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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Parent Update 050713

This is the update I sent my parents and students today on my online web grading system:

All,
We are in the middle of Marking Period 4. The English classes just finished '12 Angry Men'. Ask your child what the play was like - have him explain what the concepts were that we discussed. The class notes are a good resource for tying in the concepts and ideas. There was a connection between the Milgram Obedience to Authority experiment, the Stanford Prison Experiment and the play itself. The idea was to show how Groupthink and ad verecundiam (the latin term for Fallacy of Authority) can be dangerous. Having your child verbalize this idea would be a good way to help his Active Literacy skills. Going forward we will watch "A Few Good Men" and analyze the themes of the movie and the connection it has to "12 Angry Men".

There are some links I've come across and some books that might help in these times of troubled schools and dumbed down education. I see what my children get at 'school' and most of the times I have to augment the history and the English classes, as well as de-program the effects of the textbook propaganda. I realize how that sounds, but I've spoken to many parents of late who are seeing the same thing. Let me share some of the resources that I've come across as of late:

Books: 1) What Smart Students Know - by Adam Robinson. Robinson is one of the co-founders of the Princeton Review. He explains how 'school' and much of what it does is something of a random game that fits the style of only a few students. Worth it for a strategy book for education, and rife with great quotes. Robinson sold his share of the Princeton Review in the '80's for millions and now speaks and writes. 2) Weapons of Mass Instruction - By John Taylor Gatto. Gatto uses his knowledge of the history of school to explain how people, modern day and in the past, have used their innate intelligence to live full lives. The book is rich in showing the wealth and experience or people who have 'written their own script', rather than followed others' ideas for them. Gatto's work is always worthwhile, and there are many youtube videos of his that are quite interesting.

Video: This latest video I showed my Strategic Reading classes. It is not only inspirational, it might change the course of schools in general. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3jYVe1RGaU

Article: The One Laptop Per Child project is fascinating. This article at Technology Review explains how children in wretched conditions in Ethiopia were able to learn, on their own, how to hack the tablets they had been given. The ability of people to learn, when unshackled, is astounding. 

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