Mr. C.S. shared this article, and since it concerns two of my "hot button" issues - my home state, South Dakota, and the Common Core standards and assessment process - I simply have to talk about it.

South Dakota is a wonderfully backward place, culturally speaking. And I always appreciated this fact about the state. The latest trendy fad coming out of the northeast or, worse, the left coast, always arrived a decade late and much diluted once it reached the Dakotas, or Montana, Wyoming, or - barring Omaha and Lincoln - Nebraska. But by "culturally backward" I do not mean to imply illiterate. Quite the contrary. Its backwardness assured a certain grounding in the essentials. I grew up in a state surrounded by Germans, Dutch, Swedes, and Norwegians, who insisted that (1) I learn a foreign language, and learn it reasonably well enough to carry on a conversation in it (I chose German, which one heard a lot in South Dakota anyway, along with healthy dollops of Norwegian and, if you ventured a few miles from Sioux Falls, Dutch), (2) learn the arts, which meant actually having to read Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, to learn about Degas and Cezanne from my elementary school art teacher Mrs. Olson(there's that Norwegian influence again), and to actually listen to Mozart or Edvard Grieg or (of course) J.S Bach, and not simply the Beach Boys. We had to read about Lakota history and Chief Bull-Who-Sits-Down (Sitting Bull), Wounded Knee, and the sad history of the local Native American Indian population, long before it became trendy or politically correct to do so. We had endless map tests in grade school and junior high school, of blank countries with rivers, which we had to name, place dots for the major cities reasonably close to where they actually were, and spell them correctly. We had to do this for Europe, North and South America, and significant chunks of Asia. My eighth grade shop teacher, Mr. Goering (yes, that was really his name!) who spoke with such a heavy German accent was a hard task master in drafting class(yes, drafting, in the eighth grade). My second year German teacher, Frau Gunhilde Brakas, began her class that fateful year with this sentence: "Good afternoon students; I am Frau Brakas, and this is the last English sentence you will hear in this class this year," and for the next few difficult sink-or-swim weeks, it was. In the seventh grade, we learned about the huge shale oil reserves in the the northwest corner of the state, where unbeknownst to me at the time, one of my god-children was growing up on a sheep ranch and learning to play the pipe organ. More Norwegians, more Bach on the prairie. And mathematics? Well, this too was a constant staple. And even music theory.

And now, looking back on it all, I see not only how fortunate and blessed I was, but also I see and notice something else: through it all, my teachers seldom if ever "taught to the test", which in our case were the endless ACTs, Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, and so on. We had them, but they didn't teach to them, and perhaps that is why South Dakota neither did well, nor poorly, on national averages of "standardized test scores" at the time. And thank God for that, for there was a Texas-like independence to the state, but of a subtler and quieter sort than one encounters in the Lone Star republic, though I am resorting to a bit of Texas noisiness here, and for a purpose, and the purpose is this article:

South Dakota drops teaching high schoolers about American revolution, founding documents

I find this article interesting for a number of reasons, chiefly being that once again teachers and professors in South Dakota find themselves at odds with the federally mandated claptrap called common core, and this time over whether or not the US Constitution and (much more importantly) Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence are to be taught. As one gathers from the article, these have already been denuded from the cirruculum in the Dakotas (shame on you, Pierre and Bismarck!) and it is actually the college professors who are complaining. There's the usual bit of edgykayshunal psychoblither, such as history not really being about "timelines" but about "informed decision making", and I won't bother to rehearse that bit of pabulum here. Suffice it to say, when I was in school, I had to memorize timelines, names, and dates, and I don't think I'm any the worse the wear for Mrs. Zimmermann or Mrs. Rosine insisting I do so. After all, knowing when something happened is crucial to knowing the why and the how events and decisions relate.

But what I found rather encouraging is that the Sioux Falls newspaper, the Argus-Leader that my dad read every night, seems to be rethinking the commitment to all the claptrap, and advocating for a thorough and detailed knowledge of the Constitution. And that's good, because once one opens that box, and peers inside, one also has to look at the Federalist Papers and, much more importantly, at the Anti-Federalist papers and the Declaration of Independence, at the Stamp Act, at the history of Great Britian and its constitutional evolution. If we keep invoking the Constitution, wouldn't it be a nice idea to read it? To understand its Federalist defenders and Anti-Federalist detractors, and to have read them too?

So, my initial reaction of horror, when I first read this article, has tempered just a bit. For I recognize the quiet South Dakota pattern that I remember, that pattern of "pass what laws you will, we'll obey the letter, and circumvent the spirit, and do our own thing anyway."

I hope that spirit not only lives there still, but that it spreads.

The proof is in the pudding, I suppose, and here's my proof, for after many years, it's appropriate to thank all those people, all those teachers, who so blessed me, and the fact that I remember them all, is a testimony to their virtue and quality as individuals, and teachers, who - Bill Gates, Jeb Bush, Hillary CLinton and other twitified elites' advocacy of machines and standardized tests and online education and "common core" and individualized adaptive standardized assessment processes notwithstanding - managed to impart a hunger for learning, and a desire for truth mediated the time-honored way, through their sheer ability to communicate the human essence of each discipline. So a belated, long overdue, and huge thank you to my teachers: Miss Cantrell (first grade), Miss McKillop (second grade), Mrs. McClain (third grade), Mrs. Johnson(fourth grade), Mrs. Zimmermann(fifth grade, and her passion for reading and music), Mr. Roth (sixth grade, and his passion for reading in all subjects), Miss Klosterboer, Mr. Hochstetter, Mr. Selnes, Mrs. Rosine(and her passion for the "antiquated" discipline of recitation), Mr. Aschbauer, Mr. Goering, Mrs. Olson, Miss Trisch, Mr. Fialkowski, Mrs. Connors (who taught me the joys of epigraphs and footnoting in the "Chicago" manner, and not the short-cuts and pseudo-referencing that passes for it now: you made Oxford possible!) and so many other specialized teachers throughout junior and senior high school: thank you. And to the principals who had the good sense to hire them: Mr. Johnson, and Mr. Oyan: a thank you as well.

See you on the flip side...



Posted in

Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and "strange stuff". His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into "alternative history and science".


  1. DanaThomas on September 15, 2015 at 7:20 am

  2. Frankie Calcutta on September 9, 2015 at 7:04 am

    After losing my job recently as a black community activist (because I wasn’t black) I managed to get hired in a George Soros funded anarchist think tank. Our job at the think tank is to come up with innovative ways to undermine the social fabric of American society, destroy its cherished institutions and divide people in any way possible all the while facilitating the mass genocide of caucasian people and lowering the IQ of the rabble. If somewhere along the way we can make people sick as well, that is also a plus. To give you an example of how my job works, I will read a blog such as this rant by Dr. Farrell on American education then jot down a few notes which I will send along to the think tank headquarters in Rockefeller Center to be read by a select group of elders. There my suggestions will be tagged with a like or a dislike. If a majority of the elders approve of my idea, it will move forward to a select committee who will then decide (with the help of computers) its feasibility and cost. At this point I am given my payment which can come in the form of money, drugs or slaves who I can sell, use or even kill at my leisure. If enough of my ideas are approved, rumor has it, I will be genetically screened, and if diabolical DNA is found, become an elder myself.

    So for example, here are some of my notes I forwarded to the think tank today:

    — South Dakota is benefiting from too much “white privilege” allowing them to reside in territories of independent and critical thinking. This could be stymied with rampant immigration of third world workers to work the energy fields and the poisoning of their water supply through fracking. A worst case scenario would be a covertly triggered “natural” disaster like a massive earthquake or some kind of ecological disaster which would destroy the entire states’ clean water supply. A catastrophic drought would be another option (just bring in lots of lustful Iraqi war refugees who wouldn’t mind the conditions). Any future Joseph Farrells should remember their teachers as being cruel and swarthy, speaking an undecipherable foreign tongue, and imposing Sharia law in their community. School should be a terrifying experience and dangerous. I would also suggest a CIA rendition prison for South Dakota that could be used as a hub for illegal narcotics which would hopefully flood into the community. Because so many of the communities in this vast state is isolated, it could be possible to fill the rendition prisons with Dakotans who have committed minor infractions or maybe even no crimes at all. South Dakota could become synonymous with citizen disappearances. This alone may drive traditional South Dakotans to our DHS urban zones.

    –regarding Founding Fathers. Emphasize their homosexual tendencies as they spent so much time in the company of just other men. Could even make claims that many were transgender as they liked to wear wigs, perfume, and make up. Over time, this should become the prominent “fact” about the Founding Fathers and not their revolutionary government. Continued emphasis on their slave owning is also crucial but I would throw into the mix that African slaves were used mostly for the perverted pleasures of the Founding Fathers. In fact, get one of our authors to write a NY Times best selling book about S & M and the Founding Fathers.

    • Robert Barricklow on September 9, 2015 at 8:18 am

      Dripping with acidic truths in a concoction that belies their well-known methods[at least in this readership].
      Loved it!

  3. RAJM on September 9, 2015 at 12:57 am

    Great post Doc. We are so influenced by our good teachers.
    Part 2 please – high school to Oxford!

  4. goshawks on September 8, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    Joseph’s ‘rant’ (great!) reminds me of the original (1960) “The Time Machine” movie, where H. George Wells (Rod Taylor) comes across the distant-future ‘museum’, sees books falling into scrap-paper, and goes into his ‘rant’. We all stand upon the shoulders of billions who labored and sacrificed to get us this far. We ‘owe’ it to them not to have their lives to have been in vain…

  5. Cate on September 8, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    The revolution is certainly happening in our little cosmos. I took my 6yr old son out of school last month after a classmate hit him on the head with half a (jagged) brick.
    Home-schooling it is. I love directing his learning. The last class-to-parent letter had no less than seven spelling/grammatical errors.
    Yesterday’s lesson; he was curious about culture and ‘Italian’ (Italy) so I googled up a basic map for him to trace and colour and name. Today he can point to all the main continents, and also the four culturally relevant countries (to him); NZ, UK, Australia and Italy. More today after lunch.
    He wants to know every country on the planet and their neighbours.
    I remember ‘studying’ geography at age 15 or 16, and being horrifically bored by it. The class was all about specific economics in one or two third world countries. I came out stupider than when I went in.

    Back to the point: I had to draw in Russia for my sons map yesterday because the US-origin’d drawing had it as part of Asia. No mention of Russia at all. It was at that point I realised quite how determined the PTB are in making us feral zombies. I won’t have it.

    • RAJM on September 9, 2015 at 12:53 am

      Cate, good for you that’s a brave decision. As a parent in Canada I am watching schooling & curriculum very closely. We started our kids in the Montessori system. Maria Montessori was an impressive woman who saw the link between tactile play and learning in young kids. She expanded that idea to create a very holistic and hands on program which can go to on to high school. We couldn’t afford to have them schooled that way after kindergarten but it has given them a very good start. How do you plan to keep up your sons social skills / interaction now he is outside the classroom?

  6. Robert Barricklow on September 8, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    I tend to align with Dr. Farrell on his education viewpoints.
    I recently replied to HAL838 on “culture” and of course education plays Big Time in various cultures around the world. I recently discussed here on the deadly influence that neoliberalism is having, and has had on education around the world.
    But there is something “missing” when I probe deeply into “our” culture/education; a phantom limb syndrome, if you will, that I certainly “feel”.
    It’s this business of “civilization”. I’m part of it; but detest its current direction. Not that the past is anything to brag about,; for it certainly isn’t. So much potential; and surrounding us are the fruits of all that sweat, blood, and tears. It looks like someone or something certainly gummed-up whatever could have been.
    So before this Twilight Zone Signpost, up ahead, that read:
    “Next Stop, Civilization”, what thoughts ran though “our” minds?
    Animals & humans inhabited the same world engaging one another not only in body or mind, but in whole being; until domestication divided that social world of humans from the rest of nature; a divide at the time most permeable & easily crossed.
    The narrative of the hunter/animal relationship was of human concern with animals/environment. The domestication disengaged this & made sharp distinctions between animals & society/nature & humans.
    For tens of thousands of years, game was there for the taking[everyone shared that culture]; the only obligation was to share the kill. The animal-human relationship involved respect & ritual in the cosmos. With domestication came ownership/property[in ways that game animals never were]; passed onto children & relatives. These activities easily dovetailed into cereal cultivation[and thousand of years later, soap serials]. Now hunters became village societies anchored to land, domesticated animals, & crops. They became wealth, symbols of prestige & POWER.
    The Garden of Eden was no more.
    I feel it missing; somewhere within.

    • Robert Barricklow on September 8, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      The interactions between animals & humans is intensely close, which means spirits are easily offended by peoples’ disrespectful behavior. The environment is both natural & spiritual, in the community of beings.
      The current neoliberal culture is hellbent on destroying that environment in “our” community of beings.
      Are we passing by another signpost without much thought/action?

      • DanaThomas on September 9, 2015 at 1:45 am

        A very opportune reflection Robert.

        • Robert Barricklow on September 9, 2015 at 8:19 am

          Thank you, Dana.

      • moxie on September 9, 2015 at 10:48 am

        Having just seen the video of a camerawoman tripping a fleeing refugee carrying a child, I trembled and weeped in horror at the prevalence of inhumanity especially in those situations. I try to avoid reacting emotionally because it seems to be draining much energy, but how does one not get affected?

        • Robert Barricklow on September 9, 2015 at 3:40 pm

          Emotion is splendid.
          Passion is to die for.
          They have neither; it does not compute.
          Sociopaths lack it; psychopaths pretend it.

          • moxie on September 9, 2015 at 4:34 pm

            Maybe some are wired differently. empty?artificial? makes them programmable?
            correction to my previous comment *wept

          • Robert Barricklow on September 10, 2015 at 4:00 pm

            What it really boils down to Moxie[IMO], is not the attacks on our moral values; but the attacks on our principles of reality itself.

  7. DownunderET on September 8, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Wow, what a rant, it’s got to be up there with some of Joseph’ best. I got a pretty good education, just picked the wrong subjects, should have picked History instead of Geography. All in all, the expression “the good old days” becomes the reality of a society that has gone mad. I feel for the kids of today, having smart phones isn’t education, it’s communication, and nothing will make up for picking up a book that will teach you something. Imagine “The Cosmic War” on a must read list for a well known university, now that’s edgamakayshun !!!!!!!!!.

    • Don B on September 8, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      Agree, one of the great essays. I like it when Joseph speaks his mind. I’m older than Joseph but I grew up in the same educational philosophy. Its amazing to see the lawyers coming out of law school who have no concept of legal principles.

  8. marcos toledo on September 8, 2015 at 8:36 am

    I am what call a spick so I was put in class for dummies. But since I loved history and science I educated myself in the school library then the public library. I use to have the Federalist Papers and Anti-Federalist Papers but I lost those books before reading them. I am bad at math and I have to look words when writing but I understand what I read.

    • Button on September 8, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      The fact that you had the initiative to self-educate speaks for itself about your character and intelligence, Marcos. I value your contributions here, and I don’t think you’re dumb.

      Take care.

      • Don B on September 8, 2015 at 4:15 pm


        • RAJM on September 9, 2015 at 12:58 am

          Ditto again.

          • DanaThomas on September 9, 2015 at 1:47 am


    • Robert Barricklow on September 9, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Your Mark Twain quote was succinct & to the point.
      “I try not to let my schooling interfere with my education”.
      I look forward to your comments every day.

    • Enlil's a Dog on September 9, 2015 at 9:12 am

      !! πŸ™‚

    • Margaret on September 10, 2015 at 9:49 am

      Likewise Marcos, I too look forward to your excellent comments every day and yours are usually the first post! I appreciate your broad knowledge of history and how well you express yourself. In a few well-chosen words you convey so much! I hope you’re doing OK there in P.R. … wishing you well πŸ˜‰

  9. DanaThomas on September 8, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Aren’t education guidelines still within the purview of elected persons or bodies, or are they completely in the hands of committees (which however thanks to the web are not quite so “faceless” as they were in the past)?

  10. kitona on September 8, 2015 at 5:48 am

    Oh oh, the truth is out now. South Dakota is clearly a rouge state full of dangerous foreign language speaking infiltrators. Should it be sanctioned? Perhaps added to the dreaded “axis of evil”?

  11. WalkingDead on September 8, 2015 at 5:37 am

    Well said. My hope is that this quiet revolution is taking place in many other parts of the country.

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