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.

This Op-Ed About Michelle Rhee Misses the Point

I came across this op-ed piece in the Washington Post in my reading list today, and I was so struck by how mistaken it was. So here’s a point-by-point rebuttal.

That would be the case if any investigators — news reporters, the Education Department, D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent or the firm hired to investigate the cheating — had found that Rhee or top deputies encouraged cheating. That happened in Atlanta. But to date, that has not been found in the District. More likely, Rhee wasn’t aggressive enough in investigating cheating. But think back to the Rhee years. Her biggest controversies arose from being too tough on teachers. Would her detractors have applauded yet another attack on teachers — this time for cheating? Not likely. (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.

Kids Aren’t Engaged at School. So What?

The title is our system’s collective reaction: Gallup has released its biannual (?) Student Poll and the part of it that jumps out at me is how steadily engagement falls the longer students are in school. Creativity also drops the longer you’re in school.  And yet we continue on with the same policies, the same structure, the same format as we’ve been using for ages now. (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.

Buzzfeed Fails at Journalism

Back when Buzzfeed pulled their hatchet job on Matthew Ingram of The Oatmeal, I started writing a post wondering what the agenda behind the story was. Their approach and the ensuing backlash really appeared to be primarily motivated by the fact that their approach to journalism to start with a narrative and weave facts around it. In that case, the writer attempted to make the case that Ingram was a sell-out, that his comic were designed specifically to draw page views and that his work was dishonest (he was accused of GASP being a Republican). Unfortunately for Buzzfeed, in that case, the facts of the story fell apart, as the web profile attributed to Matthew didn’t belong to him, and thus, so did the narrative

Well, looks like they’re at it again; this time, the narrative is about liberals and guns, and the problem is not incorrect facts included, but contradictory facts excluded. (more…)

Thailand Journal: Day 6

tl;dr version: we spent another day in Bangkok, where we wandered Lumphini Park and we checked out a snake farm.

We had another day in Bangkok before our second excursion. We spent the morning swimming in the pool on the roof, a refreshing way to start the day. I had initially planned on exercising, but I’m not generally a fan it, so I instead took the swimming as enough and we headed back to the apartment to get ready.

As was typical, we got out on the later side, which was generally a bad idea, given the heat. Unfortunately, in our hurry to leave, we forgot to take any picture-taking devices with us, so you’ll have to forgive We decided to aim for an area of Bangkok we had not been, so we took the boat across the river to the Skytrain, which we rode to Lumphini Park. (more…)

Thailand Journal: Days 3, 4, & 5

tl;dr version: We went to Koh Samed and spent 3 days (one of them Christmas) drinking Mai Tais on the beach.

Fortunately for us, the bus station to Koh Samed was located near the Skytrain, right off the Ekkamai stop. You can see the bus station from the train. As we approached the station, we were greeted by several drivers, the last of which was a taxi driver who, after being told we were taking the bus, showed us to the correct window. The Thais are consistently the friendliest and most helpful people I’ve ever met.

We took the bus to Ban Phe, which has a ferry to Koh Samed, and we purchased both at the same time. If you’re going to Koh Samed, look at what beach you’re staying on; some beaches have direct ferries from the pier, rather than taking the long route we did. It may even be cheaper. The bus provided water and snacks for the ride, which was pretty awesome. You don’t find service like that in the US :). (more…)