Monday, February 4, 2013

Hi All,  It's my turn to post -- actually last week was my week, but I had no idea what I wanted to write about.  There are so many notions -- and they balloon all the time.  That's exactly the blessing/curse of electronic technology.  I am the neo-ist of neophytes in this stuff, so I wanted to find something on point, and useful to others who are further along in tech-evolution than I.  Here goes. . .

I've put four links below to stories from the news (3 of them) and to a "brain science" training program I saw advertised on TV.

So here's what I'm thinking.  Technology promises all sorts of marvels, and it delivers many of them, but how do we insure that we are using them wisely, not being led down the garden path, and not outright being hoodwinked by charlatans?  Not a new dilemma or new question.  However, there is a bit of the emperor's new clothes psychology at work.  I feel it all the time, and even though I'm a bit of a curmudgeon about this stuff, I'm entranced by how much more information I have access to as a consumer, and the effect that has had on my thinking, learning and teaching.

One quick example -- just the app for Zite on my iPad has brought me so many clippings about poetry and literature that I wouldn't have found in HOURS of looking on my own.  Conversely, had I spent the relatively short amount of time doing traditional research, I wouldn't have found the diversity of clips and topics that have come my way.  It's almost miraculous in one way.

So, the articles below...

Virtual school?  Gives me the absolute creeps!  When I am part of a kid's learning experience, when she gets the idea or has that moment, we share it together, and the affirmation that a teacher is there to be proud of that kid is the kind of HUMAN element to education that makes it meaningful learning.  The vast majority of us work in jobs/professions because of a significant relationship with a mentor.  So far that still means a teacher.  As for charter schools, the jury is coming in decidedly against them.  Take a look at the Times piece.

Next, for profit school.  Bad idea.  Even though the vast majority of higher education establishments bring in more receipts than they spend (between income from endowments, donations or other sources of funding -- like athletics) profit is not the first motive, and not a driver in the equation.  That is a critical element of keeping their focus on students rather than shareholders.  In essence, the students are the shareholders.

Our state is on the precipice of a very dangerous cliff -- the elimination of revenue sharing.  Many schools will be crippled by this awful idea.  I hope all of us will find a way to get involved in that conversation.  In your town, through letter writing, or in direct action, our voices in behalf of quality, in person mentoring for the next generation of citizens, really must be a priority.

Lastly, Lumosity.   What a curious idea.  I saw it advertised on TV and thought -- "How cool -- brain training!"  Well, it is pretty cool, and you can have three days for free, then you have to subscribe.  But the idea that such a service is out there is a tiny little piece of the potential for computers to serve our interests in enhancement ways rather than replace segments of our culture.  This site seemed to me a thoughtful and stimulating intersection of computer technology, brain science and popular culture.

See you around, Jim

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