A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Monday, September 28, 2015

Full Moon

Full moon through the clouds
Cacaphony of night sounds
Life hums, motors roar.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Another Dogwalk at Green Springs Gardens

Flowers kiss the rain.
Drizzle dots sherbet colors.
Rain patters thirst.

A conversation I had with the father of an 11 year old girl with a learning disability keeps looping, dogging me, In another loop, in choral response, I keep hearing Les Brown reading his audio book, Live Your Dreams, imploring "you need to let life touch you," Having listened last night to a tribute to Dr. Wayne Dyer just before bed, during my morning walk with Mabel at Green Spring Gardens, I never got around to listening to music or an e-book, but instead ruminated, wondering Why? What should I do? And let the mood sink in as Mabel and I meandered in the rain.

"Test me, show me how stupid I am?"  the father, a mathematician, challenged. He raised higher level mathematical proofs by Euler, the significance of why dividing by zero would undermine the entirety of modern mathematics, and other matters beyond my level of interest or curiosity, as I wanted to return the discussion to a more prosaic discussion about his daughter's needs as her math teacher. Describing myself as an English Major, as "more of a muscular than a finesse mathematician," unlike my mathematical hero, Gauss, I explained that I had never really thought about the question, but had simply accepted the impossibility of dividing by zero. Subconsciously, I was somewhat taken aback that I had reached a college educated professional, not the typical parent of poverty.

At his insistence, I reluctantly replied, "Oh, I don't know. Here's a stupid question, "What is an integer?" The professional mathematician incorrectly described only Whole Numbers {0, 1 2, 3, ...}, a fault I dismissed as lower order thinking, and insisted that he was far smarter than I am in math.

I had called home because his little girl had gone home sick, picked up by her mother in the middle of the day on the first Friday of school, immediately prior to Math and Reading, Wondering if my offer that morning of a space for the child to work on her project during lunch had resulted in panic, overload, and ultimately flight, I had called to discuss why she might be avoiding Math

My initial observation that I thought his daughter was capable of performing far better on her state testing than she had done in the past was met with a caustic response, "You are the first person who has ever said that." The father launched into a muted tirade against Common Core, politely excusing his f-bombs, and highlighting his daughter's artistic ability,

"Standards are a graduation requirement," I replied, which is why I wanted to stress the importance of her attending class every day. He inquired pointedly about the curriculum, I referred back to the syllabus and my letter home describing expectations for the course, a letter he described as "aggressive," but one that he liked, although he had thought it had been written by a woman.

After the final bell, I was in the teacher's lounge and had a brief conversation with the child/s reading teacher. The Reading teacher wondered whether her proposed schedule change, which would have the child come directly to Reading after Math, instead of going to lunch with her friends, might have led to the child's visit to the clinic. I dropped by the Counselor's office. I later pulled her records and studied the data, leaving with more questions than answers.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Stanovich: "Reading makes you smarter"

Halo 10, Reading 0

Michael Greaney sent me the following article that reflects a troubling national trend in education:

Decline in SOL scores ...

Here was my response:

Hi Michael,
Thanks for sending the article.
Averages are a poor measure of central tendency except for very large populations. How does the upper tier of American students compare with the upper tier in other countries? Probably about the same. I think we need to be very careful about exactly what it is the researchers are comparing, so naturally I tend to be a little skeptical whenever I look at data.
If we accept the premise of the article, which I will do for the sake of argument, the natural thing to do is to consider possible causes. Here's what I think: public education, especially the college pipeline, is often viewed as a commodity, and of decreasing value to many American students, in their limited perception, largely because the linkage between a "good education" and a "good job" has increasingly become unbound. Labor, itself, has become the quintessential commodity, and when compared to capital, its value has increasingly become diminished, both from a survival standpoint, and from a spiritual standpoint. Wherein lies the dignity of work? Perhaps a decline in the humanities is at the root of the decline, as an increasing percentage of students entering the college pipeline are ill-equipped to handle metaphysical questions, having been ill-prepared by the college pipeline, which often operates under the questionable premise that the purpose of education is to get a good job. Jefferson was certainly not operating under that premise when he founded the University of Virginia and personally resurrected the Library of Congress after the British burned it to the ground during the War of 1812. What would Jefferson say about the decline in American education?
Another, perhaps more sinister factor, could be a more generalized cognitive decline correlated to a decline in the quality of the living conditions for theaverage American student, Keith Stanowich famously described a correlation between the ratio of neural connections in rich vs. impoverished environments as the "Matthew Effect":   https://youtu.be/lF6VKmMVWEc ... The rich get richer and the poor get ... well, screwed. In the Darwinian contest for student attentions, Halo 10, Books 0. I read an article today about the decline in "play" at the preschool level, in which researchers found a correlation between diminished play opportunities and diminished vestibular (kinesthetic) development, "caused" by a premature, inappropriate focus on "academics" by pre-schools. Another factor to consider is how the average secondary student "plays"? Does technology, i.e., video games, cell phones, computers, etc., in fact, cause people to become stupider because of how it limits how people interact with the natural world?