Tag Archives | Education

“Unschooling:” Less Factory, More Garden

schoolsucksUnschooling takes to heart the old maxim that one should never let one’s schooling interfere with one’s education. This article from CNN describes unschooling in a formal setting, but it is more commonly practiced as a form of home-school:

Six-year-old Karina Ricci doesn’t ever have a typical day. She has no schedule to follow, no lessons to complete.

She spends her time watching TV, doing arts and crafts or practicing the piano. She learned to spell by e-mailing with friends; she uses math concepts while cooking dinner.

Everything she knows has been absorbed “organically,” according to her dad, Dr. Carlo Ricci. She’s not just on summer break — this is her life year round as an at-home unschooler.

“It’s incredible how capable she is,” Ricci said in a phone interview from his home in Toronto, Ontario. “And I think that all young people are that capable … if you don’t tell them they can’t or they’re not allowed, they surprise us in a lot of ways.”

Ricci is professor of alternative learning at Nipissing University and an advocate of unschooling, a concept that’s gaining popularity in both Canada and the United States thanks to frustration with the current public education system.… Read the rest

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Educating the Potential Human – Skepticism, Psychical Research and a New Age of Reason

Seeking HarmonyAfter a recent investigation into the public presentation of anomalistic science, it’s fairly clear to me (as if it wasn’t already) that much of the information being fed into the popular consciousness is nothing more than hyped up fantasy fixed and formatted for mass mediated consumption. With Dean Radin’s new book, Supernormal, reaching the top if it’s sales categories on Amazon, and ranking high in the Nielsen ratings, there is an obvious desire for more detailed investigations of these areas that go beyond the paranormalist freak show and the skeptical sub-culture’s deflated debunking.

The binary argument of real vs. fake, of truth vs. fraud, or any such division, is merely a set up to market to one side or the other, and both proponents and defamers alike rely on each other to stoke the fires of contention so that an audience lulled by the rhythms of the work place will feel called to seek some solace in the untenable possibilities of the unknown, or the thin empowerment of a pseudo-scientific righteousness found in the knowledge that all their dreams and fears from childhood have been firmly put to bed by the cold light of rational, technological progress.… Read the rest

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Two Lectures and One Interview: Eric R. Kandel on learning, memory, and individuality; Elon Musk on the Future of Energy and Transport; and Ladar Levison on Lavabit

via chycho

Two lectures and one interview well worth the watch:


I. Eric R. Kandel: The Molecular Biology of Memory Storage and the Biological Basis of Individuality
In my opinion and those of many others, the root cause of our society’s ills is how we deal with education, and the following lecture by Eric Kandel emphasizes this point. The argument is made that evolving, learning, memory; our humanity should be looked upon in a holistic manner. That our genes do not necessarily decide who we become; our culture, our methods of learning and teaching, our setting is what decides our individuality, and we, in large part, are in control of our future.


II. Elon Musk: the Future of Energy & Transport
Tesla Motors and Elon Musk have been all the rage lately, and rightfully so considering Tesla just blew away their quarterly earnings and Musk just revealed details of Hyperloop (pdf), a “hypothetical mode of high-speed transportation” which he has proposed.… Read the rest

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What If You Could Learn Everything?

_ducation_en_l_an_2000

Can software save education, or will it give those in power more control? Knewton, an education technology startup appears to be selling the moon. What if they are not, and this is the beginning of bright future in public education?

via The Daily Beast

Imagine every student has a tireless personal tutor, an artificially intelligent and inexhaustible companion that magically knows everything, knows the student, and helps her learn what she needs to know. “‘You guys sound like you’re from the future,’” Jose Ferreira, the CEO of the education technology startup Knewton, says. “That’s the most common reaction we get from others in the industry.”

When I first met Ferreira four years ago, this kind of talk sounded like typical Silicon Valley bluster from another scruffy, boyish founder of a technology startup. Today, he can back up the kinds of breakthroughs he says his company can deliver: several million data points generated daily by each of 1 million students from elementary school through college, using Knewton’s “adaptive learning” technology to study math, reading, and other fundamentals.

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Gates Foundation Testing Biosensors To Monitor Students’ Moods

biosensors

Because kids have no right to hide their thoughts from adults, the Chicago Tribune reports:

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured more than $4 billion into efforts to transform public education in the U.S., is pushing to develop an “engagement pedometer.” Biometric devices wrapped around the wrists of students would identify which classroom moments excite and interest them — and which fall flat.

The foundation has given $1.4 million in grants to several university researchers to begin testing the devices in middle-school classrooms this fall.

The biometric bracelets, produced by Affectiva Inc, send a small current across the skin and then measure subtle changes in electrical charges as the sympathetic nervous system responds to stimuli. The wireless devices have been used in pilot tests to gauge consumers’ emotional response to advertising.

Gates officials hope the devices, known as Q Sensors, can become a common classroom tool, enabling teachers to see, in real time, which kids are tuned in and which are zoned out.

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Summer Vacation In Mind Control Camp

mind controlVia Salon, Suzanne Clores reminisces:

In a Greek Orthodox Church annex in suburban New Jersey, I’m about to start my first morning of a four-week mind control summer camp. It is 1980. I am 9 years old. The classroom resembles an industrial park conference room.

The Silva Mind Control Method was founded in the 1950s, but taught in the 1960s around the same time as the Human Potential Movement. The HPM was an American subculture that yielded “The Inner Peace Movement,” thinkers like Alan Watts and Jean Houston, and the Esalen Institute.

The self-educated American parapsychologist Jose Silva trained his own children in deep relaxation, visualization and ESP techniques in effort to help them in school, and noticed remarkable improvement. Thirteen years later, the Silva Mind Control Method was founded.

The instructor, a woman named Mimi, scurried from desk to desk to introduce herself to the reluctant kids. I followed her strange directions without hesitation.

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Booz Allen Hamilton’s Push Into Online Education

boozallenBooz Allen Hamilton… partnering with your school? Occupy Education Press writes:

In the wake of former Booz Allen employee Edward Snowden’s revelation about the NSA’s massive surveillance scheme, I’ve started to wonder what else this strange company has been up to. A lot, it turns out.

Partnering with institutions like Farleigh Dickinson University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton @ Work program, Booz Allen has apparently been a major force in the shove towards internet-based education. This is particularly significant when we take into account that they’ve also worked alongside the NSA to monitor and record virtually all communications and exchanges over the net and our phones.

I’ll leave you with this quote from a Booz Allen position paper on “Effectiveness and Efficiency: Reimagining Government,” which makes clear how Booz Allen sees online education as a strategic surveillance tool and the current climate of budget cuts as the perfect time to prey:

The aging workforce and record budget deficits require an end to business as usual…a window of opportunity to enact transformative change.

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‘Life is Not a Multiple-Choice Test’

via The Washington Post Square Peg in a Round Hole_0565

I recently posted the resignation letter of Ron Maggiano, an award-winning social studies teacher at West Springfield High School in Fairfax County, after a 33-year teaching career — four years shy of full retirement. In the following post, Maggiano recalls his first day of teaching — and his last, and explains why he is leaving his job.

By Ron Maggiano

I will never forget that day. It was my first day as a classroom teacher. I felt a range of emotions from excitement and anticipation to abject terror. Would my students like me? Would I find a way to motivate them to do their best? What if I let them down? What if I failed as a teacher?

Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. My students loved me, I did not let them down, and I received national recognition as a master teacher. In 2005, I was awarded the Disney Teacher Award for innovation and creativity in the classroom.

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This Is A Real Science Quiz From A Creationist Elementary School

Science, American style, from Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post:

The following fourth grade science quiz for a unit called “Dinosaurs: Genesis and the Gospel” has been making the rounds on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet, and it turns out it is real. The quiz was given at a private religious school [Blue Ridge Christian Academy] in South Carolina.

Here’s one question and correct answer:

Q) The next time someone says the earth is billions (or millions) of years old, what can you say?
A) were you there

There are religious schools around the country that teach this, including some that take students who have publicly funded vouchers. Some of these schools take students on field trips to the Creation Museum in Kentucky, which has exhibits and shows that promote creationist theory.

creationist science quiz

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Illinois Teacher In Trouble For Informing Students Of Fifth Amendment Rights Prior To Drug-Screening Survey

drug screening surveyThe things you learn in school aren’t supposed to be applicable in real life. Via the Chicago-area Daily Herald:

A Batavia High School teacher’s fans are rallying to support him as he faces possible discipline for advising students of their Constitutional rights before taking a school survey on their behavior.

John Dryden, a social studies teacher, told some of his students April 18 that they had a 5th Amendment right to not incriminate themselves by answering questions on the survey, which had each student’s name printed on it.

The survey is part of measuring how students meet the social-emotional learning standards set by the state. The school district bought the survey from a private company, Multi-Health Systems Inc.

The survey asked about drug, alcohol and tobacco use, and emotions, according to Brad Newkirk, chief academic officer. The results were to be reviewed by school officials, including social workers, counselors and psychologists.

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