EppsNet Archive: Teachers

Teaching Computer Science: Incentives (or Lack Thereof)

 

According to this article on TechCrunch, “Every California high school must establish computer science courses as part of its core curriculum.” From the same article: “Most California teachers have little or no training to teach computer science.” Do you see the problem there? I’ve been a programmer for many years . . . I’d be glad to teach computer science to students, teachers or anyone who wants to learn it if there were even a modest incentive to do so. Which there isn’t. One way to measure how much people want something is how much they’re willing to pay for it. There’s no shortage of people talking about teaching programming and computer science, which is free (the talking, that is), but without the incentives ($$$) very little is going to actually happen. Read more →

Teaching Computer Science

 

Tomorrow is my first day as an AP Computer Science teacher at Corona del Mar High School. It’s a volunteer gig through the TEALS organization. Only about 10 percent of U.S. high schools offer computer science classes and at most of those schools, it counts as an elective, like Home Ec or Wood Shop, not as a class that can be applied toward graduation like math or science. The most popular AP exam in 2013 was US History — 439,552 students took the AP US History exam. Only 31,117 students took the AP Computer Science exam. That’s about the same number as the AP Art History exam. I don’t want to denigrate the study of art history, but given the ubiquity of computers and software and programming in daily life, the study of computer science seems more likely to enable a person to be self-supporting and to contribute to the… Read more →

The Smartest Kids in the World

 

Via Philip Greenspun: Amanda Ripley identifies the following major problems with American schools: people who are poorly educated are hired as schoolteachers teachers have limited autonomy (partly as a result of their low level of knowledge and ability) schools have multiple missions, only one of which is education, which leads to a loss of focus teachers and administrators dwell on student and family backgrounds so as to build up a catalog of excuses for poor educational outcomes parents are complacent regarding the low expectations set for their children Read more →

3 Links

 

9 Things Bruce Lee Taught Me About Programming What a coach can teach a teacher, 1975-2004: Reflections and reanalysis of John Wooden’s teaching practices Wolfram Programming Cloud Is Live! Read more →

Expanding My Repertoire

 

My piano teacher asks me if there are any pieces I want to learn . . . “How about . . . ?” and here I name a piece by Chopin. “This one?” she asks and starts to play it. “Yeah.” “It’s hard.” “Well, it sounds quite impressive but I think if you break it down it’s just arpeggios and thirds.” “No, it’s not just thirds,” she says and starts to play it again to show me. “And that’s with the left hand. Do you think you can play that with your left hand?” “My left hand’s not very good.” “I know.” “So that one is too hard.” “Yes.” “OK, how about . . . ?” and here I name another piece by Chopin. “That’s the only piece that’s harder than the first one.” “How about this?” I ask, and play a YouTube video on my phone. “What is that?”… Read more →

ADHD in the Making

 

My family and I are enjoying a meal at a Japanese restaurant. In the booth behind me are a husband and wife and five kids, the oldest of whom looks to be about 12. One of the kids, a boy of about 5, is standing up and running a toy car back and forth along the divider between his booth and our booth. He gets bored with that after a while and starts drumming on the divider with a pair of chopsticks. The boy’s activities don’t bother me much . . . what bothers me is that it takes 15 minutes for one of the parents to tell him to stop it and sit down. He doesn’t do either and nothing else is said or done about the matter. In the near future, this boy’s inability to sit still and follow directions will get him “diagnosed” by a schoolteacher as… Read more →

Waving Bibles at Scientists

 

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a public school district was legally justified in firing science instructor James Freshwater, who waved a Bible at his students, distributed religious pamphlets and talked about creationism in evolution lessons. Personally, I’d fire him just based on the look of smug, benevolent certainty on his face. He doesn’t look like a man who struggles with doubt, which is the essence of science. Read more →

The Obama Bounce Fades

 

And through it all, there is no presidential leadership. He’s too busy raising money to run ads so he can tell us what a great leader he is. Everywhere we see, in ruins, Obama’s plans for our country. His foreign policy has encouraged revolutions that have brought our worst enemies to power in the Middle East . . . His education reforms have no teeth and he sits by passively as they are challenged by his own local teachers union. Credit much of the quick end to his bounce to Romney’s ads which, right off the bat after the Democratic Convention closed, rapped Obama for trying to convince us that we are better off than we were four years ago. Obama’s campaign essentially poses the question: What will you believe — your own eyes or my speeches? — Dick Morris Read more →

Mac Wilkins: What The Discus Can Teach You About Life

 

Deadspin has an excellent “as told to” story on former Olympic discus thrower Mac Wilkins (What The Discus Can Teach You About Life: Lessons From One Of America’s Greatest Throwers) Wilkins made four straight U.S. Olympic teams, winning a gold medal in 1976, a silver in 1984, and finishing fifth in 1988. He was also the first man to throw the discus more than 70 meters, and he held the world record for over two years, bettering his own mark three times between April 1976 and August 1978. Some excerpts: So one day I go out to train and I say, Oh, what the heck. Let’s just give it a little extra effort today. And I did, and I got better and it went farther. And I thought that was kind of fun. What if I could that again tomorrow? And so pretty soon, I’m hooked on, Can I do… Read more →

See You in Hell

 

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE] Modesto police are investigating if there’s a criminal case against a former high school teacher who resigned his job to move into an apartment with an 18-year-old girl he met while teaching. James Hooker, 41, was placed on administrative leave Feb. 3 by Modesto City Schools and resigned less than three weeks later, according to a report at the Modesto Bee. The newspaper reports that the man, who had taught business and computer classes, left his wife and children, to move in with Jordan Powers, an Enochs High School senior whom he met when she was a freshman at the school. One of Hooker’s children also attends the same high school. “In making our choice, we’ve hurt a lot of people,” Hooker told the Bee. “We keep asking ourselves, ‘Do we make everyone else happy or… Read more →

Donald Bren Can Kiss My Ass

 

Look at this picture. Donald Bren is almost 80 and yet his face looks like a snare drum with eyes. Forbes has an interview with Bren — the billionaire chairman of the Irvine Company — on how to fix up K-12 education: When state funding for Irvine public schools began to diminish some time ago, my Irvine Company colleagues helped me to provide private funding support . . . Additionally, we have developed annual teacher recognition and reward programs that provide financial awards for teachers who demonstrate outstanding results in educating our students. By making capital available for unfunded programs and providing a balanced curriculum and financial incentives to teachers based on results, Irvine Unified School District continues to rank among the finest educational systems in the nation . . . The interview goes on in this vein: I, I, I. Me, me, me. Donald Bren is kidding himself, along with… Read more →

This Explains a Lot

 

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) Read more →

Wisconsin’s Smoking Gun

 

If you cut the pay of an overpaid worker, he’ll generally scream bloody murder. After all, overpaid workers like to stay overpaid. But if you cut the pay of a non-overpaid worker, you haven’t really damaged him. He just quietly leaves and gets a job elsewhere. After all, the ability to find a comparable job elsewhere is pretty much the definition of not being overpaid. Now how are the Wisconsin public workers reacting to projected pay and/or benefit cuts? As if the rug’s been pulled out from under them, that’s how. Every time a worker says “These cuts will cause me severe pain,” that worker is saying, in effect, “I can’t get anyone else to pay me at the level I’m accustomed to,” or, in briefer words, “I am overpaid!” So yes, they’re overpaid. And the louder they get, the surer you can be. — Steven Landsburg Read more →

Orwell in Wisconsin

 

On Saturday, February 26th, Americans in all 50 states rallied to show solidarity with the people of Wisconsin, and to save the American Dream. — MoveOn.Org Ha ha — George Orwell couldn’t have said it better! MoveOn.org doesn’t stand with the people of Wisconsin, they stand with the people trying to rip off the people of Wisconsin. Union-elected legislators provide sweet contracts for public-sector unions, who in turn kick back a share of the money to the legislators. Government employees take both sides of the action and the tax-paying fools who pay for everything are not represented at all. That’s the American Dream? Read more →

Union Sundown

 

Wisconsin public schools are among the lowest performing in the country. So it makes sense to me that this is one of the first teacher’s unions to get dissolved. And, this is a great example of how a union has outlasted its usefulness to the community. — Penelope Trunk Read more →

We Are All Wisconsiners Now!

 

Wisconsin has figured out a way to get all of its Democratic legislators to flee the state without so much as a BRB. How can we expand this nationwide? Elected officials hiding out in undisclosed locations to prevent a quorum should wake everyone up to the extent to which public employee unions control our political destiny. I have three words for the “sick” teachers in Wisconsin: Air Traffic Controllers. We live in a top-notch school district in Irvine but it’s not because the teachers are so great. It’s the effort of the kids and the support of their families. Even in a good district, the teachers are very replaceable. You’ll have to take my word for it but I could easily teach English, math or computer science at the high school level, even though I’m not government-certified to do so, and there are plenty of people in Wisconsin who could… Read more →

Three Words for Teachers

 

The state’s largest school district has joined those that have canceled classes due to teacher shortages caused by union protests at the state Capitol. — MPS Closed: Milwaukee Public Schools closed for Friday – WITI I’ve got three words for protesting teachers in Wisconsin: Air Traffic Controllers. Read more →

High School Confidential

 

I ask my boy how school’s going this year, his senior year in high school. “It’s okay,” he says. “I don’t enjoy it that much but I do it anyway.” When we get to the subject of his English teacher, he says, “He’s fine, other than he’s got a Napoleon complex and spends the entire class talking about himself. I know everything about him and I’ve learned nothing about poetry. “He has a two-year-old daughter and another daughter six months old. He coaches a cross-country team. He considers himself the greatest runner of all time. We don’t know what pain is because he has a messed-up knee and he runs on it anyway. “He thinks Mr. Plette [the AP History teacher] is soft because Mr. Plette give higher grades than he does but don’t tell Plette he said that because Plette’s his boy. “He’s a San Francisco Giants fan. He’s… Read more →

Teachers Unions

 

In our biggest school systems, it’s become virtually impossible to fight the teachers unions and fire bad teachers. The giant Los Angeles Unified school system, with 33,000 teachers, fires only about 21 a year, or fewer than 1 in 1,000, according to the findings of an L.A. Times investigation. Now either Los Angeles has the greatest teachers in the world or something is very wrong. Talk to parents and you’ll know the answer. — Mickey Kaus Read more →

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