Letters and Replies, Spring 2008
Andrew Bernstein answers a letter about Atlas Shrugged, and Lisa VanDamme answers a letter about hierarchy in education.
Examines the allure of classical education, considers both its religious and secular forms, and shows that—although its advocates claim it to be the solution to today’s educational wasteland—classical education only contributes to the crippling of children’s minds.
Demonstrates the irrational, destructive nature of the three prominent schools of thought in moral education; identifies the fundamental philosophical errors underlying these schools; and presents a rational, life-serving alternative: the proper way to teach values in the classroom.
Identifies and provides the solution to a problem that is endemic in education—a problem wreaking havoc on Johnny’s ability to think, understand, and succeed.
I would say that a debate is raging in our culture over whether or not we need to preserve the formal rules of grammar, but the sad truth is that there are too few defenders of grammar for a debate to rage. I am lonely in my fervency. Nevertheless, a. . . Continue »
The following is an interview with Evan Storms, a VanDamme Academy graduate currently in the process of applying to college. Perhaps my favorite part of the interview was his answer to my request for the interview itself: “Considering what I gained from your school, I would write a doctoral thesis. . . Continue »
“It is a beautiful thing to mold a statue and give it life; it is more beautiful to shape an intelligence and give it truth.” —Victor Hugo The first work of literature read in Room 4 this year was Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw. The musical My Fair Lady was. . . Continue »
Most math curricula are an absolute pedagogical mess. I have long known that math programs treat children like human calculators, programming them with processes they use to input numbers and churn out results. But this became poignantly clear to me when I tried to teach my daughter long division this. . . Continue »
We at VanDamme Academy love hearing stories about things the students do or say at home that reflect their VanDamme Academy education. I recently asked parents to share some stories from home. Here are a few highlights: Calvin (5): I was talking to Calvin about the upcoming trip to Schoolhouse. . . Continue »
In a letter called “Yesterday’s Highlights,” I periodically describe my observations of classes to the VanDamme Academy parents. I have decided to share these highlights with readers of this newsletter as well. I hope you enjoy your glimpse into a VanDamme Academy classroom. Dear Parents, This week and last, I. . . Continue »
I have often been told that, when asked what was special about their VanDamme Academy education, graduates say, “We always understood why we were learning what we were learning.” This important effect has many causes, the most significant among them being that what the students are learning is, in fact,. . . Continue »
In my recent newsletter “The Failure of Field Trips,” I explained what is wrong with traditional school outings. The typical field trip is irrelevant to the students’ education, either because they have been unprepared to appreciate it by their schooling (e.g., City Hall or the opera) or because it is. . . Continue »
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (or NAEP), the average high school student is an incompetent writer. To evaluate their writing ability, testers asked high school juniors to write a paragraph based on notes they were given about a haunted house. The performance of half the students was. . . Continue »
Many educators stress the importance of field trips: opportunities to get students out of their desks and away from their books, and to give them direct, vivid, sensory experience with the world around them. Reflecting on my own education, these excursions off campus are indeed some of my most memorable. . . Continue »
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