During the 1950's, Wernher von Braun served as technical adviser for three space-related television films produced by Disney: Man in Space, Man and the Moon and Mars and Beyond. [more inside]
20 years ago, Sweden passed a series of reforms that encouraged privatization of its schools. In addition to making it easier to create new schools, the new laws made it legal for private, profit-seeking companies to open schools. For over a decade, these reforms were hailed as a market-driven success story, as market share private schools grew. Earlier this year, the bankruptcy of Sweden's largest private school operator and questions about school quality has some in Sweden rethinking its privatization experiment.
The Tumblr blog People of Color in European Art History, or medievalpoc for short, has a simple mission: to showcase works of art from European history that feature People of Color. All too often, these works go unseen in museums, Art History classes, online galleries, and other venues because of retroactive whitewashing of Medieval Europe, Scandinavia, and Asia. [more inside]
Recently Emily Graslie, of the fantastic natural history tumblr and youtube series TheBrainScoop, was asked a question about whether she had personally experienced sexism in her field. Her response is fucking amazing.
Inside is her goldmine of awesome female science educators online with channels that focus on Science Technology Engineering and Math. My work day is fucked.[more inside]
Udacity, who, along with Coursera and edX, has been one of the "big three" MOOC providers is stepping back from its initial vision, to refocus on corporate training. Now that we've had a bit of time to think through the potential offered by MOOCs, and to assess how well they live up to them in practice, what conclusions are people drawing? Is it possible that MOOCs have value, but just aren't the same sort of animal as a traditional "bricks and mortar" course? Jonathan Freedman, from the University of Michigan, thinks so, and calls them "usefully Middlebrow." John Covach of the University of Rochester talks in depth about his own experiences, and frames MOOC courses as more akin to a public lecture series than a college course.
On Graduate School and 'Love' is yet another commentary on the economics of academic work. A younger student chimes in on the role of education in life: "much of education is oriented, for better or worse, toward making a living, rather than making a life." [more inside]
Today is World Philosophy Day. Celebrate by reading the Euthyphro, Al Jazeera's Defense of Philosophy, or the first chapter of the new book Why We Argue? (And How We Should.) But don't just sit there interpreting the world! The point is to change it, so maybe spend some time advocating for early-childhood philosophy education.
"Psychologists Lisa Blackwell, Kali Trzesniewski, and Carol Dweck [found that] convincing students that they could make themselves smarter by hard work led them to work harder and get higher grades. The intervention had the biggest effect for students who started out believing intelligence was genetic."
JM Coetzee's foreword to John Higgins's new book Academic Freedom in a Democratic South Africa, which among other topics, includes an extended interview with Nelson Mandela ally and academic Jakes Gerwel on the importance of the humanities in both the anti-apartheid struggle. In an excerpt from the interview, Gerwel stated that Apartheid was to a large degree also “a battle of and over ideas, a battle of the priority of one set of ideas over another, and in this struggle the human and social sciences played a great and liberating role.” A (pdf) history of South African education under apartheid.
The Washington Post reports on a ridiculous mathematics test for first graders administered under New York's Common Core standards initiative. [Common Core previously.]
"I Quit Academia" -- An Important, Growing Subgenre of American Essays
Eleven year-old Floridian Peyton Robertson figured out how to make a better sandbag: leave out the sand. After witnessing the damage hurricane Sandy caused across the nation, the concerned middle-schooler sought a way to help mitigate flood damage caused by the storms. Peyton fills his bags with a salt and polymer mixture which expands when wet. The bags also use an unique center-locking mechanism, allowing them to overlap for an even stronger flood barrier. [Note: not in America? Video won't play for you? Try this link instead.] [more inside]
Juárez Correa felt a chill. He’d never encountered a student with so much innate ability. He squatted next to her and asked why she hadn’t expressed much interest in math in the past, since she was clearly good at it. “Because no one made it this interesting,” she said. -- Wired reports on a teaching method finding success in Mexico
It took me nine minutes to notice that the shape of the boy’s ear precisely echoes that of the ruff along the squirrel’s belly—and that Copley was making some kind of connection between the animal and the human body and the sensory capacities of each. It was 21 minutes before I registered the fact that the fingers holding the chain exactly span the diameter of the water glass beneath them. It took a good 45 minutes before I realized that the seemingly random folds and wrinkles in the background curtain are actually perfect copies of the shapes of the boy’s ear and eye, as if Copley had imagined those sensory organs distributing or imprinting themselves on the surface behind him. And so on. What this exercise shows students is that just because you have looked at something doesn’t mean that you have seen it.
The Course of Their Lives. While much in medicine has changed over the last century, the defining course of a first year medical student's education is still 'Gross Anatomy.' This is their hands-on tour of a donated cadaver -- an actual human body -- and is an experience which cannot be replicated by computer models. When Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Mark Johnson came up with the idea of following a med school gross anatomy class for a feature story, his editor challenged him to make it different. So he chose to intertwine the students' stories with that of Geraldine 'Nana' Fotsch, a living future donor, as sort of a stand-in for the cadaver. (Via. This four-part series contains descriptions of a human dissection. Some may find it disturbing.) [more inside]
To be clear: Those are correlations, not causal links. But A.D.H.D., education policies, disability protections and advertising freedoms all appear to wink suggestively at one another. From parents’ and teachers’ perspectives, the diagnosis is considered a success if the medication improves kids’ ability to perform on tests and calms them down enough so that they’re not a distraction to others. (In some school districts, an A.D.H.D. diagnosis also results in that child’s test score being removed from the school’s official average.) Writ large, Hinshaw says, these incentives conspire to boost the diagnosis of the disorder, regardless of its biological prevalence. - SL NYTimes
“I’ll tell him how important education is, and that I even want education for your children as well. And I would tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.’” - Malala Yousafzai (previously), shot by the Taliban a year ago, talks to the Daily Show's Jon Stewart about what she would do if a gunman came to shoot her again, as they have promised.
Warning! The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased, entry for the United States of America
Rise Above the LMS: " ... I no longer think of standard, traditional LMS platforms like Blackboard as software. Instead, I think of them as 'institutionware.' For as much as Blackboard may be about preserving itself as the top LMS option, it is also about preserving the traditional aspects of higher education. Even more recent social media ‘features’ are about containment; blogs and wikis are stuck in the Blackboard box and mark the introduction of new environments and tools for learning but only serve lectures and exams." James Schirmer talks about how the structure and design of learning management systems (Wikipedia article) in higher education often runs counter to good classroom instruction.
An estimated 8.6 percent of parents now wait until their child is six to send them to kindergarten, hoping that their maturity and increased physical size will give them advantages in the classroom and on the sports field. However, the trend, called "academic redshirting" may actually be extremely harmful, according to recent studies.
The Common Core (Wikipedia) is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt (that is, if they want to keep their funding). In the weeks and months leading up to implementation of the Common Core, some teachers are a little wary. Teachers and community organizers are now left to translate Common Core standards for confused parents, with some myths, rumors, and miscommunications getting in the way. Now, after months of preparing for the shift, some states are dropping out of the Common Core. But why?
Karl Taro Greenfeld wondered if his daughter had too much homework to do... so, for a week, he did all of it with her, for hours each night. "The school year hasn't been extended. Student-teacher ratios don’t seem to have changed much. No, our children are going to catch up with those East Asian kids on their own damn time."
"Duquesne has claimed that the unionization of adjuncts like Margaret Mary would somehow interfere with its mission to inculcate Catholic values among its students." - Daniel Kovalik
As the United States moves toward a knowledge-based economy, school achievement has become the cornerstone of lifelong success. Women are adapting; men are not. Yet the education establishment and federal government are, with some notable exceptions, looking the other way.
Harvard Business School Case Study: Gender Equity [HBS '13] had been unwitting guinea pigs in what would have once sounded like a far-fetched feminist fantasy: What if Harvard Business School gave itself a gender makeover, changing its curriculum, rules and social rituals to foster female success? The New York Times reports. [more inside]
"It’s not often that one finds buried treasure, but that’s exactly what happened in Wayland High School’s History Building as we prepared to move to a new campus. Amidst the dusty collection of maps featuring the defunct USSR, decades-old textbooks describing how Negroes are seeking equality, and film strips pieced together with brittle scotch tape, was a gray plastic Samsonite briefcase, circa 1975."
School is a prison - and damaging our kids - We’re not surprised that learning is unpleasant. We think of it as bad-tasting medicine, tough to swallow but good for children in the long run. Some people even think that the very unpleasantness of school is good for children, so they will learn to tolerate unpleasantness, because life after school is unpleasant. Perhaps this sad view of life derives from schooling.
Teaching Cliteracy 101: "It is a curious dilemma to observe the paradox that on the one hand the female body is the primary metaphor for sexuality, its use saturates advertising, art and the mainstream erotic imaginary. Yet, the clitoris, the true female sexual organ, is virtually invisible." ~ Artist Sophia Wallace is using street art and an art exhibition that incorporates pithy slogans, 'scientific data, historical information as well as references to architecture, porn, pop culture and human rights' to make "the case for the clit". (Links throughout this post may be NSFW.) [more inside]
Academics are farmers and intellectuals are hunters - and the hunters may be the future of the liberal arts, writes Jack Miles.
Buffalo News theater critic reviews a recent school board meeting.
"Every new member of Israel’s Knesset gives a debut speech, and this year, with 48 rookies, the docket was full, with parliamentarians introducing their résumés, their proposed policies, and their hopes for the coming four-year term. One decided to ignore convention altogether. This member of Knesset used the allotted time to teach Talmud. A full third of the 19th Knesset are observant Jews, but it wasn’t any of them. It was a woman named Ruth Calderon, a Talmud scholar and the founder of two Jewish houses of study. She was elected to Knesset as No. 13 on the list of Yesh Atid, a new party headed by former journalist Yair Lapid that swept the recent elections, earning 19 seats on a promise to bring about a more equal Israel..." [more inside]
Why particle physics matters [no pun intended]. Physicists from around the world talk about why we study the nature of the universe. [via] [more inside]
Ripping Off Young America: The College-Loan Scandal. "The federal government has made it easier than ever to borrow money for higher education - saddling a generation with crushing debts and inflating a bubble that could bring down the economy."
Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here? So why make trouble? Why not just go along? Let the profs roam free in the realms of pure thought, let yourselves party in the realms of impure pleasure, and let the student-services gang assert fewer prohibitions and newer delights for you. You’ll get a good job, you’ll have plenty of friends, you’ll have a driveway of your own. You’ll also, if my father and I are right, be truly and righteously screwed.
In 2003, the New York Times published a lengthy article by Lisa Belkin about women who were choosing to leave the workforce to be stay-at-home moms: The Opt-Out Generation. In the the last ten years, the article's conclusions regarding upper-middle-class women's choices about work and motherhood have been debated, studied, rediscovered, denied, lamented, and defended. It's been noted by many that "most mothers have to work to make ends meet but the press writes mostly about the elite few who don’t." Ms. Belkin's piece also never mentioned what what a disaster divorce or the death of a spouse can create for dependent women in such situations. After a decade, the Times is revisiting the topic: The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In.
"I hope we come to the meeting today with solutions and not excuses for me to wiggle myself out of the repeated lies I have told over the last 6 months." Tony Bennett, the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, had a big problem. Christel House Academy, a public charter school in Indianapolis founded by time-share magnate and major GOP donor Christel DeHaan, had come in with a C on the state's A-F grading scale, thanks to poor scores by 9th and 10th graders in English and math. "They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work," Bennett wrote to a staffer. Fortunately, Bennett's team found a solution, revealed today in staff e-mails obtained by the AP -- change the state's grading scale so that the offending grades didn't count. Will Bennett be able to hold on as Indiana's top education official? Not to worry: in January, he moved on to the same job in Florida. [more inside]
The American Historical Association just released a statement that "strongly encourages graduate programs and university libraries to adopt a policy that allows the embargoing of completed history PhD dissertations in digital form for as many as six years." The statement is aimed at publishers who are disinclined to consider books based on dissertations that have been made freely available in open access databases. Some responses cite a 2011 survey, "Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities?," that found most publishers self-reported they would indeed consider publishing such dissertations, but also suggested university libraries are refusing to buy books based on dissertations that have previously been available online. "The Road From Dissertation to Book Has a New Pothole: the Internet," a 2011 article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, quotes editors who are wary of publishing such books, and discusses the process by which students can restrict access to their work at companies like ProQuest, "the electronic publisher with which the vast majority of U.S. universities contract to house digital copies of dissertations." [more inside]
Why would a liberal education, the deeper acquaintance with a number of diverse modes of symbolic production, enhance our freedom? University of Chicago sociology professor Andreas Glaeser, in his 2005 Aims of Education Address to incoming students, muses: How About Becoming a Poet?
Utah State Sen. Aaron Osmond (R-South Jordan) has introduced a proposal to abolish compulsory education for children in his home state. [more inside]
Oorah is a non-profit Jewish organization providing year-round activities and educational opportunities to Jewish children and families (including funding for Kars4Kids. But they also have some amazing videos on YouTube.
Malala Yousafzai, sixteen-year-old Pakistani education activist, has delivered her first public address since she was shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunmen in October last year. Yousafzai's speech at the UN headquarters in New York today is available in full as text or video. She has been credited with bringing the issue of women's education to global attention, a crucial concern given that a quarter of young women around the world have not completed primary school.
The New York Times' lead editorial on the Moral Monday arrests (Previously on Metafilter), ending federal unemployment benefits, failing education programs, racial discrimination, and new abortion laws.
Don't go to art school. Why it's a bad idea and what you can do with the money instead.