Archive for the 'education' Category

Do What You Love, Unless Your Parents Don’t Like It

Saturday, January 15th, 2005

Management consultant William Fried has given a presentation entitled “The Secret of a Happy Life” to the same CA middle school for three years straight on eighth-grade career day. In it, he “counsels students to experiment with a variety of interests until they discover something they love and excel in.” This year, in response to some followup questions from the students, he acknowledged that it was possible to make lots of money as an exotic dancer — and that the bigger your bust size, the bigger the pay check.

Aparently the principal wasn’t very happy about this.

None of this really surprises me.

What really ticks me off is the last comment in the article: “one mother said she was outraged when her son announced that he was forgoing college for a field he loves: fishing.” Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re going to have a speaker come to the school to talk about having a happy life, you shouldn’t bitch that he encourages your kids to pursue whatever makes them happy. I have a lot of friends who have taken good jobs for good money and burned out in only a few years — because they didn’t love it.

So let me just put this plea out to all the parents out there: Don’t worry about how much money your kids will grow up to make, worry about whether or not they will be miserable.

Yale Pranks Harvard

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004

It’s pretty silly, but still fun: Project: The Game! Glad to see that the next generation of dirty tricksters is honing its skills in our elite institutions of higher learning. (Via

Jon Stewart’s Commencement Address

Monday, May 31st, 2004

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” ?

Good Afternoon Graduates…Bush Sucks…Have A Nice Life

Monday, May 24th, 2004

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.

Schools Sell Curriculum to MPAA

Friday, October 24th, 2003

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!

Read a Banned Book

Wednesday, September 24th, 2003

I’m posting this a little late, but September 20–27 is Banned Book Week, …a reminder not to take one of our most important freedoms for granted—the freedom to read and explore many points of view. So take this oportunity to broaden your mind — read a book from “The List“.

Mali: What Teachers Make

Friday, June 13th, 2003

I’ve been looking for things with more of a hopeful cast to them, and this certainly qualifies. Via Adam at Words Mean Things: Taylor Mali’s What teachers make.

In Defense of Leo Strauss

Sunday, June 8th, 2003

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!

Good Politics, Bad Science

Wednesday, April 16th, 2003

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.

Teacher Fired For Sex-Ed Lesson

Friday, January 31st, 2003

A new teacher at a Florida high school has been fired for giving ninth-grade students a demonstration of proper condom use.

Cross-Dressing Dad Pisses Off Right-Thinking St. Louians

Sunday, January 5th, 2003

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.

Teacher Suspended for Humorous Math Test

Friday, June 14th, 2002

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.

The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome

Friday, May 24th, 2002

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.

Research Demonstrates Precognition

Friday, May 24th, 2002

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.

Synthetic Video Demonstrated

Thursday, May 23rd, 2002

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.

Panty-Check Teacher: My Career Is Ruined

Tuesday, May 14th, 2002

from the will-freak-for-food dept.

Rita Wilson, the Rancho Bernardo High School vice principal who made 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.

Hadden and Pena Apprehended in Vegas

Friday, May 3rd, 2002

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.

Teacher Runs Off With 15-year-old Student

Thursday, May 2nd, 2002

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.

Let’s See Those Thongs

Wednesday, May 1st, 2002

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.”

Anti-Nudity Effort Fails at Georgia College

Tuesday, April 16th, 2002

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.”