Ideas in Education
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Followup to: Natural Selection's Speed Limit and Complexity Bound If you've read anything Stephen J. Gould has ever said about evolutionary biology, I have some bad news for you. In the field of evolutionary biology at large, Gould's reputation is mud. Not because he was wrong. Many honest scientists have made honest mistakes.
Text smaller Text bigger By Michael F. Haverluck Over the past 18 months, a massive $100 million public-school database spearheaded by the $36.4 billion-strong Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been in the making that freely shares student information with private companies. The system has been in operation for several months and already contains millions of K-12 students’ personal identification ‒ ranging from name, address, Social Security number, attendance, test scores, homework completion, career goals, learning disabilities, and even hobbies and attitudes about school.
They say that if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you have made billions of dollars by selling technology, you start thinking that you hold the answer to all the world’s problems. Bill Gates thinks he has the answer to education: standardized testing, data, and measurement, with lots of technology. Does he know that every child is different? Does he know that standardized tests are subject to random error, human error, measurement error, and other errors? Do his own children take standardized tests?
Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System Posted on Apr 11, 2011 By Chris Hedges A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money.
“I don’t want to work at Walmart” like her mother, she wrote to a school counselor. Weekends and summers were devoted to a college-readiness program, where her best friends, Melissa O’Neal and Bianca Gonzalez, shared her drive to “get off the island” — escape the prospect of dead-end lives in luckless Galveston. Melissa, an eighth-grade valedictorian, seethed over her mother’s boyfriends and drinking, and Bianca’s bubbly innocence hid the trauma of her father’s death. They stuck together so much that a tutor called them the “triplets.”
Illustration: Adam Howling In December 1917, an advertisement appeared in Nash's Pall Mall Magazine , posing a question that, nearly a century on, makes no sense: "Do you Pelmanize?" It wouldn't have baffled the magazine's readers, though: by 1917, thanks to hundreds of similar ads, the mind-training system of Pelmanism was big business in Britain; the Pelman Institute boasted addresses in India, Australia and the US. Suffering from "brain fag", "indefiniteness" or "want of energy"? Pelmanism, delivered by correspondence course, promised to help. Its origins were murky, but the man behind the ads, William Ennever , knew how to build a brand.
Irina Trubetskova Department of Natural Resources University of New Hampshire, firstname.lastname@example.org The originator of the modern theory of the Biosphere (Grinevald, 1998, p. 21)...
by Susan R. Johnson MD, FAAP #1 Question: If I am understanding what you wrote in Part I, children that are pre-school age or in kindergarten should not be pushed to write, read or spell because it might create learningdisabilities in the future?
TV and Our Children’s Minds by Susan R. Johnson, MD, FAAP May 1, 1999, 2007 (revised) TV rots the senses in the head! It kills the imagination dead!
Susan R. Johnson MD, FAAP, 5/7/2007 Part I— The Proprioceptive System There is a widely-held belief that if we just start teaching children to write, read, and spell in preschool, they will become better writers, readers, and spellers by the time they reach the first and second grades.
Internet – both as a stack of technologies and as the vector of a sharing culture – brings us credible alternatives to classroom-based education in schools and universities. Most of them involve video lectures, with clear advantages: the pause button, the rearranging of content in 6-20 minutes packets, and the ability to attend from anywhere, at any time. Furthermore, the locus of learning is not so much the lecture, as the peer-to-peer interaction among students, through forums wikis, Twitter lists, Facebook groups et cetera.
Fifteen years ago, a research group called The Fraunhofer Institute announced a new digital format for compressing movie files. This wasn’t a terribly momentous invention, but it did have one interesting side effect: Fraunhofer also had to figure out how to compress the soundtrack. The result was the Motion Picture Experts Group Format 1, Audio Layer III , a format you know and love, though only by its acronym, MP3. The recording industry concluded this new audio format would be no threat, because quality mattered most. Who would listen to an MP3 when they could buy a better-sounding CD at the record store?
Online courses began around 1990 with the growth of more widespread access to the Internet. They spread rapidly in the United States during the last half of the 1990’s buoyed by the dot-com boom, and fell sharply after that bubble burst. During this early period, online courses typically charged fees. Some of the courses catered to individuals who wanted to improve their job prospects, others were meant solely for intellectual enjoyment, while some could be used to obtain college degrees. For-profit schools with physical facilities, such as DeVry University and the University of Phoenix, were often sponsors of online courses, although a few of these courses were sponsored by nonprofit universities. What is new about the MOOCs (which stands for “massive open online courses”) is not the use of the Internet to instruct in particular subjects, but that they are free, and they often are sponsored by some of the very best universities, such as MIT, Harvard, and Stanford.
“MOOCs,” an acronym for “massive open online courses,” denotes an important, possibly a revolutionary, development ineducation. These courses are online, free of charge, open to anyone in the world who has a laptop and an Internet connection, and offered by entities with strange names such as coursera, codeacademy, edX, khanacademy, and udacity. The offerors are mainly university consortia or university-affiliated. Moreover, and critically, the universities are elite universities like Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, and Columbia. Not that online education is new; there are adult-education online courses such as are sold by The Teaching Company; there are even online college degree programs, offered mainly by for-profit colleges.
November 2011 The Case Against Grades By Alfie Kohn [This is a slightly expanded version of the published article.]