education

Vannevar Bush’s 1945 essay “As We May Think” on information overload, curation, and open-access science.

Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified.

— Read on www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/10/11/vannevar_bush_s_1945_essay_as_we_may_think_on_information_overload_curation.html

Facebook and the Humanities

I strongly think this aspect of Facebook’s leadership, and leadership in Silicon Valley in general, is an important piece of the current trend in tech and politics. There’s a reason the “Titans of Industry” in the 20th century placed such an emphasis on the liberal arts and libraries…

“That’s because it was based in the idea that Facebook was essentially benign. Worse: Mr. Zuckerberg stuck with this mix of extreme earnestness and willful naïveté for far too long.

Because what he never managed to grok then was that the company he created was destined to become a template for all of humanity, the digital reflection of masses of people across the globe. Including — and especially — the bad ones.

Was it because he was a computer major who left college early and did not attend enough humanities courses that might have alerted him to the uglier aspects of human nature? Maybe.”

via Kara Swisher in the New York Times

Defending the Liberal Arts

Long overdue…

The new statement offers a counterargument to the notion that the liberal arts are impractical, and perhaps unnecessary. The disciplines, it argues, increase students’ curiosity, prepare them to be lifelong learners, and offer a foundation for academic freedom. As a result, the associations argue, the benefits of the liberal arts should be available to “all college students and not solely a privileged few.”

— Read on www.chronicle.com/article/2-Associations-Forcefully/243544

Microsoft and Apple helped build new braille display standard

It’s really nice to see traditional rivals like Apple and Microsoft working together on something as important as accessibility. Hopefully this partnership is fruitful and the two companies (along with other tech industry leaders) continue to work to make computers and technology more accessible for those with different kinds of impairments.

— Read on www.engadget.com/2018/05/31/microsoft-apple-usb-if-accessibility-braille-display-standard/

Less School

This is going to put me at odds with many of my more liberal friends, but I do see the justification for the argument here as well as “The Case Against Education.” Education is big business and we’re not educating our children (or adults) in the US in a way that best suits their future or the future of our republican democracy.

So what is really going on? Caplan offers plausible evidence that school functions to let students show employers that they are smart, conscientious, and conformist. And surely this is in fact a big part of what is going on. I’ve blogged before one, and in our book we discuss, some other functions that schools may have served in history, including daycare, networking, consumption, state propaganda, domesticating students into modern workplace habits.

Source: Overcoming Bias : Read The Case Against Education

To Post or Not to Post About Your Kid’s Success?

Helicopter-Parenting

On the topic of whether parents should post about their kids’ college acceptance on Facebook, but a good reminder for all of us parents who grew up in a time before social media and are still figuring out its long term impacts on ourselves and our children:

“This isn’t your moment, as much as it may feel that way. Let your kids bask in their own glory. By letting your children tell people about an exciting achievement on their own, you let them practice humility. They can take time to be empathetic and consider what their peers are going through. You’re teaching them to value accomplishment for its own sake, and not for the attention it brings. You’re raising an adult who can connect to other people and make lifelong friends. A wise parent once said, “My main job is to make sure my kid doesn’t become a douche.” We can’t always succeed, but letting them spread the news selectively is a great start.”

Source: To Post or Not to Post? – Free-Times.com

Dogfooding

After two happy years as a WordPress self-hosted install, I’m moving our 8th grade science class site/home/hub, GriffinScience, to Blogger:

GriffinScience: “Because we’ll be using Blogger as a main platform of interaction with the 8th graders next year due to our school Google accounts making that a no-brainer, I’ve gone ahead and moved GriffinScience from a self-hosted WordPress install to Blogger.”

I don’t think the students will mind or notice much, and it does make a good deal of sense to eat my own dog food if I’m going to encourage students to make use of our school’s Google Apps accounts and use Blogger (or Google Sites) as their digital portfolio’s home (of course I don’t mind if they want to venture out into WordPress or Tumblr or Posterous land as well).

For some reason, this makes me sad in a “but I’m a real geek!” way. It’s not that Blogger isn’t a proper blogging engine or geeky enough site… but I’ve always encouraged folks to dive into code and make their own templates or sidebars. Those are possible in Blogger, but it’s a little too graphical and “easy” in my mind. I need to get over myself, clearly.

Nevertheless, here’s to another few good years of GriffinScience.

Engineering Creativity

So how do we as teachers cultivate and encourage creativity in a human existence that doesn’t require as many gigs of organic memory?

LRB · Jim Holt · Smarter, Happier, More Productive: “It’s not that the web is making us less intelligent; if anything, the evidence suggests it sharpens more cognitive skills than it dulls. It’s not that the web is making us less happy, although there are certainly those who, like Carr, feel enslaved by its rhythms and cheated by the quality of its pleasures. It’s that the web may be an enemy of creativity. Which is why Woody Allen might be wise in avoiding it altogether.”

Fascinating read.

School Books in the Present and Future

I’m laying on the bed with my 3.5 month old daughter who is interacting with the Princess and the Frog app on my iPad while I check my RSS feeds via Reeder on my iPhone.

She is reading along with the book portion, watching the embedded videos and recording her voice as the narrator. It’s really something to observe. Then she dips into the coloring book part of the app where she colors on the iPad while describing the scene from the book she just read.

I’m hopeful that books she reads and interacts with in school will capture her imagination in the same way.

If not, our “one size fits all” edu system is doomed.

Flood of Mysteries and Science

Well worth your time time to read:

How We Know by Freeman Dyson | The New York Review of Books: “The information flood has also brought enormous benefits to science. The public has a distorted view of science, because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries. Wherever we go exploring in the world around us, we find mysteries. Our planet is covered by continents and oceans whose origin we cannot explain. Our atmosphere is constantly stirred by poorly understood disturbances that we call weather and climate. The visible matter in the universe is outweighed by a much larger quantity of dark invisible matter that we do not understand at all. The origin of life is a total mystery, and so is the existence of human consciousness. We have no clear idea how the electrical discharges occurring in nerve cells in our brains are connected with our feelings and desires and actions.”

De Grading

A big thanks to Joe Bower for pointing these links from Alfie Kohn out on Twitter today:

From Degrading to De-Grading

Grading: The Issue Is Not How but Why

I also have to thank Joe for being one of the inspirations for my own “de-grading” trend in the classroom this year as I continue my search for more authentic learning environments for my 8th graders and move away from traditional grading as a means of assessing what they might or might not be achieving.

Instead, we’re sending cameras into space. I’ll take that trade off anyday.

Cautionary Wave

People (especially students) don’t do their best work when compensation or reward is based on intermediate performance goals:

Google Wave: Why did Google feel that Google Wave was a good product? – Quora: “In short, Google was experimenting with a drastically new model in an attempt to retain key talent and ended up getting the incentives so perversely aligned that it both directly contributed to a failed product and also compensated that failure more than what a moderate success would have been.”

Sweet Reader

One of my 8th Graders is blogging about dessert pictures she takes that remind her of books she reads (she’s an avid reader).

You should follow along…

Sweet Reader

Yes, it is awesome.

Vernier’s Physics App Blows My Mind

Vernier Video Physics for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store: “Vernier Video Physics for iOS brings physics video analysis to iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Take a video of an object in motion, mark its position frame by frame, and set up the scale using a known distance. Video Physics then draws trajectory, position, and velocity graphs for the object. Share video, graphs and data to facebook, your Photo Library and to your computer running Vernier’s Logger Pro software.”

I can’t tell you what this means to me as a teacher.

Wow.

We’re living in the future, folks.

Learning Without School

Go read:

The Innovative Educator: I Learned How To Write Without School: It sounds too simple. How can people learn things if they aren’t taught the proper way? If information isn’t broken down for them into bite-sized, manageable little chunks? It’s almost like magic, and no one seems willing to believe in it. No one seems willing to believe in how much children are capable of learning and doing when they’re permitted to exist in a world where everything is interconnected.

Made me cry…

And reminded me that I “learned” about God as a kid (out of my own curiosity) even though I didn’t set foot into a church until I was 13. Not only that, I ended up realizing that I should learn more about God (in the academic sense) than most folks around me, so I did. The same happened with my personal study of science (mostly physics and astronomy) that happened completely outside of my middle and high schools.

I’ve never put together my own background with how I view/practice education in general.

Yet, the very way that I teach is completely informed by that inner voice telling me to “let go” as a teacher and let my 13 and 14 year old students learn about their world like I learned about religion and science (and coding and marketing and computer hardware or anything that I really have been interested in enough to master)… on their own and at their own speed.

Goosebumps.

Thoughts on Implementing iPads in a School

Below are my/our notes from Friday’s visit to Saint Andrew’s School iDiscover21c 1 to 1 iPad implementation:

iPad Implementation Thoughts

The visit was coordinated by Apple, so it was also a great chance to pick their brains on both the technical aspects of iPad deployment in schools as well as broader philosophical questions about what the iPad means for education (though, of course, they wouldn’t speculate on iPad 2).

One of the most interesting observations I made while seeing 5th-12th grade classes of different disciplines work with their iPads was that the 8th graders in particular seemed much more competent at typing and manipulating objects on the iPad (without bluetooth keyboards). The 5th graders were still hunting-and-pecking on the iPad keyboards and the 10-12th graders seemed to prefer “thumb typing” with the iPads in portrait (vertical) orientation. I think that has everything to do with the technology those 13-14 year olds in 8th grade have grown with in their lifetime and they aren’t in the same transitional group as older kids. That’s also why I love teaching 8th grade.

As much of an Apple “fanboy” as I am and as much as I truly hope we do move ahead with something of an iPad implementation for our Middle School or even just a grade level (8th!), I’m far from sure about which path we’ll take. However, this whole process is making me a better teacher and parent as I weigh concepts like digital literacies. For that, I’m glad.

Headed to Apple Seminar at 1 to 1 iPad School

Four of us from Spartanburg Day School are headed to Savannah on Thursday/Friday to see how St. Andrew’s School is running their 1 to 1 iPad program…

Apple – Education Seminars & Events – Digital Learning Environments in Action!: “St. Andrew’s School is one of the only K through 12 independent schools that is currently implementing a 1 to 1 iPad program for all students, preK through 12, as part of their new digital learning environment. During your visit, you will see how iDiscover 21c has engaged students and allowed them to take more responsibility for their own learning. You will meet with faculty, students, and administrators who will discuss the planning stages, infrastructure changes, rollout, and the overall impact on student learning.”

I’m sure I’ll be sharing more reflections before and after the event as we process our next steps in (hopeful) iPad implementation (at least for Middle School or 8th graders).

Exciting times.