An Evening With The Rambling Taoist
Contributed by Linda Christas Help Desk Volunteers
On many occasions, Linda Christas has expressed its appreciation to the volunteers who serve on the Linda Christas Help Desk. A significant number of the Help Desk volunteers are parents of current or former Linda Christas students. The School is very proud of their professionalism.
Occasionally, the Help Desk is challenged by an individual, especially "bloggers" who are wishing understandably to follow in the steps of the great Bob Woodward (of Nixon expose fame), that is, the bloggers are well intentioned and wish to save society from the corruption in our midst.
One such dialogue, we felt, was particularly instructive, since the blogger in this case (The Rambling Taoist) is an example of good intentions that have gone far afield in terms of general accuracy. The following is an attempt by a parent volunteer. We found it both instructive and useful to encourage the public to be aware that with the freedom the Internet offers, quite frequently bloggers don't necessarily bother to do their homework before publishing.
The following dialogue with the Help Desk in this case began when a volunteer and parent of a Linda Christas student sent an announcement to a Mr. Trey Smith (The Rambling Taoist) that Dr. Paul Davies, the illustrious scientist and philosopher, and winner of the Templeton Prize had accepted an honorary chair with Linda Christas. These chairs are offered every year by the Linda Christas student body in honor of a prominent public personage.
Synopsis of dialog: Linda Christas Help Desk and The Rambling Taoist:
HELP DESK: Dear Trey, Check out the www.lindachristas.org web site. Dr. Paul Davies, one of the Rock Stars of Science and Philosophy has accepted an honorary chair with Linda Christas. Dr. Davies worked for a time with Stephen Hawking, and now has a chair with SETI and Arizona State University. I've read three of his 26 books. The fellow is a genius in my humble opinion. Regards, Beth
RAMBLING TAOIST: Am I supposed to be impressed? This guy believes in time travel.
HELP DESK: I actually sent that as a courtesy. Davies does not believe in time travel. What he does believe in is the theory of relativity which states that if particles travel faster than the speed of light, they will travel into the past. But, of course, that was just silly old Einstein's view.
RAMBLING TAOIST: Are you aware that he authored a book entitled, How to Build a Time Machine? "Is time travel possible? Yes, says Davies, who recently retired (in his early 50s) as professor of mathematical physics at the University of Adelaide in Australia to concentrate on his writing. But "a moment's thought uncovers some tricky questions." Whereupon he discusses lucidly and engagingly both the concepts of physics that establish the possibility of time travel and the tricky questions. You could reach the future "by simply moving very fast." For visiting the past, the most popular proposal is a wormhole, "a sculpture in the structure of space that provides a shortcut between two widely separated spaces." There may be "cosmic taboos," though, that make time travel forever elusive."
HELP DESK: As I've said, Trey, Professor Davies does not believe in time travel. Everything, though, is a possibility in quantum physics. The word to focus on here is......"possibility." If tachyons have the ability to move faster than light (300,000 kilometers per second), then it is possible for at least those little guys to travel back in time, according to Dr. Einstein. As a matter of fact, to deny the POSSIBILITY of time travel would be to take a position untenable within the currently understood parameters of quantum physics. That doesn't mean that we BELIEVE that time travel is doable for a human being in the H.G. Wells sense.
Professor Davies does point out the possible (there's that word again) paradoxes involved with actually doing it. That is, for example, one could (hopefully accidentally) kill one's own father BEFORE he, the father, met one's mother.
Trey, I am struggling to understand something. We don't know each other, so we have a wonderful opportunity, as is true of every human interaction, to start fresh with another intelligent entity. For all I know, you could be a computer (The Turing Test, you know.)
However, the very basic rules of human interaction say that if a person approaches another, and says, for example, "HELLO!" How do you like my new hairdo?" And, the other person responds, "What! Am I supposed to be impressed?" That second person is looking for a fight. Why would a person be like that, Trey? Seems so sad.
But then, a person doing those things (according to "psychologists") receives a self-bolstering reward of some kind from the behavior, or he or she wouldn't act that way. (For example, we are familiar with Columbine-like personalities who secretly hate every human attempt at structure because they were subjected to taunts as a child, and feel gratified when they can deconstruct someone else's house of cards, or point to a human frailty?)
Psychologists also say that normally if a person is aware of the frailty of another, that person, the observer, is somehow afraid that he or she will be caught having the same imperfection, perhaps because he or she was humiliated in another setting. (For instance, I know a rather desperate individual who collects newspaper articles because he has a need to be able to prove everything he says in case of challenge. It is a sort of, "The next time someone challenges something I say, I'll have the proof that they, not me, are the idiots." That kind of behavior comes from a sense of vulnerability that we all have to some degree, Trey.)
I am not your enemy, Trey. I am just someone who volunteered to help on the Linda Christas Help Desk, and sent someone else who happened to be on an old Linda Christas database something that really impressed me. I wanted to share my genuine excitement. Haven't you ever felt that way, Trey?
RAMBLING TAOIST: I'm skipping all your blather.
I did decide to visit the NEW LC site. I must say, it's even WORSE than it use to be. It's now filled with nebulous references and flowery language that doesn't actually say a heck of a lot. It all sounds so nice and professional, but I couldn't find much meat on the bone -- just generalities.
Here's an example, "Linda Christas graduates are accepted three times more often to top-ten U.S. colleges than students matriculating from traditional public and private pre-planned programs." Any reputable institution would cite the reference for this assertion. You would think there would be a footnote to a newspaper, an educational organization or SOMETHING. Unfortunately, the LC site is littered with this kind undocumented verbiage.
HELP DESK: Off the top: "We find that personally tutored/home schooled students do extremely well here," said the Dean of admissions at Duquesne University. "Many receive scholarships."
"Personally tutored/home schooled students are generally our strongest candidates," said Mike Steidel, director of admissions at Carnegie Mellon.
"Many admissions officers admitted that although they receive relatively few applications from privately tutored/home schooled students, the acceptance rate of those who do apply is very high."
Stanford: "We had an acceptance rate for privately tutored/home schooled students that is a multiple of the norm."
RAMBLING TAOIST: Aah! So you admit that LC teachers aren't as credentialed as public school teachers. You folks should advertise this fact. I bet it would cause more parents to want to enroll their children in your program -- NOT! Also, you collect money from prospective employees. That's a scam........Get real! No business that "doesn't make money" stays in business. LC gets money BOTH from prospective employees AND families that enroll their students. Since almost every person from LC that has contacted me "claims" she/he is a volunteer, labor costs must be really low. It stands to reason that someone in this enterprise is making a boatload of money. Also, I am an atheist.
HELP DESK: The Tier II is a leadership credential offered by many public and private universities. The Tier II is not related in any way to teaching services delivered by the School, and is only required of Advisors. Advisors do not teach students directly. Trey, Linda Christas only offers the Tier II credential from an independent contractor. If the new Advisor wishes to take the Tier II at a local university, he or she can do that, and Linda Christas will reimburse them in the same way that they will if the new Advisor were to choose the independent contractor, who, incidentally is not a Linda Christas employee. In other words, no matter what the credentialing method decided upon by the Advisor is, the School will reimburse for that education after the completion of an internship. As you know, Trey, public school teachers are required to be credentialed at their own expense. What you have called a scam here and elsewhere is merely Linda Christas' attempt to make the credentialing process much more affordable for the prospective Advisor.
As far as our *teachers* not being as qualified as public school teachers, unfortunately you didn't fully understand what I was saying. All Linda Christas teachers that interface directly with students are fully state credentialed. That's 100%. On the other hand, it is a rare public school that has 100% credentialing among their teachers. Many so-called 'emergency teaching credentials' are issued to public school teachers every year, especially schools located in difficult areas, or subjects that suffer from a lack of fully qualified people in the field generally -- for example, mathematics.
Trey, if you will do the math with me. Linda Christas offers a program of seven years of unrestricted access to a credentialed teacher as well as a counselor for about one third of the minimum charge that public schools ask of the taxpayer. (In this example, we are referring to the Extended College Counseling and Supplementary English Language Program that may begin as early as 7th grade and run through the first year of college. The program assigns both a state credentialed English teacher as well as a College Preparation Counselor to the student for a one-time enrollment of $2400.)
Now in the public sector, one class of 30 students is billed at approximately $240,000 yearly. (In the United States, each public school student is supported by at least $8,000 per nine-month period. In some districts, as in the case of New York, as much as $16,000 per student per nine months is spent by public school districts. You can check with the National Center for Education Statistics if you doubt what I am saying.)
Remember also that Linda Christas provides one-on-one services to students.
Linda Christas receives not a penny of local, state or federal taxes or foundation income.
As a parent of a Linda Christas student, I find it admirable that Linda Christas goes it alone financially, and hope someday that the public will understand how truly inspiried the Linda Christas mission is. In addition, as a parent, I take great comfort from the fact that Dr. Paul Davies, Pat Boone, Sue Grafton and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. have lent their support by accepting honorary chairs offered to them by the Linda Christas student body.