Monday, December 7, 2015

Maturational Milestones


[dahy-uh-lek-ti-kuh l]
capable of logical discussion employed in investigating the truth or falsity of a theory or opinion


[muh-choo r-i-tee]
full development; perfected condition; ripe


Marking Milestones

Once a baby is born, its parents begin marking milestones. Some of the most important milestones come in the form of vaccinations and immunizations designed to protect the child throughout a lifetime in world full of germs and diseases. But there is always controversy about the timing of milestones … and immunizations.

Likewise, the milestones of formal education are plagued by timing. We intuitively understand that schooling over the years is a journey of maturation across many land and seascapes from physical and intellectual to social and spiritual. And yet, we tend to erect our achievement milestones based almost exclusively on age and grade rather than the more difficult [but also more helpful] assessments of maturity in a specific area at a specific point on the trek.

Secondary education is especially challenging in this regard, because the student is reaching [or failing to reach] so many different milestones in so many different areas over such a relatively short period of time. Even those of us who know the student best can have a hard time understanding what is maturing when and what is not. This can lead to anxiety and frustration about reaching “THE MILESTONE” on time rather than a patient confidence that incrementally grows as “the milestones” pass … one by one.


The Three D’s

In that spirit, it is possible for us to imagine a point in time at which a liberal arts secondary student becomes “an adult” in the sense that [s]he can [if willing]
  • Define,
  • Differentiate and
  • Deploy
the three learning tools of the Trivium [grammar, logic and rhetoric/dialogue] routinely in the classroom and on assignments. Let’s name this milestone “dialectical maturity”.


Ability and Responsibility

Of course, this is not to say the student has “arrived” at learning’s final destination [because there is no such thing]. And furthermore, even if we can imagine such a point, identifying it is going to be difficult … being much more a “sense” than a “score”. But as difficult and imprecise as the task might be, its importance is unquestionable. For once the ability to learn is achieved, the responsibility to teach begins to grow … even if both are unperceived by all concerned … including the student … especially the student.


Orders and Gowns

If we think of the teachers among us as those who have formally taken up the mantle of their responsibility to teach other learners, we can begin to envision them as members of a sort of “order” in which they make certain implicit and explicit vows to God, to one another and to the public which they are obliged [or should we say privileged] to keep. And, as with all “orders”, there will be “novices” who pledge to follow the order’s mission but have yet to prove themselves or to gain the experience and judgment needed to function safely on their own.

If we continue this analogy, we might think of all students who enter a liberal arts secondary school as novices … rough and crude … but with potential that must be refined before it can be assayed and displayed. Having done that we can more easily envision an intermediate level within the order at which the novice is recognized [by others in the order who are senior] as having accomplished an important milestone [which we called dialectical maturity above] evidenced by his abilities but bringing with it responsibilities which those who remain novices are not yet expected to bear.  Let’s name this intermediate order “the Order of the Gown” and let it be recognized publicly by the member wearing an academic gown on special days to testify to acceptance of the new responsibility to use this proven ability to learn in the service of him[her]self and others.


Certificates and Privileges

Then, let an official recognition and specific privileges be granted to this “gownsman” in the form of
  • a “Liberal Arts Certificate” [to be used as evidence of competence when dealing with others outside the school] and
  • admission to a higher level study program [which might be called “Northfield Friends” at a secondary school named Northfield whose students can earn the privilege to study at a university named Friends] consisting of approved post-secondary courses in which college credit can be earned towards future awards and privileges.


And ... voila !!

And so, we have a way to define and identify an important maturational milestone in the life of every liberal arts student that “speaks” a solemn and important word of encouragement to everyone involved in the secondary learning years.


The Northfield Story

Northfield School of the Liberal Arts is a private secondary school in Wichita Kansas which uses a Trivium-conscious curricular approach to bring students to a point of dialectical maturity from which the student can successfully progress
  • to college or vocational training or
  • directly to a career
with the confidence of knowing he has acquired the learning tools needed to learn [and teach] almost any subject.

By refocusing its faculty and pedagogy away from the traditional school approach of teaching subjects per se to one of using any or all subjects to develop and strengthen the student's dialectical skills, Northfield has recovered an educational model that we believe enables students to reduce the time spent maturing in secondary school while improving student readiness for post-secondary academic or vocational endeavors.


Confessing needs

Begun in an industrial warehouse in 1994 with 4 teachers and 30 students, Northfield focused on the subject study of Latin, Greek, Literature, History, Math, Science, Art and Music in grades 6-12 with a traditional college-prep goal in mind for its graduates. However, it experienced the same problem that is common to most, if not all, secondary school teachers, students and parents:

Teacher and student readiness, interest, aptitude and qualification in/for teaching and learning from a given common core of subjects, in a specified order based on student age, varied greatly making it difficult, if not impossible, to achieve, then build on, consistently excellent results harmoniously and efficiently.


Considering answers

As a result, in 2013 Northfield returned to pedagogical questions posed, then examined, by Dorothy Sayers in her paper THE LOST TOOLS OF LEARNING presented in a course on education at Oxford University in 1947:

"Whether, amid all the multitudinous subjects which figure in the syllabuses, we are really teaching the right things in the right way; and whether, by teaching fewer things, differently, we might not succeed in ‘shedding the load’ (as the fashionable phrase goes) and, at the same time, producing a better result."

Sayers goes on to propose that, and explain why, a sound and complete secondary education consists of reaching a common dialectical maturity not a specified subject competency. As proof of her thesis, she returns to the medieval pedagogical bedrock of the Trivium, consisting of grammar, logic and rhetoric, where she claims to find the three lost learning tools which are embedded in and can/must be utilized to reach maturity in learning which enables competency in subjects.
  • Sayers broadens the notion of Grammar from the abstract memorization of syntactical rules of language to the initial discovery and nascent articulation of the irreducible elements and concepts inherent in any subject.
  • Logic for Sayers is no longer just a mere formality but rather the vital co-relativity of each and every grammatical element to the others within the subject and eventually to all other subjects.
  • Rhetoric, commonly understood as making an argument in defense of the truth of one's position, gives way to a thorough and unrelenting, but vitally communal, engagement in dialogue with others to reveal and examine the certainties and uncertainties of a subject or proposition as the necessary prerequisite for doing what each individual must eventually do alone … decide what is most “truth-full” … and then make a moral choice and take individual action.


Changing actions [and lives]

By refocusing our goal for secondary education on achieving common dialectical maturity as explained  by Sayers, Northfield has discovered a pedagogical model that can work in any secondary educational setting:

All faculty members essentially teach the same few "things" using whatever various "subjects" happen to be of interest, available and acceptable to the teachers, students and parents making up the local school.

This substantially reduces [and arguably eliminates altogether] the need for academic interference by outside federal, state and/or local school boards, since subjects are secondary to targeted results. Furthermore, by knowing the limited but essential goal for a secondary education in advance, the school is able to reach and recognize it earlier as well as more flexibly and consistently than a traditional subject-competency, achievement-test or common-core based school.


Naming a Milestone

In pursuit of this vision, Northfield has introduced what it calls a Liberal Arts Certificate [“LAC”] which the faculty, acting by consensus, awards to the student upon recognition of the student's ability to use the three tools of learning effectively. We believe this milestone can be reached sometime during the sophomore or junior year of high school [if not sooner]. The student is then free to engage college study or vocational training in a variety of settings [using the LAC as a formal recommendation from Northfield for acceptance]. College or vocational credits subsequently earned are also applied towards the student's Northfield high school diploma which is customarily awarded 1-2 years after the LAC. This permits the student to reduce the time/expense spent in/on secondary and post-secondary education by two full years [or more] while achieving a higher degree of learning readiness and dialectical maturity.


PS. Strengthening morality and democracy along the way

An important by-product of this approach to secondary education is that it promotes a common immunization of more students and future citizens against the flood of propaganda increasingly prevalent in public media and, by so doing, strengthens the foundation of real American constitutional democracy which has always been ... a citizenry capable of inter-generational consideration of shared facts followed by logical formulation of moral and legal positions on any subject properly arising in the public forum ... as opposed to uninformed or misinformed acceptance of half-truths or outright lies
  • prepared in secret with hidden conflicts of interest
  • then promulgated as veiled or blatant conclusions
  • via for-profit mass-media outlets which are easily co-opted
  • by those with financial or political power seeking to gain or retain control over public opinion
  • for purposes which may not reasonably be [or ultimately prove to be] in the public interest.
 … and this should be one kind of immunization that EVERY CARING PARENT wants their children to get ... as early as possible !!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Saturation Pedagogy

A measure of free will

We have all experienced the seemingly infinite nuances that vary and change across learning individuals and experiences over time. It seems reasonable to conclude that no single lesson brings about exactly the same results in any two students or even the same results in a single student who experiences it more than once. In light of this reality, John Gatto [1] calls it “defective pedagogy” to expect “from 20 to 60 young people in a group

  • to learn the same thing
  • at the same time
  • in the same manner
  • and to show enthusiasm for this rejection of personal uniqueness.”

Gatto goes on to make some important historical observations about how schools in the past dealt with this dilemma.

“Infinite variety was a law of nature and no command of bureaucrats could change that. Nevertheless school-driven cultures like those of Prussia or Imperial Japan insisted upon forcing conformity upon their young … putting square pegs in round holes … until rebellious behavior forced gradual abandonment of the obsession that human beings are as alike as a carpenter's nails. The breakthrough came from schools for the sons and daughters of the elite … in Germany the  “realschulen” not the “volksschulen” … and in America the elite private boarding schools not the public schools. The reason was that, like their privileged parents, privileged children retained a measure of free will during the learning years.  In time, the performance of the graduates of Groton and St. Paul's (for example) was so obviously superior that it gave rise to demands for similar methodologies to spread into the public sector.”

However, Gatto concludes, a fundamental inconsistency exists between the needs of individual students for “a measure of free will” and the goal of public schools to produce conforming outcomes.

“Children have highly individualized ways to learn. But bureaucratic systems, by their very nature, can only pay feeble lip-service to this truism, because, face it, when ‘systems’ allow variation they cease being ‘systematic’ … which is the ultimate sin for a bureaucrat or a socialist. And so universal institutional schooling by force is a self-imposed road to inferior education … an inescapable dead end … until a pill is invented to render protoplasm uniform like machinery. Nor can socialism succeed as long as politicians allow free will to exist.”

Whether or not you agree with Gatto’s conclusion about the vital importance of free will in education, very few can argue with the proposition that a pedagogy founded on faulty premises about how learning takes place will inevitably produce a lot of frustration to deliver an inferior result. Can we do better? If so, how?


A White Owl cigar and a Danish prince

An iconic cigar brand used to make the following claim in its radio and TV advertisements.

“Sooner or later you're going to try a White Owl … and once you do, we're gonna get'cha!"

Perhaps, educators can learn something [once again] from those who have to sell their products to people who are not forced to buy them. And the lesson is simple, but, as Hamlet reminds us, also profound:

“There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.”     Hamlet. Act v. Sc. 2

“But”, most educators would object, “we cannot afford to wait on each individual student to come to his or her own moment of enlightenment. We must either gear up and hope that everyone gets something from the lesson [the approach of most private schools] … or dumb down and accept that some are going to be frustrated no matter what we do [the resignation of most public schools].” In either case, we comfort ourselves by concluding that our pedagogical problem has been resolved … while we all know that is not true.


Saturate them with the Trivium

But what if we think of “readiness” as also being the continual obligation of the teacher and the curriculum rather than merely the momentary state of the individual student? And what if “the lesson” we are trying to teach is not sequentially dependent on specific subjects or grades but is instead common to all subjects in all grades?

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a liberal arts school should be that its teachers and curriculum consciously and continuously expose every student of every subject in every grade to the use and interdependence of the same common tools of learning embodied in the Trivium … grammar, logic and rhetoric. Why? Because one of the fundamental purposes of a liberal education is to enable the student, sooner or later depending on his or her own individual readiness, to become aware of and even master the use of these learning tools which, in “the time remaining”, will enable the student to master and even contribute to any specific subject regardless of that student’s age or grade. This kind of education is not only “liberal” … it is liberating …  respecting free will while assuring a good education.

You can imagine many consequences of such a pedagogy, but here is a list of a few important ones that come to mind:
  • Tests become exciting opportunities to glimpse success rather than dismal sentences that condemn failure.
  • Age diversity replaces grade segregation removing artificial social barriers and the frustrations that arise from attempts to force identical maturation rates on unique individuals.
  • Confidence replaces fear as faith and patience grow into proven virtues.
  • Helping hands reaching out remind everyone of our shared responsibility to encourage and enable each unique and awesome individual to reach their own potential in their own time.

Community not conformity

We are born and die as unique individuals. But all our lives there are social forces which press us into molds … of all sorts … familial, religious, economic, political … and the list goes on. The liberal arts is one of the best pedagogies we have when it comes to enabling our individuality while building our community rather than extinguishing our personality by enforcing conformity. And what could be better than that?

Bob Love

[1] New York City Teacher of the Year in 1989, 1990, and 1991, and New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Three Laws of Metacognition

With input and encouragement from the able educators at Northfield and Christ the Savior Academy, I have been thinking lately about ways to help liberal arts teachers understand ... at last ... that the tools of the trivium are not some "medieval" [in the pejorative sense in which that adjective is often used by modernity] tripartite concoction but rather the three vital stages that first encapsulate and then unite ALL the uniquely individual [and at times frustratingly autonomous] learning elements and experiences witnessed in the cognitive development that takes place in the minds of students AS they study and learn their courses [regardless of the subject] ... "THE LESSON" behind all "the lessons" so to speak.

To do this I chose to "search" for glimpses of the trivium within
  • two classic Socratic dialogues [Cratylus and Gorgias] and at the same time
  • the model modern cognitive development theories of Jean Piaget
as the basis for an inductive proposition that the tools of learning are neither a new nor merely an old concept ... but one that every teacher and every student will confront in every age in any subject ... whether [s]he recognizes it or not.

And if our proposition is truth-full, the trivium would arguably be something of surpassing and permanent educational value [in the broad sense of education] ...
  • a treasure hidden IN a field ...
  • a lesson that is learned [even if untaught] WITHIN every lesson ...
  • a pedagogy that stands [even if unknown] BEHIND every school ...
In that spirit, please enjoy The Trivium as Metacognition.


Monday, September 14, 2015

The New College Paradigm - Problems

by Benedict Armitage, CSA

Having read Bob Love’s synopsis of The End of College, I would like to contribute some thoughts born from those which he put down. I shall begin by saying that Carey presents a very interesting analysis, one I think is quite accurate, especially in its indictment of the modern university system. But I shall also add a caveat: though the old paradigm is rife with problems and is becoming increasingly obsolete, there is no guarantee that the new paradigm will be free of problems of its own. Indeed, I imagine Mr. Carey would agree with this. If, however, we can anticipate some of them, then perhaps we can also find a way to offset them. I hope to begin this, in some small way, now.

Kevin Carey’s predictions are ominous for the institutions he calls the hybrid university, but not necessarily so for education itself. I could begin a long litany of problems that have arisen from the place and influence of the university institution in modern American society, but Carey has already done that. Only this much will I say: Education, or at least Education as it should be, cannot at its root be institutional; rather, it must be personal. The rise of the University of Everywhere allows for education at a more human scale, and so allows also for that personal dimension.

Academic Seclusion

What it does not allow for, however, is something that the present college system does, at least in theory, and that is academic seclusion. In the best scenario, the student leaves home and goes away to adopt a new lifestyle, a lifestyle of learning. He lives at the college so as to concentrate all of his energies and all of his attention on one thing: learning. In this way, distractions are minimized, and time is devoted not to making a living but to the pursuit of knowledge. All of the student’s life is given over to leisure (as properly understood).1 In this way academic seclusion is not unlike monastic seclusion.

Of course, in reality things are very different. In many cases, universities have become a place to  “house, feed, and amuse the young.” This is perhaps a natural end when we aim for universal college education. The elitist quality of education is lost, and the social and academic life must cater to the lowest common denominator among its students. In many ways, college has become what high school once was, the next square on the board game to which one must advance if one wants the game to continue; the new end of the educational gamut which everyone is expected to run. Because not everyone is interested in, or even equipped for, the serious academic life, college of necessity becomes increasingly like a vocational school, interested less in the pursuit of knowledge in the full sense of that word, and more in teaching skill sets for a successful career.

The new paradigm of education, which Carey calls the University of Everywhere, can avoid this trend, especially since it is not tied, as are the hybrid universities, to the modern paradigm. Indeed, their tie to this paradigm is reinforced by so much institutional inertia that it is difficult to see any force that can bring them to change direction short of outright failure. In the new paradigm, however, a student is expected to live off-site, probably to work to pay for his way through college, and to have an overall center of gravity away from the campus, which could be located anywhere (“even a shopping center”). All of this undermines the principle of academic seclusion. Indeed, for not a few serious students, the first year at college offers an opportunity for escape from crippling family or social situations that can hinder learning. The absence of a dedicated college campus removes that opportunity. Is there a way to preserve academic seclusion and the dedicated life of learning in the new paradigm?

1 See, e.g., Josef Pieper’s book Leisure: The Basis of Culture.

The Need for Validation

An additional potential problem is the question of the Degree. In the present closed system, everyone can at least agree on what a college diploma is and the criteria for awarding it. Admittedly, the criteria continue to diminish, so the diploma itself is worth less and less in reality. It creates a kind of degree inflation – the more degrees there are, the less each one is really worth. Again, it becomes more like a vocational training certificate than an award for notable intellectual achievement. I don’t see any way of reversing this trend in the present system.

But in a new system, the question of validation is still open. Will it simply continue the awarding of degrees, as is done now? Or will some new approach be devised? The concern is that if a student is not awarded a certificate of some kind, attesting to his period of study and consequent academic achievement, which hopefully represents real learning, then how do those outside of the school recognize the student’s achievement? This is especially important for a potential employer. Is every student required to write a thesis or dissertation, or perhaps a series of these? But these can be plagiarized. And does one want to sit down and read through a potential hire’s essay history?

Perhaps by testing then? But again is it ideal for an applicant to test over and over again in his searching for a job? And what exactly do we expect a test to show? Will it be standardized so as to avoid duplicate testing for different jobs? If so, this would retain a number of problems from the current paradigm, possibly as many as or even more than the whole system of degrees. What then of letters of reference from the applicant’s professors? Would this be enough? But these would have to stand on the recognized reputation of the professor. And how is that to be established? And so we return to square one.

Whatever the case, it seems that there must be some way to universally express validation of a student’s work. But what is the best way to do so remains to be seen.

The Death of Books and the Classroom of Nowhere

One of the advantages of a large, established university campus is its many resources. The most important of these is the Library. In the present, digitized age, many books have already been moved to electronic media, with the possibility that eventually all books will make that move. This possibility allows for the duplication in a small, local school of all the resources of a university library. And yet, even if every book is available by screen, something is still lacking; something important, or so it seems to me.

This is not the place to argue about the relative merits of physical books versus electronic books, though it is a debate well worth having. There may be a great deal of difference between reading a thing and reading stuff (on a screen). Certainly there is in my own experience. But the whole computerization of learning that the University of Nowhere forebodes is potentially problematic. Man has become increasingly aware of his need for ‘sacred space’; I wonder if we will not eventually come to the same conclusion about ‘learning space’. Any teacher will tell you that the classroom – how it looks, how it is organized, even how it is lighted – can make a drastic difference in the quality of the learning that happens therein. Can that atmosphere be duplicated through a screen? Especially when viewed while sitting in one’s bedroom or living room? I have grave reservations. Yet one seeming virtue of the new paradigm is the virtual classroom; that is, the ability of a student via the internet to take a class from a professor, even one many thousands of miles away. This may work well for STEM-based classes, but is it as effective for the humanities?

Arguably the most important dimension of education is the personal relationship between the pupil and the teacher. In the three modes of teaching still preserved in some places, only the lecture is impersonal enough to allow for long-distance learning. The interactive seminar and the intimate tutorial, settings in which the most effective learning often takes place, cannot be duplicated through a screen. This is the case not least of all because an integral part of learning is the physical proximity to other students, to other human beings engaged in the same intense activity as oneself. Just as one cannot play soccer with fellow teammates through a screen, so the most profound, because personal, levels of learning cannot be duplicated digitally. Or so I fear. And yet the University of Everywhere works in large part because of this computerization. However, because Education is a uniquely human endeavor, it only succeeds in the full sense when it happens without the mediation of the non-human. This means bringing students and teachers together for sustained, personal, face-to-face interaction. How this can be done in the new paradigm is a question well worth asking, and answering.

Man and Learning

by Benedict Armitage, CSA

In Bob’s summation of Kevin Carey’s The End of College, he makes some important and insightful observations about man and about the relationship between his intellectual acuity and his moral choices, and I would like to take a moment to flesh out this relationship a bit. Quoting Carey, he observes that “to be human is to be constantly searching for patterns that ease the ache of awareness and incomprehension.” This is a thoughtful sentence, and one worth pausing over. Man, confronted with a riot of sensory experience, is obsessed with tying that multiform experience together. He feels a need to make ‘sense’ of things, and as such has a keen interest in what the neurobiologists call pattern recognition or awareness. I would argue that much of education is precisely this – learning to perceive patterns and develop an awareness of the interconnectedness of things. In a similar way, much of the advancement of knowledge is finding new patterns and new ways to articulate them.

I am going to alter the usual direction of this kind of discussion a bit here by redefining, or broadening, what I mean by pattern. I distinguish three kinds of patterns, or traces of an ordered arrangement: Physical, Notional, and Purposive. I will not attempt an exhaustive definition of these here, but I will point out briefly how they differ.

Physical patterns are those perceived by the senses as interpreted by the brain. This is what most discussions of pattern awareness are concerned with solely. Physical patterns are the province of that part of the mind we call imagination, as this is the bridge between the five senses interacting with the material world on the one hand and the rest of the mind on the other. All sentient beings, including much of the animal world, exist on this level. Most are likewise limited to it. Man, however, can perceive other patterns as well. With the mind, by which I mean his faculty of thought, abstraction, and reflection, he can also perceive notional patterns, that is, the world of ideas, as well as purposive patterns, that is, those that pertain to intention, purpose, design, and meaning. One might further distinguish them by saying that physical patterns give us information, but the recognition of notional patterns imparts knowledge, and that of purposive patterns wisdom. All are expressions, in different ways and on different levels, of the same overarching logos.

The unique ability of man to perceive these other patterns says something about what he is. It reflects an anthropology. Man alone of the animal world is possessed of the faculties of thought and of moral choice, what we might call mind and will. These set him apart from all other animals. (Here of course mind means more than just the brain and will more than just simple choice.) Ιn fact, in the words of the fourteenth century Byzantine writer Nicholas Cabasilas, these things are “ἄ ποιεῖ ἄνθρωπον” (“those things which make man what he is”). This anthropology must be reflected in how we understand education. Education should, for us, be concerned first and foremost with man’s faculties of thought and of moral choice, and so with the objects of those two faculties, namely Truth and Virtue. And as Bob pointed out, the intellectual capacities of man, his power of thought, exist ultimately for the sake of moral decision. In short, we think to choose.

This brings us to a point where we can proffer an answer to the question, Why study? A partial answer is simply because we have this organ of thought, and nothing is given to no purpose. As Carey observed, learning is inevitable because it is natural and ultimately rewarding. Man seeks to know, and study helps to satisfy this desire.

But beyond this, we study in order to know both how and what to think. Ultimately, human beings are ‘searchers of meaning.’ So far as we can tell, no other being in the cosmos is interested in the meaning of things. Man, however, is obsessed with it. And even when he ignores it or seeks to deny the possibility of meaning, he nonetheless remains haunted by it. We all seek to answer the questions that lie at the heart of our existence.

Bob has reminded me that we must not allow ourselves to be wedded too closely to terms and labels, as these mean different things to different people. So I think in closing I should define how I use some labels. What, then, I understand by the term ‘classical education’ is the fundamental approach to learning that consists of reading the classics together to see how others have answered these great questions that concern man’s existence. And what I understand by the term ‘liberal arts’ is simply those subjects of study that deal with these very questions. The former is concerned with the source of the content, and the latter with how that content is structured and organized. They are really only different aspects of the same thing, and of the same pursuit.

Whatever the term we use, our purpose is to see what others have done with their faculty of thought and of choice, in the hope that this will, in turn, inform our own choices, and so help determine who we become.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The End of College

Welcome to the AT LAST Blog ...

Our first posting for your consideration is a review of the recent book by Kevin Carey titled "The End of College". Here is a link to the review for your consideration. I strongly encourage you to consider checking out the book and reading it for yourself.

Most of the key observations Carey makes about college can be applied to secondary schools as well ... especially in this day when high schools are looking more and more like colleges [or perhaps it is the other way around] with fancy facilities, social scenes and big-time sports ... with what Carey claims is "limited or no learning".

Although Carey is looking very broadly at the attributes of colleges that will be places for real learning in the future, it is apparent that he sees real value in a liberal arts education at a college that functions on a "human scale" providing an "authentic community" that is consciously focused on a single goal ... learning.

As parents facing questions about our children's education, we tend to look forward just "far enough" to get us to the next corner ... but that is not "far enough". Carey challenges us to look to the "end" of formal learning to understand more of what lies ahead. If we will follow his advice, then we can "work backwards" to the very beginning [elementary school] ...   so we can prepare each step of the way towards accomplishing our educational goals.

Remember the purpose of AT LAST is to bring together schools at all the various stages along the educational journey ... the learning chain ... so that each can better understand and perform its own specific role ... the specific links it must forge ... with the schools that precede it and with those that will follow it ... so that the student can experience the steady, sequential learning steps that make the destination of a low cost, high quality liberal arts education possible for everyone !!

So think it thru ... then share your thoughts ... and help us forge the links for liberal arts learning ... at last.

tandem [Latin for ... finally ... or ... it's about time],