EppsNet Archive: School

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 →

Theological Question

I hear people say that bad things happen to kids in schools because God isn’t allowed in schools. Why do bad things happen to kids in churches? Read more →

Vignette

Sara, 48, suffers from breast cancer, diagnosed three times in five years. She has to stop teaching at school but engages actively in volunteer work. Her environment praises her for her courage. She helps other cancer patients in a respectful way to deal with their illness. This for her is also very rewarding. Still, from time to time, mostly when Sara does not expect it, an ocean of tears comes up . . . Read more →

Shake it Off (aka Haters Gonna Hate)

A Chinese woman tells me that being around white guys inhibits her ability to make edgy (i.e., racist) comments about white guys . . . I reply, “White guys didn’t get to be what we are by peeing in our pants and crying for our mamas every time someone calls us a name. Haters gonna hate. That has been amply demonstrated. We’re just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake it off.”   Some people are offended by absolutely everything, some people are offended by nothing, and everyone else is somewhere in between. The people at the easily offended end of the spectrum get most of the attention. People who hear a trigger word or a dog whistle that wouldn’t bother a normal person and they’re bleeding out all over the place like hemophiliacs. That’s where most of the focus is, it seems to me. It’s a distorted view of reality. My… Read more →

Doors That Didn’t Necessarily Need to Be Closed

You know, you spend your childhood watching TV, assuming that a some point in the future everything you see there will one day happen to you: that you too will win a Formula One race, hop a train, foil a group of terrorists, tell someone ‘Give me the gun,’ etc. Then you start secondary school and suddenly everyone’s asking you about your career plans and your long-term goals, and by goals they don’t mean the kind you are planning to score in the FA Cup. Gradually the awful truth dawns on you: that Santa Claus was just the tip of the iceberg — that your future will not be the rollercoaster ride you’d imagined, that the world occupied by your parents, the world of washing the dishes, going to the dentist, weekend trips to the DIY superstore to buy floor tiles is actually largely what people mean when they speak… Read more →