2007-11-06 08:55:16
114.   Jon Weisman
108 - I'm completely in support of this discussion, but is there an author that needs to be credited? Or are you the author? And could this have been linked to?

Greg, I greatly look forward to reading your blog - though I'm thinking LAT has uncorked a gusher.

2007-11-06 08:56:34
115.   Sam in SC
well, someone always has to be different. an hysterical and probably slightly unhinged anti-torre rant here:

2007-11-06 08:59:21
116.   Daniel Zappala
101 Great idea's until it is you who have to grade the tests during your off hours.

Granted, I'm not at the primary or secondary school level, but grading tests during my off hours is exactly what I do. Though I teach Computer Science, nearly everything in my class is written. Even for programming assignments, I try not to have my students just turn in code. They also turn in a report that evaluates how well their code works.

2007-11-06 09:00:48
117.   Bluebleeder87
Schilling & Boston have reached an agreement [ ]
2007-11-06 09:03:15
118.   regfairfield
116 So you're the professor I didn't like.
2007-11-06 09:03:31
119.   Bill Crain
One word: Vouchers
2007-11-06 09:07:14
120.   Jon Weisman
115 - It's all so murky. I debated exploring the timeline last night but stopped myself. I do think someone breached ethics. I do think Torre and the Dodgers talked while Little was still the manager. (Little voiced reluctance about coming back, Colletti told Little to think on it, but without setting a deadline. Little did not indicate he wanted to leave, but Colletti/McCourts got antsy and, perhaps without telling Little, started talking to Girardi and Torre.)

But after the hot water I got myself in yesterday, I wasn't sure this was worth picking another battle over.

If Colletti told Little he wanted to talk to Girardi or Torre, then there's no ethics issue - just an obvious indication that Colletti was losing faith. But isn't it hard to imagine that Colletti had that conversation with Little?

Anyway, I've decided I think to write this all off until/unless Colletti gets on his high horse again, as he did with Drew.

2007-11-06 09:12:19
121.   Daniel Zappala
118 I'm OK with didn't like. I'll go for tough but well-respected. I would also like to be thanked when the class I taught not only got you the $80,000 job, but you were able to keep the job because you could analyze and write as well as produce great code.
2007-11-06 09:14:14
122.   Daniel Zappala
119 I voted no on vouchers today, sorry, but that's leaning too much into politics.
2007-11-06 09:14:19
123.   D4P
I need to overcome my desire to be liked by students. It leads me to be too easy on them.
2007-11-06 09:19:29
124.   Daniel Zappala
Interestingly, the statistics for our university show that the professors ranked highly are those that have the highest expectations and demands. The students end up thankful for the education they received. If you are too easy, you get ranked lower.
2007-11-06 09:21:36
125.   D4P
Do grades fit in there somewhere? It has been my impression that students give better rankings if they get good grades than if they don't.
2007-11-06 09:22:23
126.   regfairfield
121 Oh, of course it's an important skill it's just that multiple times I would finish a 20 hour coding marathon, be relieved for five minutes, then remembered I still had a report to write.
2007-11-06 09:23:01
127.   Robert Daeley
115 Proof that trolls can do their thing in big media as easily as a internet forum.

115 120 I think Hanlon's Razor applies to this situation:

"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

2007-11-06 09:32:14
128.   Jon Weisman
127 - That's good advice.
2007-11-06 09:34:15
129.   Jon Weisman
128 - Although there is the issue of whether one has the responsibility to know better.

Is the Dodger leadership the equivalent of involuntary manslaughter?

2007-11-06 09:34:29
130.   Daniel Zappala
125 I don't think we have the ability to correlate grades and student reviews.
2007-11-06 09:35:11
131.   D4P
"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

I think that's too strict. I'd prefer "Before attributing to malice, explore whether stupidity can adequate explain. And don't rule out a combination of malice and stupidity."

2007-11-06 09:50:52
132.   Xeifrank
My neighbors nephew/cousin is being interviewed on the Jim Rome show right now.
vr, Xei
2007-11-06 09:52:32
133.   D4P
My neighbors nephew/cousin

Do you live in Alabama...?

2007-11-06 09:53:56
134.   Sharkie
I'm in higher ed. I'm a math ed specialist, and do research in math ed.

One point to keep in mind is that there does not exist a simple solution to our problems with our educational system. The research literature strongly suggests that our teaching and learning culture is flawed at a fundamental level. Thus changing our educational system more or less is equivalent to changing our culture. That's not easy to do. No simple list of "things that ought to be done" will fix our problems, because they don't address the fundamental reasons why our educational system is failing a large number of people.

The blame goes around to all stake holders. I'm not pointing my finger at teachers or admins or students or parents. It's all of us. We make our culture what it is.

Suggested reading:
"The Teaching Gap" -- Stigler
"Talking about Leaving" -- Seymour, Hewitt

My sense is that education is one of the big issues of our time (in the US). But few people have the knowledge or perspective to think about this clearly. I suggest that everyone read the books above, and look for books and articles (from peer-reviewed journals not the mass media). The mass media does a terrible job of explaining the problems in education. They focus on "human interest" or whether NCLB is good or bad for the white house. Last I checked, education is about learning and not test scores. Get the info and educate yourself about the issues.

2007-11-06 09:54:40
135.   KG16
All I really have to go on is my own experience (I don't have kids of my own, and likely won't for a few years)... and I've got a cross section of experience: Catholic elementary school, large public Jr High and High Schools, massive CSU for undergrad, and a very small private law school.

Generally, through high school I was bored in most classes - only a couple of class really engaged me (AP Gov, AP Physics, and US History (20th century)). I did well at a suburban high school that was (and still is) the size of a small liberal arts college (the undergrad at my law school probably had fewer students than my high school).

Even in college, with an actual choice of classes, I was incredibly bored. It wasn't until I discovered the writing classes and poli sci classes that I felt engaged.

Law school was a bit more challenging, but I also had the relative wisdom of a couple of years outside the education system; so I wasn't as concerned as some of my younger classmates with being at the top of the class.

All that said, I'd prefer our education system to focus on a couple of basic tasks at each level. Elementary school should focus on the three "R's", using science and history classes to supplement reading comprehension and basic writing and math skills. Jr High and High school should continue to build those skills but also focus more on critical thinking skills. I'd also like to see more focus on history and civics in high school.

It's also kind of annoying that college doesn't get much play in the education reform debates - despite the fact that "you have to go to college if you want a good job". My experience was that GE classes need to be cut (though I do concede that having so many classes helps an undecided student find his major). I'd keep the same number of required units, but stream line the GE process (maybe expand the units required for most majors) so that students could take more electives or pursue double majors (something I wish I would have done).

I have no complaints about law school.

The biggest problem, I think, is that the world has changed so much in the last 20 years, we haven't had the chance to catch the educational system up. I remember getting the first PC in high school - running Windows 3.1 with a scroll printer. We had to write back then because that was the way it was done. Now, I only resort to pen and paper when I've got writer's block or I'm working on a large project (like a novel) that I need to retain a large database of information on.

And if anyone likes these ideas, the KG16 gubernatorial exploratory committee is accepting donations.

2007-11-06 10:03:41
136.   Xeifrank
133. No. No, I don't.
vr, Xei
2007-11-06 10:05:31
137.   LogikReader
I would have been ok with this signing but the Indians beat me to it:

Indians pick up $8 million option on Paul Byrd

Also see:

-- Schilling to signs one year deal
-- Maddux re-ups with San Diego

2007-11-06 10:05:40
138.   Xeifrank
133. Your kids cousin is your nephew. I would've got your joke sooner if you said West Virgina or Tennessee, perhaps even Arkansas. :)
vr, Xei
2007-11-06 10:06:01
139.   LogikReader
If there is room to talk baseball today, I would be A-ok with it.
2007-11-06 10:07:13
140.   Bluebleeder87
Man, good stuff on our education system. I think tutoring can help some what also but like everything it depends on who's tutoring & how much parents ingrain it on there kids the value of education.
2007-11-06 10:09:30
141.   Bluebleeder87
should we take the Lincecum (sp) rumor serious?
2007-11-06 10:13:42
142.   Andrew Shimmin
139- There's always room for baseball talk. Sometimes there's room for other stuff, too.
2007-11-06 10:14:05
143.   blue22
141 - Is there a rumor to take serious? SF is willing to trade him for an impact bat (which reads: "Miguel Cabrera" to me).

Lincecum and Villalona probably fetches Cabrera.

2007-11-06 10:16:55
144.   Ghost of Carlos Perez
I was homeschooled, and my parents were lax enough that my early years of education (age 6-13) consisted mostly of playing in the backyard. I always had this feeling that the hundreds of hours of classes and homework that I was skipping would somehow come back to haunt me.

Sure enough, now that I'm in my first year of a PhD program I'm wishing I had had a trig class.

2007-11-06 10:18:53
145.   Xeifrank
143. it reads more like Crawford or Delmon Young to me. The Giants would love both. vr, Xei
2007-11-06 10:19:32
146.   D4P
Is there a rumor to take serious?

More importantly, what possible difference can it make whether a fan takes a rumour seriously or not?

2007-11-06 10:20:16
147.   uke
ORLANDO, Fla. -- For the first time Tuesday, baseball general managers recommended instant replay be used to help umpires make close calls.

The recommendation, by a 25-5 vote, was limited to boundary calls _ whether potential home runs are fair or foul, whether balls go over fences or hit the top and bounce back, and whether fans have interfered with a possible homer....

Article can be found at the Washington Post site.

2007-11-06 10:24:35
148.   Xeifrank
147. Now if they could do something about pass interference! Oh sorry, wrong sport.
vr, Xei
2007-11-06 10:28:19
149.   LogikReader
I'm surprised the Giants even want to trade Lincecum. He's has a great future ahead of him. With a decent top of the rotation, the Giants could be good, but it will take time and farm development. These are two things, of course, the Giants are unfamiliar with.
2007-11-06 10:28:28
150.   LogikReader
time = patience
Show/Hide Comments 151-200
2007-11-06 10:28:45
151.   LogikReader
He's has = he's got
2007-11-06 10:29:41
152.   StolenMonkey86
All the education talk reminds me somehow of Ron Washington's remark on Eric Gagne earlier this year:

"He has knowledge. You can't teach that."

2007-11-06 10:31:34
153.   Jon Weisman
Numerical PUT
2007-11-06 10:35:06
154.   Xeifrank
151. We understood it. Nobody is going to correct your grammar.

I think the Giants are interested in a quick fix, and Lincecum really is their only chip. Nothing wrong in seeing how much they could possibly get for him. But you are right, the Giants are along ways from seriously competing. There are four other NL West teams that have been building winners, while they have been sleeping with the devil.
vr, Xei

2007-11-06 10:38:45
155.   dzzrtRatt
134 "The research literature strongly suggests that our teaching and learning culture is flawed at a fundamental level."

This quote sums up my anecdotal experience as a parent. Granted, my son is a weird kid, but LAT's experience 14 struck a chord. I have an artistically motivated kid. He's all about creativity. Education feeds it. He learns a new vocabulary word, next thing he's written a song using it. He's intelligent and highly motivated. And I'm still not certain if he'll graduate from high school.

Over the years, some of the assignments he's been given strike me as very poorly conceived. The kind of kid I was, I would have grinded my way through them, but the hardest thing about being a parent is finding out my kid isn't like me. (Parents of babies toddlers, note this.) Things I found easy he finds hard and vice versa. But while I can teach him discipline and responsibility, and I can help him understand certain things, I can't change his basic nature and wouldn't want to. But from the standpoint of public education nowadays, he is the quintessential square peg, and I imagine he's not the only one.

If my son was dumb, I would not be so frustrated. I would chalk it up to, well, he's not very bright. But he's extremely bright.

I have basically given the past 15 years of my life over to his educational needs, moving to a community I can barely afford so he could attend highly-rated schools. This was, as it turns out, a worthless investment. Now, all I pray for is that he will graduate from high school with his self esteem intact. Which he will. When he's in his comfort zone (music, art) he's ridiculously confident, thank God.

But I think of other kids with particular kinds of intelligence that don't fit the standardized model, who don't have my son's cockiness, or who don't have a parent around who is willing or able to help the child sort it all out. The way our schools have translated the politicians' demands for "higher standards" and "higher test scores" is utterly counterproductive and pernicious.

We're going to have a dearth of workers in the very near future. We can't afford to raise a generation of kids who graduate from high school thinking they're failures. Some kids are just not academic achievers, but they can contribute massively to society if their particular strengths can be identified and developed. But we make them walk this tightrope, instead of creating options and opening doors of opportunity for the myriad directions kids could choose.

The kind of educational system I could envision would provide general, basic education up until about the age of 13 or 14. From then on, it would be a mix of further academics for those who feel they will benefit from it, and skill-development types of programs for the rest. A kid who knows he or she's going to want to be an engineer would get what they need for that. They'd be encouraged to keep taking English or history classes, but the focus would be on helping the student identify what he or she thinks (in consultation with parents) they're going to need to realize the future they want.

The other thing I would do is greatly deemphasize the social aspects. I don't know how to do that, but the high school social situation right now is bizarre, and nothing like the kind of life our kids will experience in later life. Occasionally, my son has come home depressed not because of anything related to his education, but because of some kind of Darwinian social garbage -- bullying, cliquishness, invidious comparisons of things like clothes or cars -- and all I can tell him is, it'll be over soon enough, so just try to ignore it. But if your kid is expected to perform complicated academic feats so George Bush or Hillary Clinton can feel like they've accomplished something, he or she should at least be able to expect to be treated like a human being.

Ah, maybe I'm all wet, but since we're talking about this, I thought I'd add my experience and vinegary perspective.

2007-11-06 10:49:26
156.   Ken Noe
As a college history prof, here's what I'd like to see in freshmen:

Research and writing experience...most don't have it.

A work ethic...A's in high school don't automatically mean A's in college.

Honesty...I catch an average of two students for plagiarism every semester now.

Respect...when I visit colleagues in the big survey classes, I'm appalled by the tardiness, leaving early, playing on Facebook, and open disrespect I see.

The first can be taught in high school. The others I fear say more about families and society.

2007-11-06 11:01:50
157.   Humma Kavula
In eighth grade, my social studies teacher held a mock trial, putting President Truman on trial for war crimes for his decision to drop the two atomic bombs on Japan. I was assigned to be co-counsel for the prosecution. Everybody in the class played either a lawyer or a figure from history. We had to research our roles and present history as our character saw it.

After a discussion with my teacher, I presented a case that certainly mentioned the Hiroshima bomb but focused on the decision to drop the Nagasaki bomb. Truman, nonetheless, was exonerated for his decision.

It was a powerful lesson, one that required more research than I'd ever attempted before. It was not a writing assignment, obviously, though one may have followed -- I don't remember. It was a terrific lesson in how to research an idea and present an argument to support it.

Not much later, it was easy (for me) to see how to take the next step and present that argument in writing.

2007-11-06 11:05:17
158.   Penarol1916
155. I disagree about the social aspects of school. I hate the fact that these mean little girls make up songs about my daughter being retarded or a baby because she is dyslexic, but you know what, learning to deal with this stuff now, while she's at home, is much better than having to deal with it out in the real world. And let me tell you, there is an awful lot of bullying and cliquishness in many workplaces.
2007-11-06 11:36:08
159.   Xeifrank
My two best teachers were an Algebra teacher I had in middle school. At the time, I thought this teacher was a bit of a jerk. Probably because he actually had some tough discipline and worked us to death. Later on in High School, I was happy that I had that teacher as I was able to easily succeed in my math studies thanks to him. The other teacher was a freshman english teacher I had in college. I wasn't that good of a writer and this teacher forced us to come to her office hours (or risk flunking). She went over our essays on a one on one basis, often waiting for 45-60 minutes in the hallway to see her. She not only improved my writing skills (sentence structure etc...), but gave me the confidence to succeed in future writing assignments. Sadly, she was let go the next year because she didn't have enough tenure.

I had some terrible teachers too. In Junior High school, one of the male teachers was a pervert and was hitting on girls and doing inspections of them to see if their shorts were long enough to meet school dress codes.

I had a High School Spanish teacher that was an alcoholic and kept a flask in his desk drawer. Every day, about half way through the class it was mayhem, with kids just goofing off. Luckily, I transferred out of that class.

In college I was introduced to the "Visiting Foriegn Teacher" fiasco. I had numerous math and science teachers visiting from such places as India, Middle East, Poland etc..., that the students could barely understand, let alone grasp the course material. Then there were the many Graduate student teachers that didn't give a darn about teaching. One Graduate student teacher was so bad and disliked by his students, that he skipped out on the last week of class (and the final exam week) and dumped everything on the T.As.

I have alot of stories about college professors, as I'm sure many of you do. I attended both a UC and Cal-State school. From my experiences the quality of teaching and the learning environment was much better at the Cal-State schools (at the Undergrad level). Class sizes were smaller, there was more one on one time with teachers, if need be. UC schools were more "self taught" classes, or go visit the tutorial center if you need help. The professors at the UC school were more interested in their research and or book writing. The material covered was pretty much the same, there was probably more homework at the UC school. The UC school also seemed to nickel and dime you for things like extra workbooks, adding and dropping classes, and good luck getting the classes and schedule that you wanted.

vr, Xei

2007-11-06 11:38:06
160.   Sushirabbit
155. Be the light, man! (Sounds like you already are) I just mean that keep trying to show the possibilities. I'm weird in that I've always been into both math and lit, sci and social. There are some really good science writers like Feynman and Freeman Dyson, that I think are very readable/accessible. That's if you think he really needs to see the good stuff in science now. Maybe if he can just get through the tests now he'll figure it out on his own later. I'm with Penarol about the social stuff, in some ways I found that the most interesting of all the stuff I learned in "secondary" education. Not that it was all fun. Still, I think with you as a parent he's got a serious advantage that most kids don't. I just wish more parents (and it's tough for me already) could understand that their kids aren't themselves recreated, or extensions of themselves, and only barely are the representative of themselves.
2007-11-06 11:41:10
161.   Sospiro0
155 Our culture doesn't really nuture creativity. If your son wants to be an artist the only way he'll survive as an adult is if he gets a job in advertising. Then he can write jingles for commercials that aren't already using Zeppelin songs. As a creative person he probably finds that prospect rather distasteful. At least I have.
2007-11-06 11:42:25
162.   Sospiro0
2007-11-06 11:54:12
163.   Linkmeister
Somebody mentioned office hours above. From Brad DeLong (Econ prof at Berkeley these days, formerly at Treasury):

"My office hours are Tuesday 1-3 in Evans 601. When people come to my office hours, they are enjoyable and fun.

When people don't come to my office hours, an unhealthy dynamic starts: First, I start accomplishing other tasks during them. Second, I start mentally slotting other tasks as things I can do during my (empty) office hours. Third, I start resenting students who come to my office hours and getting grouchy.

Nip this vicious spiral in the bud!"

I wish I'd had the inclination to go to office hours, particularly if I'd had a prof who thought that way.

On another note, thanks, Andrew (at 104 ). The remark I made about minority blocking of legislation was certainly with the current situation in mind, but it does work both ways.

2007-11-06 11:55:49
164.   Sushirabbit
dzzrtRatt, I didn't mean that to sound flippant. I'm at the beginning with an almost 6 year old. He's already into dance, HipHop and So You think you can dance, which is as far from me as I can imagine (but I took him to the SYTYCD tour and am taking him to dance classes) and just like watching him play baseball which he also loves, I love watching him do what he's into.

I'm a product of public schools in TN, and I would give up food if it meant the difference between sending him to private/parochial rather than public. "Culture" is really a loaded word, but I agree that it's really the root of the issue. What would need to be changed I don't know, but I'm willing to risk the possible negatives of going to a Catholic school (I may already be seeing the signs of "guilt" indoctrination) for the benefits of a group of parents that mostly share the same sense of educational importance. And teachers that seem to actually care about what they do.

2007-11-06 12:01:47
165.   Sushirabbit
163, just to continue picking-nits (politics is really appropriate for the lice comparison): Don't forget the power of the veto!

And, Linkmeister, do you like acoustic guitar players? I've been relistening to Gerrry O'Beirne lately because I missed a chance to see him in person. He works in open tunings (mostly 12 string) and I really love his stuff

2007-11-06 12:25:03
166.   dzzrtRatt
158 I know the real world is a cold place sometimes, but I doubt your daughter would be so openly mocked in any environment except for high school.

I've worked in lots of offices and they are nothing like high school. Everyone in an office has a role and is valued based on how well they fulfill their role. Not to say there aren't major jerks everywhere, bullies, cliques, etc. I'm not denying that. But at some point, in the world of work, everyone is focused on their tasks rather than the social aspects, and if not, they'll be gone. There is something of a meritocracy in the world of work. Also, most jobs don't force you to relate to so many people, all of them roughly your age.

You're right, Sospiro...I am trying to persuade my son that advertising and other graphic design gigs are his fallback in case the Broadway composer thing doesn't work out. He makes the best fake display ads I've ever seen. So, while he's resisting me now, I think eventually he'll start preparing for it.

But the role of his high school education in any of this? I can hardly see any. He's learned more of what he's going to need to know from working at local grocery store part-time. More about responsibility, more about money, and more applicable things about people. He has a mean, bullying boss, but my son has figured out how to stand up to him. As long as he does his job, he can keep his boss' mouth shut. That technique works in the real world. In high school, good luck.

High school is more like something he's got to get out of the way before he can start living his actual life. For him. Not for every kid, to be sure. Maybe not even for most kids. But a significant minority are ill-served by the system we've set up. That's my basic point.

2007-11-06 12:30:08
167.   Sam DC
Well, I guess it is an appropriate day for me to have come from a monumentally parent teacher conference for my seven year old.

The challenge of learning that your kid is different than you really is an incredible thing. It is (or for me has been, even just at age 7, more challenging than it sounds.

2007-11-06 12:40:20
168.   Andrew Shimmin
I don't think you can eliminate the Lord of the Flies sociology of school. Kids are jerks. And the really unfortunate part is that seeing through the game isn't particularly helpful to playing it.

One thing that could be fixed just by force of will is to fix the English instruction syllabuses. Nobody learns to love reading crappy writing.

2007-11-06 12:42:00
169.   Linkmeister
165 I'm always up for good guitar (I own two, one acoustic and one electric), and I've never heard of O'Beirne. Thanks.
2007-11-06 13:32:56
170.   Bill Crain
there does not exist a simple solution to our problems with our educational system

It's quite simple, though presently impossible: Privatize it.

2007-11-06 13:37:56
171.   scareduck
170 - fallback position: make it non-mandatory. This, too, is presently impossible.
2007-11-06 13:40:08
172.   scareduck
106 - I don't visit McCovey Chronicles nearly enough. With Lookout Landing, they're one of the two funniest baseball blogs out there.
2007-11-06 19:40:33
173.   YLT
What happens when we privatize education and I decide I want my kids to go to school with other white kids, and black parents decide their kids should go to the black school, and on and on and on?

I agree that there needs to be more competition between schools, but privatization would destroy a central tenant of our country.

That said, our education system could learn a lot from the corporate world.

2007-11-06 21:38:17
174.   Bill Crain
Yes, some might choose poorly; some wouldn't. We would all get what we want. How's that bad? The real question is whether a government bureaucrat should choose for us. Would his choice be better? What we have now is one-size-fits-all: a single alternative for everyone that works out well for almost no one. (Of course, those of us who can afford to live in expensive neighborhods do fairly well, at the expense of the poor--one reason vouchers are routinely defeated.)

The market can provide the same selection that you get in the supermarket - 16 flavors of Gatoraide, 22 of green tea, Jack Daniels or milk or orange juice or... I don't think I need to go on.

Instead of schools for musicians and rocket scientists and writers and mechanics and telephone sanitizers and whatever--instead of that wonderful variety in our most important endeavor--instead we send our children to learn from the folks who also run the DMV.

And I have nothing bad to say about teachers--there are 3 in my immediate family. No, teachers are being harmed here more than anyone--except for children and parents. And taxpayers.

2007-11-06 21:45:35
175.   Bill Crain
And while I'm on about it, to actually address your point:

What we have now are far too many all-black or all-white schools. And the difference in quality is a national disgrace.

Privatization--or vouchers--would be far better. It could hardly be worse.

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