Category Archives: Education

Virginia Middle School to Students: NO PHYSICAL CONTACT

From the Washington Post:

Deborah Hernandez, Kilmer’s principal, said the rule makes sense in a school that was built for 850 students but houses 1,100. She said that students should have their personal space protected and that many lack the maturity to understand what is acceptable or welcome. “You get into shades of gray,” Hernandez said. “The kids say, ‘If he can high-five, then I can do this.’ ” She has seen a poke escalate into a fight and a handshake that is a gang sign. Some students — and these are friends — play “bloody knuckles,” which involves slamming their knuckles together as hard as they can. Counselors have heard from girls who are uncomfortable hugging boys but embarrassed to tell anyone. And in a culturally diverse school, officials say, families might have different views of what is appropriate.

Middle schoolers know gang signs? In Virginia? There’s gangs in Virginia?

27 Children Killed Each Year in Chicago Schools = 1 VTech Massacre Every Year

Trib:

So far this school year, at least 27 Chicago Public Schools students have been killed. That’s one young life every 10 days. District officials do not keep an official tally, but they know 20 students have been shot to death, matching the highest total since they began tracking it nine years ago. The Tribune has identified seven more students who were beaten, suffocated or stabbed to death.

Seattle School Bans Lego – For a Bit – to Teach About Sharing, Power and Community

(and yes the plural of Lego is still Lego)

When I was a kid we were at an arts and crafts fair that was set during the frontier days of the midwest. There was a barter trading area where kids could trade useless crap for other useless crap. I realized that since they had pinecones as a currency I could simply pick up pinecones from outside the barter area and bring them into the economy, thereby reducing the value of the currency and pillaging the merchants. I think I would have tried similar wildness with this:

In their Rethinking Schools article, teachers Ann Pelo and Kendra Pelojoaquin describe how the kids at Hilltop built “a massive series of Lego structures we named Legotown.” I sensed that something was rotten in the state of Legotown when I read this description of it: “a collection of homes, shops, public facilities, and community meeting places.” The root cause of Hilltop’s Lego problem was that, well, the kids were being kids: There were disputes over “cool pieces,” instances of bigger kids bossing around little ones, and so on.

From the teachers’ essay:

As they closed doors to other children, the Legotown builders turned their attention to complex negotiations among themselves about what sorts of structures to build, whether these ought to be primarily privately owned or collectively used, and how "cool pieces" would be distributed and protected. These negotiations gave rise to heated conflict and to insightful conversation. Into their coffee shops and houses, the children were building their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys — assumptions that mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society — a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive. As we watched the children build, we became increasingly concerned.

So they banned Lego building (for a bit).

Yup – they banned Lego from the classroom.

The teachers then implemented a new game of Lego trading and had the children realize the inherent politics in the system they were a part of.

As I read more what they did I was impressed with the thoughtfulness of it all but thought that they could have tried some sneakier ways of teaching the kids about the politics and having and hungering.

I would have slowly introduced more of the favorite Lego pieces into the buckets – let the market crash and see what happens. Or give the unpopular kids a bucket of their own that are specially marked and only they can build with them – or they are worth twice as much as the other pieces. I think they could really get inside the relationships without banning the Lego construction al together – all the more valuable to have them learn while inside the environment.

I don’t agree with the share dvalues the teachers were trying to espouse:

"Before, it was the older kids who had the power because they used Legos most. Little kids have more rights now than they used to and older kids have half the rights."

"We should have equal houses. They should be standard sizes…. We should all just have the same number of pieces, like 15 or 28 pieces."

I think realistic education would teach and instruct that life is never fair – it should be – and it isn’t and that sucks but it is what you do with that knowledge that makes all the difference.

All structures are public structures.  Lego people can be saved only by a "team" of kids, not by individuals.  All structures will be standard sizes.

That makes me cringe because it drives the creativity out of the process in favor of fairness. Some little rich asshole is always going to have the best Lego pieces in the set – but what if suddenly everyone wants to work with Capsela? (did I just date myself?)

The model of Lego building kids and the citizens of their world is a huge metaphor that you can use to teach just about everything. What if the exchange value of Lego was decided each morning by the roll of a die – have an opening and closing bell – let some kids trade ‘afterhours.’ Have buildings mysteriously disappear in the middle of the night – or have the kids try out eminent domain where part of the Lego world is annexed for classroom purposes. Have a ‘well’ where new Legos come from each day to experiment with non-renewable resources. Or a blight where all the Legos of a certain color have to be quarantined. What if the kids had to deal with ‘branding’ their buildings and two warring brands fight to build the most wanted buildings in the world?

I guess it is always the argument of education – do you teach kids the way things should be ideally – or do you teach them the reality of the world around them? And do you own up to the fact that the games and transactions in childhood games and toys are themselves reflections of and training for the future world these kids wll inhabit?

Rxns from Mefi:

This doesn’t broaden children’s minds, children know how to play and, unless there’s something seriously wrong with them, they know how to share. Kids don’t need moralizing, they need to play and work things out for themselves.

and

They taught them how to share from each according to their ability, and to each according to their needs. And then they taught them that the State will exert eminent domain over Legoville and destroy it if the workers get out of line.

and

The only time to have these discussions, to see the forces of acculturation and socialization in action, is in the earliest stages of development…. [t]o deny there are inequalities built into the system is blindness. To refuse to even examine and discuss those inequalities is willful ignorance.

Chicago Parents Say That Fellatio Begins At Home

Holy hymens, Batman!

A teacher out in the burbs had the nerve to teach sex ed and suggest that maybe – just maybe – genitals go other places besides other monogamous child-making one-ping-only genitals:

“How to penetrate the vagina, ejaculation and stuff like that,” Hampton said of the materials. “I think the parents felt it was a basic sex education class,” Vicki Graham said. “The mechanics of the actual sex act I didn’t think were under discussion.” “That should be taught at home,” parent Aretha Johnson said. “And if I choose not to teach my child that, then that should be my right.”

How can you teach sex ed with out talking about vaginas and ejaculation?

Some jackass parent is saying: ‘This isn’t porn 101.’

No, porn 101 would include bondage and you-know-what plugs.

Walcott now finds itself in the unique situation of having neither a teacher nor a curriculum with which to educate their adolescent pupils about the most fundamental function of life. Would it be accurate to infer from this that the school board believes it is safer to have no sex-ed then to have too much sex-ed?

Puh-leez: Half these kids probably already have HPV since their parents are too scared to let them get vaccinated because it will turn their daughters into whirling dervishes of vagina dentatas savaging every upright moral straight male within labia’s reach.

I bet these kids don’t even know what the clitoris does – one of the few parts of human anatomy strictly designed for pleasure and recreation.

Dear sexually mature kids of Chicago: Sex feels great, it leads to babies and STDs as well so be careful and there’s not a goddamn thing wrong with waiting to have sex. Also, it can gum up your emotions and hormones so don’t let yourself be a welcome mat just because you have shitty self-esteem.

Dividing by Zero

Dr Anderson has come up with a theory that proposes a new number – ‘nullity’ – which sits outside the conventional number line (stretching from negative infinity, through zero, to positive infinity). The theory of nullity is set to make all kinds of sums possible that, previously, scientists and computers couldn’t work around.

BBC: 1200-year-old problem ‘easy’

Raging Infomaniac

Sunday. Lots to do.

While journaling yesterday I made a realization that my entire life right now revolves around three locations:

  1. At the gym
  2. With Ron
  3. At the computer

With the third location as the default. My default action has become working. Or rather ‘at the computer’ which may or may not include working. I’ve become a Wikipedia addict. Here’s a list of topics I’ve browsed: Continue reading