Brace yourselves.

Brace yourselves.  I am about to tick a lot of you off.

When it comes to students, I deal with two types.

Some of my students join my classes because they want to learn Latin, Greek, or Italian.  And, some of my students join my classes because they need a grade or a high-school credit.

Naturally, I love interacting with the first group.  I don’t really blame the second group.  They are just part of the system.  I get it.

But, I wonder, have any of them (or their parents) ever stopped to question the system?

Why DO we educate kids the way we do?  Has it always been done this way?  Does it work?  What does modern education produce?  Most students will never question the system… because the system teaches us not to question the system.

I’ve been reading a book that questions the system.  Even though I am not done with the book, I am going to recommend it anyway.

I am sure all of you have heard of the book Rich Dad/Poor Dad, by Robert Kiosaki.  Well, he has written other books, too.  I have read most of them.  Somehow, I missed this one.  Until now.

This week, I started reading Why “A” Students Work for “C” Students and Why “B” Students Work for the Government: Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Education for Parents.

Not exactly sure how I missed this one.  Anyway, I recommend it.  You may not agree with his take on debt, and on investing, and that is fine.  But, if you are an American, you need to read his thoughts on education.  I have been a teacher now for 20 years.  I am an educator.  I am an insider.  What he says about education is true.

We have raised generations of children who are concerned about grades and credits.  And, for what?  After school, and after college, does ANYONE ask you for your report card?  Does ANYONE care?  Not in my experience.

Worse, students are made to feel stupid, or inadequate for failing certain subjects in school.  I failed college algebra three times.  That one experience torpedoed my confidence.  I felt like an idiot.  I felt inadequate.

Guess how much I have used algebra since college.  Go ahead.  I can wait.

I am sure you guessed correctly.  Never.  Not once.  As Mr. Kiosaki says out in the book, “If you grade a fish on its ability to climb a tree, the fish will fail.”  The fish might even feel like an idiot.

I have not used algebra once since leaving school.  Not once.  Guess what I have used every single day of my adult life?  Financial math.  Basic financial math.  I didn’t have a single class in school on this subject.

If you, like me, question the system, then check out Mr. Kiyosaki’s book.  If you are interested in acquiring a financial education, then check out Mr. Kiyosaki’s book.  And, if all you can think about is the grade you are going to receive in class, you definitely need to read: Why “A” Students Work for “C” Students and Why “B” Students Work for the Government: Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Education for Parents.

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Every Saturday, I send out a tip of the week.  I also include announcements, upcoming classes, and so on.  If you would like to hear from me every weekend, sign up for my weekly updates here:

Stop panicking.

I grew up with the worldview that everything was going to become increasingly worse until finally, the last few true believers would be pulled off the planet.

After the rescue would come the apocalypse.

I now believe that is nonsense.

As Dr. Gary North says, “We are not about to enter a dark age. We are about to enter an age of greater liberty and wealth. It is time to watch Hans Rosling’s video once again. We had better watch it at least once a year.”

When I was a kid, communism was supposed to take over the world.  Instead, it collapsed.  I was on the Berlin wall during the week it came down.  A few months later, East Germany was no more.  And, in 1991, The Soviet Union closed its doors. It simply went out of business with barely a whimper.

Like it or not, the gospel of Jesus Christ is winning.  It will continue to win.  All empires will kneel.

If I am grading your work…

I don’t have much time to grade the work of my students these days.   But, over the past few years, I had committed to grading the work of many.  A few dozen of those students remain.

If I had only girls in my classes, I might continue to grade.  But, that is not the case.  There are boys in my classes, too.

I have graded the work of thousands of students.  In general, the girls do what I ask them to do.  The boys don’t.  Can’t complain.  I was the same.  I became a good student after graduation.

Anyway, I am sending this notice to my students if I am checking their work:

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Before I check this, I need to ask you… did you pre-check your work?  I already see quite a few mistakes in your work.  There is no reason to receive a bad grade on an assignment in my classes since I have provided the means to edit your own work.

There are several things you can do.  You can post your work in the forums.  There you may receive feedback from other students.  Best of all, with the forums, you don’t have to wait around for me to answer.  Other students are there to help.

The other thing you can do is pretty simple.  You can self-edit by comparing your answers to the answers of other students in the “Student Answer” sections of my site.  You can also read other student mistakes and you can read my notes about those mistakes.  Most students make the same mistakes. Most students struggle with the same things.

After checking your work using the two suggestions above, you are welcome to send your work to me.

Grading…

I received this question:

We are counting Henle 1 as high school credit. What do you recommend we assess for grades? I can grade the assignments you assign, there are your weekly quizzes – what else do you recommend? Also, how do you recommend I grade the weekly assignments? So far, I have tallied up a word total for each sentence and then counted off for missed vocab, case or tense.

I am thankful for your Latin class and hope to take advantage of more of your online classes.

Here is my reply:

I wish I could keep grading.  I enjoyed interacting with my students.  Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time anymore.  I’ve been answering general Q and A emails for about 5 hours this morning. 

As my site has grown, the emails have grown.  I receive hundreds of emails a day.  There are two kinds of emails.  Half are from students whose work I grade.  The other half are general inquiry emails.  The general inquiry emails are requiring more and more of my time. 

I am working every day to build tools to help students check their own work.   I will be creating more quizzes and tests for my site.  I have already begun loading my own answer keys to my site, and I will be loading more.  These are free to subscribers. Over the past six, or seven years I have created a massive database of responses to my students.  These I am uploading to my site for my subscribers.  I also have forums where students are able to interact with other students and are able to check each other’s work.

You are doing the right thing.  Have her take the quizzes on my site. 

But, also, have her do the work assigned in the syllabus.  She (or you) can check her work using the Student Answer sections on my site.  You will find those here: https://dwanethomas.com/my-courses-2/

If you look in the Student Answer sections, you will find my notes (and point deductions) to students from previous years.  This should help.

I’m back.

I took the last three weeks off.  Well… from writing a tip of the week.  Just couldn’t find the time.

August is the busiest month of the year for me.   I spend most of my time getting ready for the upcoming courses, answering questions, registering students, and answering questions.  Lots and lots of questions.  Also, I spend a lot of time answering questions.

Then, in September, classes begin.  The craziness stops.  My site stats drop from thousands of hits a day to hundreds of hits a day.

Back to writing the “Tip of the Week”.

This one is more of a reminder, actually.

Lately, my 14-year-old daughter and I have been having conversations in German.  I did not teach her German.  To my own shame, I admit that I have not had the time.

She taught herself.  We have enrolled her in no classes.  We have never taken her to Germany.  And, there are no German foreign exchange students in our house.

So, how did she do it?

DuoLingo.

My 16-year-old daughter watches movies from time to time in French.  Same story.  She taught herself.  How?

DuoLingo.

Incidentally, neither of them are all that interested in Latin.  “I’ll show you, Dad.  I am going to teach myself a modern language!”  Rebellious teenagers.

I am teaching myself Italian and modern Greek.  I am using DuoLingo.  It’s working.

My students are used to hearing me talk about DuoLingo.

Parents aren’t.  Learning a foreign language just can’t be that simple.  There must be a course.  There must be a syllabus.   There must be a course description.  There must be high-school credit.  There must be grades.

Guess what?  Schools provide all of that.  Syllabi.  Course descriptions.  Credits.  Grades.  Schools provide it all.  Only one thing is missing.  The ability to speak the language.

I don’t speak French, so I really do not know how my 16-year-old daughter is doing in French.  But, my German-speaking daughter is doing well and she is getting better.  Conversations are becoming more and more fun.  No syllabus.  No course description.  No credits.  No grades.  Just the ability to switch into German with me when she doesn’t want other members of the family to understand.

DuoLingo is the most powerful language learning tool I have encountered in the last ten years.  It feels like a game.  It looks like you are playing on your smartphone.  It looks childish.

Don’t be fooled.

DuoLingo. is a serious language learning system.  Use it.

I even have a couple of classrooms I manage on DuoLingo.  You can join.

Greek: https://www.duolingo.com/o/pdhxqm
Italian: http://duolingo.com/o/uftpsz

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Have a Saturday, everyone!
Dwane

P. S.  There is a big music festival going on in my town (Franklin, Tennessee) this weekend.  If you are coming, please behave yourself.  Don’t trash the place.  We like it here.  And, if you are from New England, don’t honk at all of us on the street.  We just don’t do that around here.  Thanks.

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Every Saturday, I send out a tip of the week.  I also include announcements, upcoming classes, and so on.  If you would like to hear from me every weekend, sign up for my weekly updates here:

Visual Latin lesson 4

I received this question:

Today I completed Latin Worksheet 4C and I had a question concerning it. There were 20 or so Latin sentences for me to translate into English, and one of them was: “Terra non est.” My translation was: “Earth is not”, but the Answers said that the correct translation was “There is no earth.” Could you please explain to me when it is appropriate to add the word “there” (or “the”) into a Latin-English translation?

Here is my reply:

Your translation works.  Just sounds a little off in English, you know?

Est is annoying.  It can be translated three ways. 

  • Est = is
  • Est = there is
  • Est = he, she, or it is.

Same with sunt.

  • Sunt = are
  • Sunt = they are
  • Sunt = there are

Whenever you are translating these words, just pick the one that works best.