Tag Archives | Education

Discussions of Michael Brown’s Death Banned in Illinois School District

Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. via Wikimedia Commons

Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. via Wikimedia Commons

Why do people actually think stifling discourse about polarizing current events is the key to a good education?

via AlterNet:

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.

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Let’s stop trying to teach students critical thinking

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Socrates, the father of critical thinking. lentina_x, CC BY-NC-SA

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

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Create your own book of Wikipedia articles

Photos of books made by PediaPress with Wikipedia content. By Jann Glasmacher for PediaPress via Wikimedia Commons.

Photos of books made by PediaPress with Wikipedia content. By Jann Glasmacher for PediaPress via Wikimedia Commons.

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.

via the Wikipedia Help:Books page:

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.

Length

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.

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Do “brain training” games actually help kids?

Children playing video games inside a video game truck. By Gamesingear via Wikimedia Commons.

Children playing video games inside a video game truck. By Gamesingear via Wikimedia Commons.

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:

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.

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The Single-Minded Testing Atmosphere is Damaging America’s Education System

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

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A Letter to George Orwell from a High School Student

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.

via The Library of Congress blog:

George Orwell

George Orwell

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.

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You Probably Think You Know What Organic Means

Because I'm the editor, that's why.

Because I’m the editor, that’s why.

Annalee Newitz has a run-down of ten scientific concepts that you’re probably misusing, including “organic”. I mean, rabies and rattlesnakes are organic…

10. 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.

via 10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing.… Read the rest

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You Have Dormant Primal Powers. This Guy Can Unleash Them.

Via- Midwest Real

“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

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The Kids Are Alright, It’s The School ‘Reformers’ Who Are Actively Hostile to Children

PIC: Russavia (CC)

PIC: Russavia (CC)

Peter Greene writes:

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.

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Girls Make Higher Grades than Boys in All School Subjects, Analysis Finds

Arts & Crafts in 2008 on the Victory Base Complex, Iraq Photo: Staff Sgt. Joy Pariante

Arts & Crafts in 2008 on the Victory Base Complex, Iraq Photo: Staff Sgt. Joy Pariante

How does it feel to be a minority, guys?  Via ScienceDaily:

Despite the stereotype that boys do better in math and science, girls have made higher grades than boys throughout their school years for nearly a century, according to a new analysis published by the American Psychological Association.

“Although gender differences follow essentially stereotypical patterns on achievement tests in which boys typically score higher on math and science, females have the advantage on school grades regardless of the material,” said lead study author Daniel Voyer, PhD, of the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada. “School marks reflect learning in the larger social context of the classroom and require effort and persistence over long periods of time, whereas standardized tests assess basic or specialized academic abilities and aptitudes at one point in time without social influences.”

Based on research from 1914 through 2011 that spanned more than 30 countries, the study found the differences in grades between girls and boys were largest for language courses and smallest for math and science.

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