"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

A Few Pennies the Stupider, Perhaps

When corporate education reformers wring their hands and cluck about "learning loss" among K-12 students, they are, of course, talking about a drop in test scores.  How else would they ever think to measure such a thing!  

That drop in test scores is due to a decline of in-person close surveillance and prodding (teaching) during the pandemic to increase test scores (learning).  

As E.M. Forster observed early in the last century,

As long as learning is connected with earning, as long as certain jobs can only be reached through exams, so long must we take the examination system seriously. If another ladder to employment was contrived, much so-called education would disappear, and no one would be a penny the stupider.


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Sports and Watching

 Development of competence in sports obviously requires actual playing but I think we have not recognized the value of watching. I think that it is no accident that ALL accomplished athletes had been (and mostly still are) sports fans.  

I can’t discuss soccer. I have never played or watched it. But I can talk about other sports.


Baseball: When I was ten (circa 1950), I had acquired all the mannerisms of the entire Chicago Cubs players, both functional and nonfunctional. Nobody had to teach me the basics of throwing, catching and hitting. It came “naturally,” that is, it was acquired, not through trial and error in throwing and catching and hitting, but largely from watching. 


There was an element of instruction, and what I learned consciously often did help, but it was extra, fine-tuning: e.g. keep your eye on the ball. And of course we consciously learned elements of strategy, eg the catcher should back up the first baseman, and less observable elements, such as efficient sliding. 

But most of it felt natural and even felt like they were innate. If we were right handed, we didn’t step forward with our right leg when throwing. 


When we watched baseball, we didn’t watch for form, eg notice the second baseman throwing the runner out side-arm, not overhead. We watched the game, rooting for our team.


I also noticed the improvement in form when martial arts movies became popular. I had tried judo and a little karate in the late 1960’s and it always felt odd. But Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Chuck Norris made a difference. We all improved.  When a local theater had a martial arts festival, showing the same three movies all weekend, nearly everyone from our Tae Kwon Do studio was there nearly the entire time. NOBODY was interested in details of style, it was pleasure watching. 



Monday, June 21, 2021

Corporate Welfare Charter Kingpins Try to Buy a New NYC Mayor

With the clueless Bill Deblasio soon vacating the Mayor's office, the hedge funders and the box store  billionaires who want to crush public schools and unionism in order to advance paternalist corporate charters and chain gang pedagogy are dumping tons of dollars into the trough where Eric Adams and Andrew Yang feed. From the NYTimes today:

. . . . Steven A. Cohen, the hedge fund billionaire who owns the Mets, donated $500,000 to Mr. Yang’s super PAC and $500,000 to Mr. Adams’s in mid-May, when the two candidates were leading the polls. But as Mr. Yang’s support appeared to wane and Mr. Adams’s grew, Mr. Cohen cut off Mr. Yang and donated another $1 million to Mr. Adams.

A similar trajectory characterizes the giving patterns of Daniel S. Loeb, another hedge fund billionaire and an outspoken supporter of charter schools and former chairman of Success Academy Charter Schools. He donated $500,000 to Mr. Adams’s super PAC and $500,000 to Mr. Yang’s super PAC in mid-May. Three weeks later, as Mr. Adams was cementing his front-runner status, Mr. Loeb gave Mr. Adams’s super PAC another $500,000.

Both Mr. Adams and Mr. Yang have expressed support for charter schools.. . .

. . . .One thing some may hope to get is an expansion of charter schools in the city. Other billionaires financing super PACs in this primary include four investors who support charter schools, a favored cause of financiers skeptical of district public schools: Stanley Druckenmiller and Paul Tudor Jones, who donated $500,000 and $600,000, respectively, to the Adams super PAC; Kenneth Griffin, another hedge fund manager, who has donated $750,000 to both the Adams and Yang super PACs; and Pennsylvania investor Jeffrey Yass, who donated $500,000 to Mr. Yang’s super PAC.

As it happens, the president of Mr. Adams’s super PAC is Jenny Sedlis, who is on leave from a charter school advocacy group, Students First NY, and co-founded Success Academy, which has received direct financial support from Mr. Griffin.

If you support public education, do everything you can to make sure that Eric Adams and Andrew Yang are defeated.

Monday, June 14, 2021

"We, the undersigned educators, refuse to lie to young people . . ."

From Valerie Strauss at WaPo:

The backlash is sparking a backlash of its own.

On Saturday, thousands of educators and others gathered virtually and in person at historic locations in more than 20 cities to make clear that they would resist efforts in at least 15 Republican-led states to restrict what teachers can say in class about racism, sexism and oppression in America.

Organized by local educators across the country in association with several social justice organizations, the National Day of Action is meant to raise public awareness about the legislation and to send a message that they will not lie to students about the country’s racist past and present.

Several thousand teachers have signed a pledge that says: “We, the undersigned educators, refuse to lie to young people about U.S. history and current events — regardless of the law.” . . .