Tag Archives: teacher

A set of podcasts is 21st-century equivalent of a textbook, not a teacher

An intelligent essay from Pamela Hieronymi, professor of philosophy at UCLA, discussing the impact of technology on education:

A set of podcasts is the 21st-century equivalent of a textbook, not the 21st-century equivalent of a teacher. Every age has its autodidacts, gifted people able to teach themselves with only their books. Woe unto us if we require all citizens to manifest that ability.

Brilliantly put.

Educators are coaches, personal trainers in intellectual fitness. The value we add to the media extravaganza is like the value the trainer adds to the gym or the coach adds to the equipment.

Just as coaching requires individual attention, education, at its core, requires one mind engaging with another, in real time: listening, understanding, correcting, modeling, suggesting, prodding, denying, affirming, and critiquing thoughts and their expression.

 

Well worth reading - Don’t confuse technology with college teaching

 

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Talk is cheap…so make a Long Bet (for charity) to prove your prediction

Pronouncements about the future come easy. Even when made with an air of authority, they’re usually just cheap talk, rarely revisited. Only the tiny fraction that have proven correct tend to be remembered, when their authors want to take credit.

But what if there were some cash at stake?

The Long Bets Foundation, a new project masterminded by Well founder Stewart Brand and Wired editor-at-large Kevin Kelly, hopes to raise the quality of our collective foresight by incorporating money and accountability into the process of debate.

The idea is simple. If someone makes a grandiose claim, any skeptic can challenge it – “Would you bet on that?” – and the Long Bets Foundation will keep tabs on the wager, whether it takes five years or five decades to come to pass. If proven right, a predictor can relish the victory; if wrong, the challenger gets the glory.

 

 

The Bets:

- Over a ten-year period, the S & P 500 will outperform hedge funds, when performance is measured on a basis net of fees, costs and expenses. – $1,000,000 – (Warren Buffet vs. Protege Partners, LLC)

 

- At least one human alive in the year 2000 will still be alive in 2150. – $2,000 (Peter Schwartz vs. Melody Haller)

 

- Large Hadron Collider will destroy Earth. – $1,000 (Joe Keane vs. Nick Damiano)

 

- By 2020, a professional sports team (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS) will integrate and have a woman as a team member/player. – $500 (Thomas Leavens vs. Martin Nisenholtz)

 

- By 2025, the states will have voted on at least one constitutional amendment to cede US federal power to a global government. – $800 (Thomas Quigley vs. Steven Midgley)

 

See more on the record bets.

 

By preserving the terms of the wager in public view, Long Bets promises to be more than a service for confident prognosticators. Over time, it hopes to foster better understanding of how predictions in aggregate work out in reality – what kinds of truths are easiest (or hardest) to forecast, and what kinds of people are right (or wrong) most reliably.

According to the Long Bets Foundation, all stakes are treated as charitable donations, tax deductible when the bet is made. Bettors designate nonprofits to receive the proceeds. Meanwhile, the foundation holds the funds in an investment account for the life of the bet, with half of the growth covering administrative costs. A competition designed to thrive in the public eye, Long Bets uses time as a teacher.

via Wired, May 2002

An election year Democrat promise – 1 million more graduates in science, math, and engineering

President Barack Obama proposed $80 million in new government funding for a program to boost science and math education in U.S. schools.

The aim of the new proposed funding is to train 100,000 specialized teachers, who would help to “meet an ambitious goal, which is 1 million more American graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math over the next 10 years.”

In addition, philanthropic organizations and private companies have committed to providing $22 million to help train new math and science teachers.

Organizations involved in the effort include the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Google, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Freeport-McMoRan and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

via Reuters

How to Fire a Bad Teacher

To fire a teacher you need documentation. This is a teaching phrase that refers to a specific process that explains why a teacher is bad.

To create your own documentation you need a notebook of paper or something similar (3-ring binder). Give it a title and all that, then record the first incident of bad teaching.

Include the date and a description of the incident, include all those involved. It doesn’t have to be more than a few sentences.

Continue recording these incidents over a few months, maybe even ask others to help you.

If this seems like a lot of work you can ask a principal or school administrator to do it for you. They should already have a file on every teacher and be able to follow the district policy for documentation.

You may run into some difficulty here if you sound more like a bad parent than a good one. Remember that principal and administrators time is overwhelmingly spent on problem students. These are often nasty situations involving divorce, social services, and, of course, bad grades, bad behavior, and detention.

You have to stand apart from that and saying something like “last year we never had a problem” doesn’t work. New skills are required in each grade level and, all too often, students struggle in a higher grade and parents blame teachers. As if fractions weren’t hard enough, students have parents who don’t help them with fractions and instead blame teachers.

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No! Every Child Cannot Get Straight A's

In a previous post I asked the question: Can Every Child Get Straight A’s?

Oh wow, did I get some interesting responses. Every single person, except one, said no. The only person to say yes was my lady’s father, thanks Ravendad.

The overwhelming outcry was that students should not get straight A’s. Or, that it was an unreasonable or an unimportant expectation. Innumerable explanations were given in the comments and on Facebook. Here are some of them:

  • “There has to be losers in life”
  • “If you lower the bar enough, yes”
  • “Some kids just aren’t great at school”

Those were real comments. Others did give more complex answers with references to various experts (or pundits). But, I think the point stands, we have very low expectations for our children.

It’s no surprise that our education is barely competing worldwide with so few adults expecting us to do well. Many of us would probably like to blame this on schools or teachers. The documentary, Waiting For Superman, provides amunition for just that by pointing out all the problems and inadequacies they have.

Which is exactly where I draw the line. I get so worked up when adults blame our problems on schools, I even walked out on that movie in protest.

We do not have an education problem. Our schools are doing fine, if not exceptional. In every aspect of education our teachers, principals, and schools are improving. They are establishing uniform standards, trying new teaching methods, and in some cases radical reforms.

The results have been pathetic. Tiny gains or no gains all across the board.

Which has befuddled the entire country. You mean that money, radical changes, and firing teachers can’t fix education?

To which any educator will give you the “no duh” response. There is something more important than that, something so overwhelming that it makes anything else impotent. Parents.

There is no single factor more important than parents.

To which I propose we switch our conversation away from education reform and into parent reform. Now, this is not another finger pointing exercise, we have enough of that already. This is an attempt to engage in discourse that is productive. Like two children beating each other up, nobody wins. But if you can get them to talk first, to understand each other, then they grow and everybody wins.

If given the stage here’s an example of what I would say:

During the teenage years the child brain suddenly becomes the adult brain. Experiencing a large growth in ability. Beneath the raging hormones is a mind that will soon be able to perform geometry, calculus, write abstract essays, and more.

Very few understand this and even fewer understand how to respond to it.

Fortunately, our middle schools do and they focus almost entirely on skill building. They teach the rigor necessary to enable those powerful minds.

During grades six to eight, the content suddenly becomes repetitive. Topics that were covered in earlier years are rehashed, only to be covered again in high school. Which leaves teachers free to focus on:

  • Writing outlines
  • Organization
  • Punctuality
  • Forming paragraphs
  • Structured notes (math, science)

If successful the classroom turns into an escape from the chaos of puberty by establishing daily routines and regular practice. You would be surprised how relaxing it is for teenagers to have a well disciplined and quiet place to practice writing outlines. It’s like a hush comes over the class.

The same is true for parents. I had so many successful parent-teacher conferences where the sole discussion was on how to organize a backpack. At first the parents would look at me with shock. Where was the typical laundry list of problems or successes. Instead, I would explain about their child’s growing brain and the need to build basic skills. Then a few weeks later they would come back and thank me profusely.

It is these basic skills that form the foundation for future success in high school and college. If delivered at the right age it is almost magical. Providing students with exactly what they need, simplifying the parents challenging role, and allowing teachers to, well, teach.

Further, I can provide an example of this at every age, every grade, and every stage in life. I can offer to adults and parents critical knowledge that will save them countless hours and headaches, while making straight A’s a reasonable achievement.

Now, not everything I would say is perfect and backed by all educators. But, it does set the foundation for productive discussions. I would love national debates that introduce these largely unknown facts to parents. Instead of the pointless and unhelpful debates we have now.

I can only imagine how much improvement we would see if our education reform suddenly was about education and not money or blame.

What do you say, did I make a convincing argument for parent reform?

No! Every Child Cannot Get Straight A’s

In a previous post I asked the question: Can Every Child Get Straight A’s?

Oh wow, did I get some interesting responses. Every single person, except one, said no. The only person to say yes was my lady’s father, thanks Ravendad.

The overwhelming outcry was that students should not get straight A’s. Or, that it was an unreasonable or an unimportant expectation. Innumerable explanations were given in the comments and on Facebook. Here are some of them:

  • “There has to be losers in life”
  • “If you lower the bar enough, yes”
  • “Some kids just aren’t great at school”

Those were real comments. Others did give more complex answers with references to various experts (or pundits). But, I think the point stands, we have very low expectations for our children.

It’s no surprise that our education is barely competing worldwide with so few adults expecting us to do well. Many of us would probably like to blame this on schools or teachers. The documentary, Waiting For Superman, provides amunition for just that by pointing out all the problems and inadequacies they have.

Which is exactly where I draw the line. I get so worked up when adults blame our problems on schools, I even walked out on that movie in protest.

We do not have an education problem. Our schools are doing fine, if not exceptional. In every aspect of education our teachers, principals, and schools are improving. They are establishing uniform standards, trying new teaching methods, and in some cases radical reforms.

The results have been pathetic. Tiny gains or no gains all across the board.

Which has befuddled the entire country. You mean that money, radical changes, and firing teachers can’t fix education?

To which any educator will give you the “no duh” response. There is something more important than that, something so overwhelming that it makes anything else impotent. Parents.

There is no single factor more important than parents.

To which I propose we switch our conversation away from education reform and into parent reform. Now, this is not another finger pointing exercise, we have enough of that already. This is an attempt to engage in discourse that is productive. Like two children beating each other up, nobody wins. But if you can get them to talk first, to understand each other, then they grow and everybody wins.

If given the stage here’s an example of what I would say:

During the teenage years the child brain suddenly becomes the adult brain. Experiencing a large growth in ability. Beneath the raging hormones is a mind that will soon be able to perform geometry, calculus, write abstract essays, and more.

Very few understand this and even fewer understand how to respond to it.

Fortunately, our middle schools do and they focus almost entirely on skill building. They teach the rigor necessary to enable those powerful minds.

During grades six to eight, the content suddenly becomes repetitive. Topics that were covered in earlier years are rehashed, only to be covered again in high school. Which leaves teachers free to focus on:

  • Writing outlines
  • Organization
  • Punctuality
  • Forming paragraphs
  • Structured notes (math, science)

If successful the classroom turns into an escape from the chaos of puberty by establishing daily routines and regular practice. You would be surprised how relaxing it is for teenagers to have a well disciplined and quiet place to practice writing outlines. It’s like a hush comes over the class.

The same is true for parents. I had so many successful parent-teacher conferences where the sole discussion was on how to organize a backpack. At first the parents would look at me with shock. Where was the typical laundry list of problems or successes. Instead, I would explain about their child’s growing brain and the need to build basic skills. Then a few weeks later they would come back and thank me profusely.

It is these basic skills that form the foundation for future success in high school and college. If delivered at the right age it is almost magical. Providing students with exactly what they need, simplifying the parents challenging role, and allowing teachers to, well, teach.

Further, I can provide an example of this at every age, every grade, and every stage in life. I can offer to adults and parents critical knowledge that will save them countless hours and headaches, while making straight A’s a reasonable achievement.

Now, not everything I would say is perfect and backed by all educators. But, it does set the foundation for productive discussions. I would love national debates that introduce these largely unknown facts to parents. Instead of the pointless and unhelpful debates we have now.

I can only imagine how much improvement we would see if our education reform suddenly was about education and not money or blame.

What do you say, did I make a convincing argument for parent reform?