Accidentally Sexist: Warren Buffett Edition

Discrimination, as it becomes less obvious, becomes a more difficult problem to root out. It becomes less about the obvious repression and more about the way past discrimination is still deeply embedded in the social fabric. We often generally espouse views of equality and respect, but individual actions and views, unbeknownst to ourselves, don’t align.

To start with the niceties, I do think Warren Buffett has his heart in the right place. I do think he wants women to be equally represented in the workplace. Unfortunately, you can’t get equality when you lead with victim blaming.

Read the rest of this post on IBTimes’ Fighting Words blog.

Is Getting Rich Off Ideas a Bad Thing?

I’m honestly still wrapping my head around this from Sam Biddle in Valleywag:

This same guy just cleared, by most estimations, a couple hundred million dollars. In what possible world does that make sense? In our new tech economy, where dreams are better than dollars, it makes perfect sense. Yahoo didn’t just buy a company, it validated, to the tune of a billion dollars, the notion that bad business is worth pursuing. The entire concept of what makes something a good idea continues to be inverted, warped, and thrown in a gully. This is the idea economy, remember—the industry of fantasy. It doesn’t have to “make sense.” Money isn’t valuable. Success isn’t lucrative. Profit is pointless. These are the industry’s norms. All you need do to become a billion-dollar business is make people entertained and vaguely interested. (more…)

Paul Krugman in The Conscience of a Liberal, “The Smith/Klein/Kalecki Theory of Austerity”:

What Smith didn’t note, somewhat surprisingly, is that his argument is very close to Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, with its argument that elites systematically exploit disasters to push through neoliberal policies even if these policies are essentially irrelevant to the sources of disaster. I have to admit that I was predisposed to dislike Klein’s book when it came out, probably out of professional turf-defending and whatever — but her thesis really helps explain a lot about what’s going on in Europe in particular.

Honestly, it’s about time he connected the push towards austerity with Klein’s Shock Doctrine.  It’s seemed fairly obvious to me the two were connected, and he’s hinted at similar issues before in arguing that the real reason for the push towards austerity is to dismantle the welfare state, not because it actually results in higher growth.

Jonathan Haber on Degree of Freedom, “xMOOC vs. cMOOC”:

The experience I just described made me realize that I like to be taught by a “sage-on-the-stage,” or, more particularly, by someone with way more expertise on the subject than I and my fellow students have who is also skilled and experienced at transferring this knowledge to others.  In no way does this mean that xMOOCs are inherently superior to cMOOCs on the same subject.  But it does mean that different options may be needed to meet the needs of people with widely varying strengths, weaknesses and preferences that make up their learning styles.

This is an interesting observation, given how much sage-on-the-stage gets blasted. As much as I kind of dislike xMOOCs, that model can be preferable to some people, so let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The problem with xMOOCs has a lot more to do with marketing/hype, and the host of problems that comes along with that, than merely its format.

John Hermann and Ben Smith of Buzzfeed, “The Media Doesn’t Own The Story Anymore”:

Under the old rules, a responsible citizen passed any potential bit of news he could find on to the professionals. The professionals collected tips, corroborated them, published the ones that panned out. Reporters could protect their readers from bad information — indeed, for reporters, the story was defined largely by what was kept from the public; for readers, the story was defined by the story. But now we should assume our readers and viewers see virtually everything that we see. We can no longer decide which rumors and scraps of information should be dignified with publication — a sufficiently compelling scrap of information, be it a picture of a man with a black backpack or an anonymous, single-sentence Reddit post from the scene of the crime, will become news on that merit alone.

Interesting change in the way the media tells the story – less about presenting facts and more about narrative.

Martin Weller on The Ed Techie, “The MOOC Wars”:

So Clark dismisses the impact of early MOOCers, claiming it was Khan that caused it all: “It took a hedge fund manager to shake up education because he didn’t have any HE baggage.” Why? Because it appeals to the narrative to have a saviour riding in from outside HE to save education. If you acknowledge that these ideas may have come from within HE then that could look like venture capitalists latching on to a good idea in universities and trying to make money from it. That doesn’t sound as sexy and brave.

The original Canadian developers of the MOOC (now dubbed the “cMOOC”) are being written out of the history books.  Martin has a good idea why.

AP Social Media Guidelines Are A Step In The Right Direction

On Tuesday, the Associated Press released an update to its social media guidelines. Obviously a response to the Boston Marathon bombing, the updates were intended to focus mostly on the newsgathering and dissemination process around breaking news events — called “sensitive situations.” And they did a decent job.

Read the rest of this blog post on IBTimes’ Fighting Words.

Leo Casey of Shanker Blog, “America’s Union Suppression Movement (And Its Apologists), Part Two”:

Similarly, in discussing teacher evaluations the Fordham/ERN report focuses entirely on matters of seniority layoffs, tenure and dismissal. There is no discussion of whether evaluations provide meaningful feedback and professional supports to teachers, thus improving the quality of teaching and learning across the board. The notion that tenure and due process could provide good teachers with the necessary protections to speak out when students are not being properly educated or are being unfairly treated is not even contemplated.

Shanker Blog does some great work, and this is a great criticism of a report put out by the Fordham Institute that basically started with a premise and wrapped the info around it.  Good takedown.

Grant Wiggins , “20 years later: the immorality of test security, revisited”:

As I have long written, I have no problem with the state doing a once-per-year audit of performance. But what far too many policy-makers and measurement wonks fail to understand is that if the core purpose of the test is to improve performance, not just audit it, then most test security undercuts the purpose. Look, I get the point of security: you can get at understanding far more easily and efficiently (hence, cheaply) if the student does not know the specific question that is coming; I’m ok with that. But complete test security after the fact serves only the test-makers: they get to re-use items (and do so with little oversight), and they make the entire test more of a superficial dipstick, using proxies for real work, than a genuine test of transparent and worthy performance.

This is really kind of a basic thing: tests are being used as audits, doling out rewards and punishments, rather than as a tool or method for helping teachers and schools improve.