Here’s a great article: and I say ‘Viva la revolucion’!
… between the Abbott-led Coalition and the government on education policy. And it’s huge:
Currently re-reading ‘The Courage To Teach’… and it’s so freakin’ good!!!1! It says everything I feel and believe and want to say about teaching – my vocation – and so much more.
I want to quote the whole book on Facebook.
I would go so far as to say that, despite all our best efforts in teacher education programs, you’re not fully prepared to be a teacher until you’ve read this book.
I’m committing myself to re-read it once a year… and recommending it to everyone.
Not even gonna try to summarise here – just read it.
Alex sent me this excellent article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/may/04/leave-them-kids-alone-griffiths
The title and blurb are not quite right: the article suggests the opposite of ‘leaving them alone’ for babies and toddlers, in order to get them to a point where they can be independent (and left alone) later as they grow up.
Does sound pretty much like what we did in parenting – lots of affection, not a lot of control, and the explicit goal of making them self-reliant people.
Seems to have worked for us, though Cassie and Alex might want to comment.
Very good article about Orson Scott Card: http://www.salon.com/2013/03/07/end_game_for_orson_scott_card_partner/
This para in particular struck me, though, and applies much more broadly than to Mr Card:
Democracy is empathy. It is being able to see the rest of society as people just like you are, whether they agree with you or not. It is about not ruling at the barrel of a gun, but explaining to others the way you feel, bringing them around by letting them inside. By getting them to feel what you feel, which is the very definition of empathy. There are those who think that the failure of the world to agree with them, and their embrace of violence as a solution, somehow makes them the strong ones and the world the weak ones. But violence is such an easy solution, the emotional coward’s way out of actually dealing with the existence of those who disagree as legitimate equals.
(although, really, most people reading this will get to eat – they might just pay more. It’ll be the global poor who starve…)
Report from the Guardian on the loss of arctic ice, which is occurring much faster than predicted1: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/earth-insight/2013/may/02/white-house-arctic-ice-death-spiral
OK, the words ‘death spiral’ in the title may be a touch hyperbolic…
Last lecture for 7801EDN – Teaching and Learning in the Middle Years – today.
I decided to try to do a better job of ‘practicing what I preach’. Here’s a list of ‘signature middle years practices’ from one of the lecture PowerPoints earlier in the course:
- Higher order thinking strategies
- Integrated and interdisciplinary curricula
- Negotiated, relevant and challenging curricula
- Heterogeneous and flexible student grouping
- Cooperative learning and collaborative teaching
- Small learning communities and sustained individual attention in a safe and healthy schooling environment
- Strong teacher student relationships with extended contact with a smaller and consistent number of teachers
- Authentic and reflective assessment with high expectations
- Democratic leadership and shared governance
- Parental and community involvement in student learning
Given that many of the students are mature age students and parents themselves, the last one might be a stretch, though more community involvement would have been good.
Despite these aspirations, what have we been doing? Big lectures with PowerPoint in big lecture theatres. There are reasons for that, but I’m not sure they are good educational reasons. They have more to do with the traditions of universities, and with costs and scale and models…
Of course, these are adult learners, not adolescents, so it does make sense that there are some differences in the way we teach.
But for today at least, I’ve decided to eschew PowerPoint, and largely eschew lecturing. The hour and a half we have for the class session will be broken into three 25-minute segments, and students will be able to choose to focus on one of these topics in each session. Not the whole class, just all those interested in that topic will band together and discuss it for the 25 min. This means there will likely be several groups involved in different activities at the same time.
Each student will also be tasked with noting the most revelatory thing s/he hears or says in the 3 sessions, and we’ll randomly report back a few of those at the end (names in a hat at the beginning of the session for randomness).
It will be messy, potentially risky, and draw on the students’ knowledge as much as on mine, but hopefully also rich, engaging and educational… and modeling some of the things we hope our students will facilitate with their students.
‘Bread and circuses’ – it was the Roman poet Juvenal’s diagnosis of the malaise of Rome in about 100 AD. The emperors kept the people’s bellies full and kept them distracted with entertainment, and the people didn’t get engaged in the important affairs of the republic (or was it an empire by that time?)
Not for me to judge others, and I need to look in the mirror, as ever, to identify my own circuses, but it seems to me that if all your outrage is being used up on two girls who say ‘babe’ too often, you’re unlikely to have any left to notice that Tony Abbott’s policy platform is the full Reverse Robin Hood…
The budget will be out shortly, and those on the conservative side of politics will be sure to be shouting from the rooftops that the deficit is due to Labor over-spending.
Here’s Tim Colebatch with some facts: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/before-we-tackle-the-budget-lets-clarify-a-few-points-20130429-2iot4.html
In particular, more of the problem is on the revenue side than the spending side, and that is due to a slowing economy.
Had the Coalition been in power throughout the GFC and until now, their avowed policy of ‘no stimulus’ would have led to a recession and to a much *worse* deficit, with much lower revenues.
Tony Abbott has not stated his policy yet – and has billions in unfunded spending commitments – but it’s plausible he would tend toward ‘austerity’, as a conservative (as the UK Tories have) and drag the economy into recession, worsening the deficit.
So please, by all means, let the facts get in the way of a (not so) good story about Labor’s spending and economic incompetence.
Then remember former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello’s comment that Abbott is ‘an economic illiterate’.
I’ve been thinking about the ‘class warfare’ framing for a while, and intended to post, but Nicholas Reece at The Age got there before me: and with specific examples of specific policies:
It’s been the international trend of more than a decade – indeed, arguably since Reagan and Thatcher – that governments have dragged resources out of the poorer end of the community and into the ‘big end of town’. Dramatically increasing societal inequality.
But apparently *that’s* not class warfare – but noticing the trend and trying to reverse it and create a fairer society is…
The issue is tied in with the ‘class warfare’ post I’ve been thinking about and will probably make later today.
The Sun is not a star. Apparently.
Yep: cherry-picking is a good way of making the ‘data’ fit the conclusion… and a terrible way of making the conclusion mean anything about the real world.
(and yes, if y’all read Pharyngula daily I’d post a little less frequently )
The archives here are deep: heading for 1700 posts over 8 years. So it’s easy to forget what lurks in the depths.
A random spammer (I think, hard to tell) made a comment on an old post from 2005, which brought it to my attention – and I was a little surprised to note that I had made a post entitled ‘Pig Demons of the Bermuda Triangle’.
Here it is: http://www.bravus.com/blog/?p=234
Wonder what other oddities lurk in the back issues?
Australian parents are most likely, by a fair margin, to describe their children as ‘happy’. That ain’t a bad place to be…
Nice takedown by Ben Goldacre of some silly claims by Baroness Greenfield:
(‘weighing a pig doesn’t make it heavier’) Here’s an excellent little article about the proposal to add science tests to NAPLAN, and why it’s a terrible idea:
I do have concerns about the way NAPLAN literacy and numeracy tests push aside other school subjects, but the solution is to scrap NAPLAN, not expand it.
Good article on why properly implementing (and funding) Gonski is crucial: