Tag Archives | Education
Why do people actually think stifling discourse about polarizing current events is the key to a good education?
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When faced with tragedies like the shooting of Michael Brown and the community unrest that followed, there are many hard questions to be asked. Why did this happen again? Who should be held accountable? How do we prevent such injustices?
But among the hard questions, few are so pressing, or essential, as this: What do we tell the children?
For educators, that question weighs heavily, and in the Brown case all the more so because Brown’s death occurred just as the new academic year begins.But in Edwardsville, Illinois, the answer is chilling: What do we tell the children? We tell them nothing.
From the local CBS affiliate in St. Louis:
A new directive has been issued in Edwardsville schools: Don’t talk about Ferguson or Michael Brown in class.
Many teachers say they strive to teach their students to be critical thinkers. They even pride themselves on it; after all, who wants children to just take in knowledge passively?
But there is a problem with this widespread belief. The truth is that you can’t teach people to be critical unless you are critical yourself. This involves more than asking young people to “look critically” at something, as if criticism was a mechanical task.
As a teacher, you have to have a critical spirit. This does not mean moaning endlessly about education policies you dislike or telling students what they should think. It means first and foremost that you are capable of engaging in deep conversation. This means debate and discussion based on considerable knowledge – something that is almost entirely absent in the educational world.… Read the rest
I can’t believe that I just found out about this service: you can create your own book of Wikipedia articles. After gathering the articles you want to include, you can compile them into a book, and then download it as a PDF, ODF, or even get it printed. I think I just checked a few people off of my “What the Hell Do I Get Them?” Christmas list.
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Tips for creating great books
Topic and title
There are almost no limits when creating books from Wikipedia content. A good book focuses on a certain topic and covers it as well as possible. A meaningful title helps other users to have the correct expectation regarding the content of a book.
Books should have a reasonable number of articles. One article is not enough, but books that result in PDFs with more than 500 pages are probably too big, and may even cause problems on older computers.
According to Emma Blakely at The Conversation, the brain training games might not have any effect. Do you mean to tell me that these are empty promises to drive sales? How shocking.
via The Conversation:
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There has been a big increase recently in the number of computerised “brain training” programs marketed at young children. These programs make impressive claims – that they can help children learn better, that they improve children’s focus and memory, and that they can help children succeed in school.
There’s no doubt that brain training is big business. But scientific evidence suggests that these claims are premature. These programs can help train children at specific tasks, but there is little evidence that this has an impact on their performance in maths, reading or other every-day activities.
Working memory training
Many of these brain training programmes target improvements in working memory.
I was taught in a test-driven atmosphere and it was a rather negative experience. I went to a large public high school in Ohio where the OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) haunted my teachers and us students. The OGT is administered to 10th grade students in Ohio and you must have a passing score to graduate. Though, upon looking at the website, it seems that there will be some changes. Actually, the test may have changed since I took it. All in all, I remember very little of the OGT.
For the first two years of high school, I was fed the same information. The stakes are high for these kinds of tests – for students, but mostly for the teachers. They are forced to stay within the bounds of an established curriculum, reiterating material that may appear on the test. It was a wholly one-sided education.… Read the rest
The Library of Congress hosts a national reading and writing program (Letters about Literature) that invites students in grades 4-12 to write letters to an author – living or deceased. Here’s one such letter from Devi Acharya in Missouri.
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To George Orwell:
You were right, you were right, you were right. I’m sorry I never saw it before, and I feel like an idiot, sitting here and penning this to you when you were so unspeakably right. You shouldn’t have published those books of yours under the guise of fiction—how could fiction be what’s happening outside my very doorstep! People get so worked up, angry at some imaginary oppressive tyrant when the very dystopias we fear and loathe are being built around us. I’m only just beginning to see them myself—brick and mortar meant to keep worlds apart, shields of hatred and arrows of intolerance, warlords arming for battle while the unwitting peasants continue to live from day to day.
Annalee Newitz has a run-down of ten scientific concepts that you’re probably misusing, including “organic”. I mean, rabies and rattlesnakes are organic…
Entomologist Gwen Pearson says that there’s a constellation of terms that “travel together” with the word “organic,” such as “chemical-free,” and “natural.” And she’s tired of seeing how profoundly people misunderstand them:
I’m less upset about the way that they are technically incorrect [though of course all] food is all organic, because it contains carbon,etc. [My concern is] the way they are used to dismiss and minimize real differences in food and product production.
Things can be natural and “organic”, but still quite dangerous.
Things can be “synthetic” and manufactured, but safe. And sometimes better choices. If you are taking insulin, odds are it’s from GMO bacteria. And it’s saving lives.
“You can blend respectfully and mindfully with your environment as you move. This is a high level of mindfulness requested here. In my opinion, this is a physical manifestation and experience of my spirit… I would even say it’s a spiritual experience of my body.”
Do me a favor- stand up. No problem, right? Now walk around. That’s pretty easy, huh? Next, smash the nearest wad of food into your mouth hole. Isn’t this fun? Ok, sit down, look at the screen, and you’re done! Sound familiar? I know to me it does. I practice that sequence of movements with devoutly religious regularity. I’m going to make a tremendously presumptuous leap and assume that you do the same. Isn’t it sad that the mediocrity of our physical habits is that god damn obvious? Yet, if you’re lucky enough to be a normal-ish, healthy-ish human being you’ve got some serious untapped potential.… Read the rest
Peter Greene writes:
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I was in a CCSS training, and the trainer stopped to make an observation about how Kids These Days lack discipline and order. She even illustrated it with a story about her own child. And light bulb went on for me.
I have long considered that the Masters of Reforming Our Nation’s Schools view children as widgets, as little programmable devices, as interchangeable gears, as nothing more than Data Generation Units. I had considered that these MoRONS were indifferent to children. What I had not considered was that reformers are actively hostile to children.
I have certainly heard people in the ed world complain about Those Darn Kids, and I have taught in the building with more than one person who blames all their classroom woes on terrible awful no good pretty bad students. I try to be understanding. If I hear it once or twice, I assume somebody is having a bad day.