The federal government made enough money on student loans over the last year that, if it wanted, it could provide maximum-level Pell Grants of $5,645 to 7.3 million college students.
The $41.3-billion profit for the 2013 fiscal year is down $3.6 billion from the previous year but still enough to pay for one year of tuition at the University of Michigan for 2,955,426 Michigan residents.
It’s a higher profit level than all but two companies in the world: Exxon Mobil cleared $44.9 billion in 2012, and Apple cleared $41.7 billion.
“From what I hear, really good actors can actually teach really well,” says Anant Agarwal, CEO of EdX and former MIT computer-science professor. “So just imagine, maybe we get Matt Damon to teach Thévenin’s theorem [a concept involving circuits and electronics]. I think students would enjoy that more than taking it from Agarwal.”
"I’d aspired to give people a profound education—to teach them something substantial," Professor Sebastian Thrun tells me when I visit his company, Udacity, in its Mountain View, California, headquarters this past October. "But the data was at odds with this idea."
As Thrun was being praised by Friedman, and pretty much everyone else, for having attracted a stunning number of students—1.6 million to date—he was obsessing over a data point that was rarely mentioned in the breathless accounts about the power of new forms of free online education: the shockingly low number of students who actually finish the classes, which is fewer than 10%. Not all of those people received a passing grade, either, meaning that for every 100 pupils who enrolled in a free course, something like five actually learned the topic. If this was an education revolution, it was a disturbingly uneven one.
"We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product," Thrun tells me. "It was a painful moment." Turns out he doesn’t even like the term MOOC.
“I still think it’s important for people to have a sharp, ongoing critique of marriage in patriarchal society — because once you marry within a society that remains patriarchal, no matter how alternative you want to be within your unit, there is still a culture outside you that will impose many, many values on you whether you want them to or not.”—
“There is a tremendous difference between ‘thinking’ in verbal terms and ‘contemplating,’ inwardly silent, on nonverbal levels and then searching for the proper structure of language to fit the supposedly discovered structure of the silent processes that modern science tries to find. If we ‘think’ verbally, we act as biased observers and project onto the silent levels the structure of the language we use and so remain in our rut of old orientations, making keen, unbiased observations and creative work well-nigh impossible. In contrast, when we ‘think’ without words, or in pictures (which involve structure and therefore relations), we may discover new aspects and relations on silent levels and so may produce important theoretical results in the general search for a similarity of structure between the two levels, silent and verbal. Practically all important advances are made that way.”—Alfred Korzybski, Polish-American philosopher, scientist and engineer. Korzybski is remembered for developing the theoretical and practical model of General Semantics. His work argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and by the structure of language (1879-1950)
To be the parent of a young black man in this country is to be torn between wanting your son to see the world with no boundaries and warning him of the boundaries that are out there. Moving him into a safe neighborhood and then fearing for his safety. It’s nerve-racking, to tell you the truth. Anxiety grips my body each time he leaves home. Seeing the defense attorneys crack grim jokes and gloat after the not-guilty verdict does not help matters.
To draw so much satisfaction from the senseless death of a young black male going unpunished; to cavalierly absolve Zimmerman of any responsibility, as if Trayvon’s death did not come at their client’s hands.
But this is what it’s like to be the parent of a young, black male in this country.
“Appeals for calm in the wake of such a verdict raise the question of what calm there can possibly be in a place where such a verdict is possible. Parents of black boys are not likely to feel calm. Partners of black men are not likely to feel calm. Children with black fathers are not likely to feel calm. Those who now fear violent social disorder must ask themselves whose interests are served by a violent social order in which young black men can be thus slain and discarded.”—Gary Younge http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/14/open-season-black-boys-verdict
“It is a complicated thing to be young, black, and male in America. Not only are you well aware that many people are afraid of you—you can see them clutching their purses or stiffening in their subway seats when you sit across from them—you must also remain conscious of the fact that people expect you to be apologetic for their fear. It’s your job to be remorseful about the fact that your very nature makes them uncomfortable, like a pilot having to apologize to a fearful flyer for being in the sky.”—Cord Jefferson http://gawker.com/the-zimmerman-jury-told-young-black-men-what-we-already-770650992
“The growing number of gated communities in our nation is but one example of the obsession with safety. With guards at the gate, individuals still have bars and elaborate internal security systems. Americans spend more than thirty billion dollars a year on security. When I have stayed with friends in these communities and inquired as to whether all the security is in response to an actual danger I am told “not really,” that it is the fear of threat rather than a real threat that is the catalyst for an obsession with safety that borders on madness.
Culturally we bear witness to this madness every day. We can all tell endless stories of how it makes itself known in everyday life. For example, an adult white male answers the door when a young Asian male rings the bell. We live in a culture where without responding to any gesture of aggression or hostility on the part of the stranger, who is simply lost and trying to find the correct address, the white male shoots him, believing he is protecting his life and his property. This is an everyday example of madness. The person who is really the threat here is the home owner who has been so well socialized by the thinking of white supremacy, of capitalism, of patriarchy that he can no longer respond rationally.
White supremacy has taught him that all people of color are threats irrespective of their behavior. Capitalism has taught him that, at all costs, his property can and must be protected. Patriarchy has taught him that his masculinity has to be proved by the willingness to conquer fear through aggression; that it would be unmanly to ask questions before taking action. Mass media then brings us the news of this in a newspeak manner that sounds almost jocular and celebratory, as though no tragedy has happened, as though the sacrifice of a young life was necessary to uphold property values and white patriarchal honor. Viewers are encouraged feel sympathy for the white male home owner who made a mistake. The fact that this mistake led to the violent death of an innocent young man does not register; the narrative is worded in a manner that encourages viewers to identify with the one who made the mistake by doing what we are led to feel we might all do to “protect our property at all costs from any sense of perceived threat. ” This is what the worship of death looks like.”—bell hooks, All About Love, p. 194-195 (via playsuits)
“Is the web the first truly flexible medium? I tried to come up with other fields that need to design things for a flexible canvas, in the hope of finding inspiration there. The only media types I could come up with was the art of balloon printing and the art of tattooing.”—Other flexible media: balloons and tattoos ⚒ Nerd (via roomthily)
“We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and there is no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified — how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You only think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don’t know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know.”—
Working memory is very limited but highly flexible. A good approaching using it is to identify a small number of key elements to “work” with. For example, we need to know the subject, object, and verb for a sentence (three things), or the cause and the effect for an explanation (two things). Success depends on defining small numbers of central elements in any experience, rather than extensive and complex explanations. Brevity and clarity are the virtues.
In school, this suggests that we should arrange students’ experiences in direct and simple ways. This may be the most difficult part for the educator, since that individual must put himself or herself in the place of the learner. With complex situations, the first step would be to identify a small number of very basic elements. That might even be enough for a whole class period (If we even had classes). Taking working memory as our gauge, we might have shorter classes, or they might be a variable length rather than a set time. Deciding when to end a class would not be a matter of watching the clock, but on watching the ideas. The point would be not to have a lot of ideas, but exactly the opposite. I might judge success not by how much information was “covered,” but by the significance and utility of the ideas, and by how much impact the ideas had on students.
We might have an “idea clock” rather than the time clock.
Zull, J.E. (2011). From brain to mind: using neuroscience to guide change in education.
“The only excursion of my life outside of New Orleans took me through the vortex to the whirlpool of despair: Baton Rouge… . New Orleans is, on the other hand, a comfortable metropolis which has a certain apathy and stagnation which I find inoffensive.”
—A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole”—(via nola-diary)
Inevitably the teacher’s response is an effort to move towards a connected social system. The response is about reaching synchrony of action and thought. This is similar to how the learning brain works, but the most significant difference is that teaching, unlike learning, cannot be carried out independently. Teaching requires human interaction and it requires a feedback loop between teacher and student that displays “success” in order for the process to continue. When this works well we have reached a level of synchrony in which teacher and learner have joined in “knowing” and the process begins again, renewing itself.
This cycle of recursive processing is a continuous loop where the student and his or her learning brain respond to the teacher’s actions and alter the sensory input that the teacher receives. This provides critical iterative feedback that the teaching brain processes to adjust responses; for example, it alters the act of teaching. This constant feedback loop is what I suggest is the source of the intangible synchrony that occurs in teaching, between teacher and student. … This give-and-take between teacher and student, this human interaction, creates a “by-product” Of human synchrony that is hard to define, but you know it when you see it or feel it. It is the flow that drives creativity and higher human thought. It is the X factor that makes in person teacher student relationships irreplaceable as this feedback loop is based on the full body of interaction — not simply voice, visual, or textual. The teacher-student interaction is the engine behind the synchronous educational experience that characterizes the best teaching and learning brains.
“In the present age the five great degenerations seem to totally dominate life on earth, to the extent that fighting and conflict have become part of the very fabric of human society. If we do not make preparations to defend ourselves from the overflow of violence, we will have very little chance of survival.”—Prescient words of warning from the 13th Dalai Lama, 1932. (via explore-blog)
Steven Pinker would disagree with His Holiness. In his book, “The Better Angels of our Nature — Why Violence Has Decreased,” Pinker argues persuasively that humans may be living in the most peaceful and least violent period of our history.
1. Linguistic Intelligence: the capacity to use language to express what’s on your mind and to understand other people. Any kind of writer, orator, speaker, lawyer, or other person for whom language is an important stock in trade has great linguistic intelligence.
2. Logical/Mathematical Intelligence: the capacity to understand the underlying principles of some kind of causal system, the way a scientist or a logician does; or to manipulate numbers, quantities, and operations, the way a mathematician does.
3. Musical Rhythmic Intelligence: the capacity to think in music; to be able to hear patterns, recognize them, and perhaps manipulate them. People who have strong musical intelligence don’t just remember music easily, they can’t get it out of their minds, it’s so omnipresent.
4. Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence: the capacity to use your whole body or parts of your body (your hands, your fingers, your arms) to solve a problem, make something, or put on some kind of production. The most evident examples are people in athletics or the performing arts, particularly dancing or acting.
5. Spatial Intelligence: the ability to represent the spatial world internally in your mind — the way a sailor or airplane pilot navigates the large spatial world, or the way a chess player or sculptor represents a more circumscribed spatial world. Spatial intelligence can be used in the arts or in the sciences.
6. Naturalist Intelligence: the ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) and sensitivity to other features of the natural world (clouds, rock configurations). This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef.
7. Intrapersonal Intelligence: having an understanding of yourself; knowing who you are, what you can do, what you want to do, how you react to things, which things to avoid, and which things to gravitate toward. We are drawn to people who have a good understanding of themselves. They tend to know what they can and can’t do, and to know where to go if they need help.
8. Interpersonal Intelligence: the ability to understand other people. It’s an ability we all need, but is especially important for teachers, clinicians, salespersons, or politicians — anybody who deals with other people.
9. Existential Intelligence: the ability and proclivity to pose (and ponder) questions about life, death, and ultimate realities.
”—Howard Gardner’s seminal Theory of Multiple Intelligences, originally published in 1983, which revolutionized psychology and education by offering a more dimensional conception of intelligence than the narrow measures traditional standardized tests had long applied. (via explore-blog)
And unfortunately has about as much of a scientific basis as your daily horoscope or the fortune cookie from you last Chinese meal. Gardner’s theory is very appealing on an intuitive level, and gained a great deal of popularity in education because many people readily identify with it. Many educators jumped on the bandwagon, and even Gardner himself expressed surprise at the ardency it fostered among adherents. The truth is that like many types of ‘personality’ profiles, such as Myers-Briggs or so-called learning styles, the subsequent research simply has not supported the theory. In reality, there is no such thing as “multiple intelligences.”
So say you command a ship in Star Fleet and you shoot photon torpedoes in a battle and they don’t hit the other ship, aren’t they still governed by Newton’s laws of physics? Don’t they just keep beaming through space until they finally hit something and most likely destroy it? Why do we never hear about this kind of collateral damage?
“When public schools are judged by how much art and music they have, by how many science experiments their students perform, by how much time they leave for recess and play, and by how much food they grow rather than how many tests they administer, then I will be confident that we are preparing our students for a future where they will be creative participants and makers of history rather than obedient drones for the ruling economic elite.”—Mark Naison, Fordham professor and social justice activist (via socialismartnature)
My colleague from Hybrid Pedagogy, Jesse Stommel recently had a discussion on Twitter about how those people who do value critical pedagogy are often the same ones who are marginalized, silenced, and ultimately pushed out of higher education. Personally, I’m not sure how much longer I can live with the cognitive dissonance, knowing at once that I am not doing my best for my students but also that I am acting in a system that won’t allow me to do what’s best for my students.
Perhaps, this is why we rarely receive any training in pedagogy during graduate school; the cognitive dissonance might dissuade too many of us from continuing much sooner.
“To anthropologists of the future, however, the gym boom may look as much like a sinister cult as a commercial triumph. Gym-going, after all, has all the basic lineaments of a religion. Its adherents are motivated by feelings of guilt, and the urge to atone for fleshly sins. Many visit their places of worship with a fanatical regularity: a third of LA Fitness members, for instance, go virtually every day. Once there, believers are led by sacerdotal instructors, who either goad them into mass ecstasy during aerobics classes, or preside over the confessional tête-à-tête of personal training. Each devotee has his own rituals, though most rely on the principles of self-mortification and delayed gratification. The extremist cult of body-building, whose Mecca is Gold’s Gym in Venice, California, has become a mass movement.”—The Cult of the Gym: The New Puritans
Via The Economist http://www.economist.com/node/1487649
Sent in response to my boss's "Merry Christmas" email
I work online teaching new faculty to teach online for a public college in a part of the Midwest with deep Bible Belt roots. My boss sent a “Merry Christmas” email to all of our online faculty who are scattered across the country, and even a few outside the country. This was my response.
Your cheerful holiday wishes — while undoubtedly well-intentioned — ignore the diversity among our online faculty. I know from personal experience teaching nearly 200 new online faculty at our college that our faculty come from a variety of cultures and perspectives. I have taught many Christians, but I have also taught Jews and Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucians, Wiccans, humanists, and atheists. While my courses are secular, the people who take these courses are encouraged to be open about themselves to create a genuine human presence in an online setting, and in that process they often reveal part of their cultural background, sometimes including their religious or spiritual affiliations. I am inspired by this, reminded that one of the wonderful things about online education is that it opens us all up to a much wider world of experience than we might otherwise encounter in our everyday lives. This is a valuable thing for us as educators and for students at our college. I am sometimes concerned that the college and its leadership have a blind spot with regard to diversity that prevents them from recognizing its inherent value in education. That’s what crosses my mind when I see holiday wishes expressed that invoke mainstream traditions without also being fully inclusive. At a public college like ours, and especially in an online program such as ours that has a broad reach beyond the immediate geographical and cultural region, it is my hope that we can recognize and encourage diversity through greater sensitivity to the full spectrum of human experience that our faculty represents.
Sincerely wishing you and your family a joyful holiday season.
We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience.
We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.
In the name of the daybreak
and the eyelids of morning
and the wayfaring moon
and the night when it departs,
I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.
In the name of the sun and its mirrors
and the day that embraces it
and the cloud veils drawn over it
and the uttermost night
and the male and the female
and the plants bursting with seed
and the crowning seasons
of the firefly and the apple,
I will honor all life
—wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell—on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.