Saturday, November 29, 2008


Are you familiar with geometric progression?

In mathematics, a geometric progression, also known as a geometric sequence, is a sequence of numbers where each term after the first is found by multiplying the previous one by a fixed non-zero number called the common ratio.

OK...that's tough.

Simplified it means a series of numbers resulting from multiplying any number by something and then multiplying each resulting number by the same something.

3 X 3 = 9; 9 X 3 = 27; 27 X 3 = 81.

Each result in the above example is multiplied by the same number, "3."

A special case of geometric progression is when a number doubles constantly.

3 X 2 = 6; 6 X 2 = 12; 12 X 2 = 24, etc.

This geometric progression demonstrates the reason why you would be a fool NOT to go to work for someone who offered to pay you a penny the first day of work and to double every day, 7 days a week.

By the end of the first month, you would be a millionaire.

That is what has happened in our government (formerly "public") education system.

In 1887, a very influential educator named, John Dewey, was an educational psychologist at the University of Michigan. He published two books: Psychology and Leibniz's New Essays Concerning the Human Understanding.

There were others, as well, but what you need to know is that his books set about to change the discipline of psychology, especially as it relates to the field of education.

He is the father of educational behaviorism, what has evolved into educational humanism, almost universally followed by teachers in government schools.

It was also from Dewey that we began the process of extricating religious thought from school.

Dewey, while honoring the important role that religious institutions and practices played in human life, rejected belief in any static ideal, such as a theistic God. Dewey felt that only scientific method could reliably further human good.

His ideas eventually became widely accepted in academia (though never 100% so).

So what has this to do with geometric progressions?

He taught a given number of students, a certain percentage of whom adopted his beliefs and teaching model.

A certain number of those students became professors and taught those beliefs and models in their classrooms.

In turn, a certain number of those students accepted their professors' beliefs and models and so-forth and so-on ad infinitum.

At a certain point, the majority of professors and teachers of teachers were teaching one form or another of "Deweyism," especially as it relates to the philosophy of education and its methodology.

It took years for "Deweyism" to reach the half-way point in terms of adherents, but then it snowballed until today, most government school teachers utilize his ideas.

Today, very few teachers know where the methods and ideas they teach by came from, but in one way or another most of them, in the educational system, can be traced back to Dewey.

To be sure there have been hundreds of variants on Dewey's philosophy revealed in his books, but the basics are still there.

In my state, using the methods Dewey espoused in one or more of their many variations, we graduate students from high school, 30% of whom cannot read their own diploma.

This has caused considerable concern among educational leaders who have seen as the solution a more stringent application of the methods and philosophies that haven't yet worked.

One of the methods used unsuccessfully in our government schools has been: a behavioral psychological approach that has diminished the requirement of knowledge and has replaced it with good intentions.

Thus if a student had the math problem: 2 + 2 + __, and put a "5" in the blank, and if in the opinion of the teacher, the student was really trying and meant well, the fact that he/she got the wrong answer is overlooked and credit is given for the effort.

Students taught by this approach are NOT the ones I want piloting the airplane on my next flight.

We need to contact our lawmakers and tell them that we would like to start a new geometric progression in that returns our students to creating a foundation of knowledge upon which we can build in them logical, critical thinking by which they can arrive a correct conclusions about a problem, math or otherwise.

Also tell them that we would like control of our school systems returned to the local level, so that we will once again have public schools, not government schools.

Note: Schools became government schools when they began accepting greater and greater amounts of government money, with which came more and more government rules.


Mark said...

Could it be that students of Deweyism are now running our major corporations?

That would explain they incessant financial irresponsibility, and their continual pleas to the government to bail them out, which does nothing but hurt them as much as the American taxpayer.

Well, at least we have the Dewey Decimal system. That's a good thing, right?

Joe said...

Yeah...I think you're right.

The Dewey Decimal system is another Dewey.

Mark said...

Oh. Then he must be the one that lost to Truman, right?

Joe said...

I think that was the Dewey Decimated system.

shoprat said...

Dewey was also one of the educators whose ideas (the non-Christian) Huxley projected into the future in Brave New World.

Tapline said...

Joe, you are so on target, it's scary. How do we change it....I wish I knew....Money to the States Education system....Especially in Special Education and The federeal expectations......No Child left behind another unfunded mandate...and I could go on.....stay well

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent essay, Joe. You've given us the perfect analogy to our public education system.

Ducky's here said...

There were some very interesting results released out of Massachusetts this week. Now, needless to say we are liberal. Dewey is not a swear word at say the Harvard or Tufts school of education.

Often you will hear about the U.S. standing among nations in math and science education. Well, Massachusetts paid the money (600,000) to have our schools tested and considered a separate nation.

We not only pounded the crap out of the United States south but we beat up on the rest of the world. Only Singapore (basically a city) was able to stand with us.

Okay, we have an advantage our biology classes aren't hamstrung by creation science and we don't have fundamentalist book burners running around. It's a free exchange of ideas.

"Democracy and the one, ultimate, ethical ideal of humanity are to my mind synonymous."

"Persons do not become a society by living in physical proximity any more than a man ceases to be socially influenced by being so many feet or miles removed from others"

- John Dewey -

Staunch defender of democracy. McCarthy hated him and he was also roundly denounced by the American communist party.

He was a great American.

Ducky's here said... of art are the most intimate and energetic means of aiding individuals to share in the arts of living. Civilization is uncivil because human beings are divided into non-communicating sects, races, nations, classes and cliques.

-- John Dewey --

Yeah, we can't understand another people unless we can understand their art. Troubling since Americans barely understand their own. But Mr. Dewey was valuable here and his writings on the purpose of art are still instructive.

Also it is fundamentalists who have the most trouble with Dewey and denounce him the loudest because he was instrumental in separating science from religion in education.

He was a church going Congregationalist which might be a little risque for the Baptist sects but he was certainly not hostile to religion.