Tag Archives | Education

What If You Could Learn Everything?

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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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Is Early-Age Reading Developmentally Appropriate?

Activity_at_the_library6Marsha Lucas asks if introducing children to reading at an early age developmentally appropriate.

via Rewire Your Brain For Love:

Louise Bates Ames, PhD, a superstar in child development and the director of research at the world-renowned Gesell Institute of Child Development, stated that “a delay in reading instruction would be a preventative measure in avoiding nearly all reading failure.” Leapfrogging necessary cognitive developmental skills — and asking a young brain to do tasks for which it isn’t truly ready — is asking for trouble with learning.

The brains of young children aren’t yet developed enough to read without it costing them in the organization and “wiring” of their brain. The areas involved in language and reading aren’t fully online — and aren’t connected — until age seven or eight. If we’re teaching children to do tasks which their brains are not yet developed to do via the “normal” (and most efficient) pathways, the brain will stumble upon other, less efficient ways to accomplish the tasks — which lays down wiring in some funky ways — and can lead to later learning disabilities, including visual-processing deficits.

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Elite Boarding School’s Exam Asks Boys To Justify The Army Killing Protesters

eton collegeEton College in England has groomed teenage boys for elite positions in society for nearly 600 years. (Recent alumni include Prime Minister David Cameron and the royal princes.) The Huffington Post UK reports that the school’s scholarship exam, presumably given to our leaders of tomorrow, has raised eyebrows:

Eton College asked 13-year-old boys competing for a scholarship to pretend to be Prime Minister and justify the army shooting dead 25 protesters as a “necessary and moral” decision, it has emerged.

Tony Little, headmaster of Eton College, said the school does not favour “any particular political viewpoint”.

The question was part of an exam to win one of 14 King’s Scholarships. The school, which Prince Harry and Prince William attended, charges more than £30,000 a year in fees.

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5 Ways We Are Isolated From Each Other And Cut Off From Our Roots

dd395-gamePredators must have knowledge about their prey if they are going to be successful hunters.  It is clear that we have been studied and our weaknesses have been exploited in an effort to exhaust us economically, physically and spiritually.  Renowned researcher, Alan Watt goes so far as to state that the perpetrators responsible for this ultimately want to destroy any sense of individuality in us whatsoever.

Regardless of who’s doing the aggression, we can see that there is a war on the individual as we are assaulted on many fronts and are losing our individuality to such an alarming degree, with such intensity and in such a rapid time, that it drastically reduces the likelihood that this is happening by accident.  It seems there are predators who are coercing us and creating an atmosphere ripe for the rotting of minds.  The identity of the predators, while crucial, is controversialhowever their actions leave scars that are less debatable and if we can agree on what those are, we can perhaps have an easier time building a consensus about what is happening in general and what we can do about it.  That said, it’s not very difficult to agree on what those scars are.  They’re in front of our faces all the time.… Read the rest

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