I completed my degree with a decent GPA due to grade inflation, yet I couldn’t comprehend the French in Henry V, the Latin phrases in the National Review magazine, or the English in The Federalist Papers. I couldn’t tell you a single constellation, the name of an African country or an Australian province. I could not say what century Charles Martel, Pepin the Short, and Charlemagne lived in, whether they were related to one another, or what kingdoms they ruled. I could read very quickly, but to this day my vocabulary is limited. I knew a major change was needed in our family’s educational approach when I had difficulty in explaining to my son why he should write “should’ve” rather than “should of.” I knew “should of” was grammatically wrong, but didn’t know enough about the parts of speech to explain why.~ Leigh A. Bortins, The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education, p. 33
Education is hard and humbling work. It takes years of struggle. That is often the way with valuable goals. What is most valuable is usually most costly. One of the most important activities in which adults can participate is to nurture and to guide the education of young people. The most important relationship in this activity is that between parent and child, but it is an activity for us all. Providing a quality education is one of the greatest gifts any adult can give a child. In fact, one might call it a duty.
I believe we should begin with fairly straightforward and simple goals, somewhat like the following taken from The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education by Leigh A. Bortins:
Someone who has acquired proficient levels of literacy can analyze and synthesize a variety of ideas from a wide range of documents and defend her conclusions by using the source text. This is a much higher, nimbler level of literacy than just being able to read a novel or newspaper. (p. 19)
The classically educated are not defined by their occupation so much as by their breadth of knowledge and understanding. (p. 40)
A classically trained [high school] student would have the skills needed to read the original text, ask and find answers to her own questions, and clearly present her findings to her audience. (p. 55)
As an interesting aside, if you are inclined to think future educators would be the most likely do what it takes to become well educated, think again. According to this article, from which the title of this post comes and which is anecdotal for sure, those students working towards their teaching degrees are comparatively the worse offenders when it comes to cheating their way to degree completion. Unfortunately we do not have figures on the scale of the cheating. Hopefully the numbers are small. But even if they do not cheat, one wonders how an educational system that is in desperate need of wholesale reform, including radically different foundational principles, can produce teachers with the capacity to produce that needed reform. I would hazard that it cannot.