While chattering education reformers bicker about standards, accountability, and how to spend Warren Buffet's billions, Japanologist Boyé Lafayette De Mente is busy attacking the achievement gap the old fashioned way: by cutting off its head with a Samurai sword. De Mente--who resides in the Tokkaido-like community of Paradise Valley, Arizona--recently published Samurai Principles & Practices That Will Help Preteens & Teens in School, Sports, Social Activities & Choosing Careers. In the book, he argues that a return to Samurai training, which includes learning about "setting goals, discipline, diligence... and tapping into cosmic power," will boost American student performance in the classroom. So true. Anyone who caught the The Last Samurai knows that, without such training, Tom Cruise would have continued to stumble through life in his cavalry uniform, drinking copious amounts of whisky and getting into bar brawls. But after cutting up some guys with a Samurai sword, he found religion and married Katie Holmes. Even more encouraging, some school districts have already copied certain parts of De Mente's Samurai curriculum. With a little more tweaking, we're confident this approach could give KIPP: Ninja Academy a run for its money.

"Author Claims Samurai-Type Training Could Help Students Succeed," Education News.Org, June 26, 2006

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