EppsNet Archive: Education

Thomas Jefferson on Impeachment 2.0


My fellow Americans – I remind you that members of Congress are your employees, hired and paid by you, the American people, and that, as you know, they have decided to waste their time on a second impeachment proceeding, a charade for which, like the first impeachment, the outcome is known in advance, rather than to conduct more important business, which might include confirming cabinet appointments, COVID relief, or getting our children back in school. Think about any employer you’ve ever had and what the result would be if you said “I know you hired me and you’re paying me to do important work, but I’ve decided instead to just waste everyone’s time and money.” Read more →

Why Do We Have Pessimistic Brains?


From my notes on Coursera’s Positive Psychology course: The most recent geological epoch that we lived through, the Pleistocene, was the Ice Ages. Famine, flood, ice, drought, more ice. Now, imagine a primate mentality that thought, “What a lovely day today out there. I bet tomorrow is going to be really lovely as well.” That mentality got crushed by the ice. The mentality that survived, the brains that we have, are bad weather brains. They’re brains that say “looks like a nice day out there, but tomorrow the ice is coming.” And that is the way we process, automatically, information about a good world. Depression, anger, paranoia have served us very well. In the Ice Ages, it was a very good idea to think that bad stuff was coming. But consider the possibility that human progress actually exists, and that prosperity, a good world, living well, not having a tragedy… Read more →

The Interests of Schoolchildren


On Twitter, a Chicago Teachers Union leader rallied teachers to refuse to go back to the classroom to 'stay safe.' On Instagram, on the same day, she posted pictures poolside in Puerto Rico. https://t.co/eiC4CqH1k2 @WGNNews — Ben Bradley (@BenBradleyTV) January 1, 2021 Oopsie! Bad timing! As Albert Shanker — former president of the United Federation of Teachers (1964-1984) and the American Federation of Teachers (1974-1997) — used to say: “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.” Read more →

Woke White Boy on Education Reform and Anti-Racism


“K-12 schools across the country must urgently profess solidarity with Black Lives Matter, vow to dismantle white supremacy and remake themselves into racism-free zones. “We need to eradicate white supremacy and heteropatriarchy in all of our institutions.” “‘Heteropatriarchy’?” “We declare war on the intentional barriers white people have built to harm Black people. We grieve for all of the Black lives taken by white supremacy.” “Sounds like indoctrination is the key word here.” “No, it’s an opportunity for engagement. What’s really different now is talking explicitly about whiteness.” “Parents must be thrilled with the use of words like diversity, equity and inclusivity to group and stereotype human beings by skin color and attribute characteristics to your personality based on skin color, not to mention the anti-white and anti-American messaging.” “Well, I’m tired of White people reveling in their state-sanctioned depravity, snuffing out Black life with no consequences. They gleefully soak… Read more →

If Balboa Could Find the Pacific Ocean, Why Can’t You?


I mentioned in class today that 30 percent of Americans age 18 to 24 cannot find the Pacific Ocean on a map . . . (This was in the context of income diversity — or “income inequality,” take your pick — i.e., I can’t find the Pacific Ocean on a map but I’d like to be paid the same as a Harvard MBA.) Students absolutely could not believe this so I Googled the link to this National Geographic article. Not only was I proved correct on my Pacific Ocean assertion, 58 percent of respondents could not find Japan on a map, 65 percent couldn’t find France, 69 percent couldn’t find the United Kingdom, and 11 percent could not find the United States. The survey is a bit old now — it was taken in 2002 — but if anything, I’m sure the current situation is worse. If my kid could… Read more →

NYC to Eliminate Gifted and Talented Programs?


Last week, a school diversity task force in New York issued a report recommending the elimination of New York city’s gifted and talented programs. The “problem” being addressed is that white and Asian students dominate the selective programs, leaving black and Hispanic students in highly segregated schools, so instead of figuring out how to bring underachievers up to the mark, let’s eliminate the programs. Critics of the plan worry that middle class (i.e., white and Asian) parents will either move out of the city or send their kids to private school, making the New York schools even more segregated than they are now. An NYU professor weighs in to say that many parents in cities like New York value diversity and want to send their children to schools that serve everyone. “Many parents” = the parents of the dumb kids. Nobody else gives a shit about “diversity.” I assure you that… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Priorities


When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren. — Albert Shanker, President of the United Federation of Teachers (1964-1984) and President of the American Federation of Teachers (1974-1997) It’s a problem in my profession that the number of schools that want to teach computer science far exceeds the number of computer science majors who want to teach computer science. The opportunity cost is too high. Computer science majors can earn a lot more working as software engineers than working as teachers. I volunteer a couple mornings a week to help with computer science instruction at a local high school. This school has a teacher, originally hired as a math teacher, who must be well into her fourth decade of teaching.  She now teaches computer science classes — poorly, but she teaches them. Because of her professional longevity, she makes a six-figure income with… Read more →

The Interests of Schoolchildren


More than 30,000 teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) went on strike this week. LAUSD serves 640,000 students and is the second biggest school district in the country. The mean annual wage for LAUSD teachers is $75,000. In the local reporting I’m seeing on the strike, teachers and union reps are unanimous in saying that they’re striking for the benefit of the schoolchildren. I’m reminded of something Albert Shanker — former president of the United Federation of Teachers (1964-1984) and the American Federation of Teachers (1974-1997) — used to say: When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren. I can’t say for certain that the LA union reps are being disingenuous but it does make sense that they’d be representing the interests of the people who are paying them. Read more →

Hour of Code


View this post on Instagram A post shared by Code.org (@codeorg) Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: What is a Computer Science Integration Specialist?


Sheena Vaidyanathan, a computer science integration specialist at Los Altos School District in California, says that states, school districts and boards of education have not prioritized computer science education the way they should. Even if not every child will grow up to work as a computer scientist, she thinks everyone should at least get exposure to how computers work. — EdSurge News A couple of things I don’t understand there . . . one is why everyone needs to know “how computers work.” They work on electricity, that’s about all I know about it. Actually, I know a little more than that, but there’s no reason that everyone should know “how computers work,” any more than everyone should know how phones work, or how cars work, or how refrigerators work. You can use things without knowing how they work. I do think everyone can benefit from understanding how programmers think,… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Inequality = Bad?


I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week in a high school computer science class . . . “Why don’t schools and classes have sponsors?” I ask one of the teachers. “When my kid was in school, they were always complaining about not having enough money. So why couldn’t you, for example, come in and say, ‘Hey kids, before you come to 1st period, make sure you have a good breakfast at McDonald’s. I’m lovin’ it!’? “And McDonald’s pays you 100 grand or whatever to say that.” “My concern,” he says, “is that would lead to more inequality in education.” I’m not sure he really thought that through. It seems more like a mechanical response to an abstract notion, i.e., “Inequality is bad.” As a parent, I always supported inequality in education. I wanted my kid to get the best possible education, better than most other kids. As a classroom volunteer,… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Say Your Ideas Out Loud


[I learned about Scary Ideas from Jim and Michele McCarthy — PE] I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week in a high school computer science class . . . “The main thing I wanted to tell you is that you’ve got to say your ideas out loud . . . “A scary idea is not an idea that’s going to scare people when they hear it, it’s an idea that you don’t want to say because you’re afraid of how people will react to it. Maybe they’ll think you’re crazy. “Here’s a couple examples of scary ideas. “You recognize the speaker in this video?” Everyone does. “Ok, let’s see what he has to say.” I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. “Keep in mind that he’s… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: All Are Welcome


I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week in a high school computer science class . . . “Computing,” I tell the class, “is like most professions in that some groups are under-represented and some groups are over-represented. You may have heard that the reason some groups are under-represented is because computing as a profession is more welcoming to some people than others. “I haven’t found that to be the case and I’ll tell you why. “My perspective on this is that if you walk through the workplace at a typical technology company, you won’t see people who look like me. I’m too old and I’ve been too old for quite a while now. At this point, I’m usually old enough to be the CEO’s father. “So to the extent that people want to work with other people who look like them and people who fit into the group, that doesn’t… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Don’t Worry About Spelling and Grammar?


The following is part of the Code.org online curriculum, asking students to write a brief reflection on starting a computer science class. That seems like an oddball thing to say in an educational context. “Let’s talk about the instructions here for a minute,” I said to the class. “One: it doesn’t make sense to me to compartmentalize education like this. Like spelling and grammar are only important in an English class and this is not an English class so don’t worry about it. “We’ll be taking a holistic view of education here. I hope you’ll learn some things about computer science but I hope you’ll learn some other things as well. “On a practical note, you may find yourself competing for a job someday, and if it’s a good job, there are likely to be a lot of applicants. “No one wants to read a large number of resumes, so… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Why Was I Not Consulted?


I’m volunteering in a high school computer science class a couple mornings a week . . . If you’re going to work with computers, you need to be able to move around between different number systems, most commonly base 10, base 2 and base 16. As a warm-up, I asked students how many ways they could represent the quantity 7. Answers included the word “seven,” roman numerals, seven dots, a septagon, a Chinese symbol, and so on. “Quantities exist naturally,” I said, “but number systems are man-made. They’re just a set of symbols along with an agreement about how to order them. Why do we use the number system that we do? Who decided that?” Because I phrased it in a provocative way, some students realized that they hadn’t been consulted. “Yeah, no one asked me,” one student said. “Raise your hand in math class,” I suggested, “and ask ‘Why… Read more →

And That’s the Truth: Held Back by History


[And That’s the Truth is a feature by our guest blogger, Sojourner Truth– PE] Black folks been treated very poorly over the years. Jews been killed and run out of almost every country on earth. Asians been slave labor, ostracized, put into prison camps. Now Jews and Asians are doing all right for theirselves. Why are black folks held back by history and other folks aren’t? Never been a Jewish president, never been an Asian president, maybe never will be. Politicians never helped nobody. They promise to give you this or that, or such and such a privilege, if you will give ’em your vote and your money, and when the time comes, they recollect nothing of the kind. Don’t wait for people to do things for you. Keep your families together and make sure your kids get a good education in school. And that’s the Truth! Read more →

11,000 New Computer Science Teachers Considered Harmful?


Here’s the start of an email I got from Code.org: We’re kicking off our summer workshops to prepare 11,000 new CS teachers. Last month we welcomed over 600 teachers, facilitators, and Regional Partners to Atlanta, GA for our largest TeacherCon ever. On top of TeacherCon, we also have 350 K-5 workshops and 167 workshops for middle and high school teachers planned this summer, where we expect an additional 10,000 teachers who plan to begin teaching computer science for the first time this fall! This is heralded with an exclamation point, like it’s exciting news, but as a computer science person, I can’t get excited about it. Why do we want kids to be taught computer science by 11,000 teachers who know little or nothing about computer science? How can someone teach something that they themselves don’t do? See if you can get excited about any of the following possibilities: 11,000… Read more →

Philip Roth, 1933-2018


The final question assigned to the class was “What is life?” Merry’s answer was something her father and mother chuckled over together that night. According to Merry, while the other students labored busily away with their phony deep thoughts, she — after an hour of thinking at her desk — wrote a single, unplatitudinous declarative sentence: “Life is just a short period of time in which you are alive.” “You know,” said the Swede, “it’s smarter then it sounds. She’s a kid — how has she figured out that life is short? She is somethin’, our precocious daughter. This girl is going to Harvard.” But once again the teacher didn’t agree, and she wrote beside Merry’s answer, “Is that all?” Yes, the Swede thought now, that is all. Thank God, that is all; even that is unendurable. — American Pastoral RIP Philip Roth Read more →

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