A group of 4th graders in New Hampshire, learning about how Government works and following a long-held tradition of schools across the US, drafted and presented a bill proposing that the red-tailed hawk be named the official state raptor of New Hampshire. Their bill was solidly defeated by the Legislature, drawing ire for its mean-spirited mocking as well as a highly dubious abortion metaphor. While some have defended the Legislature's decision, others have come to the aid of the 4th graders, mostly thanks to John Oliver's declaration of the red-tailed hawk as the official mascot of Last Week Tonight. There are plans to potentially resurrect the bill.
Singaporean student Agatha Tan wrote an open letter to her principal after noticing major flaws with a sex ed program at her junior college. Specifically, the Focus on the Family-created program posited relationship advice for "guys" and "gals" and what they really think that seem to be directly cribbed from a joke book. Focus on the Family claimed that it wasn't designed as sex ed but as a "relationship education" program (here's Singapore's actual sex ed curriculum) and that it was supposedly based on research studies about the neurological differences between men and women. The principal says that the facilitators were "ineffective", and the Ministry of Education says that they will cease their working relationship with FotF soon.
WYNC's Manoush Zomorodi investigates the gender gap in tech and computer science, and finds a number of people working towards bridging that gap, from childhood to university: completely restructuring a required computer science course to make it more welcoming to female university students, celebrating women in computing history (and recognizing that computer science wasn't so male-dominated, and making children's books and toys (even dollhouses!) for kids to explore programming concepts on their own. She also noticed that the majority of female computer science students in the US had grown up overseas - possibly because computer science isn't a common subject in American high schools. This is slated to change: a new AP Computer Science subject is in the works, with efforts to get 10,000 highly-trained computer science teachers in 10,000 high schools across the US. If you want to join Mindy Kaling in supporting young girls entering computer science, tech, and coding, there's a lot [more inside]
Every year students at Madonna University's Sign Language Studies program create ASL music videos of popular songs, incorporating elements of ASL poetry and storytelling. Each video comes with a comprehensive guide explaining the translations and artistic choices behind each line of the video. Some examples: Pompeii by Bastille, Four Women by Nina Simone, and of course Bohemian Rhapsody.
Ever wish you could actually take classes in Charms, Transfiguration, and Potions from Hogwarts for real? Now you can!
The extended setting of the Harry Potter series is fertile soil for fans interested in worldbuilding, especially since the release of Pottermore (previously), a companion site to the books that includes back-story and adjunt information direct from J.K. Rowling. Some of these worldbuilding projects include explorations on wizarding fashion, magical education (including other magical schools), fantastic beasts (and perhaps where to find them), Muslims at Hogwarts, and the next generation of Hogwarts students. [more inside]
Indian tech entrepreneur and engineer Navin Kabra was dubious when the B.E. students he was advising told him that publishing papers at conferences were a requirement for graduation - a requirement shared by M.E. and M. Tech students in India. When an 'international engineering conference' came to Pune, he submitted two fake papers - one generated using SCIgen and one interspersed with random references to pop culture. Both were accepted - and one was published after Navin paid for the publishing fees (haggled to a 50% discount). Since the expose, the University of Pune has clarified that publishing for Masters students is recommended but not mandatory, more conference fraud has been uncovered, and Navin's still investigating publishing requirements for Bachelors students.
"What are the new liberal arts?", asks SnarkMarket, inspired by Jason Kottke's tagline and Edge. The blog post has turned into a pitch for a new collaborative book, with spirited discussions and over 100 suggestions including photography, design, relationships, mythology, intuitive thinking, synthesis, knowledge mastery, search, archiving, play, and home economics.
"Conquer English to Make China Stronger!" is the philosophy of Li Yang, founder of the Crazy English school (and style) of language, described by some as "English as a Shouted Language" for its main method of shouting English words in public to overcome shyness. Li Yang has achieved Elvis-like popularity in China, not just through his public lectures but also through the sales of books, media, teaching materials, and a memoir titled "I am Crazy, I Succeed". Li Yang's unorthodox methods - which include encouraging students to "lose face" and cope with embarrassment on the way to success - have earned him fame and fortune, including headlining the 5th Beijing Foreign Language Festival and being the main English teacher for China's Olympic volunteers. Li Yang's secret to success: "... to have them continuously paying—that’s the conclusion I’ve reached."
The Scholar Ship, an international floating university stewarded by top universities in Morocco, the United Kingdom, China, Australia, Mexico, USA, and Ghana, have temporarily suspended all voyages due to lack of funds - mainly caused by the withdrawal of main sponsor and initiator Royal Caribbean International. The program ran two voyages in 2007 and 2008 before shutdown. Alumni and prospective students on Facebook and Ning are busily sourcing options to revive the organization, while Semester at Sea is offering spaces to students who were accepted for the now-cancelled voyages. [more inside]
The Dark Side of Literacy - Indian education reform organization Shikshantar, who aims to encourage concepts of "Swaraj", or self-rule in local education, argues that current education and literacy models do not take into account local cultures and languages and gives too much credit to the Western alphabet. They also argue that there are many serious flaws in what they describe as UNESCO's campaign of "McEducation For All".
KnowHow2Go wants you to take on the tough classes - such as Biology, Foreign Languages, and Algebra II - to prepare yourself for college.
Teams of student entrepreneurs around the world had six days to add value to a stack of Post-It notes as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The results are documented in Imagine It!, which aims to promote creative thinking. [more inside]
U.S. Public Service Academy : A proposal by two Teach for America alum to provide fully-funded top-notch undergraduate education in public service in the style of military academies, but with a mandatory 5-year local/state/federal service work requirement. A bill for this school was put into Congress by Senators Hillary Clinton and Arlen Specter.
The KaosPilots, deemed "the world's most adventurous alternative business school", teaches social entrepreneurship and leadership through real-life situations. [more inside]
[T]his pattern, grade for the sake of a grade, work for the sake of work, can be found everywhere. Ladies and gentlemen, the spirit of intellectual thought is lost. I speak today not to rant, complain or cause trouble, and certainly not to draw attention to myself. I have accomplished nothing and I am nothing. I know that. Rather, I was moved by the countless hours wasted in those halls. Today, you should focus on your child or loved one. This is meant to be a day of celebration, and if I’ve taken away from that, I’m sorry. But I know how highly this community values learning, and I urge you all to re-evaluate what it means to be educated.- from a graduation speech by the valedictorian of Mainland Regional High School, Kareem Elnahal, critiquing his school's education process.
The principal's reaction? “My hope was they did not hear or understand what he was saying. ... He was belittling the diplomas of every one of those kids.”.