Bob Ross with Crow

"That's where the crows will sit. But we'll have to put an elevator to put them up there because they can't fly, but they don't know that, so they still try."

Bob Ross

This amusing quote reminds me of the educational practice known as scaffolding. It's the act of building an intellectual structure around a student to allow them to succeed at a task which would otherwise be beyond their base abilities.

Technology is a useful tool for a few things in life and in the educational world. Only a few things. One is for record keeping. The other is its use as a creative medium, akin to musical instruments or paint. There is another final use which is a two-edged sword. It is useful for tracking down information if you are properly trained in critical, logical, and skeptical thought. But it is not a tool made for delivering that found content in a way which partners with how our brains process information. That makes this last use of technology an enticing intellectual danger. This is because it has been determined definitively at this point that consuming anything more than surface level content digitally is counterproductive to memory formation and deep thought. But this fast acquisition of surface content is highly addictive to people. And as they consume more and more of this shallow type of content, people lose the ability to wrestle with deep content. I have lost count of how many of my friends and acquaintances over the years have told me they used to read books all the time. But now they can't. The book The Shallows, a Pulitzer Prize finalist book by Nicholas Carr, answers why they can't. It answered why I couldn't. That book scared the daylights out of me. There is a reason it was a Pulitzer Prize finalist the year it came out. And now the latest studies of reading for pleasure among children show that they are doing less and less of it. I remember when the Harry Potter books came out and we teachers thought we were entering a golden age of children reading as young student after student heaved around those thick books everywhere they went. This was the case even in the inner-city schools, where I was a teacher at the time. But that was right before the internet, smart phones, myspace and its followers, and of course YouTube. You rarely see students doing that in the school hallways anymore. Look in their backpacks. Very few will have a book of any weight in it anymore (that they chose for pleasure).

This article in the Times, points out the technological lie that is currently infecting our school systems and draining our budgets, and discusses a little of the research surrounding why it is truly a lie.

Link: The Times

Here's an article by a teacher about the general uselessness of most homework. It also brings out the important point that homework steals inter-family time that can not be gotten back. Therefore, teachers should ask if the homework they are giving is important enough to take away some more of the little remaining time children have with their family in the evening before bed. One thing that comes to my mind is the issue of whether the homework can be done together with the parents or not. For instance, reading homework can certainly be done as a family. All families should read together, in my opinion. So an assignment to read in the evening should not be taking away from family time. On the other hand, there are those monstrous projects some teachers assign students with strict guidelines that the students' parents are not to help them. Those things are definite family time thieves.

Fascinating way to look at the issue...

Article: The Guardian

Here's a good article from NPR explaining how many majority non-white school districts end up getting less money per student than the majority white school districts. The only way to eliminate this is to end school district funding based on local property taxes.

Article Link: NPR

Here's an interesting article about the continuing rise of gamification in the business sector. The author says it would work in education as well.

Link: Forbes Article

Well this was interesting. I ran across this article from a few years ago showing that teacher attrition in the first five years of teaching is only 17%. For years people have been saying it's around 50%. Fascinating.

Link: Washington Post Article

Here's a news article about Dungeons and Dragons being used to help people with autism develop social skills. Very cool!

Link: CBC News in Nova Scotia

Here's an interesting article about the potential benefits of using Dungeons and Dragons with Gifted children.

APA PsycNET Link: International Journal of Play Therapy

Here's an interesting article in The Atlantic on the shift from humanities majors to STEM majors. Students entering college are much more interested in degrees that they think will get them a job these days. I think the emphasis on STEM in the K12 public school systems is overdone right now. Yes there are jobs in STEM, but not enough for all the young people being funneled into the field. STEM jobs are becoming highly competitive.

Article Link