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Tag: education (Page 2 of 49)

3-2-1 For 2017

For the final 3-2-1 of 2016, here are three books, two audio books, and one movie you may want to consider enjoying during the coming year.

Three books worth a space on your reading list.

The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros.  George is very much an advocate for empowering students and this book is a wonderfully positive collection of ideas for making that happen. It include many great suggestions that could and should be used immediately. This is one book that should be read with a group of other educators. (about 4 hours, 16 minutes)

Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil. Many decisions made by corporations and governments, such as who gets a loan or who is paroled from prison, are based on mathematical models that are poorly understood, even by the people who create them. This book is especially for those who are not “math people” and I’ll have more posts about it later. (about 5 hours, 26 minutes)

Education Outrage by Roger Schank. Few people do outrage better than Schank but, as you’ll find in this book, there is much to be upset about in the American system of education. This is a collection of Schank’s essays that will challenge some (maybe many) of your beliefs about what school is and could be. Share the book with your local school leaders. (about 5 hours, 57 minutes)

Two audiobooks for your commute.

Medium Raw written and read by Anthony Bourdain. Although he’s a chef by training, Bourdain’s television is all about travel and exploring other cultures as wide ranging as Vietnam and New Jersey. This is the story of those travels, mixed with a strong critique of restaurant trends and food television. Be warned, he occasionally uses bad language. (9 hours)

Me of Little Faith written and read by Lewis Black. If you have seen or heard Black’s stand-up work, you might think this is just his very caustic humor applied to religion. You would be wrong. This is a very thoughtful, and very funny, philosophical treatise in which he asks many good questions, and arrives at at least some good answers. Be warned, Black also uses some bad language. (5 hours, 50 minutes)

One movie to watch when you have time

The Big Short. This film was released at the end of 2015 and probably didn’t get a big audience. However, it’s a very thoughtful, surprisingly entertaining story about the housing crash of 2008, and bitingly very funny as well. Based on the book by Michael Lewis and featuring great performances by Steve Carell and Christian Bale. (2 hours, 10 minutes; on Netflix)

Punching Holes in Your Comfort Zone

I disagree with the very negative opinion about the education system expressed by James Altucher, an economic writer who says he needs very little in life. However, in this post, he does make a couple of great points about something he finds essential: curiosity.

For one thing, he says it leads to happiness: “Dopamine is being released because I am in anticipation of the reward of curiosity getting satisfied. Higher dopamine equals greater happiness, better brain and heart health. Live longer.” I admit, I feel pretty good when I’m satisfying my curiosity.

I think he’s also correct that curiosity leads to greater creativity, maybe to better relationships and community. Not so sure about fighting Alzheimer’s but anything that exercises your brain can’t be bad.

But for me, this is the core of his thoughts on creativity.

Our comfort zone is where we are safe in the womb of life. Our real self is everything beyond that.

The Curiosity Zone is bigger than the Comfort Zone.

Every time you are curious, you punch another hole in that comfort zone.

I am certainly saving that idea to use sometime, somewhere.

3-2-1 For 9-25-16

Three readings worth your time this week.

The old adage is that necessity is the mother of invention. But, according to Scientific American, several studies of humans and other animals point to other reasons why they engage in creative activities. One could be that invention comes when people feel secure in their basic needs. Didn’t Maslow make that connection? (about 5 minutes)

Certainly not comprehensive, this guide to your privacy from the Consumerist blog is still a good, concise review of how much control you have in the areas of health, finance, and communications, plus a section children on the internet. Each section also points to the agency you can complain to if something isn’t right. (about 10 minutes)

Many of us try to recycle as much as possible, thinking that the bottles, paper, plastic, and other waste in those bins will actually be reused rather than ending in a landfill somewhere. That may not be the case with those millions of old smartphones and other electronics discarded every year. Motherboard explains that A Shocking Amount of E-Waste Recycling Is a Complete Sham. (about 8 minutes)

Two audio tracks for your commute.

Can better schools improve the economy? Specifically, Springfield, Ohio has reopened the town high school as the Global Impact STEM Academy in hopes it will encourage graduates to stay and bring new high tech jobs to the area. NPR Morning Edition has the interesting, and unfinished, story. (5:48)

The theory that the 1969 moon landing was faked is one of those persistent conspiracies that just won’t die. In a unique approach to the idea, the Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know podcast interviews the director of a new thriller in which two novice CIA agents looking for a Russian mole within NASA find something more sinister. (40:00)

One video to watch when you have a few minutes.

I am a big fan of movie soundtracks. Not the collections of pop songs used in many films,1 but music composed specifically for the production. A Theory of Film Music is a little geeky but is also an interesting analysis of why the music in most modern high profile films (think anything from Marvel) is not particularly distinctive. He doesn’t touch on my favorites, however, the music from Pixar films. (12:14)

Disruption Would Be Nice

Writing recently in the Huffington Post’s education blog, Eric Sheninger, a Senior Fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education, declares Education is Ripe for Disruption. Just like “Blockbuster, Blackberry, and the taxicab industry”.

Really?

He spends most of his post summarizing disruptions that have occurred over the past ten years in the video distribution and smartphone businesses, and that are now taking place in transportation. And then tries to make the case that public education needs to undergo a similar transformation.

Sheninger, however, is extremely vague about the process of how it’s supposed to happen.

Disruptive innovation compels educators to go against the flow, challenge the status quo, take on the resistance, and shift our thinking in a more growth-oriented way. Disruptive leadership will lead to disruptive innovation. If we hang on to the same type of thinking we will continue to get the same old results…or worse. This is why digital leadership is so important in a time of rapid change. There is time to go down the path less traveled and create systems of excellence that will be embraced by our learners and in turn better prepare them for their future. Think differently. Learn differently. Disrupt the system as we know it by embracing a business as unusual model. Let’s create a new normal.

I certainly agree that American education could use some disruptive leadership. And many more teachers who are willing to to completely change their practice (ignoring the many restraints placed on them by the state and district, of course). 

What Sheninger doesn’t make clear is how a system as entrenched as public education is disrupted, especially using a model like the mobile phone business. What is that “business as unusual model” you want to create? What is “digital leadership” and how is it different from what we have now? Think differently? Sure; it worked for Apple.

So, what’s the point of this way-too-early rant? I guess my real complaint is that we read way too many essays like this from education big thinkers, all offering many nice phrases, and generating far more questions than answers.

Making a Good Teacher (1950’s Edition)

An article in The Economist magazine explains How to make a good teacher.

Good for a classroom from sixty years ago.

If this is to change, teachers need to learn how to impart knowledge and prepare young minds to receive and retain it. Good teachers set clear goals, enforce high standards of behaviour and manage their lesson time wisely. They use tried-and-tested instructional techniques to ensure that all the brains are working all of the time, for example asking questions in the classroom with “cold calling” rather than relying on the same eager pupils to put up their hands.

The concept of “imparting knowledge” and “preparing young minds” represents a very traditional vision of learning, one in which students sit in classroom rows waiting to receive the required knowledge. With the teacher “cold calling” all the questions, using “tried-and-tested” techniques to get pupils to produce the “right” answer.

The basic premise of the article – that we need to improve teacher preparation programs and provide better support on the job – is completely valid. However, the writer’s view of the role that should teachers play in student learning is antiquated at best.

Unfortunately, it’s also the foundation of most education reform proposals.

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