Archive for the 'education' Category
I’m a big fan of Jon Stewart’s work on The Daily Show, so when someone mentioned at a BBQ this weekend that he was the commencement speaker at William and Mary this year, I went hunting to see if i could find a transcript. It wasn’t all that hard to find, theres quite a bit of buzz about it, becuase it’s both extremely funny, and extremely astute “Lets talk about the real world for a moment: … I’ll be blunt. We broke it.”
I mean seriously, when was the last time you laughed while reading a speech that used the word “ennui” ?
I just knew one of these stories would pop up again this year. Another self-important speaker decides to treat a commencement address like a lecture series and spews a strictly partisan and divisive political rant to satify their own personal agenda . These students have just graduated from four(ish) years of studies which included world events, have attended classes discussing the pro and con of issues such as the current Iraq situation, and have encountered guest speakers who have been invited to specifically address issues of the day, such as the war. In other words, they already have, and will continue to be, engaged in meaningful dialogue about important issues affecting their lives. Commencement speeches are either boring, entertaining, or occasionally, enlightening, but are meant to focus on the actual event, by congratulating the graduates and giving some form of wisdom or advise to carry with them for the future. And as much as it is a day to symbolize the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of the graduates, it is also a day for the families of those graduates who often made sacrifices in their own lives to allow their children to obtain this accomplishment. They too should be able to bask in the reflected glow of their family members’ achievement.
Then along come the Chris Hedges’s of the world, who feel it is beneath them to give a speech that is fitting to the occasion and, instead, decide that a political lecture is in order, and effectively ignore their audience and the purpose of the day.
Some may say that they are fine with the message, and are, convieniently, in agreement with what was said. I frankly wouldn’t care if a speaker for such an event gave a strictly political speech supporting either the right-wing view or the left. Both would be insensitive and inappropriate for the occasion.
Courtesy of Bravo – this yahoo story seems to me a convergence of several kinds of stupidity into one big scary story. Underfunded schools are apparently accepting “sponsorships” from the MPAA to allow them to stick guys in suits in classrooms to lie to kids about the evils of filesharing. Even aside from the one-sided indoctrination that the EFF is complaining about, when the hell did we decide it was a good idea to let corporations inject their messages into lesson plans? Today’s nutrition lesson is brought to you by McDonalds!
Despite a BS in political science from a major university (earned 20 years ago, though), I’d never heard of Leo Strauss until his name started being brought up by critics of the neocons in the Bush administration, reputed to be Straussians all. I still don’t know much about Strauss, but the following pair of pieces, found on some random righty blog I’ve since misplaced, argue that letting Bush’s critics color my perceptions of the man might not be the best idea.
Anyway, some of the things said here about Strauss sounded interesting. Proceed at your own risk: From the NYT, an op/ed piece by Struass’s daughter: The Real Leo Strauss. And from the Jerusalem Post’s Bret Stephens: Hands up, Straussians!
From the Guardian comes this lengthy, but really informative, piece about how the Bush administration in particular, and the US religious right in general, has been making headway against those evil scientists who want to do unChristian things like teach children the theory of evolution, promote condom-use to fight AIDS, and find ways to use cloned embryonic stem cells to cure disease: The battle for American science. The latest technique, apparently, is to use stealth campaigns like the “Intelligent Design” movement, in which fringe science is portrayed as a viable contender against the more-established (but less popular with fundamentalists) theories favored by actual scientists.
A new teacher at a Florida high school has been fired for giving ninth-grade students a demonstration of proper condom use.
I’m not sure what it is about St. Louis, but in the same way that all the loose screws in the country seem to have rattled their way to the edges, where they make life colorful in California and New York, the dim bulbs who want to force their absurdly narrow moral constraints on everyone else seem gravitationally bound to the heartland. It’s probably just a perceptual bias on my part (linking dorks like John Ashcroft with their Missouri locale, while treating those from, say, Orange County, California, as exceptions that “prove the rule”), but there it is: another story that reinforces my pre-existing bias against the middle of the country. Some parents in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles are outraged, it seems, because a parent volunteer who accompanied a bunch of fourth graders on a field trip was not really the tastefully dressed mom that clothing, hair and makeup seemed to indicate. He was a tastefully dressed transsexual dad (stupid L.A. Times login required; cypherpunk98/cypherpunk worked last time I tried). Ohmygod! The horror! True, none of the kids or teachers, or most of the other parent volunteers, cared (or even noticed, in many cases), but at least one of the other parents did, and got his or her panties in such a bunch that the matter has now spread to the local school board, where one boardmember is pushing for the passing of a new policy requiring all parent volunteers to wear “gender-appropriate” clothing at all school functions.
from the those-who-can’t-teach,-teach-math dept.
A Canadian math teacher apparently based a real test on the somewhat-funny “City of Los Angeles High School Math Proficiency Exam,” which features word problems describing gang members, crime, and prostitutes. The teacher has been stripped of her classroom duties and suspended without pay for three days. Canadians have no sense of humor.
from the silent-epidemic dept.
From Janus comes this cool scientific paper correlating college student examinations with the unexpected death of those students’ grandmothers. Scary stuff.
from the irreproducible-results? dept.
From WiredNews, via Hiro, comes this cool story about the Nature of Time workshop, currently being held in the Slovakian town of Tatranska Lomnica. The best part is at the end, where it describes an experiment conducted by Dick Bierman of the University of Amsterdam, in which test subjects exhibited a measurable physiological reaction several seconds before viewing a randomly displayed image – but only in cases when the image to be displayed was disturbing or sexually explicit. No reaction was seen prior to the display of benign images.
from the last-chance-to-kill-your-TV dept.
So, the propeller-heads at MIT have come up with a demonstration of how to make videos of people saying things they never actually said. Prepare yourself for the intelligent-sounding dubya.
from the will-freak-for-food dept.
Rita Wilson, the Rancho Bernardo High School vice principal who made lies.com headlines by lifting dance-goers’ skirts (in full view of onlookers) to make sure they weren’t wearing thong underwear, has begun speaking out to the media, saying her career has been destroyed because of the public’s misconceptions about her panty-checking stunt. It’s really a must-read interview; proof again of that old adage: better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.
from the science-lesson-over,-for-now dept.
The 33-year-old high school science teacher who ran off with her 15-year-old student was apprehended at a Las Vegas hotel yesterday. Now the teacher is in custody and the boy is back home with his parents. The article includes a nice summary of earlier, similar cases.
from the springtime-is-for-lovers dept.
Tanya Hadden, a 33-year-old high school science teacher, has apparently lit out for Canada with Richard Pena, one of her freshman students, after suspicions were raised about a possible “improper relationship” between her and the boy. I feel a movie of the week coming on.
from the rats.-no-AP-photos… dept.
hossman writes “I couldn’t believe this quote I saw on SFGate: “It’s not their right to know what kind of underwear
these kids have.” — A parent of one (of several) high school girls required to lift their skirts to verify what type of
underwear they wore to a school dance … in public, in front of other (male) students waiting to get into the dance.”
from the don’t-look-now dept.
According to this story from Ananova, a campus group has failed in its effort to ban two nude scenes from a student play at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. The play is based on John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and features one character (male) jumping naked into a pond and another character (female) breast-feeding a starving man. Rachel Brooker, head of the school’s anti-nudity campaign, vowed to fight on, saying, “If God had wanted us to see each other naked, we wouldn’t be born wearing clothes.”
from the guess-they-failed-the-class-two-different-ways dept.
From Reuters, via Yahoo News, comes this story of no fewer than 31 Carleton University students caught cheating; specifically, submitting essays cribbed from the Internet for an ethics class assignment. Oh, the irony.