Tag Archives | Education

Excerpts from three articles on education: Dorothy Sayers, Richard P. Feynman, John Taylor Gatto

via chycho

To say that our education system is broken and in need of a gargantuan overhaul is an understatement, but it will happen since it is an inevitable side effect of the liberation of data that comes with an open internet.

What form these new systems of education will take are yet to be determined: only time will tell if they will be optimized replicas of the present models, or if they will be based on a new way of teaching and thought. Either way, the overhaul is long overdue and I for one am excited to see the transformation.

Below you will find excerpts from three excellent articles on education that address some of the problems with our current systems. They are well worth the read:

1)The Lost Tools of Learning” by Dorothy Sayers: “Let us amuse ourselves by imagining that such progressive retrogression is possible.… Read the rest

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Gates Foundation And Rupert Murdoch Unveil New Database To Track K-12 Students’ Personal Information

Kids’ grades, behavior, medical issues, and more—with their names and social security numbers attached—will be tracked by their public schools, entered in a database, and sold to private companies, in the name of improving educational services, Reuters reports:

The most influential new product [at the SXSWedu conference this week in Austin] may be a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.

In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school – even homework completion.

Local education officials retain legal control over their students’ information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.

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Transgender First-Grader Banned From Girls Bathroom

Picture: Kurt Lowenstein Educational Center Outreach Team

Kathryn DeHoyos writes at the Good Men Project:

On Wednesday, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund announced that it had filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division against Eagleside Elementary School and the Fountain-Fort Carson School District on behalf of Coy Mathis, a transgender first-grader who, up until December, was using the girls’ restroom at school. Coy was born with male genitalia, but according to her mother Kathryn Mathis “has identified as female since she could express herself.” Kathryn told CNN that she and her husband were “shocked” when they received a phone call in December to inform them that Coy could, “use the boys’ bathroom, gender-neutral faculty bathrooms or the nurse’s bathroom, but not the girls’ facilities.” She said, “We were very confused because everything was going so well, and they had been so accepting, and all of a sudden it changed and it was very confusing and very upsetting because we knew that, by doing that, [Coy] was going to go back to being unhappy.

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Are Our Schools Prisons?

From Modern Mythology:

Though potentially alarmist, this documentary points to a process that really started with the advent of the american education system as a part of the rise of industry. Our modern school system, though it has been vastly successful compared to many earlier systems as bad as it is, is indeed based on the whistle-blowing, mechanized and behaviorist perspective of humanity that was popular in the 1920s-50s.

Instead of changing with the times in terms of making kids into machines, and to produce “good workers,” we might consider trying to help create human beings. Because of all the school shootings, in many ways now we are facing a PKD style “thought police” No Tolerance rule toward what someone might do. How does this lack of trust effect the people within the system?

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Virginia University Offers Course On Communicating With The Dead

Would you dare tamper with other realms in return for three credits? From Roanoke’s WDBJ7:

Radford University students are taking part in an independent study course that’s quite different – learning about the afterlife by reaching out to the dead.

There is a bedroom on campus that has been converted into a chamber, where students have been calling up the dead, for class credit. It’s almost always dark inside, with black drapes. Two large black sheets hang from the ceiling, and a lamp is on the floor.

“For people who are coming in here they are using an ancient ecstatic teaching that’s been used in ancient Greece and elsewhere to contact the dead,” Susan Kwilescki, a professor of religious studies.

Students built the chamber, which they call the psychomanteum, on the cheap. Ran Waide, a junior who helped build it, says the chamber works: “I’ve had a ghost encounter in here.”

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The Next Job Boom: Drone Pilot

Colleges across the country are starting to offer UAV piloting programs in anticipation of the coming drone boom. NBC News writes:

Randal Franzen was 53, unemployed and nearly broke when his brother, a tool mentioned that pilots for remotely piloted aircraft – more commonly known as drones – were in high demand. He landed at Kansas State, and graduated in 2011 with with an offer “well into the six figures” as a flight operator for a military contractor in Afghanistan.

While most jobs flying drones currently are military-related, the FAA predicts that 10,000 commercial drones will be operating in the U.S. within five years. At the moment, 358 public institutions – including 14 universities and colleges – have permits from the FAA to fly unmanned aircraft. Among the possible applications: Monitoring livestock and oil pipelines, spotting animal poachers, tracking down criminals fleeing crime scenes and delivering packages for UPS and FedEx.

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Saving Public Education

The old DeWitt Clinton building, now John Jay College, Photo: Americasroof (CC)

I’d like to use the word “justice” – that I felt compelled to tell the story of the school as a matter of justice. That we are so easy to write books and tell stories about great universities, but when it comes to high schools we don’t think that way. And yet if you ask every person on the street about somebody  who influenced them, he always or she always brings up a high school teacher or a high school coach. High schools have had a tremendous influence on who we are as a people, as a nation. And there should be documentation about the high schools, and I believe that DeWitt Clinton is a great school that has had tremendous influence on American life. – Gerard Pelisson, former high school teacher and co-author of  “The Castle on the Parkway,” a history of DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx N.Y.… Read the rest

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TED Blog: 11 Talks That Freaked Us Out in 2012

Paranoia fodder from TED, just in time for the new year!

Vicki Arroyo’s hometown is New Orleans, and after Hurricane Katrina struck, she knew firsthand the looming threat of climate change. In this eye-opening talk from TEDGlobal 2012, “Let’s prepare for our new climate,” Arroyo reveals the startling truths about droughts, rising water levels and natural disasters — that they may only get worse.

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Texas School District Investigates Muslim Bias, Finds Christian Bias Instead

muslim rage

Picture: Flickr user derek7272 (CC)

Despite having the most wealthy and politically powerful voice in the country, some zealous Christians never feel secure or safe enough. When radical right-wingers aren’t decrying the insidious secularism of those shifty-eyed atheists, they’re more often than not found using law enforcement, legislation and military strength to discriminate against Muslims whom they feel, without a sense of irony, are going to trample on their religious freedom.

Public school policies are no exception. After the paranoid complaints of an Irving, Texas resident with the email header ‘IRVING ISD INDOCTRINATING ISLAM’, (which would have gone directly in my SPAM folder with the other psychotic FWDs and conservative rantings), school board members and district officials leapt at the opportunity to ”stand up against the pro Islamic teaching in our public schools.”

Via AlterNet:

The alleged indoctrination had to do with the fact that the district uses a state-wide teaching program called CSCOPE, which is put together by the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative, administered by an organization called Region 10 .

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