108th Carnival of Education

February 28, 2007

Aristotle instructing Alexander, image from British Museum

 

Aristotle teaching Alexander.

Dr. Homeslice hosts the midway this week, the 108th run for the mortar boards.

Rich stuff. Good teachers in need of a union. Bad teachers. Flights of fancy. Coming down to Earth.

Is your contribution there?


Best in bluegrass? Not Tenacious D, certainly

February 28, 2007

Tenacious D fans may find it satisfying, but the bluegrass-styled tribute to D’s work is far from the heights of bluegrass, or even the heights of the odd marriage of rock or blues and bluegrass.

Bluegrass is a uniquely American invention, probably not really well defined until Bill Monroe and the Louvin Brothers started recording it in the first half of the 20th century. Bluegrass is an instrument set as well as a style of music — it usually should include guitar, mandolin, and banjo and bass. Solid bluegrass also includes a Dobro. Fiddle is optional, drums often detract from the music but may be added. Autoharp is an occasional addition — the Carter Family used autoharp with good effect, though they were not exactly in the middle of the bluegrass path.

The late Dick Dabney wrote an article for The Washingtonian in the 1980s that I have been unable to track down, in which he well defined for us lay people what defines bluegrass: The song is a story with consequences. Bad things happen, and people are sorry for the occurrences. Good things happen, too, but that’s to be expected.

Putting bluegrass instrumentation to Tenacious D tunes just doesn’t measure up to Dabney’s criteria, I fear.

Bluegrass could have a role in history classes, selected carefully. Below the fold, I’ll suggest some things you may want to listen to.

Read the rest of this entry »


Ghost of Austin Peay: Tennessee legislator tries to reanimate creationism

February 27, 2007

You just can’t write parody of creationists and creationism. A retired physician, Tennessee state senator is demanding the Tennessee State Department of Education provide the answers to questions left hanging by the trial of John T. Scopes in 1925. Read about it in the Nashville Post, in an article by Ken Whitehouse.

It appears as though the state senator, Raymond Finney, either failed Tennessee history, or just doesn’t pay attention to excellent advice and warnings from George Santayana.

Update, February 28, 2007:  Perhaps Sen. Finney should check out this comment at the blog Sola Fide.

Tip of the old scrub brush to P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula.


Grand music hoax: Plagiarist confesses

February 27, 2007

A fascinating, tragic hoax has unraveled in the classical music world. Dozens of performances by relatively unknown — but great — pianists were pirated, credited to a great pianist dying of cancer, and made internet hits.

The hoax that lives by the internet, dies by the internet, Jesus might have said. A music critic loaded one of the released discs into his iPod list on his computer, and it identified it as being performed by someone else.

Joyce Hatto had retired due to ovarian cancer in the 1970s, but started releasing recordings made at home in 1989. This was not unusual — her husband was a recording engineer. The quietly-released, small-label recordings got good reviews and a faithful audience. As time went on, the recordings became more ambitious, and the quality of the piano playing of the dying woman audibly increased.

Questions arose earlier this year.   Read the rest of this entry »


Quote of the moment: Textbook fights in Texas, how math books encourage drug use

February 27, 2007

Michael King, writing in the Austin Chronicle (a weekly newspaper, as I recall), December 24, 2004:

A moment of nondenominational silence for longtime Christian fundamentalist textbook critic Mel Gabler, who died Sunday in Longview at 89. Gabler and his wife, Norma, had long been fixtures at State Board of Education textbook review hearings, although in recent years age and declining health had lessened their participation. The Longview News-Journal reported that Gabler “emphasized accuracy and a Christian perspective in examining school children’s books,” but it would be more true to say that the Gablers and their “Education Research Analysts” never let the former get in the way of the latter. Gabler was notorious for his attacks on any positive mention of evolution in biology textbooks, insisting that “special creation” get equal time and that the textbooks record “what’s wrong” with evolutionary theory. His reviews did indeed reveal factual errors in the textbooks – but his moralistic Pecksniffery is reflected best in statements like this, on mathematics texts: “When a student reads in a math book that there are no absolutes, suddenly every value he’s been taught is destroyed. And the next thing you know, the student turns to crime and drugs.” May he take it up with the Master Mathematician. – M.K.

Tip of the old scrub brush to . . . drat! From whom did I get this link?


Utah’s legislature boosts education across the board

February 27, 2007

Gifted with a surplus of funds due to a good economy, the Utah legislature hiked education spending in almost every category, providing pay increases for teachers, more teachers, more schools, more books, more computers — adding more than $450 million, raising the total state education check to $2.6 billion for elementary and secondary schools.

Much of the increases will be consumed by rising enrollments.

Through much of the 20th century Utah led the nation in educational attainment, but fell in state rankings as population growth accelerated especially through the 1980s and 1990s. The Salt Lake Tribune’s story sardonically noted:

The budget package increases per-pupil spending by more than 8 percent. But because other states may also boost school funds this year, fiscal analysts can’t yet say whether the new money will move Utah out of last place in the nation in money spent per student.

Classroom size reduction is excluded from the increases, because the legislature thinks earlier appropriations for that purpose were misused, according to the Associated Press story in the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune:

The extra $450 million will have little effect on reducing classroom size, however, because even as Utah hires more teachers, every year brings more students.

Lawmakers said they were withholding money for reducing classroom sizes until legislative auditors can investigate reports that districts misappropriated some of the $800 million dedicated for that purpose since 1992.

Every teacher and librarian should get a $2,500 pay raise and a $1,000, one-time “thank-you” bonus. Starting pay for teachers in Utah averages barely over $26,000 now.

Read the rest of this entry »


Applying the lessons of Vietnam #2: Honor veterans

February 26, 2007

Lessons from Vietnam as applied to Afghanistan and Iraq:

#2. Honor veterans when they return; honor the soldiers while they serve. One of the great errors of Vietnam was the failure to hold parades for returning soldiers. Regardless one’s views of the war, or its justness, or its execution, the soldiers who served deserved thanks, kudos, and a warm welcome back. They also deserved top-notch medical care for their injuries, physical and mental — Bob Dole, John McCain, Daniel Inouye, John Kennedy and others stand as monuments to what returned veterans can do for the nation when welcomed back and given appropriate medical care.

Vietnam was just a repeat of the error, however — Korean War veterans also got no homecoming parades. The Korean conflict is in fact known to some as “the forgotten war.” So we have more than 50 years of bad habits to break in figuring out how to honor our soldiers and veterans. We as a nation have not gotten it right for a very long time.

Honoring the veterans does at least two beneficial things: It helps the veterans readjust to life, if only a little, knowing that people at home appreciate them as individuals, and that people appreciate the sacrifices they made to serve the nation even when those sacrifices are so great as to be beyond comprehension. Read the rest of this entry »


Wow! Have you seen the cartoons from Sherffius?

February 26, 2007

John Sherffius draws for the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado. It might be something about the mountains — Pat Oliphant started out with the Denver Post. Sherfius often cartoons in color. His drawings pack a real punch, sometimes a gut punch.

Sherfius - Habeas Corpus

The Pulitzer Prize judges have not yet voted Sherffius as even a finalist, but with his cartoons over the past few months, such recognition should come.

Sherfius on Iraq-Iran similarities

In addition to the gallery at the Daily Camera website, you can look at Sherffius’ portfolio at Cagle’s Political Cartoon site, an excellent source of current political cartoons.

More cartoons below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »


Nimitz party follow-up

February 25, 2007

So, how was the party in Fredricksburg?  Admiral Nimitz did not put in an appearance, from all accounts.

Can you imagine some of the possibilities for study in small groups at the National Museum of the Pacific War?

Among other things, the Nimitz Hotel has been renovated (founded by Adm. Nimitz’s grandfather).

What’s there?

The site has grown into a 34,000-square-foot site featuring indoor exhibit space. Located on six acres now, the center includes the George Bush Gallery, the Admiral Nimitz Museum, the Plaza of the Presidents, the Veterans’ Walk of Honor and Memorial Wall, the Japanese Garden of Peace, the Pacific Combat Zone and the Center for Pacific War Studies.

With the conclusion of this large renovation project that began in 2004, museum coordinators are turning their attentions to another big project. An additional 40,000-square-foot expansion is planned in the future, with ground-breaking set this spring.

I can’t find, but I hope that, the renovations include space for scholars to study, and especially for high school students to learn.  Austin-area high schools would be lining up to make overnight field trips — but for the restrictions put on teaching and learning by Texas’ testing system, the limiting list of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), and the test, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) .

Maybe teacher training.  Liberty FundBill of Rights Institute?  Are you guys watching this?


Politics in haiku, poetry in research

February 24, 2007

Here it is in haiku:

Counterarguments:
Let them sleep, like dogs? Oh, no:
Refute them at once.

Here is the title of the thesis the poem represents:

“How to handle opposing arguments in persuasive messages: A meta-analytic review of the effects of one-sided and two-sided messages”

Haiku is probably easier for campaign managers to remember — good advice in 17 syllables.

Jim Gibbon.com has a contest going — he challenged people to boil their recent academic publications down to the 17-syllable poetry form called haiku, for social science research, humanities publications, physical sciences, and a category called tech/computers/internet.

I tell speech students and clients that any good argument or thesis can be boiled down to a 30-second statement. Haiku may be a little too brief for my purposes, but it’s more artful, too. Some of the poems are pretty good, none are really bad.

Grad students with too little art in their lives, perhaps. Go vote and encourage them to communicate better, with poetry, even.

Here’s a piece of social science research I’d like to read:

dixie chicks blacklist
krugman blames clear channel (jerks)
nope, it was rednecks

(“Elites, Masses, and Media Blacklists: The Dixie Chicks Controversy”)

Tip of the old scrub brush to Bug Girl.


If California can’t pass a ban on spanking . . .

February 23, 2007

. . . what are the chances Texas would ban corporal punishment in schools?

The Washington Post reports a California lawmaker abandoned her efforts to get a ban on spanking (by anyone, not just teachers), after rather massive opposition developed. She had never introduced the bill.

Instead, San Francisco Bay area Assemblywoman Sally Lieber introduced a more narrow bill on Thursday she said would help district attorneys more easily prosecute parents who cross the line from punishment into physical abuse.

Lieber is seeking to classify a laundry list of physical acts against young children, including hitting with a belt, switch or stick, as unjustifiable and grounds for prosecution, probation or a parental time-out _ a class on nonviolent parenting.

The Texas bill banning corporal punishment in schools is still seriously dead.


107th Carnival of Education

February 23, 2007

More than 50 entries, at History is Elementary. If you’re not reading that blog anyway, you ought to. Go see.

St. John of Kenty, or St. John Cantius, patron saint of teachers

St. John of Kenty, or St. John Cantius

Patron saint of teachers


Eugene, Oregon’s Japanese internment memorial

February 22, 2007

11th grade history courses should be finishing up with World War II about now. If the course covered the material planned, it included a discussion of the internment of Japanese-Americans in the U.S. during World War II. The discussion should have included questions about whether the internment was just, and whether the reparations paid and apology made later by the U.S. government adequately compensated the victim internees.

Eugene, Oregon, hosted a “civic control station” where Japanese-Americans were forced to register. Most were later sent to internment camps — from Oregon, many were sent to Tule Lake, California. Oregonians, especially those who were interned and their families, are working to honor the internees and pass on the stories of the events. They want to highlight the fact that many of the interned citizens served gallantly during the war.

A memorial is being built in Eugene, featuring a statue of a young Japanese American girl sitting atop her luggage on the way to internment, reaching for a butterfly.

Below the fold I copy the editorial from the Eugene Register-Guard about the memorial — I’ve taken the liberty of copying the entire piece, as well as including a link (free subscription required). If the Register-Guard wishes I not promote their work this way, they know where to find me. It’s a good editorial on important issues, and it deserves broader circulation and preservation.

Read the rest of this entry »


Dressing as Jesus for Halloween

February 22, 2007

Educators get a few seconds to make a decision, usually with other kids yelling and a fight breaking out across the hallway. Lawyers and judges have more time.

But even with the advantage of cool reflection, the levels of irony in this case are too thick to cut through.

Can a kid dress as Jesus about to be crucified, for Halloween? Is the costume religious? If so, is the school’s allowing it to be worn an impermissible endorsement of religion? Is the costume blasphemous? If so, would the school be sued if they didn’t ban it? Is the costume in good taste, compared to the kid dressed as a chainsaw serial-killer, or one of the phantasms from Nightmare on Elm Street?

How do 10-year-old kids always come up with these questions?

With the disclosure that what I have comes from a press release from the Alliance Defense Fund, which has its biases, I post the details of the case as we have them so far, below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »


Nez Perce tribe rushes to preserve language

February 21, 2007

The Spokane, Washington, Spokesman Review carried a lengthy story on February 18, 2007, about the work of modern members of the Nez Perce tribe to preserve their language, at least in dictionary form. Saving languages of North American native tribes is a difficult task in this century, with so many native speakers old and dying, and younger tribe members not learning the language.

This story involves the Joseph Band of the tribe, including direct descendants of Chief Joseph, whose epic battle against the U.S. Army and mid-winter flight to Canada are included in most U.S. history books, as part of the 11th-grade history standards.

Now you, and your students, can know the rest of that story.

Agnes Davis, 82, works to preserve her tribe's language Caption from the newspaper: Agnes Davis, 82, is the daughter of the last recognized chief of the Joseph Band of the Nez Perce tribe. She and a few others from her tribe are spending countless hours working to preserve a dialect of Nez Perce. (Colin Mulvany The Spokesman-Review)

Read the rest of this entry »


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