Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
Teachers Strike Back… Hard!
March 17, 2011
February 19, 2011
Yesterday’s Globe featured an article by Beth Teitell on the growing practice of measuring the influence of Twitter as a means of ranking fellow humans. Social Darwinism rears its ugly head once more, in perhaps the silliest manner imaginable. The lead said:
After Valentina Monte accepts a date, the Boston University junior quickly goes online to see how many Twitter followers her suitor has. She checks her own follower count three times a day. When she meets someone who admits to following more people than follow him, she judges. “That means you’re a loser.’’
Klout score? Learn it or, as Monte would say, be judged. Klout.com is one of a number of new status-measuring tools aimed at making social networking more like high school than it already is.
The Lion supposes that for now Ms. Monte does not lack for dates, but The Lion is the sort who would laugh in her face at the sheer absurdity of her life. In fact, if The Lion were drinking coffee at the time she mentioned Twittering and Klout and dating, she would find herself bathed in an explosion of coffee.
Can life get any shallower?
Apparently it can.
“A credit score for your reputation,’’ is how Dave Wieneke, director of digital marketing at Sokolove Law, in Boston, describes the Klout score.
Garth Holsinger, vice president of global sales and business development at the San Francisco-based Klout, sees the desperation on a daily basis. “People call and say, ‘I work in social media, and I’m going to lose my job if my score doesn’t rise.’ We get celebrity managers asking how they can get their clients’ scores higher. We get people who are literally crying because their Klout score went down.’’
And corporations, which, despite their greed and amorality, we count on to maintain some measure of sanity, are going along with this silliness.
Indeed, the Klout score has already jumped from the online world into the real one. As Advertising Age wrote in September: “Need a Reservation? That Could Depend on How Big You are on Twitter (Really).’’
Would you want to do business with a company that judges you on this most ridiculous standard?
There is some snob value, of course, but The Lion suspects that hanging out with this Shankman fellow mentioned below would shortly make a sane being long for a lengthy session of watching a Chia pet grow.
Of course, no one enjoys being kept behind the virtual velvet rope. When the corporate sponsors of a holiday party hosted by social media entrepreneur Peter Shankman invited many guests based on Klout scores, the snubbed were not happy. Shankman expected “whiners,’’ he wrote on his blog, and he did get complaints. “They’re stomping their little feet.’’ If they want to be seen as more influential, he said later, “they need to post more interesting, more engaging things.’’
Welcome to the modern age of man, where your value as a person is measured by the number of people you don’t know who for a few seconds engage your name in an ephemeral electronic space apparently populated by people with the attention span and intellect of an insane two-year-old suffering major attention deficit disorder.
These are the people who will have to deal with global warming, major economic dislocations, war, global hunger, predatory politicians, and all the rest of it.
The Lion senses some difficulty ahead…
The country is on the verge of a great turning point politically, economically, and socially, and frankly I’m sick and tired of the whole damned mess. I’m getting permanently hoarse from yelling at the television.
Look at us.
We’re fighting two wars, neither of which we should be fighting, and we started both of them, the second of which should have seen its political fathers tossed in jail, and the first of which was a useless waste of men, materiel and money from the beginning.
The economy is in the tank, in part because we’re fighting two draining, useless wars, in part because the people charged with governing are in the pockets of the rich people who put the country into its current financial hole, in part because the people who want to actually act responsibly to get us back to normal are being blocked by a bunch of know-nothing, power hungry, flat out stupid Republicans who couldn’t govern a two-house hick town. (Yes, ‘house’.)
Our education system is turning out so-called students whose only knowledge comprises how to take a multiple-choice test, who are hard pressed to write an intelligible sentence, whose knowledge of American history extends to last week if it’s the week before the test and to yesterday if it’s the week after the test. Compared to other Western civilizations, we have raised a nation of idiots who think television is truth. We’ve fallen so far behind in math and science that the ancient Greeks, Babylonians, and Egyptians look to be nations full of Einsteins.
Twenty percent of adults in the United States think the sun moves around the earth. Huge numbers think evolution is a myth or a lie, and huge numbers think the earth is maybe six thousand years old. These people are ignorant or stupid or both. And they vote. And they want public-school teachers to tell the children that evolution is a lie and that the sun moves around an earth which is six thousand years old.
We have two political parties in thrall to the wealthy and to the rich corporations, all of whom care about nothing but how much ‘more’ they can get for themselves, and don’t give a damn about the country, about its people, about the environment, about anything but cash and silver and gold.
We have one political party, the Republicans, which values only money and power. Not the power to do anything to make anyone’s life better, lest it be the life of one of their many rich corporate benefactors, but the power to get ‘more’ for themselves. They have no program and when asked to offer one, they produce documents that would shame a first-grader. Their vaunted healthcare plan that they waved during one of the President’s State of the Union speeches was nothing but blank paper. Their so-called budgets never contain numbers, except possibly for numbers they made up in the Congressional bathroom while gathered around a toilet stall. Their entire policy since 2008 has been to say ‘No!’ to everything and to lie about everything.
Look at them! Their leaders, or leading lights if you will, are Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell. They are all idiots, and the latter two are probably virulently corrupt. Boehner at least once on the floor of the House handed out envelopes of lobbyist money. He plays more golf than Tiger Woods. All the women are certifiable idiots, and Palin and O’Donnell are in it for the fame and the money: they’ve got nothing to offer and neither one could think their way through a lab rat’s maze if they had a map. If you parse these peoples’ words, you’d begin to think Alvin Greene was a genius.
And that’s what America’s got to offer the world, a world in environmental crisis that could become, if it hasn’t already, a cauldron of extinction; a world in financial crisis so dark that no one can truly identify its roots or its cure. America offers idiots offering idiot solutions. The face America presents to the world today is a cross between a lying, hypocritical Rush Limbaugh and a psychotic Glen Beck, and the Three Stooges. With a gun and bombs. We’re the number one terrorist power in the world, killing without cause, without reason, without sense. The whole world is going to hell in a handbasket and the fearless American leadership is worried about a relative handful of people who want nothing more than for us to get out of their faces and their countries. We’re big on bullets, and infinitely short on useful solutions.
Our political discourse has sunk to the level of the question of whether Christine O’Donnell is now or ever has been a witch. It doesn’t matter. She’s a dumb broad who has no business in the Senate, or the House, or the town clerk’s office. Those places have already exceeded their quota of fools. O’Donnell wants the fame and the power and all the money she can grab as a Senator, and in return she offers her greed and empty-headedness for all the news puffheads to wonder at what they’ve created.
Our political candidates don’t discuss issues and how best to provide solutions. They discuss penises and witchery and adultery. They make things up to shout about, and they get television puffheads to shout with them. The entire system feels about to collapse under the weight of stupidity.
And every day we are offered a new catastrophe. This one’s ahead by two points. Chile mine disaster. Environmental sludge flood. That one’s ahead by three points, or behind by four points. Oil price going up. Oil price going down. Oil flooding the Gulf. Republicans say no. Republicans say yes to foreign cash. Supreme Court sucks corporate penis, screws country. Pro-life. Pro-choice. Give us money or the world will end.
And tomorrow will be the same story, with the same world-ending big finish.
Jesus H. Christ!! I wish they would all shut up. Maybe one in a hundred has something to say that makes sense, that he’s actually thought about, that he’s actually qualified to think about and speak intelligently about.
But they won’t shut up. They’ll still be jibbering and jabbering and shouting and pissing and moaning and begging when we’re all choking to death on greenhouse gasses.
I’m sick to death of it. I’m going to stop listening, stop watching, stop pretending that anything I do will matter to the whole process. We’re a nation of fools, a ship of fools with a hole in the hull and a storm wind raging.
When Wall Street And Conservatives Take Over The Public Schools: Washington D.C. Education Down The Toilet
September 14, 2010
There’s an instructive, long article at Common Dreams on what happened, and is happening, to the public schools in Washington, D.C., after the system was taken over by an unqualified and obviously incompetent person named Michelle Rhee. Despite having only three years teaching experience and no management experience, the mayor of Washington named her Chancellor of the public school system, and the schools have suffered ever since.
It’s one more example of corporate and conservative philosophy treating people as ciphers, as things to be manipulated to make numbers look good on balance sheets. It’s a great example of what happens when arrogance, ignorance, and ideology gain power.
Here’s an interesting letter from today’s Globe:
SCOT LEHIGH’S May 14 op-ed “We need it, but who’ll pay for a longer school day?’’ made me wonder: What was his reaction when he was in fifth grade and the bell rang at the end of the day? Was it, “Gee, I wish I could stay here another two hours?’’ Probably he was like most of us. We couldn’t wait for the doors to open.
Many adults tend to romanticize their school days, confusing schooling with learning. Social philosopher Ivan Illich attributed this phenomenon to what he called the “hidden curriculum of schooling.’’ More than any subject matter, more than the content of what is taught, schools teach above all else the necessity of schools. They instill the belief that only in school does real learning take place.
This causes many to have an inflated sense of the benefit and effectiveness of schooling. They think that more school means more learning. The opposite, however, is true. At a certain point, prolonged schooling becomes counterproductive, actually hindering and stifling initiative, creativity, curiosity, and the joy of learning.
How many students today read a book that’s not on a required list? We need less school, not more.
The Lion thinks the writer has it a bit backwards. We need more schooling, but it should be schooling that creates and rewards initiative, creativity, curiosity, and the sheer joy of learning. Education should be messy and sloppy and brimming with the noise of young brains plunging into all kinds of stuff.
That sort of educative atmosphere is not possible when education is focused on passing massive tests like the Massachusetts MCAS. Talk about stifling initiative, creativity, and so on. It’s hard to think of a better way to create dumber students who have absolutely no interest in learning than to subject them to a test-oriented educational regime, a one size fits all mindscrew reminiscent of the Iron Maiden of medieval torture chambers.
We should be promoting schooling that kids eagerly want to go to in the morning and don’t want to leave in the afternoon. Instead we do the opposite, and not for any significant educational reason, but just to make life easier for the bean counters in the various bureaucracies, bean counters who don’t care for the messy matter that results from recognizing that children are exciting and excitable individuals, not statistics to be squeezed like toothpaste into tests and forms that produce nice clean numbers for the learning disabled education bureaucracies in the states and in Washington.
Full disclosure: The Lion is sixty-five years old (sixty five and a half actually) and for the past few years has been struggling to learn classical Greek, formal and informal logic, philosophy, some Latin and Italian, math and geometry and physics, and keep up with politics and social mores and this, that and the other. It’s a struggle, and The Lion is doing it alone, not to pass a test, not to get a reward or a job, but just because the struggle is interesting and fun, because learning is a marvelous thing in itself. The Lion would be the last to claim that he is any good at any of these endeavors, or even particularly successful, but he will claim that heaving his old brain at them has been worth the travail and the frustration. It’s fun. There’s really no other way to describe it (other than challenging and often frustrating to a no-longer-young-and-quick brain). But The Lion seriously doubts he would feel this way if he had spent his entire early education being pounded into an MCAS hole to satisfy a bureaucracy’s need to turn his education into a number that fits neatly into its spreadsheets.
So by all means, let’s have more schooling, let’s have messier schooling, indeed, let’s have smarter schooling.
China, Guns, Knives, and Viagra
May 1, 2010
In the past month there have been five attacks by lone males on classrooms of schoolchildren in China. The reasons for the attacks are unclear. In some cases the attacker had a history of mental problems.
Dozens of children have been wounded, along with a few teachers and a security guard. The weapons have been knives in four cases and a hammer in the latest incident.
Had this happened in America, most of those children would be dead, along with the teachers and the guard.
China imposes strict gun controls.
In America, thanks to the NRA, Republican wingnuts, and gutless Democrats, any nutcase can get a gun, or several guns, and guns are the weapons of choice in adolescent America, where guns and violence feed the adolescent egos of adults.
Between 1966 and 2010, the number of students killed in American school shootings, not counting police and National Guard killings during student protests, is 206.
In the school year 2003-2004, in the United States, 2,156 school children were expelled for carrying a weapon to school.
Feel like a man. Get a gun. Shoot animals. Spook your neighbors. Scare politicians. Settle imaginary scores. Kill children.
Guns are better than Viagra for getting that good old-fashioned American hard-on that conquered the Wild West a couple of hundred years ago.
ROTC Returns To Campus For Wrong Reasons
April 26, 2010
Today’s Globe carries a piece by reporter Bryan Bender about the thaw in relations between the nation’s elite colleges and the Reserve Officer Training Corps, which was thrown out of most colleges during the Vietnam War’s spate of anti-draft foment.
(The Lion notes that while the entire Vietnam controversy was painted as anti-war, it was driven by college anti-draft sentiment, evidenced by the collapse of the large anti-war public movement following the end of the draft. Hence, anti-draft foment. Which is not to impugn those who were truly anti-war, merely those who were merely anti-drafters in sheepish clothing.)
Much is made in the Bender article of the significance of the recent loosening of the anti-gay elements of military policy as the reason for the warming in relations between college administrations, faculty, and students, and the ROTC apparatus.
But more telling is this bit:
Many professors, students, and administrators say the more welcoming climate is a result of growing support for the military since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
That is not a good reason to welcome the military back to campus. It’s dead wrong. It ignores the last nine years of history.
The military, albeit following the orders of a corrupt civilian bureaucracy, has wasted lives and money for nine years pursuing unattainable goals.
Almost a trillion dollars has drained into two useless wars that have claimed thousands of American lives, helped cripple the economy at home, destroyed two countries, one of which had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks, the other guilty of no more than hosting a terrorist organization but not supporting or engaging in the attacks.
Hundreds of thousands of innocent people are dead due to United States military policy. Millions have been made homeless, indeed, stateless. Tens of thousands have been wrongly imprisoned. Hundreds, if not thousands, have been tortured, and many of them murdered under torture by United States troops and intelligence operatives.
The actions of the military and the civilian government have brought disgrace and shame upon the United States, and nothing legitimate has been gained. The government of Iraq is a shambles, and is no more a democracy than a collection of squabbling religious and political factions clawing for a piece of the pie. In Afghanistan the Taliban, who were never the enemy, who are essentially a group of religious thugs out of the fifteenth century, continue to prove the impotence of the American military, which insists on empowering the Taliban by supporting a blatantly corrupt government in Kabul and by killing civilians at will, often, it would seem, for sport.
So while there may be reasonable reasons for bringing ROTC back to the elite college campus, supporting the military for its actions since September 11 should not be among them.
A New Blog For The Lion…
March 12, 2010
Go ahead, read the article at Common Dreams about the fundogelicals from Liberty University, the child of viper evangelist Jerry Falwell, who want to be doctors, researchers, and lawyers, but utterly refuse to accept the solid scientific research and study underlying evolution.
Do we really want people this stupid, this arrogant, this childish, to be working in any job other than digging ditches or flipping hamburgers?
These are people who want to be doctors, but given their beliefs they won’t be able to accept the germ theory of disease. After all, bacteria evolve.
These are people who want to be lawyers, but mentally and emotionally can’t handle facts and evidence.
These are people who want to do research. Why? Everything they need to know is in their pathetic holy book written thousands of years ago for a society barely out of the Stone Age. Turn these fools and idiots loose on society and they’ll take us right back to those times.
Condemning his school and his students and himself, out of his own mouth, is professor of paleontology Marcus Ross, who teaches his students the utterly idiotic nonsense of creationism as if it were fact and evolution was nothing more than a pack of lies. He says, at the end of the article, “The attitude is when you are a creationist you are ignorant of the facts.”
He teaches his students that dinosaurs were wiped from the face of the Earth 4,000 to 5,000 years ago during the flood that Noah survived by building an ark.
Yeah, Ross, you are willfully ignorant, and you should be stripped of whatever academic credentials you bought at the fundogelical dime store, because you and your buddy professors are a disgrace to learning, to intellect, to education. You’re the vipers that mislead, that poison the world, that cripple the minds of youth.
Do the world a favor and go crawl back into your cave and tell your fairy tales by the fire.