This article brilliantly and succinctly discusses how Nature demonstrates the principles we use in mathematics. While math frequently seems to be disconnected from reality, hopelessly abstract and difficult to comprehend, it is really a discipline that can help us to understand and explain our world.
Reading this short article, I was reminded of a great book that I now plan to introduce to my 12 year old son. The book is The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure, by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. In the book, Robert, a boy who hates math, meets the Number Devil, who teaches Robert the beauty and wonder of math in a series of 12 dreams. Full of wit, wonder, and fiendish charm, Enzensberger creates realistic worlds that make prime numbers, Fibonacci numbers, and infinite numbers real, finite, understandable, and fun.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be doing more of this in our schools than taking the fun out of study and making it all seem so difficult that it just doesn’t seem worth the trouble?
Aleph Molinari – Bridging the Digital Divide
The Digital Divide is a mother that’s 45 years old and can’t get a job, cuz she doesn’t know how to use a computer.
Most news focuses on the roughly 2 billion people in the world who use the Internet. Economist Aleph Molinari chooses to focus on the other five billion people. He is working to close the digital divide and empower people, by providing widespread access to technology education.
In 2008, Molinari founded Fundación Proacceso and in 2009 launched the Learning and Innovation network. The network uses community centers to educate under-served communities and
enable them to use technology for empowerment. In about 2 years, the network has graduated 28,000 users through 42 educational centers throughout Mexico.
The Learning and Innovation network
employs a well-designed system to bridge this digital divide. The system is divided into 4 educational parts. The first focuses on computers. The second is the Internet. The third is office software. The fourth phase is a 72 hour technology program that produces, in the end, a digital citizen. While the program sounds somewhat trite, there is no doubt that the programs conducted by Fundación Proacceso and the Learning and Innovation network have made a huge impact on extremely poor communities in Mexico.
Molinari’s arguments are extremely persuasive. There is no doubt to me that, as he says, “Internet is a right, not a luxury.” We can do a lot to bridge this divide, enabling many of the five billion – most of whom are in the southern hemisphere and Asia – to become active participants as digital citizens of the world.
Although the work ahead seems daunting, it is even more daunting to consider what will happen to our world in the absence of a more fair and just distribution of wealth and opportunity. It is better to make do with less than to lose everything we love and cherish.
Molinari’s final message is full of hope:
The main message is that technology is not going to save the world, we are, and we can use technology to help us. Most technology is human energy, so let’s use this energy to make this world a better place.
- The Digital Divide: Who’s Being Left Behind (tech.li)
- COM22: Wk 2. Digital Divide (decuni.wordpress.com)
- Social Media’s Effect On The Digital Divide [Infographic] (anisesmithmarketing.com)
- Digital Divide and Social Media: Connectivity Doesn’t End the Digital Divide, Skills Do | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network (queuniversidade2.wordpress.com)
- Update on the Digital Divide (alleganylibrarydirector.wordpress.com)
- An Opportunity to Bridge the Digital Divide (impact.webershandwick.com)
- The Digital Divide [an infographic] (thetechscoop.net)
I believe in the LiveSTRONG Manifesto. I became a LIVESTRONG Leader for 2012 because I wanted to use my experience leading groups through adventure and sports to learn about cancer, cancer survivorship, and its prevention.
We believe in life.
We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.
And that you must not let cancer take control of it.
We believe in energy: channeled and fierce.
We believe in focus: getting smart and living strong.
Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.
This is LIVESTRONG.
I just read today in the LIVESTRONG Leaders group on Facebook about a young man who was fighting cancer until last weekend. His words from last year about how he was facing his fight says succinctly a lot about why I have joined the fight. His attitude is evident in the title of his post, which I used in my title as well. (Thank you Ruel, rest in Peace. You are now, in my mind, an exclamation point. That will keep screaming out forever!)
I’ve been wearing a LIVESTRONG wristband for around 7 or 8 years now. Long enough for it to become as fitting and natural as a watch or – really, as much as I love/hate to say it – my wedding ring.
I started wearing it around 2004, when I finally got one at the NikeTown Portland store. (The store was the first of the NikeTown concept, which has now been mostly phased out.) I’ve been wearing one full time since.
I started wearing the band mostly because I loved the way Lance Armstrong competed. I have been a fan for many years, since he came back from cancer and started winning the Tour de France. But I first started paying attention to cycling races because of Greg LeMond. I had already been a fan of cycling itself, but LeMond’s first victory at the Tour de France in 1986 coincided with my being a bicycle messenger in San Francisco.
Then, in 1987, LeMond was accidentally hit by a shotgun blast during a turkey hunt by his brother-in-law, nearly killing him. But after losing two years of professional racing, Greg LeMond won the Tour de France in 1989 and 1990. He was the first American ever to wind the race, but after coming back only 2 years after nearly losing his life, I became hooked.
Then came Lance. His story is now legendary. Never came close to reaching his potential (for 5 years he was projected to become a star) during his career leading up to 1996, when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Spreads to his lungs and even his brain. Surgery, extensive chemo, and a long hard rehabilitation. Two lost years of professional racing. Then, in 1999, Armstrong amazingly wins his first Tour de France. Then, even more dramatically, Lance wins the world’s greatest race for 7 consecutive years.
We’re about the fight.
We’re your advocate before policymakers. Your champion within the healthcare system. Your sponsor in the research labs.
And we know the fight never ends.
Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.
This is LIVESTRONG.
Founded and inspired by Lance Armstrong, one of the toughest cancer survivors on the planet.
I’m not as big a fan of the Tour de France as I once was. I don’t think it is because there have been no American winners since Lance. Nor is it because of the lack of media attention. Part of it is because of the media attention, especially the focus on doping. But much of it is because I’m more focused on just living and doing, rather than watching others compete.
I’ll keep on riding, running, hiking, climbing, and swimming. These things are important to me. They are me.
We are LIVESTRONG.
Come along for the ride of your life!
- LIVESTRONG Celebrates 15 Years Strong (freshnessmag.com)
- Lance Armstrong Foundation, Ironman Announce Partnership (swimmerjoe.com)
- Livestrong Partners With Ironman, Armstrong Announces 2012 Racing Plans (christostriathlon1.wordpress.com)
- Lance Armstrong Investigation Dropped, Livestrong Bracelets Everywhere Rejoice [Scandals] (gawker.com)
- Greg LeMond to be guest of honour at Tour of the Battenkill (velonation.com)
- Who will be the next great American cyclist? | Matt Seaton (guardian.co.uk)
- Lance Armstrong Doping Inquiry (blogs.theprovince.com)
This list was compiled by John Taylor Gatto, a teacher in New York City for 30 years and selected the state’s Teacher of the Year three times. Gatto is the author of 6 books, including the wonderfully and colorfully titled Weapons of Mass Instruction (2008).
It is a wonderful and succinct list, one that I believe everyone should thoughtfully consider and most to enthusiastically adopt. I am particularly fond of #s 4 and 5 on his list.
KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. There are currently 109 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving more than 32,000 students.
The story of KIPP is tremendously inspiring. It is the powerful story of two teachers, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, who launched in 1994 a fifth-grade public school program in inner-city Houston, TX, after completing their commitment to Teach For America. Following that small start, Feinberg remained in Houston to lead KIPP Academy Middle School, while Levin returned home to New York City to establish KIPP Academy in the South Bronx. Since then, KIPP schools have expanded and achieved unprecedented success throughout the United States, serving in2011 more than 27,000 students in 20 states and the District of Columbia.
While fewer than 40% of students in low-income families attend college nationally, more than 85% of KIPP students who complete 8th grade have gone on to college. This rate, more than doubling the national average, is staggering.
This success, in turn, has led to a great number of accolades, including The $100,000 Charles Bronfman Prize in 2009 to Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin.
KIPP, though, has its detractors. Some point to an attrition rate reportedly as high as 60%. Others say that KIPP’s rigorous admission standards – with as many as 10 times more applicants than places in some schools – enable the schools to attract and admit students and families who would succeed anyway.
In particular, it is clear that KIPP schools have not demonstrated an ability to engender success among IEP students diagnosed with conduct disorders, serious emotional disturbances, or other such learning disabilities, because students bearing such issues do not survive the difficult and highly competitive admissions process.
Finally, another group of critics say that KIPP schools are successful only because they spend more money per student. The schools certainly are able to spend more, because they have become well-funded through private donations supplementing their government grants.
Still KIPP Schools are the subject of great accolades. This report on ABC World News in 2007 is dramatic in its portrayal of the special qualities of the KIPP Schools.
To me, the most apparent feature of KIPP Schools is that they have been able to change the spirit and attitude of both students and teachers. it is not just the increase in class time, or the increase in homework, or class sizes. It is really a completely different culture, one in which working much harder, putting more time into understanding and improving performance in academics – especially math, and being “smart” is very cool.
It is difficult for me to deny that KIPP schools have been successful at something. There is little doubt that its students have been achieving success that is unprecedented in their families and communities. Or, that these children are exceeding even their own initial expectations.
The schools may, in fact, be selectively neglecting the majority of students. Nor are the kinds of investments of financial and human capital sustainable. But the result are impressive.
Much has been written about the success of KIPP and the schools have won them many notable fans, including Bill Gates. He refers to KIPP as being one of the places in which good teaching is rewarded. Here is Gates speaking about this in 2009 at a TED talk:
KIPP Schools share a core set of principles, which they call the Five Pillars. These are:
- High Expectations
- Choice & Commitment
- More Time
- Power to Lead
- Focus on Results
Ultimately, I believe that it is these that have the effect of changing the culture of the KIPP community. Certainly there are different ways of valuing results, both for students and the teaching staff. And when kids are in school for up to 8 hours a day and are given 2-4 hours of homework, some things are sacrificed. But these sorts of issues, I think are those that many people are willing to make, if they lead to greater opportunities in school, work, and life.
In a post-punk, Internet dominated, democraticized world, science and physics will become a subject of online discussion and debate. Online physics is likely to share a lot more in common with the physics of the Big Box DIY store than the university laboratory or a Nobel laureate’s lecture.
This may not make online science academically defensible, but if it ends up making more people think deeply and talk to others about how our world works, then it may be profoundly good for people and planet.
Profoundly entertaining! I’ve only included the link for the first video of 10, but you can view them all or find the individual links on YouTube. Enjoy (and learn)!
「NYフィル・バーンスタイン・小澤征爾」 映写会 （於：NYC) － JanJanBlog. (Japanese)
This is a JanJan Blog post by my good friend Michio Hamaji. A wonderful event put on in New York concerning a performance by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
The article written by Brendan Clarke for Yes! Magazine is superb and stands well on its own. There really is no need to summarize or add any emphasis of mine. But merely posting it on my blog is not my style, so I will add a few of my own comments and observations.
Brendan summarizes his advice for new (and not so new) teachers in 5 simple tips. I condense them into 4 – not much of a difference, I know, but mine take less space. :-)
Dress up (1) – costumes, outrageously, humorously – to be fun and memorable. Don’t fail to be fallible (2). Be humble (3). And go outside (4) whenever feasible and possible. The world is what you are trying to teach; enabling the students to be successful “out there” – not in the box you’re in – is the real objective. If you do these things, the kids (and big kids) will generally pay attention, appreciate, and actively participate in thinking about what they are doing and hope to do in the future. Being successful or skillful in any one activity is not that important.
What is important about the advice Brendan gives is that people are likely to learn most from what they remember; that the most important things to study and learn are the things that are unknown, undiscovered, and (currently) impossible; and that if you challenge them to try adventurous activities in the real world – under teacher supervision and with your caring eyes and ears open – then they are more likely to accept these challenges when they are asked to do so for real as adults.
And that is all the reason in the world to become a teacher!
Hmm. I’ll start by saying that I am not a Luddite. If you have read a few of my blog posts, then you already know this.
I have also been a fan of Learning.com for quite a number of years, despite a failed project in Japan with the company more than 5 years ago. Their EasyTech products are wonderful.
I understand and believe that Learning.com – and others – can and do provide great educational technology resources and curriculum materials for students and teachers. I am also aware that the video clip is a marketing tool.
I am also an advocate for technology in learning, in schools, by and for students, and used by faculty in classrooms. I have used a wide variety of technologies, both proprietary and open. I also understand and agree that schools, teachers, and parents have a responsibility to provide good, safe, secure, and appropriate resources for the education of children.
But watching both clips, I cannot help but feel that there is something wrong with limiting technology-based education to what is provided in a virtual vending machine. That vending machine may contain more than the 25 buttons on a beverage machine and may even resemble a curriculum convenience store more than the metaphor used in the video suggests. But any just-in-time process for passing on skills, knowledge, experience, and understanding is based on the misguided principle that most of what should be passed on to schoolchildren is already known and can be planned.
I cannot help but cringe at this suggestion. I think that most of what we need is uncertain. Most knowledge is unknown. The most promising things we can teach in schools and to our children is the determination to prepare for uncertainty and the courage to undertake adventure. For this, we must resist the temptation to create walled gardens – no matter how vast – and build the environments in which we can ensure the greatest safety from hazards while allowing our children to take on risks and overcome challenges.