Nothing is Immutable, Including School Rules

31 01 2011

Neither the philosophical nor scientific meaning of of life itself is immutable. The magnetic core of the planet upon which humans live (so we can argue about conflicting rules and broken authority and inhuman corporations and what’s in a name) is not immutable. It’s moving all the time and sometimes even reverses polarity!

Magnetic north has of late moved right out from under our airport landing strips. It literally isn’t where we thought we left it even though we were right at the time; it’s not there anymore.

How much less immutable then, are our standardized textbooks and test scores? Seems to me the smarter and better educated we really are, the more likely we will be to admit and accommodate the reality of change as the closest we come to unchanging.

Nothing about school is immutable, none of the who, what, where, why, when or how, certainly not its administrative authority over the rights of sovereign citizens such as the legal construct of uncrossable school zones say, conceived and enforced as critical borders worth sacrificing children to, nor how to mark the race box on school registration and test forms, much less academic pronouncements even when they aren’t borne of changes in religious or political power of story — which planets aren’t planets anymore when the rules and definitions change, say, or something as seemingly cut and dried as how to spell a word correctly:

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“Derailing for Dummies” — How to Sabotage Civility and Ruin Conversation!

30 01 2011

Derailing for Dummies is a major collection, not one article. Here are the section headings:

Just follow this step-by-step guide to Conversing with Marginalised People™ and in no time at all you will have a fool-proof method of derailing every challenging conversation you may get into, thus reaping the full benefits of every privilege that you have. . .

Read on, and learn, and remember… you don’t have to use these in any particular order! In fact, mixing them up can really keep those Marginalised People™ on their toes! After all, they are pretty much used to hearing this stuff, so you don’t want to get too predictable or they’ll get lazy!

If You Won’t Educate Me How Can I Learn
If You Cared About These Matters You’d Be Willing To Educate Me
You’re Being Hostile
But That Happens To Me Too!
You’re Being Overemotional
You’re Just Oversensitive
You Just Enjoy Being Offended Read the rest of this entry »





New and Improved Obama! Brought to You By Corporate America

29 01 2011

as epitomized at rise-worldwide dot com

“[G]overnment is now said to be the problem. . .
The favor shown to charter schools by the president and his secretary of education Arne Duncan, in their endorsement of the testing regime of Race to the Top, draws on that ideology without much skepticism; and as Diane Ravitch has shown, it has encouraged a broad disdain for the supposed lack of ‘results’ in public education that is not supported by facts.”

I’ve been wanting to write about “venture philanthropy” too, but it’s so big, so important in how it pulls together the impact of what’s really been going on in the corporatization of education — for my parentthood if not my lifetime — that so far I have been daunted:

A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels.





“Homeschooled Whiz Kid” on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360

25 01 2011

Aired January 24, 11 pm

–What do you think about when you’re in school?

–I think about getting the work done so I can come home and play.

Transcript excerpt as just posted to the intertubes, no video that I see yet:

Well, you may not know this, but an estimated 1.5 million students are home schooled in America. In tonight’s “Perry’s Principles”, you’re going to meet one of them who’s considered a whiz kid. He wants to graduate college at the age of 16.

Here’s our education contributor Steve Perry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Like any typical teen, Stephen Stafford loves video games. But unlike his peers, this 14- year-old is a sophomore Read the rest of this entry »





For Burns Night, Our Resident Scot’s “Address to the Haggis”

25 01 2011

It’s January 25, time for Burns Night Supper and even Google is in the spirit:

Robert Burns, the world-renowned Scottish poet, was commemorated today with a Google Doodle.

. . .and you KNOW Young Son was playing Auld Lang Syne on his chanter this afternoon, and tonight will be in his tartan kilt and sporran and glengarry, piping away — as soon as he gets home from Irish step dance. 😉

So for your Burns Night pleasure, here is his Highland bagpipes tutor, Edinburgh native John McIlroy’s “Address to the Haggis” which translated for those of you not wearing tartan tonight, means the traditional Scotsman’s toast to the traditional Scotsman’s um, dinner.

See how much of it you can understand if you dare, or just revel in the brogue; either way enjoy, and then remember, the piper MUST be paid!





State of the Union: What’s in a President’s Word?

25 01 2011

Some words feature prominently in every US presidential State of the Union message, others come and go as events dictate or fashions change.

As President Barack Obama prepares to address Congress, we look at the ups and downs of the 10 nouns and adjectives (and one pronoun) used most often since 1790.

And to play the game at home, try Speech Wars: the Words That Make a Nation. Enter a word and find out how it ranks in SOTU speeches. For example, I discovered “war” has been said 2,757 times and “education” a comparatively few 544 times. The notes at the BBC site suggest war is underrepresented, too, because during the VietNam era it wasn’t used in SOTU much — it wasn’t officially “war.” (Maybe that’s what is in a name too, what isn’t talked about?)

You can get colorful timeline graphs you just roll your mouse over to instantly see which president/s used that word or those words compared head-to-head, more and less. For example, I could easily see that war is always being talked about more than education! — except two points in time separated by 40 years, when a beloved general and a beloved draft avoider each briefly saw education as worth more mentions than war — Ike and Clinton.

Then I compared “spending” and “investment” because I heard Mitch McConnell making a big deal of that on Meet the Press. (Something about how Democrats aren’t capable of investment, only spending no matter what they say. Presumably GOP pols know the difference and can do both.)

Anyway, that difference and when it’s used was worth thinking about and easy to do in this new way: I instantly saw that neither word came up much, until a huge spike of “spending” during the GOP 70s and 80s (Nixon, Ford, Reagan but not Carter) upon which time Clinton switched dramatically back to a whole lot of “investment” — and then Bush switched right back to “spending” again! 😉





So Favorite Daughter Thinks She Wants to Be an Academic Librarian

25 01 2011

“I am going to be a college professor. . .Money is not important to me.”
“Oh my god, who let you into this school?”

Hope she’s very patient and a masochist, lol.

I just found this do-it-yourself cartoon site through the Chronicle of Higher Education; apparently I’m among the last few academics in the country to hear about it. It is reported to be very popular as both satire and a teaching tool.

You don’t need much money or any editing skills. And you can publish the finished product, anonymously or not, to YouTube, Facebook, and Xtranormal’s own site. . . .”We’ve become the tool that every niche group can make videos with.”

Nearly every higher-education niche has done just that, it seems, though the gags often make sense only to insiders. For example, do you find regression-discontinuity designs funny? Political scientists do.

You probably don’t need to actually watch the four-minute academic library version above, to imagine the possibilities:

College libraries are like the “prissy” older siblings of their public peers, quips Ms. McDermott, 27, a reference clerk at the Pratt Institute’s library, in New York. She scripted a fake job interview for her affectionate send-up, “So You Want to Be an [Academic] Librarian.”

“I don’t want to work in a public library,” the job candidate declares to her interviewer. “I hate children and poor people. I am very sensitive to foul odors. I want to wear argyle sweaters and loafers to work.”

What follows is four minutes of riffing on the minutiae of library life:

. . .[Ms.McDermott and another featured cartoonist] stress that their real-life professional experiences have been positive, exceptionally so, despite the bile of their videos.

Favorite Daughter also thinks she wants to go on from her master’s degree in library and information sciences someday, after a few years of experience in that academic library. She thinks she wants to earn a PH.D. in the humanities, probably religious cultural studies or maybe English.

So You Want to Get A PhD in the Humanities — That’s the one where a jaded professor warns a bright undergraduate that she will waste away in a library for up to nine years of grad school, only to get a job earning less than a janitor at a college in Alaska, where she will remain single forever and work 65 hours a week “trying to publish an obscure article that no one cares about in an obscure scholarly journal that nobody will read.”

“I like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society,” the pigtailed idealist shoots back. “I want to live a life of the mind.”

“Oh my God,” the professor says. “Life is not a movie script.”