October 21, 2006

Defining 'Higher Education' Down

The good news: Oklahoma schools are teaching phonics. The bad news: It's in college.

To cite just one example (sadly, there are many), students at Tulsa Community College can take a college English course called "Spelling and Phonics," which is "designed for the student who needs to master basic spelling literacy and principles of phonics." And hey, just in case you're worried you're not getting your money's worth, "mastery of commonly misspelled words and decoding skills is included." Higher education, indeed.

If this information isn't depressing enough in its own right, contrast it with the requirements facing students hoping to be admitted to Harvard College around 1700: "Everyone competent to read Cicero or any other classic author of that kind extemporaneously, and also to speak and write Latin prose and verse with tolerable skill and without assistance, and of declining the Greek nouns and verbs, may expect to be admitted to the College: if deficient in any of these qualifications, he cannot under any circumstances be admitted."


  1. Darold Booton11:45 AM

    The qualifications for remaining in the college are equally interesting (taken from the Eliot Tract "New England First Fruits" [1643]). Here are some:

    "2. Let ever Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternall life, Joh. 17. 3. and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning.

    "And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdome, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him Prov 2.3.

    "3. Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theorettical observations of the Language, and Logick, and in Practicall and spirituall truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple, Psalm 119.130."

    If anyone thinks Eliot needed some phonics himself due to his spelling, remember there was not a general standard for English spelling until the publication of Dr. Samuel Johnson's dictionary in 1755.

    Point 3 probably precludes the "what does this verse mean to me" Bible studies I and many others wasted our time with in our college days.

    There is much to be recovered.

  2. Where can I get that mug?


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