There’s No Such Thing As Journalistic Objectivity

Margaret Sullivan does a great job as the New York Times’ public editor, but I often find her equivocating, much like her employer. I was struck particularly by her Friday post about a number of New York Times turns of phrases that have been met with criticism, namely the uses of “targeted killing” in lieu of murder or assassination, and “harsh interrogation techniques” instead of torture.

You can read the rest of my post on IBTimes’ blog Fighting Words.

A Comment Response on Community Involvement

Last week I wrote a piece for IBTimes’ Fighting Words.  One comment, from a poster known only as ‘The Guy,’ had one point that I’d like to respond to and highlight:

The choice to accept is not provided. We should be able to determine our own contributions to our communities as well as the choice to receive contributions.

While the rest of the comment was some drivel about liberals and Bill Clinton, this first part is really a significant disagreement I have with much of conservative thought:

You don’t choose how much you participate because your actions impact your communities whether or not you actively choose participation. You benefit from living in a safer community, whether or not do anything to make it safer. You benefit from having smart people in your community, whether or not you do anything to help them learn. This is why these are collective enterprises; the idea that you’re separate from your community and can regulate how much you contribute is really a myth.

What Glenn Beck And Sarah Palin Don’t Understand About Education

Conservatives are outraged over this promo for MSNBC’s new show “Lean Forward”:

“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. ‘Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility.’ We haven’t had a very collective notion of ‘These are our children.’ “So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”

Read the rest at IBTimes’ new blog, Fighting Words.  I’ll probably be writing there (and hopefully here as well) a bit more regularly.  Check it out, let me know what you think!

Randy Turner in the Huffington Post, “A Warning to Young People: Don’t Become a Teacher”:

Young teachers from across the United States have told me they no longer have the ability to properly manage classrooms, not because of lack of training, not because of lack of ability, not because of lack of desire, but because of upper administration decisions to reduce statistics on classroom referrals and in-school and out-of-school suspensions. As any classroom teacher can tell you, when the students know there will be no repercussions for their actions, there will be no change in their behavior. When there is no change in their behavior, other students will have a more difficult time learning.

We really very often make the mistake of not listening to those who are most impacted by our statements and policies. (via edukaition)

Evgeny Morozov, ‘Solutionism’, and the Arab Spring

Having become so embedded within the ‘mind sphere’ of technology and social media, I find it quite refreshing when someone comes along to tear it all down the way Evgeny has.  Of ‘The Net Delusion’ and ‘To Save Everything, Click Here’ fame, I’m just beginning to come across his work.  I think the release of the latter book is what’s broken him into my field of view, and someone who’s so willing to fight back against the mainstream opinion, much of which I’ve adopted, is extremely interesting.  I was reading his takedown of Jeff Jarvis, a popular pontificator of all things internet, and his book ‘Public Parts’, and I was struck by this quote:

Why worry about the growing dominance of such digitalism? The reason should be obvious. As Internet-driven explanations crowd out everything else, our entire vocabulary is being re-defined. Collaboration is re-interpreted through the prism of Wikipedia; communication, through the prism of social networking; democratic participation, through the prism of crowd-sourcing; cosmopolitanism, through the prism of reading the blogs of exotic “others”; political upheaval, through the prism of the so-called Twitter revolutions.

Even with how embedded I am in social, tech, and digital culture, I still found the recent declarations of the Arab Spring as The Twitter Revolution extremely disingenuous.  No one denies the role Twitter and Facebook played in organizing and dispersing information, both within and without the Arab world, during the Arab Spring, but to act like the revolts there could not have happened with those technologies is simply incorrect.  Technologies don’t cause revolutions; they facilitate them.

As I’ve said, it’s great to see a well-read man with an understanding of history provide some perspective on what the internet truly brings to the table.  Expect to hear more from him – I’ll definitely be reading both his books and writing about them here.

This post is part of the thread: Technology & Society - an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

Why worry about the growing dominance of such digitalism? The reason should be obvious. As Internet-driven explanations crowd out everything else, our entire vocabulary is being re-defined. Collaboration is re-interpreted through the prism of Wikipedia; communication, through the prism of social networking; democratic participation, through the prism of crowd-sourcing; cosmopolitanism, through the prism of reading the blogs of exotic “others”; political upheaval, through the prism of the so-called Twitter revolutions.

Evgeny Morovoz, "The Internet Intellectual"

This post is part of the thread: Technology & Society - an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

Evgeny Morozov, of ‘The Net Delusion’ and ‘To Save Everything, Click Here’ fame, takes on Tim O’Reilly as the poster child for Silicon Valley’s transformation of language and the loss of complexity it engenders:

While the brightest minds of Silicon Valley are “disrupting” whatever industry is too crippled to fend off their advances, something odd is happening to our language. Old, trusted words no longer mean what they used to mean; often, they don’t mean anything at all. Our language, much like everything these days, has been hacked. Fuzzy, contentious, and complex ideas have been stripped of their subversive connotations and replaced by cleaner, shinier, and emptier alternatives; long-running debates about politics, rights, and freedoms have been recast in the seemingly natural language of economics, innovation, and efficiency. Complexity, as it turns out, is not particularly viral.

This post is part of the thread: Technology & Society - an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

This justification of “feeling” in the classroom from Stephen Downes continues to piggy-back off previous posts on fiction:

The first stage isn’t empty. It tells the other person how the problem is affecting you, developing a sense of urgency and empathy. The idea is that if the other person sees the consequence of the problem, and not just the symptoms, they can respond with something that solves the underlying issue, and not just the symptoms. Why is this important? If you skip the first stage – or can’t express what it is that really bothers you about something – your communications with others become just a repeated set of “I want I want” statements. The other person, if they care what you want at all, tries one after another band-aid solution without ever solving the problem.

One of the things that concerns me is using economic arguments to bolster what I feel are moral imperatives, but it is definitely an aspect of this I hadn’t considered.

Go read his piece – it’s quite interesting.

A Neuroscientific Justification for Fiction in the Classroom

I’ve previously written about the need for fiction in the classroom. Well, it turns out it’s not just me postulating about its positive effects. There’s actually brain research on the implications of fiction and social interactions:

Individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective.

This is REALLY important. The Common Core State Standards are intended to increase the complexity of the texts read in younger grades, focusing increasingly on informational texts with the aim of getting kids ready for jobs, essentially. The likely effects are not going to be pretty, besides the fact that we’re developing kids who are going to be decreasingly empathetic:

Another potential indirect effect on students may be their motivation and engagement. we’re also going to make kids hate reading. Steve McLeod has more.

Is this really what we want?

Is EdReform Trying to Replace Teachers with Computers?

Any teacher who can be replaced by a computer should be.

I’ve heard this quote so many times, it’s practically gospel.  Replace ‘teacher’ with ‘job,’ and it pretty much is gospel across most industries – any manual labor task that previously used to be done by humans are increasingly being turned over to computers and machines.  So it’s not particularly surprising that this sentiment should be applied to education. (more…)

This post is part of the thread: Testing & Standards in Education - an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.