Posts Tagged ‘education’
* Steven Chu waves the white flag on the tar sands. This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal… If only Obama had won!
* Colorado to split into two states over gun control? America has become a bad fan fiction of itself.
* The Constitutional Amnesia of the NSA Snooping Scandal: John Judis remembers the 60s and 70s.
* And Dan Harmon says he won’t retcon season four. Of course, he hasn’t seen it yet…
* The dark side of dual enrollment. There’s some interesting stuff here on how testing practices deform learning, too:
We talked a little bit about the class, her performance, and where she should go next. The student explained that my class is not compatible with her “learning method.” She said that she prefers “that multiplying method, you know, where there are letters, A, B, C.”
I said, “You mean, multiple choice?”
“Yes, that’s the one,” she said. “That’s the method where I learn best. I’m good at figuring out which letters aren’t the right ones.”
She said she was good at multiple choice because she has learned to eliminate wrong answers and get the choices down to one or two and then make a good guess. She has transferred into Sam Houston State University with 65 credit hours (two years!) of “college” classes, all earned at a nearby community college. With possibly one exception (part of a math class), all her community-college classes used multiple choice. She said she didn’t learn well with my “method.”
This student spent 15 years of standardized tests learning how to discriminate between pre-presented choices — an utterly useless skill.
* Via Facebook: Genocide in South Dakota?
* “A higher education system worth defending or reclaiming has never existed”: Education’s “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” Moment.
How can this lead to cost reductions? The savings can accrue rapidly if the course is massively enrolled and subsections are taught by less well-paid individuals; or if the course lasts several years and the designers and lead professor may be paid over time.
* For the love of the game: The other day, Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz decried the spreading influence of money in college athletics. This is funny for several reasons, but you don’t really need to go past the fact that Ferentz is paid $3.8 million a year to coach Iowa’s football team, and does so while providing a comically small return on investment. In situations like this, schools would normally cut bait and fire the coach, but Ferentz is protected by a buyout that makes his contract look downright reasonable. … If Iowa were to fire Ferentz today, the school would have to pay a buyout of $17,531,360.
* I’m sure that academics will have objections, although Whedon has stood up to far worse than the Shakespeare (or Earl of Oxford) mob. He has been to Comic-Con. When Shakespeare’s done right, you can’t imagine him ever being done wrong. The clarity is blinding.
* Third graders will now officially assess NYC teachers. Foolproof! What could go wrong?
* Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Marijuana Arrests. No! It can’t be! That’s impossible!
Marijuana usage rates are comparable among Blacks and whites, yet Blacks are over 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Durkheim argues in Suicide that we should not look for education to reform society, because it reflects deeper social structures rather than changing them. In the American system, it seems hard to argue with Durkheim — the things that are broken about our schools are the same things that are broken about our society. Nevertheless, American education policy has always been an effort at base-superstructure inversion. This goes all the way back to Horace Mann in the 1830s, who observed that vast inequalities between workers and owners was causing a new form of feudalism and proposed to change that with… education! (The idea of making people more equal by, for instance, taking money from the rich people and giving it to the poor people was not considered.) Similarly, today we see a society riven by inequality and racism, and we can supposedly fix it with… education! If we give poor people the theoretical possibility of rising up the social ladder and make sure that high-achieving minority students get a chance at a quality education, then inequality and racism surely disappear!
* I’ve said this before: let’s have an academic decathlon. You choose a team based on whatever pedagogical criteria you want. You can choose students from public school or private, unionized teachers or not, parochial or secular, from charter or magnet, from Montessori or KIPP or whatever else you want. However, I choose the demographics of the students on your team. For my team, the situation is reversed: you choose the pedagogical factors for my students, but I choose the demographics. You stock your team kids from whatever educational backgrounds you think work, and mine with whatever educational systems you think don’t work. Meanwhile, I give you all children from the poverty-stricken, crime-ridden inner city and impoverished rural districts where we see the most failure. I stock mine with upper-class children of privilege. I would bet the house on my team, and I bet if you’re being honest, you would too. Yet to accept that is to deny the basic assumption of the education reform movement, which is that student outcomes are a direct result of teacher quality.
* If you are a low-income prospective college student hoping a degree will help you move up in the world, you probably should not attend a moderately selective four-year research institution. The cards are stacked against you.
Who among us can forget Malia’s first words to a rapidly-growing crowd in this historical meeting between present and future, “People of 2009, we come from–” words that were immediately interrupted by her younger self, surrounded by Secret Service, saying, “It’s 2013,” which led future Malia to punch future Sasha, saying, “I told you not to mess with the controls.” Malia then continued, “2013, seriously? What’s the friggin’ point?”
* Academic jobs watch: Specialist Professor, Homeland Security.
* California isn’t a state in which liberals have run wild; it’s a state where a liberal majority has been effectively hamstrung by a fanatical conservative minority that, thanks to supermajority rules, has been able to block effective policy-making. Krugman is optimistic that the Republicans’ stranglehold on the state seems to be abating; I’d note that in the arena of public education at least all the worst ideas are coming from the Democrats.
* That’s because these workers represent what’s happening to U.S. work in three critical ways. First, precarity: Workers lack job security, formal contracts, or guaranteed hours. Second, legal exclusion: Labeled as “independent contractors,” “domestic workers” or otherwise, they’re thrust beyond the reach of this country’s creaky, craven labor laws. And third, the mystification of employment: While a no-name contracted company signs your paycheck, your conditions are set by a major corporation with far away headquarters and legal impunity. Guest Workers as Bellweather.
* But if Emanuel brought Byrd-Bennett in to work the same kind of charter magic in Chicago that she did in Detroit, he may be dismayed to encounter one important difference: Chicago is now in a good position to fight back. The school closings hearings were packed with engaged, motivated citizens, and the teachers union is more organized than it’s been in three decades. During its popular and successful strike, the union’s approval rating climbed while the mayor’s fell—public opinion polls showed that taxpayers blamed Emanuel for the ugliness that took place during negotiations. The CTU’s current leadership has built relationships with community leaders and organizations, forming a coalition to fight the slash-and-burn privatization pushed by the Board of Education and its corporate sponsors, and has even hosted civil disobedience trainings open to the public. This afternoon’s protest will serve as further evidence that Emanuel is indeed up against a new opponent, one strong enough that not even the best “cleaner” may be able to defeat it.
* Nate Silver makes your Final Four book: Louisville Favored in Final Four, but Wichita State Could Become Unlikeliest Champion.
* Zero Dark Thirty is supposedly a film about freedom. A “freedom so threatening that there are those around the world willing to kill themselves and others to prevent us from enjoying it,” as the TV sound-bite in the background puts it. The odd thing is that this freedom is never once glimpsed within the film itself. Obviously, we are constantly reminded of the imprisonment and torture of the al Qaeda suspects, but it is never their freedom we are meant to be concerned with. More tellingly, it is the American spaces within the film that leave this freedom unseen. A strange becoming-prisoner takes hold of the spaces, and of the American body itself: not unfolding, in the end, either defeat or victory, but pulling together in a constricted space the impossibility of both.
So again, MOOCs exemplify the problem of scalability of teaching (versus content), and content does not equal teaching. If all it took was content for students to learn something and/or if teaching– actual small group interaction with a teacher and a group of students– wasn’t necessary for students to succeed or for learning to be assessed, then “Education” wouldn’t exist. Instead, we would just have some kind of system that makes content available to students (online or in books, for free or for some kind of cost) so they can read that content and complete the exercises. Then students could finish the assignments and send them in (probably for some kind of fee) to have them evaluated for credit. Simple as that.
Except that doesn’t turn out to work.
The trend should be clear now: MOOC providers don’t want to scare off potential students with too much work. Talk about teaching in a strait jacket! This is exactly why higher education should never be privatized in the first place. It degrades the quality of the product…a lot.
I’m sorry if this bursts anyone’s bubble, but watching videos on the Internet and maybe writing a few very short essays that the professor never sees isn’t college. Real college classes have writing assignments and required reading. Real college classes require access to the professor. To say MOOCs like these can somehow replace an actual college education is tantamount to fraud.
Bowen also takes the hype about MOOCs with a grain of salt.
“Missionaries don’t particularly want their methods tested – they are missionaries after all,” he warned.
The missionaries include MOOC providers, the media, administrators and business-minded higher education policymakers, Bowen writes.
“There is a real danger that the media frenzy associated with MOOCs will lead some colleges and universities (and especially business-oriented members of their boards) to embrace too tightly the MOOC approach before it is adequately tested and found to be both sustainable and capable of delivering good learning outcomes for all kinds of students,” he writes.
Bowen also predicts coming debates about faculty governance and intellectual property as faculty members team up to teach courses or use an online course from another institution to aid them in their own classrooms.
“It’s less possible to talk about my course – quote, unquote; you have to talk about ‘our course,’ ” he said.
However, it’s not his politics that makes O’Reilly the most dangerous man in Silicon Valley; a burgeoning enclave of Randian thought, it brims with far nuttier cases. O’Reilly’s mastery of public relations, on the other hand, is unrivaled and would put many of Washington’s top spin doctors to shame. No one has done more to turn important debates about technology—debates that used to be about rights, ethics, and politics—into kumbaya celebrations of the entrepreneurial spirit while making it seem as if the language of economics was, in fact, the only reasonable way to talk about the subject. As O’Reilly discovered a long time ago, memes are for losers; the real money is in epistemes.
* And even the liberal New Republic… MOOCs of Hazard.
And yet it’s one thing to expect brilliant teens or medical students to be self-starters. It’s another to teach students who are in need of close guidance. A recent report from the Community College Research Center at Columbia finds that underprepared students taking online courses are, according to one of the authors, “falling farther behind than if they were taking face-to-face courses.” Michael Crow, one of the architects of Fathom and now president of Arizona State University and certainly no traditionalist, warns against a future in which “rich kids get taught by professors and poor kids get taught by computer.”
* 15 Geeky College Courses You Won’t Believe Actually Exist. The Tolkien class I’m inheriting is #8. Fall 2014!
* “The rich get education and the poor get training,” Carnevale said. “It’s a way of reproducing class. The higher education system is now in cahoots with the economy to reproduce class.” Already, he added, “there are a lot of kids who are not getting a real education any more. They’re getting training.”
* Double Majors Produce Dynamic Thinkers, Study Finds. That’s why I majored in both English and Philosophy.
* When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial opened 30 years ago this month, something unexpected happened: People started leaving things at the wall. One veteran has spent decades cataloging the letters, mementos, and other artifacts of loss—all 400,000 of them.
* More in NYPD-related travesties: Women who report domestic violence are exposing themselves to arrest under a new NYPD directive that orders cops to run criminal checks on the accused and the accuser, The Post has learned.
* The Washington Post is shocked, shocked to find money driving decisions in the NCAA.
* Well, there you have it: The Vatican lashed out at what it called a “defamatory” and “anti-clerical left-wing” campaign to discredit Pope Francis over his actions during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military junta, saying no credible accusation had ever stuck against the new pope.
* Rob Thomas: I did get an email from Bryan Fuller earlier today saying, ‘Hey, can you jump on the phone with me at some point? I know you’re busy, but I would love to talk to you about how this thing works.’ And I know it was specifically for “Pushing Daisies.”
* And in local news: A Wisconsin court has banned a local man from all the libraries on the planet after he was caught openly masturbating inside the Racine Public Library.
* In a post-employment economy, many are working simply to earn the prospect of making money.
So when a publisher comes to you and says “We like your book, can we buy it?” do not treat them like they are magnanimously offering you a lifetime boon, which if you refuse will never pass your way again. Treat them like what they are: A company who wants to do business with you regarding one specific project. Their job is to try to get that project on the best terms that they can. Your job is to sell it on terms that are most advantageous to you.
Oakland Police kept a man on its Most Wanted list for six months though he was not wanted for anything, the man claims in court.
And the most amazing part:
After “nearly a week of hiding in fear,” Van turned himself in on Feb. 13, “to resolve this devastating mistake,” the complaint states.
He was held for 72 hours, never charged with anything, then released, according to the complaint.
Yet on Feb. 14, the Oakland Police Department released a statement, “Most Wanted Turns Himself In,” which began: “One of Oakland’s four most wanted suspects has been taken off the streets. Last week, Oakland’s Police Chief Howard Jordan named Van Chau as one of the City’s four most wanted criminals. Today, the Oakland Police Department reports that Van Chau is off the streets of Oakland and is safely behind bars after turning himself in due to media pressure. Chief Howard Jordan said, ‘A week ago I stood with community members and asked the community to stand with me to fight crime and today we have one less criminal on our streets. Today a victim is one step closer to justice.’”
* The State Department’s latest environmental assessment of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline makes no recommendation about whether President Obama should approve it. Here is ours. He should say no, and for one overriding reason: A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that — even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem. Good conscience! Good conscience! Hilarious.
* “It’s not for everyone”: working as a slavery re-enactor at Colonial Williamsburg.
* Nation’s Millionaires Agree: We Must All Do More With Less.
* The world’s most useless governmental agency, the FEC, is still trying to figure out fines for crimes committed three elections ago.
* Anarchism: illegal in Oklahoma since 1919!
* Also from the Teens: Dateline 1912: The Salt Lake Tribune speculates about “vast thinking vegetable” on Mars.
* Charlotte Perkins Gilman was right: New Experiment Suggests Mammals Could Reproduce Entirely By Cloning.
* 11 More Weird & Wonderful Wikipedia Lists. Don’t miss the list of fictional ducks and the list of films considered the worst.
* And let freedom ring: Judge strikes down NYC ban on supersized sodas.
* Apocalypse now: University of Colorado research scientist Gabrielle Petron, who also works in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s global monitoring division, said the rate of increasing atmospheric methane concentrations has accelerated tenfold since 2007. She said it will take a few more years to determine whether the natural gas boom helps explain the change. Well thank goodness we’re putting a hold on natural gas extraction until we figure it out.
* But once something becomes a TED Talk, it becomes oddly unassailable. The video, the speech, the idea, the applause — there too often stops our critical faculties. We don’t interrupt. We don’t jeer. We don’t ask any follow-up questions. They lecture. We listen.
* Miracles and wonders: Doctors believe they have cured a baby of HIV for the first time.
* And Nate Silver finally weighs in: What Betting Markets Are Saying About the Next Pope.
Apparently there’s a boomlet in TFA backlash right now. In addition to the Harvard Crimson piece I posted the other day, there’s also:
First link via MetaFilter.
* SNL wins a game: Djesus Uncrossed.
As early as this April, Yale plans to welcome a training center for interrogators to its campus.
The center’s primary goal would be to coach U.S. Special Forces on interviewing tactics designed to detect lies. Charles Morgan III, a professor of psychiatry who will head the project, calls these tactics “people skills.” These techniques would be honed using New Haven’s immigrant community as subjects.
* Freddie deBoer: I’ve been making the case (again and again and again) that the constantly-expressed notion that we’ll have full employment if people are just smart and go into STEM fields is empirically indefensible. Adam Kotsko: What is education actually for?
“Maddaddam begins where The Year of the Flood finishes and goes on from there,” she says. “It explores what happens when the conventional humans and the new creations find themselves in the same space. You can see that there might be some cultural misunderstandings.”
* Comics explained: the backstory of Rachel Summers. It couldn’t be simpler!
* Could our universe be located within the interior of a wormhole which itself is part of a black hole that lies within a much larger universe? And that universe is on the back of an even larger turtle…
* Obama says kill the penny. He would say that. He hates capitalism.
* Kidding on the square: another National Review blogger calls for the repeal of the 19th Amendment.
Halla Gunnarsdóttir, an adviser to the interior minister, explains the country’s anti-smut rationale to The Guardian:
“We are a progressive, liberal society when it comes to nudity, to sexual relations, so our approach is not anti-sex but anti-violence. This is about children and gender equality, not about limiting free speech…”
This is Iceland, after all. Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir is the first openly lesbian government head in the world. It’s already illegal to print and distribute porn within the country, and since 2010, strip clubs have been prohibited as well…
A Borg Complex is exhibited by writers and pundits whenever you can sum up their message with the phrase: “Resistance is futile.”
The rhetorical function of “MOOC” is this bait and switch: MOOC is a fantasy of potential, a stand-in for what could be, whose possibility makes it unnecessary to produce evidence for its plausibility. This is also why Shirky doesn’t talk about the lightning that’s destroying the rotten tree. He doesn’t talk about what will replace “College” once MOOC’s have destroyed it, or defend the proposition that a world with MOOC’s instead of colleges is a good thing. He just talks about how terrible actually existing college is. The aftermath can take care of itself; the futurologist places his faith in it, but he does not subject it to all that much scrutiny.