Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This is the famous Budweiser beer

When I was in basic training in North Carolina in 1970, I was impressed by the fact that one of the guys in my platoon had memorized the entire beer slogan that is found on every bottle or can of Budweiser. If you’re not a Bud fan, it reads exactly like this:

“This is the famous Budweiser beer. We know of no brand produced by any other brewer which costs so much to brew and age. Our exclusive Beechwood Aging process produces a taste, a smoothness, and a drinkability that you will find in no other beer at any price”.

Over the years, I’ve enhanced my memory skills, partially due to the fact that I spent more than 25 years in Toastmasters memorizing speeches, but also due to the fact that I’ve taken numerous insurance courses AFTER my graduation from college. As a result, I can now recite the slogan shown above verbatim, which doesn’t mean that I’m smarter than any one else. It just means that I have done a better job at improving my memory skills than a lot of other people.

When I taught college level English in China, I was struck by the fact that a number of the native teachers still focused on rote memorization, a skill that was highly valued in this country when my parents were in elementary school a century ago. I even had a few students in my classes whose goal was to memorize an entire book. Although that is an admirable goal, it has little practical value.

The American educational system may not be the best in the world we are currently #17) but our system DOES do a good job of teaching problem solving skills, which has a lot more to do with THINKING than simply memorizing facts.

The other day, I was supervising a class at one of the local high schools, and noticed the following Albert Einstein quote on the wall:

“It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he really does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks."

One of my late relatives was opposed to college education for her children because “it put ideas in their head”, which is PRECISELY the purpose of higher education. Sadly, that attitude still exists today in the minds of the more conservative members of our society, especially those in Texas.

The following excerpt is taken directly from the Texas Republican Party Platform:

“Knowledge-based Education - We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Sills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a re-labeling of Outcome Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. (emphasis mine)

In other words, the Republicans in Texas really don’t want voters to actually THINK. They would prefer that they keep watching FOX “news” and keep pulling the “R” lever when they vote.

Compounding the error of the Republican Party is the fact that Texas is considered to be one of the most religious states in the country (47% of its residents are considered to be “very religious”). As a result of their religious philosophy, a large number of folks in Texas no longer trust public schools, who they feel are “biased against Christian values“.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, roughly 1.7 million children in our country are being educated at home, and Texas has (by far) the highest percentage of its students being home schooled. The Texas Home School coalition estimates the total is around 300,000.

The Texas Supreme Court is currently hearing the case of a family accused of not educating their children because they were waiting for the second coming of Jesus. The family says that the government is violating their constitutional rights. The mother of the children claims to have heard one of her children say they were “going to be raptured”.

Since the Texas Supreme Court is considered to be a conservative body, it’s anybody’s guess how this court case will come out. Most of us, however, are of the opinion that children who are in school should actually be EDUCATED.

Regardless of the outcome of the case is the fact that new Governor Greg Abbott recently appointed Donna Bahorich as chair of the Texas Board of Education in June. Critics objected to her lack of experience with the public school system, since she home schooled her three sons before sending them to private schools.

If I had a choice between having my children attend a public school in Texas or having a few Buds with them on the patio, I’d prefer the beers on the patio.

At least they would be a lot WISER.

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