Good.is reports in Rochester, New York, a 13-year-old girl wrote a comparative essay based on The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass for a contest in her 8th grade class. In it, she reflected on the words of Douglass’ master after discovering the master’s wife had been teaching Douglas to read: “there will be no keeping him,” said Douglas’ master. “It will forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.”
This little girl has some big insight when she drew the connection that her public school seems to be failing students by design, with only 19% of her classmates are proficient in language arts, and only 13% are so in mathematics. The student complained that the teachers simply hand out pamphlets and packets and expect the students to learn, but that approach clearly isn’t working.
The young girl wrote that her teachers are in a “position of power to dictate what I can, cannot, and will learn, only desiring that I may get bored because of the inconsistency and the mismanagement of the classroom.”
She concludes that her position is analogous to that of Douglass, “just different people, different era.”
According to the Fredrick Douglass Foundation of New York, “the schools’ teachers and administrators were so offended by Williams’ essay that they began a campaign of harassment—kicking her out of class and trying to suspend her—that ultimately forced her parents to withdraw her from the school.”
The Frederick Douglass Foundation has given her an award for her controversial essay, but the parents of the bright young student are still forced to fund the continued operations of the school which is failing her former classmates and attempted to punish this girl for speaking truth to power.
Epistemology is the study of knowledge. How do we know things? Can we know things? Spoiler alert: you’ve got to have a really high bullshit threshold to read anything in this field. People apply epistemology to the most boring kinds of situations. Do I exist? Um, yeah duh or else um no, duh…
“We already know that language is special; no other aspect of cognition approaches its power, complexity, and learnability. But what’s left is defining the parameters of this specialness—to discover what it does and does not share with music, numeracy, logical reasoning, and everything else that makes us human.”—Jessica Love compares mathematics to language. (via theamericanscholar)
A short, but provocative article. This one may be the most incendiary thing on the list:
3 — Homework impinges upon a student’s time with family and on other, more valuable, activities — like play. As Alfie Kohn states in The Homework Myth, why should children be asked to work a second shift? It’s unconscionable to send children to work for nearly eight hours a day, then have them go home and work for 2-5 more hours; we don’t live in 19th century London.
If your work is peppered with grammatical mistakes and typos, your readers are going to have a hard time trudging through it. Nothing is more distracting than being yanked out of a good story because a word is misspelled or a punctuation mark is misplaced. And you should always…
“[G]eometry and number[s]…are unified by the concept of a coordinate system, which allows one to convert geometric objects to numeric ones or vice versa. …
[O]ne can view the length❘AB❘ of a line segment AB not as a number (which requires one to select a unit of length), but more abstractly as the equivalence class of all line segments that are congruent to AB.
With this perspective, ❘AB❘ no longer lies in the standard semigroupℝ⁺, but in a more abstract semigroup ℒ (the space of line segments quotiented by congruence), with addition now defined geometrically (by concatenation of intervals) rather than numerically.
A unit of length can now be viewed as just one of many different isomorphismsΦ: ℒ → ℝ⁺ between ℒ and ℝ⁺, but one can abandon the use of such units and just work with ℒ directly. Many statements in Euclidean geometry involving length can be phrased in this manner.
(Indeed, this is basically how the ancient Greeks…viewed geometry, though of course without the assistance of such modern terminology as “semigroup” or “bilinear”.)”—Terence Tao (via isomorphismes)
Everyone always says monopolies are bad. But yet everyone is okay with a virtual monopoly on education by the government.
It is said that the dinosaur had a tiny brain in a huge body, which undoubtedly contributed to its extinction. This huge body also required an enormous amount of food for its survival. The public education establishment has the same characteristics: small brain, huge body, enormous appetite for taxpayer money – its only means of survival.
The government school is also obsolete, a product of 19th century utopian reformers who believed in the perfectibility of man and a secular government education as the means to salvation. None of their ideas have panned out.
The idea of centralized, government-controlled education was imported into this country from Prussia in 1843 by Horace Mann the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, who believed that Americans could adapt the Prussian system to American needs. It had everything our statist control-freaks wanted: government education of teachers in state seminaries; a state directed curriculum; state-approved textbooks; compulsory school attendance; truant officers; and obedient parents. Toward the end of the 19th century, the system became the perfect means to indoctrinate children to become the obedient subjects of the growing industrial-government establishment.
Although Americans at the time, in the 1830s and ‘40s, were enjoying full educational freedom and patronizing the growing number of private academies, Mann and his fellow statists saw the public school as the best means of imposing social control over the children of the poor immigrants who were flooding the United States as well as Americans who greatly valued private education.
But the whole idea of centralized, government-monopoly education is totally incompatible with the values of a free society. But these statist ideas, which swept over America in the wake of the industrial revolution and the rise of socialism, are now being seen by more and more Americans as impediments to true education. The computer has heralded a post-industrial information age in which decentralization and privatization are now the imperatives of the future development of a dynamic, high-tech, market economy.
The government school is an anachronism. Not only does it no longer serve the basic purposes of education, and not only has it become a huge parasite on the national economy, but it is blocking the development of the new technology-driven private institutions that will be needed in America’s future. The public is addicted to government education because it has been with us for 169 years and most people cannot even imagine education without government control.
Even though about two million parents are now homeschooling their children quite successfully without government supervision, the vast majority of Americans still put their children in government schools because they’ve been led to believe that they are too stupid to educate their own kids. The professional teachers, controlled by their politicized labor unions, have become educators for a variety of reasons.
Their colleges of education have trained them in how to dumb down the kids while giving the impression that they are actually educating them. That is probably the greatest magic act of self-deception ever put over on a supposedly intelligent group of people.
The lumbering dinosaur’s preoccupation with politics is an indication that it knows its survival depends not on pleasing the easily deceived parents but on controlling corrupt state legislators who prattle incessantly about their concern for “the children.” And the more incapable the system becomes of delivering academic excellence, the more it will rely on politics for its survival. Even George Bush, a Republican President, had the gall to saddle America with No Child Left Behind, which has just about left everyone behind, including the taxpayer.
Why do so many public school teachers leave the profession within five years? Because the true results of their efforts are usually not visible for years! Most of us become teachers because we feel the “call” to make a difference. We believe we can transfer our love for learning to every student -…