Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘pop culture’ Category

Seed Newsvine

ANYONE who follows an election campaign too closely will sometimes get the feeling that politicians think voters are idiots. But voters may not be idiots just irrational thinkers. This article presents a nice breakdown of voter biases with economic lessons integrated. The American voter biases are anti-market, anti-foreign, make-work, and pessimism…

THIS IS A FANTASTIC PIECE. Click on the link below to read the whole article.

Read the Whole Article –Click Here | digg story

Read Full Post »

Seed Newsvine

clipped from www.y-origins.com
Q.
IS THE ARGUMENT FOR DESIGN BASED ON SCIENTIFIC IGNORANCE?
A. But, today’s intelligent design arguments are based upon a growing body
of scientific evidence concerning everything from DNA to the laws of physics;
and upon our uniform and repeated experience.Design theorists offer extensive evidence that blind, material causes are
incapable of building irreducibly complex and information-rich systems.
They then point out that whenever we know how such systems arose such as
with an integrated circuit, a car engine, or a software program invariably
a designing engineer played a role. Design theorists then extend this uniform
experience to things like molecular machines and the sophisticated code
needed to build even the first and simplest of cells. An increasing number
of leading scholars attest that increased scientific knowledge about such
things has greatly strengthened the argument for design.

  blog it


The argument from irreducible complexity suggests that the removal of a single part from a system destroys the system’s function, ergo evolution is ruled out, ergo the system must have been designed by some external force. This is the basic argument advanced by Michael Behe and his followers. Below I counter some of the claims made by the proponents of irreducible complexity.

  • Sometimes the functions are changed so that they do something other than what they did prior to mutation. Such evolutionary development of irreducibly complex systems have been described in the scientific literature in great detail.
  • Even if irreducible complexity does preclude Darwinian evolution, the conclusion of design does not follow. Many other possible conclusions can be argued. It is an example of a failed argument from incredulity.
  • Systems have been considered irreducibly complex that might not be so. For example:
  • Michael Behe’s mousetrap example of irreducible complexity can be simplified by making some minor alterations to the mousetrap. Furthermore, the mousetrap may lose functionality as a mousetrap if a part is removed but then one might craft a fishhook from the spring, turn the nonfunctional mousetrap into a paper weight and so on.
  • The bacterial flagellum is not, in fact, irreducibly complex because it can lose many parts and still function, either as a simpler flagellum or as a secretion system.
  • The immune system example that Behe is so fond of is not irreducibly complex because the antibodies that mark invading cells for destruction might themselves hinder the function o fthose cells, allowing the system to function (although not as well) without destroyer molecules of the complement system.

Read Full Post »

Seed Newsvine

Another example of misusing data to fit a theist view of the world. By rejecting scientific evidence and more, Michael Behe is able to convince only the uninitiated, the believer. He is not able to make inroads on well trained biologists or other scientists. The lesson is, it seems to me, is that before one accepts anything at face value one has the obligation to address the appropriate available evidence and then asks the skeptical questions that make that evidence stand up to those questions. It is not good enough to believe in something because you believe in something. That tautology will only run you around in circles causing only severe dizziness.

clipped from www.youtube.com

Michael Behe is one of the most well known ID proponents. However, his arguments must be seen in light of his character and his agenda. This video deals with several problems with Behe’s position:
1. Behe ignores and rejects empirical evidence
2. No major scientific organization, including Behe’s own colleagues, endorse ID
3. In 20 years (some would say a couple of hundred years), ID has failed to make its case to the scientific community
4. Behe rejects the scientific method, and wants to replace it with his own5. Behe’s version of “peer review” is simply dishonest and misleading

  blog it

Read Full Post »

Seed Newsvine

Who would have thought that a cup of coffee could be so offensive. When the following appeared on a Starbucks’ cup I laughed a bit and moved on with my life:

You are not an accident. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He wanted you alive and created you for a purpose. Focusing on yourself will never reveal your purpose. You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. Only in God do we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. — Dr. Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

I don’t believe in a creator god, a sky fairy, the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny. I find people that do to be mostly uninformed, not because they are stupid but because they simply haven’t examined the evidence. But I am not offended by those who do unless they use that belief to justify blowing themselves up or telling me what to believe,

Because Ken Peck is offended by what he considers to be an anti-Christian blurb on the back of a coffee cup, I have to think that Mr. Peck is so unsure of his belief system that he must find some way to censor the remarks. In the Middle Ages monks burned books they considered heretical. Would Mr. Peck suggest that we return to those days. Sounds like it. Does Mr. Peck consider that Starbucks includes blatantly religious blurbs on the back of their cups as well? Does Mr. Peck even consider that balance is the most effective cure for hate?

clipped from wnd.com
Coffeehouse giant Starbucks is standing by its campaign to put thought-provoking messages on its coffee cups despite a national uproar and threat of boycott over a message some felt was “anti-God.”
Controversy erupted this week after a customer became steamed reading a quote that stated:
“Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.”
The quote was written by Bill Schell, a Starbucks customer from London, Ontario, Canada, and was included as part of Starbucks’ “The Way I See It” campaign to collect different viewpoints and spur discussion.
One reader, Ken Peck of Lakeland, Fla., has since purchased a coffee with another message he felt was a slam against his Christian faith, and snapped a photograph of it.

  blog it

Read Full Post »

Seed Newsvine

The Chicago Tribune finally addressed the issue of the Cary-Grove High School response to Allan Lee’s response to a senior English writing assignment. I add some additional quotes from the article below:

Involving the police struck Jim Barnabee as overkill. He is a creative-writing instructor at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire and, like most teachers, has been trained to alert counselors or administrators if he thinks students might harm themselves or others.

He referred a student to a school social worker this year after she turned in a poem about suicide. It was a poorly written “emotional spew” that paid little heed to the assignment—all hallmarks of potential trouble, he said.

He added that Lee’s essay, by contrast, seemed more like the product of an annoyed senior, deserving perhaps of school discipline but not police intervention.

“If you refer someone to the police, all you’re going to do is teach kids to hide their feelings, to shove it down and not let it out there,” he said. “And I don’t think that’s what we want to teach young writers.”

The point here is that the CGHS teacher and administrators over reacted rather than practice appropriate measures.

Mary Kay Albamonte, a 22 year veteran teacher said:

“There are some rights that stop at the schoolhouse door,” she said. “Kids can’t just say or do anything. We’re responsible for them, and we have to be vigilant about it. When it’s staring you in the face you have to take it seriously.”

She and other teachers talk about limits with their students at the beginning of their courses. But some say that with violence and sex pervading American pop culture, teens don’t always understand what’s appropriate.

The issue is not one of rights or the lack of rights. It is one of the appropriateness of adult behavior when faced with perhaps inappropriate behavior on the part of one or more students.

If a student is engaged in a criminal act it is fully appropriate to arrest that student and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. When did completing a school assignment become criminal. My goodness, would that we could get more students to complete their assignments. What may have been inappropriate was the content of Lee’s essay which you can read for yourself by clicking on the link. The language of the essay is not, even in the wildest stretch of ones overactive imagination, criminal. Disturbing, perhaps, but criminal, not in a million years.

As an English teacher, I read the essay in the context of the assignment, and through the lens of adolescent pop-culture. I read the words of a senior about to graduate and get on with his life. I read words that reference music, events, and even conditions in the classroom. I read the words of a very typical free writing exercise, one that is neither intended to be finished work nor coherent and cohesive in form.

Lighten-up CGHS. Give this kid some rope.

clipped from www.chicagotribune.com
A high school writing exercise that ended with the arrest of a McHenry County student last week was a dramatic illustration of a dilemma faced by young authors and their teachers: Where is the line that separates provocative from alarming?
The answer, many say, depends on far more than the words on the page.
A student’s demeanor, disciplinary record and relationship with the teacher all relate to whether a bloody piece of work is viewed as a bold, boundary-pushing statement or a thinly veiled threat.
“Judgment calls are required on all of this,” said Chris Meade, an English teacher at Glenbard North with 30 years of experience. “Nothing happens outside of a context.”
Allen Lee, 18, a straight-A senior at Cary-Grove High in Cary, was charged with disorderly conduct after he turned in an assignment that had called for him to write continuously for 30 minutes without making corrections, and without judging or censoring what he produced.

  powered by clipmarks blog it

Read Full Post »

Seed Newsvine

Worth watching the leader of the free world inspire his people.

Read Full Post »

Seed Newsvine

The most recent Gallup Poll (done before VT) indicates that the majority of Americans favor a combination of new legislation and stricter enforcement of existing gun control laws. The poll also indicates that only a minority of American homes (43%) indicate gun ownership, the majority of those households are in the South or rural areas of the United States. But why should I speak when the clip does a better job…

Read Full Post »

Seed Newsvine

I believe schooling must be authentic in order to have any value to the student. By authentic I mean 1) that all work assigned and all assessment tools must have value to the student beyond merely the four walls of the classroom, 2) that all work assigned and all assessment tools must be academically rigorous, and 3) that all work (including assessments) must have an audience beyond the teacher. In other words, all school work must have value, be rigorous and have an broad audience.When students feel the need to cheat it is because one or more elements of authentic schooling has gone missing. Often the only piece present is academic rigor that is attached to some form of high-stakes assessment. When this is the case, students, especially the ‘good’ students, feel the need to enhance their performance–something like athletes and steroids.

If principles of authenticity are followed the need for high-stakes assessment is diminished. Teachers can and do find low-stakes approached to assessing students rather than to brow-beat them into compliance with external demands on their brainpower. If principles of authenticity are followed, even the high-stakes assessments attached to No Child Left Behind will not be problematic and may even provide schools and districts with some really valuable data.

As the system now stands, however, cheating is the norm rather than the exception; a norm created by the interference of misguided legislation and misinformed adults.

Authenticity makes education engaging and fun. It makes education the responsibility of the learner, guided by a competent adult in the classroom. Without authenticity, education is alienating and a cauldron for adolescents to conjure ways to beat the system. Which would you rather have?

clipped from www.chicagotribune.com
MERIDIAN, Idaho —
Banning baseball caps during tests was obvious — students were writing the answers under the brim. Then, schools started banning cell phones, realizing students could text message the answers to each other. Now, schools across the country are targeting digital media players as a potential cheating device.
Devices including iPods and Zunes can be hidden under clothing, with just an earbud and a wire snaking behind an ear and into a shirt collar to give them away, school officials say.
“It doesn’t take long to get out of the loop with teenagers,” said Mountain View High School Principal Aaron Maybon. “They come up with new and creative ways to cheat pretty fast.”
Mountain View recently enacted a ban on digital media players after school officials realized some students were downloading formulas and other material onto the players.

powered by clipmarks blog it

Read Full Post »

More Bushisms

Seed Newsvine

This brief clip ends with perhaps the most frightening non-gaff made in his long history of mis-spoken English. Does he have so little respect for the American people that he finds a joke about dictatorship appropriate? As of this post only 636 days left in office–WE HOPE.

clipped from www.youtube.com

  powered by clipmarks blog it

Read Full Post »

Seed Newsvine

Here is the leader of the free world in action. Watch the video and weep.

clipped from hotair.com

  powered by clipmarks blog it

Read Full Post »

Seed Newsvine

Just a couple of things here. First, it is difficult to blame teachers for teaching in compliance with the law. NCLB stresses basic skills and not problem solving, Furthermore, NCLB places an inordinate stress level on teachers, so much so that they have little time to attend to things teachers traditionally attended to such as emotional support.Secondly, bashing teachers is unproductive. The profession is hard enough without someone standing over one’s head with a cudgel ready to strike a final blow.

If we are serious about quality education then we need to rethink educational policy so that standards are used to guide conversations about curriculum and curricular decisions, that these conversations are supported by policy and law, that they engage teachers in both horizontal and vertical planning, and that teachers be valued as professional members of the educational team. Otherwise, we are just in for more of the same.

clipped from www.edweek.org
The quality of instruction in elementary classrooms has little to do with whether teachers have the credentials that meet their states’ definitions of “highly qualified” under the No Child Left Behind Act, a federally sponsored study suggests.
Detailed observations of 5th graders in 20 states show that students in classrooms overseen by teachers labeled as highly qualified spent most of their time in whole-group or individual “seatwork,” focused on basic skills rather than problem-solving activities, and may or may not have received emotional and instructional support from their teachers.
“This pattern of instruction appears inconsistent with aims to add depth to students’ understanding, particularly in mathematics and science,” write the authors of the study, led by Robert C. Pianta, an education professor at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville. “

  powered by clipmarks blog it

Read Full Post »

Seed Newsvine

clipped from www.reuters.com
HOUSTON (Reuters) – Workers evacuated a building at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and police surrounded it on Friday after reports that a man with a gun was spotted and shots were fired, authorities said.
NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said it was not known if anyone was hurt and Kelly Humphries, another spokesperson, said it was not yet known if there had indeed been gunshots.
The incident added to jitters across America after a student gunman killed 32 people Virginia Tech university, the in the worst shooting rampage in the nation’s modern history.

  powered by clipmarks blog it

When I was on the faculty at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, I was taken aback when I signed my apartment lease. I was required to sign a rider to the standard lease that was effectively a promise to not discharge firearms within the limits of the apartment complex in which I rented my apartment. I was further stunned when I went to visit my internist for the first time. When I entered the professional building in which his office was housed a large sign in both English and Spanish warned me about carrying a weapon into the building. I thought, have I jumped into the rabbit hole?The American love affair with the gun and political points gained by supporting freedom to own guns leads to the probability that more and more of these kinds of incidents will occur in the United States unless we do something about it.

Keep up the foolhardy freedom for anyone to own a gun, to have poorly enforced background check legislation, and to not ban weapons whose only purpose is to cause death on a large scale and expect more headlines just like this one. But from me there will be no sympathetic cries nor will there be gnashing of my teeth. I will continue to feel ANGER, FRUSTRATION, HOSTILITY AND HELPLESSNESS and I will direct these emotions at the NRA and the gun lobby. I will work for politicians that support tough, enforceable gun control legislation at both state and national levels. I will continue to speak loudly and often about the absolute need for gun control legislation in the United States. I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.

Read Full Post »


Seed Newsvine

clipped from www.reuters.com
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Roman Catholic Church has effectively buried the concept of limbo, the place where centuries of tradition and teaching held that babies who die without baptism went.
Pope Benedict, himself a top theologian who before his election in 2005 expressed doubts about limbo, authorized the publication of the document, called “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised”.
“The conclusion of this study is that there are theological and liturgical reasons to hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in revelation,” it said.
The verdict that limbo could now rest in peace had been expected for years. The document was seen as most likely the final word since limbo was never part of Church doctrine, even though it was taught to Catholics well into the 20th century.

  powered by clipmarks

Writing from the point of view of an atheist, I find yet one more reason to reject any concept of the god(s) of the west. I find the apex of arrogance when men speak for god, in this case, the Pope speaking for his gods. If one of the founding theist principles is that god(s) is unknowable, then how, pray tell, can one speak so dogmatically about what this god(s) think or predict how this god(s) actually acts. Theological reasons are not arguments based in rationality. They are, however, ways to justify mythology, foment hatred and division among people and to continue to blind human beings to their own curiosity about the wonders of the universe. Theology is founded upon stone age/bronze age mythology spruced up to resemble rational thought. But, when closely read, there are just too many holes in the bucket to even attempt a fix. I simply wonder why so many people continue to be duped by the claims of those who speak for their deity.

Read Full Post »

Seed Newsvine

Writing for the Associated Press (as reported by Yahoo News), Calvin Woodward reports:

Gun control has been treated with a mix of silence and discomfort in the presidential campaign, a stance that may become insupportable once the nation finds its voice in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech mass murder…

Enter the massacre at Blacksburg, Va., an attack so horrific it froze the presidential campaign in place. Candidates called off events and expressed only sorrow, not opinion, in the first hours.

Advocates of any stripe raised their gun agenda at their peril.

“I think that people who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it their political hobby horse to ride … I’ve got nothing but loathing for them,” Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said. “To those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say take that elsewhere.”

But the bloodiest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history, with 33 dead, is certain to set off a debate that those who would be president can hardly sit out in the days and weeks ahead.

Read the whole article here. Of course I want to ask Virginia Gov. Kane where else would one take this “little” crusade?

Just a bit more to think about. As the world changes around us, where terror is a reality even in America, and not just from the vilified other coming in the guise of the Muslim fundamentalist…I mean, think of Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombings, the Columbine High School massacre, and now Virginia Tech…just perhaps it is time to think about the fact that the widespread proliferation of guns in our society has an overall negative effect on the security of our nation. Now that shouldn’t be too hard a thought to wrap one’s brains around.

“I think when a guy walks in and shoots 32 people it’s going to cause there to be a lot of policy debate,”President Bush said. “Now is not the time to do the debate until we’re actually certain about what happened and after we help people get over their grieving.”

If now is not the time for policy debate, Mr. President, then when? You claim it begins when people get over their grieving. Grieving is for the families of the dead, Mr. President, not for the rest of us. For the rest of us there is a significantly different set of emotions–ANGER, SHOCK, DISBELIEF, DISMAY–anything other than grief. It is only now, because that is all that is, that the debates can occur. Don’t run away from this one too, Mr. President.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Read Full Post »

I just finished reading Harold Bloom’s Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine. I had a hard time putting this extraordinary work of non-fiction down. Bloom’s scholarship is as solid as his writing style. For anyone wanting to think seriously about the origins of religious belief, about the monotheisms that pervade western thought, for those, like Zizek, who speculate that origins are less important in the development of cultural adhesions than are the actions taken by those who later revise broad social projects into working organizational entities (Marx was not a Marxist until Lenin came along to pragmatically implement his version of Marx’ ideas) simply must read this book.

Below I post several reviews of Bloom’s book:

From Amazon.com

Bloom’s occasional forays into religious criticism are particularly interesting, given his lifelong passion for poetry and his contributions to the study of literature. And while discussions of religion itself are in play here, it is the characters of Jesus and Yahweh that inhabit the pages, and Bloom’s literary critic more than his moonlighting theologian examining them. And what of that analysis? Bloom has an obvious affinity for Yahweh over Jesus (even though Jesus gets first billing in the book’s title.) But to ascribe that preference to his Jewish roots is perhaps too easy. A close reading reveals more. Bloom finds that Yahweh, with his covenants, tempers, resolutions, and even occasional forays into the physical where he fights, eats and walks in the cool of the Garden presents a more interesting character than the rather enigmatic Jesus who only comes truly alive for him in Mark’s gospel, and even more so beyond the canonical scriptures in the Gospel of Thomas. And though in sensibility and identification Bloom hews closer to Yahweh, he acknowledges the place Jesus and his followers have made in the world, through an application of his own theory of the anxiety of influence, noting that “The New Testament frequently is a strong misreading of the Hebrew Bible, and certainly it has persuaded multitudes.” Provocative statements like these abound, but Bloom is no provocateur. Whether one agrees or disagrees with his meditations on the names divine, it is hard not to respect his vigorous intellect and bracing candor as he explores their power.–Ed Dobeas

From Booklist

The most prolific American literary critic maintains a lesser career as a critic of the religious imagination. His most famous product in that capacity, The Book of J (1990), argued that a woman wrote the Torah. The American Religion (1992) descried a specifically American kind of religious creativity, of which the greatest expressions are American Baptism and Mormonism. This book is more personal than argumentative and more literary than religious criticism, unless Bloom’s frequent exasperated disparagements of Christian theology are considered a form of the latter. It is an examination of Yahweh (whom Bloom discriminates from God the Father in the Christian Trinity) in the Hebrew Bible and of Yeshua or Jesus of Nazareth (whom Bloom discriminates from Jesus Christ) in Mark, the one Gospel Bloom finds compelling. Yahweh is an all-too-human deity, says Bloom, and Yeshua is entirely human. Moreover, the two are akin in irascibility, unpredictability, and a penchant for irony. While Yeshua could be Yahweh’s son (but isn’t), Jesus Christ, a creation of Paul, the Gospel of John, and the rest of the New Testament, except the epistles of James, bears no family resemblance Bloom can see. The interest of Bloom’s analysis is undermined, especially for readers knowledgeable about Christian orthodoxy, by his anti-Trinitarian carping and his confused statements about the Incarnation and Atonement, which some may see as symptoms of willful ignorance or even anti-Christian prejudice. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved From Publishers Weekly


Prolific literary critic, Yale professor and professional provocateur Bloom (The Book of J) here tackles the characters of the Jewish and Christian gods: what god do we meet in Hebrew Scripture? Who is the Jesus of the New Testament, and does he bear any relation to the Jesus most Americans worship? Does, for that matter, the Hebrew Yahweh resemble the first person of contemporary Christians’ Trinity? Bloom, as usual, skewers quite a few sacred cows-for example, he dismisses the quest for the historical Jesus as a waste of time, and says that Jewish-Christian dialogue is a “farce.” But in fact Bloom’s major points are somewhat commonplace, including his assertion that the Christian reading of Hebrew Scripture laid the groundwork for Christian anti-Semitism. A fair enough charge, but hardly a new one; theologians have observed, and debated, this point for centuries. Bloom’s real brilliance lies in his smaller, subtler claims, such as his nuanced discussion of the different ways Matthew, Mark and Luke present Jesus, his assertion that Bible translator William Tyndale anticipated Shakespeare, and his observation that, contra Marx, religion is not the opiate of the people but their “poetry, both bad and good.” The book is learned, even erudite, and sure to be controversial. (Oct. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

My point–Read This Book.

Technorati : , , , , , , , ,
Del.icio.us : , , , , , , , ,

Read Full Post »

Seed Newsvine

Appearing in the Peninusla Clarion. The writer demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of both the point of the first amendment and the history of ‘In God We Trust’ as a jingoistic slogan. Now I suppose it is okay for a citizen to be ignorant but for an editor to actually choose this letter for publication is simply unconscionable. See for yourself. I am deeply offended by Shannon’s bigotry, intolerance and anti-intellectualism. Her lack of knowledge and understanding regarding alternatives to faith suggests a world view that excludes cognition and rational thought rather than working toward acceptance and clarity. I am tempted to ask Alice Shannon to stay in Alaska and not wander into the lower 48 but that would be falling into her trap. How about an old fashioned face-to-face debate. Maybe that would be enlightening (pun intended).

Believe or else!

Read Full Post »

Study Says Tools Don’t Raise Scores
This report from the Washingtonpost.com

Educational software, a $2 billion-a-year industry that has become the darling of school systems across the country, has no significant impact on student performance, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education.

The long-awaited report amounts to a rebuke of educational technology, a business whose growth has been spurred by schools desperate for ways to meet the testing mandates of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law.

Oh my, another chink in the armor of NCLB. I am not surprised. Technology is worthy of many things–a teacher it is not! Without technology this blog would not be possible, critical exploration of deep space, research into drug development, and so much more would simply not be possible. But, sitting a child in front of a computer to do drill and kill is no different than handing the same child a worksheet. It numbs the brain. It kills curiosity.

Not too very long ago my then 6 year old grandson was visiting me from his home in Phoenix. Because he was missing a couple of days of school, his 1st grade teacher supplied him with multiple worksheet assignments. He balked at doing this homework. When I asked him why he said, “Poppa, it is really stupid work. I know how to do it all so it is just a waste of my time–time I could be spending with you and grandma.” Aside from the fact that he will grow up to be a diplomat, his analysis was right on. In fact, it was a waste of his time. If a 6-year-old child knows this and can articulate his knowing this well something tells me the DOE did not have to pay for an expensive study.

We have known for some time that drill and skill worksheets don’t work at any age for any topic. What does work is to engage children as curious, inquiring learners. It is a grand Deweyan myth but he could have said this, “If you want kids to learn about volume and container size, send them out to the sandbox with different size buckets and have them play in the sand. Then come back to the classroom and discuss what they did in the sandbox.” Learning through experience works. It engages kids in ways that involve their natural curiosity so that what is learned is retained. Beating them over the head with drivel simply gets lost as the children get lost in the process.

But NCLB pushes notions of basic skills for reading and math. Curiously, nothing is ever said about what one does with the skills acquired. What are the real world applications of having a set of skills that one has not been able to internalize because they hold no interest.

If technology is to be effective as a classroom tool then it must be seen as interactive, messy, and authentic. Not some pre-programmed worksheet model that crushes children in the process.

Technorati Tags:

Read Full Post »

BBC NEWS | UK | Education | Tests ‘stopping children playing’

Five-year-olds are being prevented from engaging in traditional play as they are under too much pressure from the national tests, teachers have warned.

With lessons geared towards assessment, children are bored from the moment they begin formal schooling, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers warned.

What is this world coming to? British kids at 5-years of age are already bored with school from the moment they begin formal education. The sad fact is that school policy in Britain and the United States violate the most important maxim of teaching: TO DO NO HARM TO CHILDREN!

Children need to play, need to get their hands dirty, need to explore the world they live in on their terms with guidance from adults that are well educated and understand the relationship of play to learning. To metaphorically strap children to their seats at age 5 is to literally beat curiosity out of them, to make them passive and, in doing so, dull their minds so that an entire generation of children will be lost to intellectual pursuits. This is an egregious breech of faith with younger people, a retreat from adult responsibility to educate our children to be productive citizens of the world. To bore and not to challenge is frightening; a reminder of Orwell’s conception of his future from the point of view of the 1950’s when he wrote 1984. The world, in Orwell’s terms was turned on its head–Peace is War, Love is Hate and so on–so that life no longer made sense.

What will happen to these 5-year-old children as they reach adulthood in a mere 13 years? Will they be so deprived of curiosity, of the ability to think for themselves, of the ability to form responsible opinions, that they will understand the world in Orwellian terms? It is a truly upside down world we inhabit today.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »