Woe is me, Wobegon is gone . . .

10 03 2011

In a dramatic reversal of the Lake “Woe-Begone” Effect, in which all the kids are above average, we now labor under the Lake Woe-Is-Me Effect, in which all the kids are failing . . .


Sec of Ed Arne Duncan: 82 Percent of Schools Could Be ‘Failing’ This Year

Yes, JJ knows the correct spelling and is playing with words to make a point:

[Garrison] Keillor says the town’s name comes from a fictional old Indian word meaning “the place where we waited all day in the rain [for you].” Keillor explains, “Wobegon” sounded Indian to me and Minnesota is full of Indian names. They mask the ethnic heritage of the town, which I wanted to do, since it was half Norwegian, half German.”

The English word “woebegone” is defined as “affected with woe” and can also mean “shabby, derelict or run down.”

A point that reminds her of Minnesota’s many-minnie quaint confusions again . . .

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Bagpipes Supporting Civil Rights in America!

18 02 2011

Talk about Learning Without Schooling, one of my ubiquitous tags here. Those who complain there’s no learning happening in Wisconsin this week clearly have lost touch with what real learning is, if they ever knew in the first place!

Wisconsin firefighters march into the Capitol, bagpipes filling the rotunda.

Intelligent cock of the snook to Rachel Maddow’s blog, where you can watch a really moving music video in the best sense of the word, peaceful and committed young people out to make a difference, for the first time in a generation (okay, to be honest, more like two generations) and near the end, the same firefighter bagpipers show up, playing On Wisconsin:

(On Wisconsin! On America!The kids are all right.)





JJ Is No Fan of Teacher Unions But . . .

16 02 2011

. . . she’s on their side in this war.

Wisconsin teachers in peaceful protest take over state capitol building -- will the governor carry out his threat to call up the National Guard?

Workers’ rights — and with them, the fate of the American middle and working classes — took over the capitol in Wisconsin yesterday and again today. Governor Scott Walker has been demanding wage concession from the state employees. He also wants to take away their unions’ right to collective bargaining. Last week, Mr. Walker said he’s ready to bring out the National Guard if need be to carry out his plan.

What he seems to have brought out instead is tens of thousands of peaceful protesters, two days running, and Madison schools closed while their teachers demonstrate.

Former Senator Russ Feingold joins us tonight to talk about the situation in his home state . . .





Noticing the Contrast . . .

14 02 2011

. . .between FL Gov. Rick Scott unveiling his anti-human government budget at a Baptist megachurch in tiny Eustis, for cheering TEA partisans, and President Obama doing his the-ability-of-a-human-mind-to-think-is-a-terrible-thing-to-waste budget right now, in a public middle school classroom near Baltimore, televised for all the people who still are able to believe in promoting, protecting and providing for one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all. And then to go learn how, and help do it.

See also Can Thinking Parents Save Generation Joshua?





If I Had A Robot, Would I Hammer in the Morning?

10 02 2011

You can tell the robot is happy from its glowing eyes and smile of satisfaction.

Giving this its own post: a tool is itself morally neutral until used by a human, be it for good or ill. That goes for hammers and guns, oil rigs and printing presses, yes, and technology — so far including robots. Ethical import is of, by and for us as people, not our tools.

The difference with robots is that we’re not confident we haven’t outsmarted ourselves and created a tool that perhaps one day will out-human us.

In the race to build computers that can think like humans, the proving ground is the Turing Test—an annual battle between the world’s most advanced artificial-intelligence programs and ordinary people. The objective? To find out whether a computer can act “more human” than a person.

In his own quest to beat the machines, the author discovers that the march of technology isn’t just changing how we live, it’s raising new questions about what it means to be human.

It’s a good story, full of quotes like “Just be yourself . . .seems to me like a somewhat naive overconfidence in human instincts” and “It’s an odd twist: Read the rest of this entry »





Forget China’s Tiger Mom, Import Swedish Pay-to-Plays Instead??

8 02 2011

I was pondering the hot new documentary blaming teachers for charter school lotteries with a fellow Thinking Parent (Lynne) the other day. Not necessarily for-profits, just all charters and the desperate lifeline they represent in a rigged system and why that should be so, and who the real villains are, what the real solutions might be.

Then today I’ve been talking with another fellow Thinking Parent (Daryl) about the odd results of GOP mayors and governors seeming to be against the public in fact but all in the name of public service! See Chris Christie, Rick Scott, Rudy Giuliani, for example. See also how universities and even community colleges are being forced into more private funding as for-profits get more and more from the “public.”

Then along comes a story that both fits right in and warps the narrative further out of whack: Read the rest of this entry »





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: