This is a beautifully done video, about the effects doing good things for other people has on our lives. Doing kind things for others doesn't just make them happy. It makes YOU a better person. There is both intrinsic and extrinsic joys to doing things for other people.
Teachers, when you are kind to your students, it matters. Even when they do naughty things, in the long run, you will have an influence on their lives. How will your students remember you?
Each week, I’ll be highlighting the things that I find the most inspirational towards educational, personal, or professional success. Hopefully, you find them just as inspiring as I do.
1. Aristotle on Success
“Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” – Aristotle
This is just one of the reasons to make sure your children have discipline. Forming good habits are the keys to success in school, and in life.
2. Buddha on Anger
“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” – Buddha
I believe that a lot of teachers get mad at their students, because teachers take student behavior very personally. Remember, if you allow yourself to remain angry at students, you will become cynical. Keep your optimism, and remember that you really ARE making a difference, every day, in a student’s life.
3. Emerson on Choices
“It is not the length of life, but the depth of life.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Is it better to know a lot of things, and just learn a little about them? Or is better to be exposed to a lot of things, and make the choice about what you want to delve deeper into? This is really the purpose of college. It used to be the purpose of high school. I strive to give my child lots of great experiences, and then allow him to choose what to be passionate about.
4. Mercedes Lackey on Regret
“If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.” – Mercedes Lackey
If only I had finished that dissertation. If only I had gotten that degree. If only I had pursued my passions. If only I had spent more time with my child. Decide what’s important in your life, and then DO IT! Write out your goals, and how to achieve them, step by step. It may take years of planning, or just the push to get it done.
5. The Dalai Lama on Kindness
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama
I can either be kind to my co-workers, or I can be snippy. I can either be nice to my mother, or I can be crabby. I can treat my child with affection, or I can yell and scream at him. I can show my students that I care, or come off as an arrogant prick. I always have a choice.
6. Sanders on Other People
“There are over 7 billion people on this earth and you let one ruin your day. Don’t.” – Jonathan Sanders
See the above quote. Life is too short to let one crabby person ruin your day. Be it a co-worker, someone who cuts you off in traffic, a doctor, a teacher, a student, a friend, or a family member. Make the active choice to move on.
7. Eric Foner on Ideas
“Ideas win wide acceptance based less on ‘truth and logic’ than on their suitability to the intellectual needs and preconceptions of social interests.” – Eric Foner
The idea means more or less, depending on who you are pitching it to. Sometimes the best ideas are lost, simply because it was not their time. Keep thinking.
8. Joshua Marine on Challenges
“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua Marine
If school is not challenging you, what are you doing to make it a challenge? You can always extend the subject matter. That is how I’ve come to love Biology and Education. Neverending challenges!
9. Diogenes on our lives
“I am searching for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave.” – Diogenes
We are not simply greater than other people just because of how we’re born, nor are we lesser than others. Our only difference is in the impact we leave on the world.
10. Bill Gates on uniqueness
“Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world… If you do so, you are insulting yourself.” – Bill Gates
No one else has your set of traits and experiences. No two teachers are alike. Nor are two pastors, friends, women, or children. Strive to be the best YOU that you can be. You will never be at that moment in your life again. Make the best of everything.
What's Amy Reading? Moms in Academia, Social Media Consequences at Work, The Big Bang, Widgets, and Planet Earth
What’s Amy Reading? is a daily digest of the articles that go into my head, so you can understand what makes me have my opinions. Not all articles I agree with, and I’ll say so where it’s appropriate.
1. Moms in Academia
Amy - I have witnessed professors and staff in universities making conscious decisions not to have children, because taking time off would hurt them professionally. I am lucky, in that I already had my child when I entered academia. I completed my dissertation and work full time, despite being a single mom. My old boss chose not to get married or pregnant, because she knew it would hurt her career. One TA I worked with was back to teaching 2 weeks after giving birth, because she has NO maternity leave. She could not afford to miss work. Is there any way to "fix" this problem, or should women accept that - because it is their body - they will just have to take time off to have children?
Article - The Mom Penalty
Amy - This is a fascinating and somewhat chilling article. As a person who blogs and consumes social media - am I responsible for what other people write in Facebook groups I belong to? If someone makes a negative comment on something I post, am I responsible for “owning” that comment? Can I get in trouble for what others say, just by being there, and not “doing anything about it?” What if I didn't even SEE the comment? Do I still "own it?"
Article - Discharged for Dishing It Out
Amy - This was an amazing talk about how we know about the universe (which I am interested in, partly because of Neil deGrasse Tyson, the most amazing scientist on the planet). This is more evidence of The Big Bang. As we continue to predict what we will find in the evidence left by the universe, we may find out what happened BEFORE The Big Bang! No doubt in my mind that as we learn more, we will have more questions.
Article - Allan Adams: The discovery that could rewrite physics
Amy - I have been looking at ways to improve my website, so I've been researching “widgets.” These are little pieces of code that you embed in your website that makes it look better, makes it more functional for readers, and reduces the amount of time and effort you have to spend on fixing up your website. I don’t know if I’m ready to buy a whole package, yet. I’ll keep researching.
Some authors have super websites. Some of them look cheap. While I don’t think mine looks BAD, per se, I also don’t think it looks as professional as I want. I want readers to be able to subscribe, I want a “more posts you might like” banner to be scrolling at the bottom of each post, I want a “contact me” tab available on every page, and I need a better footer.
I hope at some point to NEED a professional to make my website phenomenal. For now, I am working on content. I need to have a lot there for people to read. But what happens if I shell out money for widgets, and then want to change platforms? Like go to Blogger, WordPress, or Hubspot?
Article - Premium Weebly Widgets
Amy - I didn't realize that all of Planet Earth was online! I checked out this site, and there’s a ton of great stuff to watch. Now, to see if it’s on my Roku….
Article - BBC’s Planet Earth
I am always thinking about how I can improve my website, social media and the consequences of putting it all out there, science, and how to improve my life. If you don't keep yourself focused on what's important in your life, the goals tend to get lost. As I research, I look for "the experts" on whatever it is I'm doing.
I think that Bill and Melinda Gates have done some of the most amazing, most helpful things with all their money. They have set up their lives to help so many people. They are wonderful role models. I appreciated their brainstorming techniques, which is described as “long walks on the beach, talking about their goals.” I watched their TED talk, “Bill and Melinda Gates: Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we’ve done,” and was inspired by many of the things they said.
In 1993, Bill and Melinda Gates took a walk on the beach and made a big decision: to give their Microsoft wealth back to society. In conversation with Chris Anderson, the couple talks about their work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as their marriage, their children, their failures and the satisfaction of giving most of their money away.
They talk about how they are not going to enable their kids to be rich, spoiled brats. They are not leaving their children billions. No trust funds. They want their childrens’ lives to have a meaning and purpose. They will provide an education for each child, that encompasses each child’s strengths.
The Gates parents’ attitude toward their kids and money — call it the anti-Paris Hilton approach — resonates with an attitude toward wealth that runs as a subtext through TED itself. As an event, TED manages to gather some of the world’s richest people into one room. Once there, they’re bombarded with the message that money is not for having but for doing. As the world’s richest people, the Gates family could spend lifetimes doing nothing at all. But for the TED set, at least, the only points you get are for making something happen.
I agree strongly with that point. These days, everyone is a critic. People criticize Gates for having an agenda. Others think there are ulterior motives, or a vast conspiracy. But being critical, in and of itself, doesn't help anyone do anything. The only way to help people in your life, is to make things happen. The Gates made goals, and then they go through each checkpoint on the way to reaching their goals.
Most of their philanthropic work centers around the educational system in America, reducing poverty and equality through access to education, and health care and childhood vaccines. They have traveled extensively through Africa, and have tried to help bring down the rate of infant mortality. They are fighting to bring access to injectable birth control in third world countries, because this gives women the choice whether or not to reproduce.
Gates said, “Just because we don’t agree with everything about education, doesn’t mean we scrap the whole system. We fix what’s broken, and we keep our eyes on our goals.” The Gates advocate for smaller class sizes, STEM education, charter schools, and technology innovations. They discuss wanting great teachers in small classrooms, to give each child more attention. They have rightly pointed out that many of the graduating seniors today read at a middle-school level. They are working to help schools through grants, technology donations, charter schools, and creating university programs.
When you have money like the Gates’ money, you are going to be criticized. People complain about their investing tactics, which they say is promoting companies that hurt the people in third-world countries. The Gates say they will always invest for the maximum return on investment.
Next, people say there are three major problems with the foundation's allocation of aid. First, "by pouring most contributions into the fight against such high-profile killers as AIDS, Gates guarantees have increased the demand for specially trained, higher-paid clinicians, diverting staff from basic care." This form of "brain drain", pulls away trained staff from children and those suffering from other common killers. Second, "the focus on a few diseases has shortchanged basic needs such as nutrition and transportation.” Finally, "Gates-funded vaccination programs have instructed caregivers to ignore – even discourage patients from discussing – ailments that the vaccinations cannot prevent. If people want to see nutrition or transportation focused upon, they should start their own foundations. It’s not right to criticize, but do nothing to offer up help for what people think should be priorities. The Gates can focus on any disease they want - yes, there will always be other diseases out there that need money, but it is ultimately up to Gates and their foundation to how they spend their money.
About education, Gates is criticized for “undermining the public education system.” I think that “public education” is a broken system, and I also advocate for charter schools, which can meet the needs of more students, in creative new ways not controlled by unions. Like Gates, I love teachers, but hate the bureaucracy. I do think test scores should be part of teachers’ evaluations, and I love the idea of merit pay. I think merit pay encourages the best teachers to put in the effort to become better. When the Gates Foundation gives students choices that they may not have had, if they had been stuck in a failing public school, I think the Gates are helping the poor beyond belief.
Just as there will always be critics of the government, there will always be critics of the Gates. I believe that they have made amazing progress in achieving the goals they have made, and that they should forge ahead with the good things they do. Nothing they do is without vast amounts of research and man-power, and the Gates are helping people live and be educated every day. I may need to apply for one of their grants!
What’s Amy Reading? is a daily digest of the articles that go into my head, so you can understand what makes me have my opinions. Not all articles I agree with, and I’ll say so where it’s appropriate.
Amy says - As I’ve been trying to improve my website, I’ve searched for a lot of articles about “Search Engine Optimization.” (SEO) Basically, how do you make it so Google can find your blog, and get your readers to read your articles?
Article says - One Way to Future-Proof Your SEO
We reside in a digital world of 301s, 404s, anchor text, link building, and keyword metrics. Search engines continue to evolve and become smarter and more efficient at deterring would be SEO-bandits, and the people keeping up with this knowledge are doing everything they can to stay relevant, and keep up with the changes.
So how can we possibly take on the task of spearheading and maintaining an organization's marketing efforts and be on top of the ever-changing SEO landscape? Take SEO back to the origins of what search engines are really created for: human beings.
Amy - The Simple Dollar is a finance blog I read every day. Not only does the author write in a style that I attempt to emulate, he’s really smart about how he approaches his finances. I’ve gotten a lot of tips from him that have made my life much less stressful, when it comes to my money. Just an awesome author, and you should read the rest of the article.
Article - External and Internal Motivation
The only person that I know will always be with me, right to the end of my life, is me. If I want to maintain good moves throughout my whole life, I need to find internal motivations for those good choices, not just external ones.
Sarah and my children are both external motivators. They are constant encouragement for me to be the best that I can be, but they may not always be there. If they fall away, will my healthy habits fall away?
The conclusion here is simple: I need to find strong sources of internal motivation for good financial choices in my life.
Amy - I try to keep up with Biology and the exciting and interesting things that are happening. Part of that is through the NABT (National Association of Biology Teachers) LinkedIn group. If you aren’t subscribed to any groups where you discuss your profession or your passions, you are missing out. It’s like the new academic conference, but without the hefty travel fees!
NABT Open Group
4. Web 2.0
Amy - I want to order this course! It’s essentially a webinar course on how to improve your blog, work with social media, and produce great content. If I ever have an extra $199 hanging around, I’ll buy it!
Article - Writing for the Web 2.0 audience (CD)
Blogging changed it all—the way companies communicate, how employees and customers want information, and how fast they want it delivered. There is so much information obtainable immediately that in order to stand out, your blog must be relevant and interactive. It is one thing to have your audience visit your blog but it is another to have them get involved through comments, uploads and feedback.
Today, companies that skillfully blog are engaging employees and gripping customers—and you can too! But before you jump in, or continue blogging, you'll want to check out this presentation.
You will learn how to:
5. The University of Akron and Jim Tressel
Amy - I am pretty sure Jim Tressel will be the next UA president. All signs point to him being picked. I waver back and forth between “He can’t follow the rules,” to “He took a lousy situation (being forced to resign), and is attempting to get back to the top.” No doubt that students, parents, and the community love him. He raises a TON of money for UA. He is essentially a rock star. Maybe he will be a charismatic leader. But there is also the possibility that he will continue to break rules, and will need to be watched like a hawk (I’m sure he will be! He has a ton of critics). Whatever happens, I will do my best to work with him to continue helping as many students as I can.
Article - Promoting Jim Tressel
The second refers to his “enthusiastic application” for the position. Yet it is the first that reflects Tressel writing with more zest and drive, making the case for why the trustees should tap him to serve as the interim president. He sees the university facing “urgent demands” and “tough decisions,” the moment “better served by a leader who has been ‘on the ground’ with the current team.”
Tressel seeks to turn weakness into an advantage. If he lacks the academic credentials, not to mention preparation for running something as complex as a public university, he has been in charge of “an ambitious student success agenda” as a university vice president the past two years. Thus, he warns “the university finds itself at a crossroads that a newcomer may not be able to competitively navigate.”
The proliferation of mobile devices and the surge in popularity of the flipped classroom mean that video is at the head of the class in today's schools.
We all know that kids are already on the smartphones, tablets, and laptops in our classes. We either embrace these technologies, or resist, to our own peril. We are competing with Youtube, whether we like it or not. Why not provide the BEST videos to your students, so that they are watching YOUR content?
“I think schools are really going to have to adapt soon,” says James Foley, manager of digital media development at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RTI). “The bar is getting set high, but not in the way we think.” That’s because students are coming to college with their expectations already set by watching YouTube or instructional video sites such as Khan Academy.
I think that a lot of educational professionals are scared of their videos looking cheesy, not professional enough, or even BAD. I'd love to share with you the huge number of videos I've made where I said, "Look at my eyes! I look sick, or old!" Never cool, as a woman! I also have videos where there are long stretches of space where nothing is happening. That happens a lot, in science.
I do a lab using termites, where we look at their behavior. I have a ton of students video that lab, and what if I could have the students share the snippet of what is happening, and all the students in the class could watch? Then, I could evaluate the group of students, based on their videos that *I* watch? It would tell me a lot as an educator about what my students are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and how I could help them get better. Like a "virtual student portfolio." COOL!!!
In her Grade 2 classroom in Wolf Creek, teacher Kendall Johnson says, “Video is used a lot more to motivate kids.” During a physical education lesson last year, she used her smartphone to record students practicing the long jump. Afterward, Johnson reviewed the footage with them in the classroom, providing constructive feedback on their technique.
Or maybe the scientists and educators of the future will look at how we did science ten years ago, and see why we thought what we did, back then. Can you imagine watching DARWIN study his finches ON VIDEO? I'd watch that! The great Neil Tyson DeGrasse of Cosmos, in ten years, can look back at how we understand the world around us, and see how we've changed. One of the tenets of science is that when we find out new facts, we change our mind. Now, we can do it all on camera.
I recently told a friend that my dream is to become the next David Attenborough. Well, female David Attenborough. Here's my chance!
Is the Path Out of Poverty the Path Right Back Into Poverty? Is Pushing For "Diversity in STEM Education" a Bad Idea?
STEM education is in the news, and is often touted as the best college career path ANY student can take. STEM is also criticized for not having enough minority student interest. Historically, STEM is very white, and very Asian. Pushing low-income, first-generation minorities into STEM fields may not be the “great idea” that it appears to be, from the outside. The headline on The Inside Higher Education blog reads:
New Push to Boost Numbers of Minority STEM Ph.D.s
On the surface, this seems like a noble goal. Get more minority students into STEM. Exciting! But, on the same website, is this headline about how blacks and Latinos are taking on more debt than their white counterparts:
Debt, Race and Ph.D.s
And in light of the reoccurring theme on The Chronicle of Higher Education, Insider Higher Ed, The Huffington Post, and countless other websites, it is becoming almost impossible to find a tenure-track, high paying job. One article talks about rejection, frustration, giving up searching, and living in despair. Here, a report from Congress about adjuncts, and the lower compensation and unpredictable schedules they face:
The median respondent salary was $22,041, below the federal poverty line for a family of four ($23,550), although the typical course load was difficult to ascertain from the online forum (with adjuncts reporting as many as 10 courses per semester). Some 89 percent of respondents teach at two or more institutions, and most can’t depend on assignments from semester to semester. Many also said they relied on help from family members and government assistance to survive, despite having advanced degrees. More than 50 percent of respondents had Ph.D.s and 30 percent held master’s degrees.
So, is the path out of poverty a path right back into poverty? The likelihood of achieving the tenure-track dream is so small and wrought with emotional turmoil and anxiety, is it worth it to push minority students down this path? They may end up in a worse place – saddled with student loan debt, stuck in an adjuncting position that pays below the poverty level, and without the necessary skills to advance in a non-academic position – than they were before they began “pursuing their dreams.” Is higher education the path out of poverty, or the dream-crusher that mounts added liabilities and wastes precious time? How do you know when higher education is the problem, or the solution?
Universities play many roles in society – places of big ideas, places where people can gather to talk about those ideas, places where experts discuss their ideas, and places where experiments about big ideas can take place. Balancing those ideas and giving priority to an agenda makes leading a university community difficult. One of the most massive difficulties I see is the delicate balance between two competing courses of thought. Do universities value the best ideas first? Or do universities value diversity first? Who decides?
There was an article in The Daily Bruin (UCLA’s student newspaper) about the lack of diversity in commencement speakers:
Since the UCLA College of Letters and Science reinstated a college-wide commencement in 2002, the crop of commencement speakers has lacked the diversity that UCLA administration touts as one of the university’s top priorities.
Is diversity a token word, tossed around by administration, given lip service, and then disregarded? And what about diversity of ideas? Each of these speakers has very different, very big ideas. In looking at the diversity of race, aren’t we in fact promoting a sort of racism, where we say race matters? That you are not just your ideas, you are your race, or your gender, or your sexuality? And in trying to achieve “diversity,” are we saying that the 61-year-old white man’s ideas should now be placed on the back-burner, because race matters more than big ideas?
How about my ideas? If I have the best ideas, and I get credit for them, should I not be placed “at the front of the pack” because I’m white? BUT!!!... I’m a woman. Does that mean I should be placed ahead, but still behind minority races, or sexuality? What order do we place people with ideas in? Are white people automatically placed “at the back of the bus” now, because of promotion of diversity? How is that fair to ME? I didn't choose to be white, or a woman, and I worked really hard at my great ideas!
Is the subtle promotion of diversity instead promoting racism of a new kind? UCLA student columnist Eitan Arom features an intriguing letter from a UC-Berkeley alumnus on the subject of a recent Daily Bruin column,
I am a 61-year-old white man, the sort that is often considered irrelevant and accused of being angered by the loss of privilege following social incursions of one or another previously oppressed groups. To allay any such considerations, I state for the record I have enough privilege to suit me, and no lack of money. I say what I say out of concern for our educational and other institutions.
One of the student responses to the editorial asks some great questions:
When will people realize that diversity of opinions is far more important than skin pigmentation or sexual organs? Life is more than just a checkbox or making sure you have a perfect "diversity zoo", if you will, with the exact mix of races and genders in the right proportions?
Another student notes:
Why are we so focused on skin color and sex. What the speakers have to say is much more important.
And so I ask you, which comes first? Best ideas or diversity? If your answer is "Both!" then what happens if, for 12 years in a row, the best ideas come from 61 year-old, white men?
Why do I believe so strongly in Common Core standards and testing?
First, if you are not aware of the Common Core, here is a crash course from NPR.
Then, several articles featuring reasons for the Common Core, and what they do.
The Common Core and the Common Good: Our educational system is not keeping up with that of many other industrialized countries, even as the job market becomes more global and international competition for jobs becomes steeper. “American students rank 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading compared to students in 27 industrialized countries.” That same report found that fewer than half of our students finished college. This ranked us 14th among O.E.C.D. countries, below the O.E.C.D. average. In 1995 we were among the Top 5.
Some rightly point to the high levels of poverty in our public schools to adjust for our lagging performance, but poverty — and affluence — can’t explain all the results away. One strategy of changing our direction as a nation is the adoption of Common Core State Standards, meant to teach children the skills they need to be successful in college and careers — skills like critical thinking and deep analysis.
The problem is that, in some states, Common Core testing has been implemented before teachers, or the public for that matter, have been instructed in how to teach students using the new standards.
Bill Gates: Commend Common Core: Right now,45 states are implementing new academic standards, known as the Common Core, which will improve education for millions of students. Unfortunately, conversation about the standards is shrouded in myths.
The standards are just that: standards, similar to those that have guided teachers in all states for years, except these standards are inspired by a simple and powerful idea: Every American student should leave high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and in the job market.
Today, 80% of students say they expect to go to college while only 40% of adults have an associate's degree or higher. Clearly, the old standards didn't help them achieve their goals. Common Core was created to fix that. And at least 75% of teachers support them, according to several surveys.
Inconsistent standards like the ones we've had until now punish students who have to switch schools. Either they're expected to know material they've never been taught, or they're re-taught material they already know. But with standards that are not only high enough but also consistent, students will be able to move without falling behind.
Myth: Common Core was created without involving parents, teachers or state and local governments.
In fact, the standards were sponsored by organizations made up of governors and school officials. The major teacher unions and 48 states sent teams, including teachers, to participate.
Myth: Common Core State Standards means students will have to take even more high-stakes tests.
Common Core won't necessarily add to the number of annual state tests students take. States will introduce new math and language arts tests based on the standards to replace tests they give now.
Myth: Common Core standards will limit teachers' creativity and flexibility.
These are standards, just like the ones schools have always had; they are not a curriculum. They are a blueprint of what students need to know, but they have nothing to say about how teachers teach that information. It's still up to local educators to select the curriculum.
Six Ways the Common Core is Good For Students:
1. Common Core Puts Creativity Back in the Classroom
2. Common Core Gives Students a Deep Dive
3. Common Core Ratchets up Rigor
4. Common Core is Collaborative
5. Common Core Advances Equity
6. Common Core Gets Kids College Ready
Student success is the outcome every education professional works so tirelessly toward, and the Common Core will help them get there if it’s implemented well, according to the panel of educators.
“Yes, it’s an extra workload as a teacher, and it’s difficult…but it’s for the betterment of the students,” says Davis-Caldwell. “And if we keep that our focus, I don’t see why we can’t be successful.”
The Common Core's Unsung Benefit: It Teaches Kids to Be Good Citizens: The Common Core has started to take political flak from the right and the left. Conservatives worry about the overreach of federal incentives, while unions don’t want the standards connected to teacher evaluations. What is being lost? The standards’ significant emphasis on reinvigorating the democratic purpose of public education. Making good on this promise presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine and reprioritize the special role that schools play in preparing students for active civic participation.
The Common Core identifies three texts—and only three texts—that every American student must read: the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution (Preamble and Bill of Rights), and Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.
I will make an amazingly bold, perhaps unbelievable claim. If a school district would hire me as “The Common Core Director,” within four years – if allowed complete control over the system – I could take any low-performing district, and get them to over 80% passing the graduation tests. This would be without firing ANY teachers, with ANY population of students (poor, rich, white, black, brown, ESL), and without expending ANY additional funds. How much do I believe I could be successful? I’m willing to stake my paycheck on it. An average Ohio school superintendent makes $150,000 a year. As a teacher, I made $50,000 a year. Pay me $50,000 a year for a director’s position for those four years, putting the extra $100,000 in a savings account for me. At the end of four years, if I have been successful, everyone wins. The students see success, I get the paycheck. If I have been unsuccessful, take that money and provide free tutors for the students.
How do I know I would be successful? I have done it all before, as part of the science department in Eagle Pass. We went from a 39% passing rate on the state science tests, to an 89% passing rate in four years.
I believe in the Common Core. A bare minimum helps all kids get at least a rigorous education, and a shot at college. Schools are always free to extend education, and should – teachers can still teach fun and exciting lessons in their content area, while providing each child with a quality education. And every teacher in the public school system is being paid using taxpayer dollars. Those teachers can teach however they choose, as long as they provide AT LEAST the common core that every other teacher is responsible for. It just makes sense.
There was a very popular post going around Facebook this week that generated a lot of comments. Check it out.
What was the thought process you had while reading this? Did you conjure up mental pictures of monkeys in a cage, or after a while, did you think about mankind? If you read the comments from the page where the picture is hosted, you can see some fascinating insights into what people think of when they see this picture.
First, there were people who took this at face value, and thought it was a real experiment. It's close enough to articles we've all read about animal research, or classes we took on psychology or science that we can picture the experiment actually happening. The experiment seems cruel, and unnecessary. People who dislike animal research are quick to condemn "the experiment" as cruel, instilling fear, and brutish. And really, it is a cruel experiment, in my opinion. But much of the animal research done in science and psychology has been cruel. What have we (man, scientists, or society) learned from these cruel experiments?
Here is one example of what seems to be a similar experiment, actually in the literature:
"Stephenson (1967) trained adult male and female rhesus monkeys to avoid manipulating an object and then placed individual naïve animals in a cage with a trained individual of the same age and sex and the object in question. In one case, a trained male actually pulled his naïve partner away from the previously punished manipulandum during their period of interaction, whereas the other two trained males exhibited what were described as "threat facial expressions while in a fear posture" when a naïve animal approached the manipulandum. When placed alone in the cage with the novel object, naïve males that had been paired with trained males showed greatly reduced manipulation of the training object in comparison with controls. Unfortunately, training and testing were not carried out using a discrimination procedure so the nature of the transmitted information cannot be determined, but the data are of considerable interest."
And do scientists continue doing cruel experiments, or do they learn from these experiments, and move on to something even more involved? One of the tenets of good science is that we build upon the research of others. Another tenet is repetition of experiments. How many times do you have to repeat this experiment to retain valid results? One criticism I often receive in biology class is during animal dissections. Students who don't like dissections say, "I'm not learning anything from this! It's cruel! All these fetal pigs (or rats, or frogs) died for nothing! (in the case of Anatomy and Physiology, the cats we dissected are collected from the animal shelters after they are put to sleep, and then preserved, so is it better that we use those animals to learn? That they did not die in vain?) Why can't we just watch a video?" I think it's an important curriculum decision in Biology. Do we keep dissecting frogs, just because that's what has always been done? (Hmmmm, another "experiment")
Did you see an allusion to the way religion has woven it's way through societies? People have been punished for certain religious beliefs, or for the lack of religious beliefs. One commenter said "Oh man, this reminds me of my work place!" Do you ever feel like you are surrounded by monkeys? Maybe you see superstition being "taught" through the experiment. An irrational fear that has no apparent purpose. Aspects of culture, civilization, religion, and evolution are unearthed, by a deeper inspection of "The Experiment."
Maybe you see "Monkey see, monkey do?" Maybe this post is meant to spur one to action, to think "out of the box," to question tradition, or to be brave. Should we resist the the urge to conform? Always, or just sometimes? Is there every happiness in conformity, or should you always buck the norms, throw tradition to the wind, and do your own thing, regardless of "being hosed?"
This morning, my son asked if he could take two toys to school. I asked him, "Does your teacher let you bring toys to school?" He said, "Well, only on Fridays. (it was Tuesday) And we aren't allowed to bring balls. Mr. Flinn says that bouncing balls in class breaks things." If you are the parent, what do you tell your child? Follow the rules? Break the rules? Why are there rules? Why do we listen (or not listen) to the teacher, or parents, or society's rules? If my son took a ball to class today, what might have happened? Maybe nothing. Maybe nothing would break, and my son would think the rules are stupid. Maybe he would bounce that ball, and something in class WOULD break, and then what? What did my child learn about rules then? How do we decide what rules count, and what rules should be challenged? What's good for one man, is not necessarily what's good for mankind. And what's good for one monkey, may make for monkey business in the larger monkey culture. Who decides?
Dr. Amy B Hollingsworth has a long history in education. Most recently, she was a Learning Coach at the NIHF STEM School in Akron. She was the Executive Director of Massillon Digital Academy. She was the District Technology Specialist at Massillon. She was the Natural Science Biology Lab Coordinator at The University of Akron. She has been teaching over 20 years, and specializes in Biology Curriculum and Instruction, STEM education, and technology integration. She has written six lab manuals, and an interactive biology ebook. She has dedicated her life to teaching and learning, her children - Matthew, Lilly, and Joey, her husband Ryan, and her NewfiePoo Bailey.
What's Amy Reading?