Major Dad 1984

Cursed By A Classical Education

Let's just say that I intend to use this blog to blow off some steam that I might be feeling with the International/National media, my work situation, or maybe even to tee off on the family in a humorous way of course!


I Can't Believe I Had to Write This...

The following is a note I had to write to MajorTeen's AP History teacher. Where have we gone wrong?!?!?

Dear Mr. X:

The other night I noticed that my daughter, MajorTeen, appeared to be copying information from the AP US History textbook. When I asked her what she was doing, she said that she was taking notes for your review. These notes would later be used during the chapter test. Upon review of the notes, it was apparent that she was copying the text word for word. She added that this is something of a new policy, one that was implemented after receiving a new text book sometime after the beginning of the year. While I’m not entirely opposed to the use of open book/open notes exams, I’m somewhat puzzled at the rationale used that would allow a student to completely copy a chapter for use during an exam. I simply do not see where the learning is happening. I would like to understand if this is your policy, a district policy, or I’ve received some bad information from MajorTeen.

In my experience use of open book/open notes tests is usually restricted to the technical subjects to include: physics, chemistry, computer science and engineering where there are many complex formulas, constants, and concepts to remember. Knowing that these are available as reference materials in the technical field, I believe that these subjects warrant use of additional resources during testing. I’m failing to understand the need for such “crutches” in the study of history. From the CCHS Course guide:

During the first semester, this course will survey American History from 1865-1917, encompassing the post-Civil War era; the Industrial Revolution and its effect on farmers, laborers, and employers; basic government; the Spanish-American War and America’s move from isolationism. The second semester is a survey of American History from 1917 to the present, encompassing World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam Conflict, New Deal (editorial note here....the New Deal should probably be listed between the Great Depression and World War II for accuracy's sake), Persian Gulf Crisis, war with Iraq and current issues.

It seems that you’ve broken the curriculum into manageable blocks to allow students to grasp the facts, concepts, and interactions between different forces throughout a period of history. By doing this it also follows that either an open book/open note approach to exams would be unnecessary. Use of study guides and aids are an excellent way for students to augment the learning they’re exposed to through reading and classroom discussion, but somewhere along the line I would expect there to be some point where a test is to be used to gauge how much or how little a student has grasped, retained, and understood. Use of a handwritten copy of a chapter hardly seems to be practical in achieving these goals.

As I would imagine your AP students are more often than not college bound, I think that they need to begin to set the crutches aside and work on developing good study skills. Note taking is an important key to performing well on quizzes, tests and exams, but may also lead to much better comprehension and understanding of a subject. Copying text word for word is nothing more than unnecessary “busy work.”

Please feel free to respond to this note to clarify any misunderstandings I may have made by knowing only one side of the story. I am very anxious about MajorTeen's studies and her study habits. If you think that there’s anything that I can do to assist MajorTeen or even the other students to improve their study habits pursuant to a better understanding of US history, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Please respond to the email address, as I am able to receive it nearly round the clock.

Very respectfully,


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Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen...the Mainstream Media Takes Aim on the Blogosphere

Hey, before we get going need to take a look at this story:

Blogging Not Journalism

Now that you're done...try and tell me that the "big boys and girls" in the major mainstream media outlets aren't a little bit intimidated by what some of us are doing out here.

I have to believe that every single blogger out there has something to say to someone that may stumble across their blog. I hope that I provide a service to some, but the truth be known, this is as much for me as it is for anyone else. This is giving me the venue to share my thoughts with a number of like-minded and not so like-minded people that may be out here searching for some truth. It's nice to run across someone that thinks like you do...and if you happen to cross sabers with others, maybe convert them...or perhaps even just show them that you're not a bible thumping (nothing wrong with faith provided there's some balance), Wal-Mart shopping (yup, count me in here!), red-state living bumpkin.

If the link I provided doesn't get your dander up...whether you're a conservative or a liberal, I don't know what will. Being able to string flowery sentences together in print...or to read them off a teleprompter for 30 minutes each day doesn't make you any smarter, better, or capable of calling a spade a spade as all of us out here behind our keyboards.

Is the keyboard now mightier than the pen? Hmmm...I wonder.

From the high ground and the lunch hour...


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