April 4th, 2010

Education Reform

Education reform. For math and science specifically (what I teach). This is, by the way, how I personally do it.

Simple stuff.
1) Higher teacher:student ratio. I taught a class once where it was 1:32, and that is totally insane. You're not even teaching anymore, just closing your eyes and spitting ideas into the hurricane and hoping one of them hits. It should be 1:10. Kids can get the attention they need. This is the most goddamned important one there is and none of the others really matter.

2) Divide kids up by ability. That way I can teach to those ten kids in a way they can more or less all understand. That 1:32 class had high achievers, low achievers, and the whole spectrum between. The high achievers got bored and started doing crazy hijinks. The low achievers got frustrated and started paying attention to the high achievers. The mid achievers were like wtf is all this madness and got distracted.
Don't gimme no bs about "oh just let the smart kids tutor the dumb kids". No, it's not their job to help me as teacher, it's their job to learn. Let 'em do so.

3) Stop dividing kids up by age. Just like soccer clubs overseas- have them be in this or that class because it's the class they're at right now, not because they're the right age for it. That way nobody gets left behind or put in a gap between the "smart" and "stupid" tracks.

4) Emphasize to kids- "You're not stupid, you're lazy. Work harder and you'll get it." Giving them that sense of personal efficacy makes them feel they can own their performance. Internal locus of control.

5) Hands-on work. Less focus on memorization, vocabulary words, worksheets. Science classes should be like 60% lab. Math should be like 60% practice. And fuck homework. You need ten minutes to teach the procedure, then let 'em DO IT for the rest of the class.

Controversial/deeper stuff:
1) Less time at school. It shouldn't be a full time occupation. There should be more time for community involvement, sports, getting a part time job, getting out in the world. Why? Because that's where they'll apply all that shit they learned at school.

2) Make that shit they learned at school applicable to their lives. Why are we learning the pythagorean theorem? Let's build some stuff to show you. Why are we learning polar coordinates? It's useful for making relative coordinates in a plane with no clear absolute origin. Shit ain't hard. Just make it applicable.

3) Robin-hood style funding. Rich districts just buy better football stadiums. With the money they spend divided on a per-capita basis, poorer students could have a better start. More importantly, poorer students could have more teachers. The extra funding would allow you to:

4) Have a penal school to send bad kids to. If I have 16 kids trying to learn and one being a maniac, you bet your ass I kick the maniac out and let the principal deal with him. He's not worth ruining their classes to. And he's not worth ruining their school for. If a kid spends all his or her time in suspension or detention, move them to an in-district boarding school. Military-style discipline. Usually kids with serious behavioral issues have either a bad family life or a neural/sensory dysfunction or both. The school gets 'em out of the former and would be equipped to diagnose the latter.
Social reform that'll make it possible:
1) Less time at work for parents. It is awful that both parents need to work full time to have the same lifestyle that used to be achieved by one parent working full time.

2) Less huge corporations. I need groceries, where do I go? Wal-mart, HEB, places to eject dollars from my community and to eliminate local businesses. Who owns it? Nobody knows, and so people have no problems stealing from them, and see no connection to their community. These huge megacorps isolate people and make them have no sense of community, and that promotes disinterested parenting, criminal youth, and insecure lives. They also keep people from investing in and caring about their own communities. This'll also create more local jobs, because a mom-and-pop grocery store is less likely to be outsourcing labor and accepting telecommuters. And it'll mean people have more pride in their work (and thus less depression) because they're not just easily-replaceable cogs. It'll also make people's lives more stable (less anxiety).

3) More family planning- better sex ed. Yes, contraceptives and abortions. A parent who didn't want that child shouldn't be saddled with it, and they'll just pass that kid to the school system at the first opportunity. The school system shouldn't be saddled with unwanted kids with shitty home lives (see "penal school" above). The children of single mothers are more likely to be abused. And legalized abortion was correlated with a drop in the crime rate when the crime-committing demographic (18-24) hit afterwards. There'll still be shitty home lives. But they'll be less common. And here's a way we can reduce them right away with no doubt.
Quaero togam pacem.

Birds, bees, and breeding teens

Remember the previous hypothetical situation taken from the NationStates game? It's where you're a benevolent/malevolent ruler of your own state. Last time it was about hobos, and it ended in a draw between Ron the Stinker and Betty the Pinko Hippie.

Now here's another issue, where the answers are again a bit stratified, and probably none of them is the ultimate best choice. But, disregarding the lack of nuance (which of course is intentional), I'd like to see what you guys think on the matter.

The Issue

A study has shown that an increasing proportion of teenagers in [Insert Country Name] are falling pregnant.

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Can't you tell, I'm procrastinating!

Let's talk about something I've heard a lot of lately.


First: we are the govt

So, if the govt wants to control our lives, it's because we want control.
The govt isn't something different from the people; politicians are empowered by the people, chosen by the people, and originate from the people.

If the govt wants to control our lives, it's because PEOPLE are bent on domination.
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  • thies

(no subject)

KABUL, Afghanistan—President Hamid Karzai lashed out at his Western backers for the second time in three days, accusing the U.S. of interfering in Afghan affairs and saying the Taliban insurgency would become a legitimate resistance movement if the meddling doesn't stop. [...] At one point, Mr. Karzai suggested that he himself would be compelled to join the other side —that is, the Taliban—if the parliament didn't back his controversial attempt to take control of the country's electoral watchdog from the United Nations, according to three people who attended the meeting, including an ally of the president." (source)

The reasonable approach would be to dispose of Karzai who used to be a president installed by the US at their grace and start from scratch. Of course with a weak president who has been touring the world apologizing for the actions of the US that is unlikely to happen. Obama purports a weak image of the US to the rest of the world and Karzai becoming quite uppity is the first sign of things to come. The US is at war with the Taliban. Will Obama act decisively and put Karzai in his place? I doubt it.