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Sunday, October 31, 2004






Prof.  Plum

Okay, Ookrana! Finally found me, did you?

Ookrana is a buddy of mine who's blog is up and is sure to please, esp on a dark and stormy night and you are onloading scotch and smoking a soothing cigar in a candlelit room.

Ookrana is trying to provoke Professor Plum. But PP is not an easy to provoker.


one shameless plug, deserves another....wanna bet lunch on the election.....i hear ohio has great lunch counters!!!!!

dr. cookie

Oh Professor. We have things to discuss. You are so right. (I'm studying this for my dissertation.)

I am concerned that NCLB will be defanged in a Kerry administration, and all the educators can exhale and go back to the same lousy habits as before, blaming kids for being poor, blaming budgets for being small, blaming anyone but themselves and their professional work for the failure of disadvantaged kids to learn. I hope I'm wrong.

I'll be back. Keep it up.


I'm almost done reading Diane Ravitch's "Left Back", telling the [somewhat dismal] story of American education since about the 1880s.

It doesn't look like we've learned a lot in all that time. Methods that work are ridiculed and thrown out, and ones that haven't worked are re-worked and put in place again.

Is there any hope?

(And now I see from Joanne Jacob'e site that "Summerhill" is being reprinted (with the usual nod to current PC considerations).)


to.... "Dr. Cookie".....hey, stud... sounds like you are exactly the right kind of ass licking "professional" for today's education establishment.....another dissertation....exactly what the freaking country needs.....

if you want direct instruction to had better come down from your ivory tower....and crawl into the slime of politics, money and the world of naked power....its the only way the method will defeat the bullshit currently masquerading as education. But i see you as unwilling to get your hands soiled.......

face it....the people you guys rant at are a lot better at getting their agenda across....otherwise, why are they wrong, AND in control????

im sorry....politics is such a nasty word amoung the "educated"....90% of you thinkers have proven less effective than one Irish ward healer in Boston,,,who did not graduate high school....but can get results....hey, Dr. Cookie(what a fitting name), ever heard of results?????

best regards


Prof Plum

May I suggest that we are on the same side and that we please treat each other with respect, even though (in our passion to get the right things done for teachers, kids, and nation, and out of our anger at all the morlocks who profit from fads) we may temporarily be in thrawl to the war god, Ares.

Dr. Cookie has a fine website, here...

She addresses many essential issues with care and intelligence. Most importantly, I agree with her.

Both Dr. Cookie and Ookrana pose one of THE eternal problems. "How far SHOULD you go down the road of nasty politics in the service of The Good"?

Some folks would say, "The ends don't justify the means."

I say, "Oh? Well what DOES justify the means?"

Other folks might warn, "Careful. You might end up just as evil as your adversaries who use any means necessary to control education (packing state agencies, creating the standard courses of study that sustain them in their jobs and sustain ideology, hiring new faculty who agree with them, etc. and so forth)."

I'm not too concerned with that. I don't think that the personality of the decent and intelligent person (e.g., someone reading this) is so flimsy that if a person did something EXTREME in the service of the good, that he or she would then BECOME a different kind of person. He or she would still be a decent person who knows that...

sometimes you will never achieve moral ends solely with moral means.

War is one example.

As to practical politics, No Child Left Behind and Reading First (which are just STARTERS in this administration's efforts to make education a serious scientific accountable endeavor) were withoout doubt as down-and-dirty political as anything Boston and Chicago ward healers ever did--well, except that the Bush admin hasn't exactly given any progressive ed opponents a refreshing and permanent dip in the ocean, wearing concrete booties.

I wonder if Dr. Cookie would share her dissertation topic with this blog. There appear to be a lot of thoughtful folks reading here.


Delusions of morality are not helpful in war.
War is the present state of American education, far removed from polite discourse. If children are to be valued, they must be defended. Anyone disagreeing with Professor Plum is not only an enemy of our country's future, but a child abuser. A long time ago, the British used to behead a villain and post the head upon a pole at the walls of a city. It was a warning, producing thought before a felonious act. Relative to education in America, the warning should read."Do not screw around with my kid's mind!!". Unfortunately, it has come to that. His antagonist cannot be reasoned with, they must be defeated.


Nit: The phrase is ward heeler, as in a person who brings the voters to heel on behalf of the political machine.

They have nothing to do with healing, being more often a symptom of illness (as everyone here should know).


dr. cookie

Professor, living in the world of academe means you have to hold your cards close to the vest. I have already been warned by several similar minded academics not to choose a topic that is too, well, identifiable as outside the group-think. If I want a job, that is.

And I do want I job. So I try to fly under the radar.

I've been really sick for the past few weeks with a nasty cold, probably flu. But when I get over it, I will certainly share the details. I'll say this so far: I started out as a policy person, but have decided that to real change education, to really help all kids learn, you have to go where the rubber meets the road--into the classroom.

What is most shocking about teaching is that there appears to be no shared profressional protocols, practices, methods, etc. Think about it. Imagine another profession, medicine, orchestral music, police work, without shared protocols, practices. Imagine these professions without shared goals and outcomes.

That's teaching.

What's hopeful is that medicine looked quite similar at beginning of the 20th century. There was a terrific document called the Flexner Report that helped direct medical schools to standardize education, practices, required skills, and knowledge for new physicians. Education needs a Flexner Report.

I know this sounds insane. Like, all the social constructionists etc. are going to buy into a Flexner Report? But at least I can start somewhere.

My dissertation is about the potential for creating a shared protocal for teaching reading, particularly reading to upper elementary students. And it's not at all wishy-washy. Anything but. Wait and see.


It's obvious that the people inside the field are too weak in the relevant scientific methods to be able to write a report with the rigor of e.g. a human drug trial. Such an effort might take a cross-disciplinary team from the hard sciences (and it is such a pity that Richard Feynman and Carl Sagan are no longer around to lend their considerable talents, reputations and no-nonsense attitudes to the effort).


cookie and the "poet".....miss the absolutely PERFECT instructional construct exists right now!!!!...however, without the ward heelers (many thanks to the poet for correcting my spelling, and informing me of the definition, perhaps you can next look up the word "pretentious" and then look in the mirror?)

And no dissertation or corection of a mispelled word, or a dead dreamer like Carl Sagan (another "ratings whore") is going to change the fact, that without money and political power, direct instruction will not spread at a rate fast enough to make a difference to this generation, or the next one. Forgive me, i dont know much, so i hope your comments continue (I DO learn so much from people smarther than I), they prove my point. I am correct, and you two obviously live in another galaxy.

Best Regards.....


cookie, sorry about calling you a stud. How about "studette"?

Best Regards....


Studette? Okay. I'll take it.

Meanwhile, I continue in the statistical salt mines. More to come.


you sound like GREEN EGGS AND HAM . do you remember that?


Dr. mother wrote the "Green Eggs and Ham" comment....I turned her on to your a mother, and a person with two decades of life more than ouselves, she seems to agree with you, but compares you with her son....

that both of us are children....and someday, we will learn that, in the end, we can only do what we simply try....

Her point?

I thinks she likes you.....high praise indeed, believe me....she is no one's fool, except for the fact she puts up with me.....God Bless her....

best regards,



Great read professor.Just two quick comments, if I may be so presumptuous ... any Democrat elected at any level got there with funding, volunteers, and primary election votes from the teacher unions. Although as individuals these people may not all be evil, wicked, mean, nasty and rotten to the core, they tend inevitably to promote the agenda of the unions. That agenda includes -- forget it, you obviously know what it includes -- it doesn't include effective instruction. It's extremely difficult for any Democrat to buck that agenda in any way, and there's little prospect of that changing. Comment #2 is pedantic. "Ward-heeling" comes from the same analogy as "well-heeled", from the era when the standard of living was so low that only the relatively well-off had decently maintained footwear. Borough politicians didn't bring the voters to heel, but rather heeled them by directing resources and services to their region. In that sense a successful politician kept his ward well-heeled.

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