Archive for the ‘Central Park Story – Book Five’ Category:

Education in America…in Crisis Mode

American Schools

What goes in…

It is well-known that, ever since the 1950s, American schools have been in crisis mode, falling behind other countries such as Russia and Japan and China in core subjects such as mathematics and science.

Congress passed the National Defense of Education Act in 1958, and over the ensuing years, a series of other legislative acts, in an attempt to rectify these problems; but according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in 2012, American students ranked 25th in math, 17th in science, and 14th in reading compared to students in 27 other countries.

To give you an idea of just how big a drop that is, America once ranked #1.

So, what is the cause, and what can be done to stop its seemingly inexorable slide?

In my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, I attempt to resolve the issue by asking a slightly different question: what is education and how exactly do we learn? If we know the answer to that, the former question might become moot.

To cut to the chase, I don’t offer my readers a scientifically precise answer. After all, I am writing a fictional story meant to entertain! But in clarifying (and dramatizing) the issues, I suggest that a more open curriculum where mentoring plays a major role, is absolutely key.

This puts the burden, not on the curriculum or even the students. but on the quality and training of the teachers and the way they teach.

American Schools

..must come out the other end. But what happens in between? That’s the trillion dollar question.

As is the teacher, so is the student.

 

 

 

Europeans Versus Indigenous Americans–Was Conflict Necessary?

Native-American-Warrior

Indigenous Americans were about as different from Europeans as you could possibly get, but was conflict really necessary?

At the time of first contact, the indigenous cultures were quite different from those of the proto-industrial Christian immigrants. Some of the Northeastern and Southwestern cultures in particular were matrilinear and operated on a more collective basis than Europeans were familiar with. The majority of Indigenous American tribes, for instance, maintained their hunting grounds and agricultural lands for use of the entire tribe, while Europeans at that time had patriarchal cultures and had developed concepts of individual property rights with respect to land that were extremely different from those of indigenous Americans.

These differences in cultures between the established Native Americans and immigrant Europeans make one question whether it made any sense for one to try and assimilate the other.

One of the most beautiful things about our world is the variety of cultures it sustains, and to see a culture disappear, especially by force, is tragic.

I try to raise this point throughout my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, by illustrating that different cultures don’t necessarily have to collide, but can live side by side in harmony…assuming there is respect and restraint exercised on both sides.

 

The New York Times: the Heartbeat of the City and of the Freedom of the Press

The New York Times

The New York Times vs. Freedom of the Press?

The New York Times was founded as the New-York Daily Times on September 18, 1851 and shortened its name to The New York Times in 1857.

It has the largest circulation of any metropolitan newspaper in the US and has won 111 Pulitzer prizes over its history.

No doubt, Frederick Law Olmsted himself read it throughout his life in the city. Coincidentally, The Times began publication the very year he and Calvert Vaux won the design commission to construct Central Park.

As a newspaper, The Times has been involved in a handful of scandals over its history, but the most blatant (in my opinion) was the 13-month delay in publishing the story of the National Security Administrations warrantless surveillance program leaked to the newspaper in 2004, just prior to the presidential election.

The newspaper would have continued to refuse to publish the story under pressure from the Bush administration had one of the reporters not threatened to publish a book on the subject independently.

This egregious violation of the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights was not something I was going to let pass unnoticed in my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, where I seek to demonstrate what happens when freedom of the press becomes non-existent.