Assorted Links

  1. For the Love of Learning– A blog discussion of schools and the mechanization of teaching such that students are passive and learning is something done to them.

    His quote: “Because school defines learning as passive, learners come to see education as something done to them. When students are stuck in the middle of a problem, they don’t try and figure out what makes sense to do next; instead, they try to remember what they are suppose to do. If this is the premise for learning, is it any surprise that learners become less autonomous, more dependent and ultimately mindless?”

    I agree entirely and find that the part of school my students are least prepared for is analysis and developing arguments. As a general rule, they can find the answer to a specific, factual question, but when asked to draw from multiple sources to analyze a topic vis a vis a specific question, they become panicked and want to know what the “right” answer is. The uncertainty is frightening to them and they are hesitant to take a stand for fear of being wrong. But education is a process. Admitting your ignorance and then seeking to rectify it is the key to education, which is an issue that reminds me of a now several year old essay about the importance of stupidity in scientific research. Certainty is absurd and ignorance should not be an excuse for inaction, but an opportunity for finding answers.

  2. Most Citizens of the Star Wars Galaxy are Probably Totally Illiterate– An thought-provoking piece on Tor.com where the author discusses the the inner workings of fantasy universes, but particularly examining Star Wars. He posits “functional” illiteracy for most inhabitants of that universe, pointing out audio, video, and pictoral records, with most of the literate people having only a working knowledge of the language, enough for their jobs. The comments particularly tear the author apart on the lack of reading in most fantasy (fairly well, I think), and some make counter-examples from the Star Wars universe, including the argument that it is a huge universe. Most, though, concede that this is at least a provocative discussion. The author and at least one blogger make allusions to the modern world in this analogy. I wonder if this is at all paired with a discussion that I saw over the weekend (using the 50 Shades main character as an example) that characters in stories people are drawn to often are more well read than the audience itself.
  3. Why Handwriting Matters– Another story in the Guardian about handwriting, specifically focusing on the personalization and intimacy that digital writing eliminates.
  4. Brewmaster Makes Beer from His Beard Yeast– A curious story about the brewmaster from Rogue Brewery finding a new yeast with which to brew. I am not sure I’d want to try it, though the process of brewing should eliminate anything harmful.
  5. Dark Social– A discussion at the Atlantic about the nature of social media and how people interact with the internet. The author seeks to debunk the pervasive notion that social media sites created a social web. Instead, the author posits that the majority of social interaction on the web takes place through mass emails, chat programs, and message boards. Social media has lent structure and a public appearance to some of the same communications, but has not replaced them.
  6. Inequality and the world economy: True Progressivism– An article in the Economist that calls for a new progressive era in radically moderate way (promoting competition and capitalism while mitigating inequality). I don’t wholly agree with the article, but the intention is laudable.
  7. As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?

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