Philosophy

Virtual Learning Through Quarantine Will Leave Poor and Disabled Students Behind – Education Article

    In the wake of the coronavirus crisis with most people self quarantined at home, schools across the country are shut down.   Some offer (or are considering offering) distance learning over the Internet.   However, this poses problems.   Not all student services can be provided via computer.   And not all students even have a computer, online compatible device or Internet access.   Should our nation’s public schools soldier on anyway and provide some kind of learning…

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Top 10 Things I Want My Students to do During the Coronavirus Quarantine – Education Article

      Dear Students,   A schoolteacher without a classroom is kind of like a firefighter without a fire.   Or a police officer without crime.   But here we are – self-quarantined at home.   Our classroom sits empty, and everyday this week we sit here at home wondering what to do.   I want you to know that I’ve been thinking about all of you.   I hope you’re doing alright during this unprecedented moment in history.…

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Public Schools Can Recover from the COVID-19 Quarantine by Skipping High Stakes Tests – Education Article

 There is one plus from being sick during a global pandemic.   You get perspective.   While all the schools in Pennsylvania are closed for at least the next two weeks to help stop the spread of COVID-19 (colloquially known as the Coronavirus), I self-quarantined a day early.   No, I don’t think I have the virus, but I’m not taking any chances.   Still, sitting here at my laptop with a steaming mug of tea, I’m filled with optimism.…

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Don’t Extend Kids’ School Day; Shorten Parents’ Work Week – Education Article

It’s rough being the parent of an American school student.You often leave for work before your kids have even made it to school yet – and you get home long after they’ve returned.When exactly are you supposed to parent?   Your kids have to get themselves to school. They have to get themselves home. And helping with homework, talking about their days, even setting a good example are all luxuries you have to pay dearly for with an ever-shrinking amount…

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PPE: the Oxford degree that runs Britain | Education

Monday, 13 April 2015 was a typical day in modern British politics. An Oxford University graduate in philosophy, politics and economics (PPE), Ed Miliband, launched the Labour party’s general election manifesto. It was examined by the BBC’s political editor, Oxford PPE graduate Nick Robinson, by the BBC’s economics editor, Oxford PPE graduate Robert Peston, and by the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Oxford PPE graduate Paul Johnson. It was criticised by the prime minister, Oxford PPE graduate David…

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The Ongoing Study of How and When Teachers Should Praise Students – Education Article

    Should teachers praise their students?     It’s a simple question with a multiplicity of answers.     A 2020 study published in the journal Educational Psychology concludes that teachers who use praise see a 30% increase in good behavior from their classes.     Meanwhile, reprimands actually increase misbehavior and unwillingness to comply with instruction.     Researches suggest a 3:1 or 4:1 praise-to-reprimand ratio. So for every one reprimand, a teacher should provide three or four…

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Who Will Protect My Right NOT to Pay for Your Child’s Religious Education? – Education Article

    When I was a kid back in middle school, I had a crush on this girl, let’s call her Patty.     She wasn’t the most popular or beautiful girl in class, but I kinda’ liked her.       Of course, she had no idea I was alive.     Or so I thought, until one day she walked straight up to my desk and started rubbing my hair.     I was shocked at first, but…

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Robots Will Never Replace Teachers. They Can Only Displace Us – Education Article

 My favorite movie of all time is “2001: A Space Odyssey.”     And my favorite character is the computer HAL 9000.   In the future (now past) of the movie, HAL is paradoxically the most human personality. Tasked with running the day-to-day operations of a spaceship, HAL becomes strained to the breaking point when he’s given a command to lie about the mission’s true objectives. He ends up having a psychotic break and killing most of the people he…

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Economists Ate My School – Why Defining Teaching as a Transaction is Destroying Our Society – Education Article

    Teaching is one of the most misunderstood interactions in the world.     Some people see it as a mere transaction, a job: you do this, I’ll pay you that.     The input is your salary. The output is learning.    These are distinctly measurable phenomena. One is calculated in dollars and cents. The other in academic outcomes, usually standardized test scores. The higher the salary, the more valued the teacher. The higher the test scores, the…

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Sixteen Gadfly Articles That Made Betsy DeVos Itch in 2019
 – Education Article

  “Life can only be understood backwards,” wrote Søren Kierkegaard, “but it must be lived forwards.”  I remember reading the Danish philosopher’s “Fear and Trembling” in my philosophy of religion class back in college.   To be honest I was never a big fan of his work – I thought if the only way to truth was taking a leap of faith, how many madmen have already reached enlightenment?     But he had a point when he wrote about…

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Moving at the Speed of Creativity – Education Article

I’m genuinely confused and troubled by the political polarization we see and experience in different ways in our culture, and I’m trying to better understand these dynamics. There are multiple reasons for the fear, anger, and frustration which individuals and different groups feel today. Some of these factors include the emergence of “identity politics,” changing demographics, the power of social media to amplify outlier, vitriolic voices, the general decline of Christendom in the West, and the emergence of a 24/7…

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Teachers Are Not Responsible for Student Growth or Achievement – Education Article

 Earlier this week, I was rushed to another urgent early morning staff meeting at my school.   I had my laptop with me and was frantically trying to get everything ready that I’d need for the day.   Text dependent analysis question? Check.   Discussion guide to introduce the concept of science fiction? Check.   Questions on literacy, analogy, vocabulary and sentence structure suitable for 7th grade? Check.   The same suitable for 8th grade? Check.   And as I…

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Modelling the past to predict the future | Letters | Education

Laura Spinney’s important, excellent long read (Calculating the future, 12 November) draws attention to the developments in quantitative approaches to history pioneered by Jack Goldstone and Peter Turchin, including the journal Cliodynamics, and their predictive possibilities. She could have mentioned the predictive success of Turchin’s quantitative approach (including modelling the rise of popular unrest when average wages lag behind GDP growth per head, meaning rising inequality) regarding the rise of Donald Trump and of support for Brexit. My article in…

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Are Teachers Allowed to Think for Themselves? – Education Article

 As a public school teacher, I am often told what to do and how to do it.   Go teach this class.   Report to lunch duty at this time.   Monitor this student’s progress in this way, that student’s progress in another way, differentiate the following, document this medical condition, write up this behavior, check for that kind of hall pass, post and teach these academic standards, etc., etc., etc.   Some of these directives I agree with and…

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Moving at the Speed of Creativity – Education Article

The best professional development experiences are wonderful because they remind us of who we are: They affirm and support our evolving senses of identity in a complex world filled with mixed messages and lots of noise. In this post, I’d like to reflect briefly on professional development and identity. Earlier this week, I had a remarkable opportunity to spend two days with six amazing educators in a “design sprint” organized to help develop a new graduate certificate program in innovative…

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Greater Test Scores Often Mean Less Authentic Learning – Education Article

 The main goal of schooling is no longer learning.   It is test scores.   Raising them. Measuring growth. Determining what each score means in terms of future instruction, opportunities, class placement, special education services, funding incentives and punishments, and judging the effectiveness of individual teachers, administrators, buildings and districts.   We’ve become so obsessed with these scores – a set of discrete numbers – that we’ve lost sight of what they always were supposed to be about in the…

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