[Edu-sig] Fwd: The 'Certified' Teacher Myth (long)

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Mon Dec 15 18:08:34 CET 2008

On Sun, Dec 14, 2008 at 9:05 PM, Edward Cherlin <echerlin at gmail.com> wrote:

<< SNIP >>

>> lest
>> you get caught up in dinosaur flavors of "should we allow calculators
>> in math class?" kinds of debates (nothing at all about computer
>> languages), angry mud slinging that's been going on for decades and
>> going nowhere (lots of energy sinks, time sucks, not worth your
>> attention).
> Now that we are embarked on creating interactive textbooks for the
> OLPC XO project, (_not_ CAI-style, but more along the lines described
> in Seymour Papert's book Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful
> Ideas), all of those arguments are irrelevant.

Irrelevant in our circles certainly, but for many, the "calculator wars" have
become a way of life, a cottage industry.

Given MIT pushed for that "computers in the jungle" aesthetic (a marketing
gimmick, not saying ineffective), there're still very few USAers who even
know what an XO is.  As geeks, we forget that (I have one under my tree,
for symbolic value):


When I took mine to Fine Grind (csn.fg) recently, none of the very bright
people there had ever seen one (has nothing to do with IQ):


How do we get the word to ordinary USAers about "life after calculators"?

I suggest more hype around Sugar as North Americans love sugar and
corn above all (corn syrup = the breakfast god).  Sugar is something of
a Python flagship as well, looks like an iPod (circular menus).  Why
nothing on the backs of cereal boxes then?  Not ready for prime time?

My suggestion is been more of those overseas schools, where overseas
might mean in Colorado, a 50-50 mix of native and imported students,
wanting diversity of experience, training to become diplomats maybe,
and sharing these new toyz.  Growing up as an expat much of the time,
I know the State Department is well aware of this model and could
implement it pronto as an alternative public school network, branded
as such (not just for "rich kids").

Here's a quick sketch of a blueprint, some details bleeped:


Minus well-packaged curriculum segments, self schoolers tend to
reinvent too many wheels.  We think it's cute if they hit on an algorithm
for addition or multiplication (lots of constructivist cooing) but always
practicing for "after the nuclear winter" or whatever isn't really moving
us back from the brink.

We force kids into idiocy at gunpoint almost (lots of threats if you start
to act smart in some peer groups -- especially if you're a teacher with
a big dummy textbook you're expected to teach to (a kind of bullying)).

In my view, it's a matter of withholding heritage, with most schools
functioning as giant shut-off valves, their primary purpose being to
deny access.  On the bright side though, kids go home to the Internet
and YouTube, and those motivated to catch up, do so, morph into
geeks, and join us on the front lines, where we know what "XO" means.


End notes:

>> On Sun, Dec 14, 2008 at 10:42 AM, Michael Paul Goldenberg wrote:

(I'm not a fan of MPG's writings -- too vitriolic, yet devoid of substance)

>> << SNIP >>

Not my view of GRUNCH, nor am I expecting "depression":

>>>  As we prepare for what well may another world-wide depression thanks to the
>>> GRUNCH of the giants that Haim doesn't want to discuss here (we're supposed
>>> to believe that it's teachers' unions that got us where we are, I suppose),
>>> we should be spitting in the faces of people like Haim and their
>>> self-serving, utterly bankrupt views and policies.
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