There's kind of a reason for this. If you're going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars promoting a specific academic agenda, one even more focused on the standardized testing that parents, students, and teachers alike tend to loath, and geared towards preparing kids for jobs rather than educating them (look at English in common core where now 70% of what students are supposed to read is not classic literature, plays, poetry, contemporary fiction, but newspaper articles and speeches and the like), he should at least educate his own kids in that way. Instead he seems to defy his own investment by sending his children to a school that emphasies no testing, a big focus on the classics and letting kids do their own thing and become well rounded.
As a student of history this sort of line of thinking looks interesting, though I wouldn't want to replace our entire history curriculum with it. Perhaps as an elective, though at this point Bill attempting to touch education is just asking for trouble...
A brief clarification: That 70% figure applies across all academic subjects in grades 6-12, not English classes. (It's 50-50 in K-5). If one supposes a student reads 90% informational text in science and math class, and perhaps 60-70% informational in history class, that leaves room for English class to be composed primarily of literature.
This is one of the most misunderstood parts of the CCSS, and I think it's because the authors did not clearly communicate it at all. The introduction discusses the fact that the NAEP framework makes a 70/30 split, but only clarifies the nature of the split in a footnote. It's unfortunate it's been poorly communicated, but the misconception should be corrected. Quoting from said footnote:
"The percentages on the table reflect the sum of student reading, not just reading in ELA settings. Teachers of senior English classes, for example, are not required to devote 70 percent of reading to informational texts. Rather, 70 percent of student reading across the grade should be informational."
(Disclaimer: I work at Amplify, an education technology company. This post reflects my own views, not theirs.)
With that in mind, I'm not sure how Gates' own school selection impacts his ideas about education. It seems rather like it has nothing at all to do with his ideas, in which case the appeal to Gates' own actions is fallacious.
Where do I have this wrong?
I do agree that a single solution is not the answer, but the issue is that Common Core actually is much more along the lines of creating a one size fits all model, rather than a community focused model. Much of what Common Core focuses on is actually being very well received in some areas, particularly in low-income, 'troubled' schools. However, the problem is that it is being applied, and that it is being preached by Gates and others, to the entire country, where kids with a more stable environment don't benefit as much from the same structure.
If they want to draw dickbutts then let them, but they have to use blender and do a stop-motion including some entirely virtual elements, or program a laser cutter, or write a paper on what compels adolescents towards such things, the history of dickbutt, interview a famed dickbutt drawer, etc., etc..
Want to shoot hoops in the yard all day, well OK but you have to teach this group of younger kids how to do it; write a paper on the best 3 point scorers in history including what you consider to be the things that made them great, include a review of their career earnings expressed as an expected lifetime per annum gross.
You give them freedom to decide the arena and tools to educate themselves but limit them on the details that ensure it's an educational experience. Problem with this - resources, teachers who know enough to support the particular interests of the child.
The turtles, all the way down, they burn!
I'm not trying to present a qualified opinion on why one approach is better than the other or even to describe them in much accuracy-- just trying to provide the perspective of those who are upset.
Obviously there is a difference I mean the exec's at McDonalds are most likely not eating McDonalds all the time or perhaps not even part of the time (no citations obviously, just common sense).
Look, people weren't even able to accept that Potus would not send their kids to DC public schools. Everybody is equal and all of that.
It's not surprising that people feel this way. It's actually more surprising how simple minded some people are to believe that there isn't a difference and buying into some idea that all people are equal.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but are you implying that this is a bad thing? Don't get me wrong; I'm a voracious reader and I love the classics, Shakespeare, poetry, and all the like. They should certainly be taught in English classes, however you seemed to imply that the other things listed don't have a place in English class.
I think that newspaper articles can give great insight into how to read and interpret news and information, how to be aware of biases in journalism, and how to write journalistically. As for speeches, I think rhetoric is also a fantastic skill to learn. People should know how to listen to a speech, understand a politician, and learn to speak publicly. Public speaking skills provide a whole slew of benefits both in the workforce and in life, with confidence being a big one.
Yes, perhaps rhetoric, public speaking, debate, argumentation, journalism, and the like shouldn't have heavy focus in a common-core, freshman English class, but I think they should certainly be touched on. There are some very important life and work skills in there, and it would be a shame not to give everyone a little taste of them.
One criticism of some schools with very classical education is their lack of preparation for the "real world". Many schools didn't bother teaching computer skills until years after the rest of the world had started, despite having the means (i.e. money) to do so. Learning the classics, learning Latin, and learning poetry can make someone an excellent guest at a dinner party, and that's great, but I think the average person would be better off with a little more practicality.
Einstein said, "Education is what is left after you've forgotten everything you've learned." Isn't it all about teaching a sort of... meta-skill? Teaching people to learn how to learn? When they no longer remember what Lord of the Flies was about or not being able to recite The Raven, they should still be able to retain the skills required to go back, look at the writing, and figure it out again. I would argue that it should be the same for things like rhetoric. When you're 26 and you have to give a speech at work for the first time in ten years, you should remember some stuff from high school. You may forget the lame topic you were assigned to give a speech on, and you may forget what sources you used, but the skills of doing that research, preparing that speech, and talking in front of others all helped you. Not only do they help with that speech at work, but also in normal, everyday conversation. I really think there's a good case here for teaching some more practicality, despite my love of all the things I learned in my English classes.
Of course, it should be noted that I am not in the educational field and I am a complete layman on this topic.
Until I turned 30 I never understood the point of learning poetry in school. My mother got ill, and I recalled the poem "Do not go gentle into that good night" by Dylan Thomas, and it helped me make sense of my feelings. When politicians equivocate, I am reminded of a core theme in Macbeth. I have never discussed Macbeth at dinner, but it helped me understand an important aspect of the world. My English teachers helped give me a framework for understanding as an adult, though their analysis of the literature we studied. I taught myself computers at home, and studied CS at university, but I am glad that we did an intensive study of the English language in high school. School is the last opportunity for many people, particularly those who are technically inclined, like me, to be exposed to the humanities, and without it, we are at risk of being stunted as adult citizens. (Incidentally, it has been pointed out that many modern terrorists have engineering backgrounds- perhaps it is even more important for us to be exposed to the classics to help make sense of the world.)
"Who is the most original and the most versatile intellect that the Americas have so far produced? The answer "Charles S. Peirce" is uncontested, because any second would be so far behind as not to be worth nominating. [He was] mathematician, astronomer, chemist, geodesist, surveyor, cartographer, metrologist, spectroscopist, engineer, inventor; psychologist, philologist, lexicographer, historian of science, mathematical economist, lifelong student of medicine; book reviewer, dramatist, actor, short story writer; phenomenologist, semiotician, logician, rhetorician and metaphysician.
He was, for a few examples, the first modern experimental psychologist in the Americas, the first metrologist to use a wave-length of light as a unit of measure, the inventor of the quincuncial projection of the sphere, the first known conceiver of the design and theory of an electric switching-circuit computer, and the founder of "the economy of research." He is the only system-building philosopher in the Americas who has been both competent and productive in logic, in mathematics, and in a wide range of sciences. If he has had any equals in that respect in the entire history of philosophy, they do not number more than two."
Also, teaching kids to read the news somehow implies that an adult needs the news.
Many (not all) of the intellectuals I've run into in the valley, Berkeley and the city are now unplugging from the news specifically because they've lost faith in it as an information source. Stated directly, "freedom of the press" is the theory yet corporate controlled media is the implementation. It's the distribution channels that are highly controlled.
And yes, exposing children to the news is a horrible idea.
Sheltering children from news media because they are "corporate controlled" would go about as well as sheltering them from sex, I fear. Sooner or later they will find out the wild outside world exists.
Great literature is timeless and says more about our wild world than any "non-fiction" permitted by incumbent power structures du jour.
Understanding today's news is a vital skill for survival. You could complain all about "incumbent power structure" controlling our media (which is rather strange... how come _you_ have no problem saying these things? Are you somehow outside the influence of the power structure?), but our everyday life (from finding out upcoming road closures to deciding whether California should reduce water usage) depends on knowing what's happening around us.
Sure, it's very important to view the information critically, but you can't criticize what you don't know. Get rid of the mainstream information source, and you frequently end up with worse source of information, like moon landing hoaxers, antivaxxers, and 9/11 conspiracy theorists. (Well, these people also think the mainstream news is beyond redemption and only they know the truth. Shoving CNN through their throats may be actually doing them some favor.)
And let's not pretend that reading astute commentaries on the fundamentals of human nature will say any less about our world than would a publication that needs to keep advertising dollars coming in while remaining harmonious with present political echo chambers.
Those who can compare their first-hand observations with the reported news are often surprised. If you've not had this personal experience, an alternative would be to read classic books by Edward Bernays (father of PR) or Ryan Holiday (2012), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-church/ryan-holiday-tru...
I strongly believe that the point of education is to provide children with the thinking ability to come to their own conclusions.
The ability to think, to solve problems, to find solutions is what will enable them to build the future.
In terms of the news specifically it spoon feeds conclusions and is largely biased. The bias part is largely agreed to. The debate is which way the bias leans.
I think that point of view should be right at home here on HN. I bet most of us believe that measurement, testing, and iterative development are helpful in producing a good product or service. However, most of the U.S. education does not work that way, and parts of it (teachers' unions) are actively hostile to it.
Some schools produce outcomes that are so good that they are "visible to the naked eye". You don't need sophisticated testing regimes to know that Phillips Andover or Bronx Science produce strong graduates. It's no surprise that the richest man in the world has picked one of those schools for his children. You probably would too, if you could.
But, most people can't--they rely on public education. And in the U.S., most school districts produce outcomes that are not obviously good, or in some cases are obviously bad. In those situations, a clear set of standards and measurements seem to me like something worth trying.
Many teachers don't like it because it puts their jobs at risk, potentially based on outcomes that they have little control over (educational outcomes appear to depend heavily on outside factors). They are also worry that the curriculum will be developed by administrators who don't actually know anything about teaching.
Parents don't like it because new currulica don't match what they learned in school as kids. Forgive my bluntness, but I think that is stupid. If there is a better way to do things, we should change.
Students, many of them, don't like changes that make them work harder in school. Personally, I'm not very sympathetic to that either.
Yeah, until we start trying to measure programmer output and then it's all on about how impossible special snowflakes are to measure.
An increased emphasis on tests sadly tends to lead to teaching to the test. I experienced this in the early days of NCLB even in a gifted and talented program where several weeks leading up to the test ate up time outside of normal class in order to prepare for the battery of standardized tests that had little relevancy to much of what went on in the classroom. In schools where instruction is already poor, it tends to take even more focus away and devote it towards this specific niche.
The other big issue is more one with common core's implementation itself where Pearson has ultimate control over the incredibly lucrative market, and the various contractors they are working with tend to do a fairly shoddy job of it. Test question writing has devolved to such a poor point, due to endless cheapening and outsourcing in order to lower costs, that a question on a major test may net the writer a few dozen dollars. Forgive the anectodal evidence, but my mother worked for a long period as a freelance writer, and when she considered going back to it recently she discovered that many of the questions, ones that have an enormous impact on education, are going for a pittance. Further, in her current occupation teaching adult basic ed and GED prep (they have to work towards common core too), much of the official testing materials and prep questions for educators have been so poorly designed that neither the students nor the teachers can understand them.
So yes, quantitative measurements can certainly be a good thing in order to help support improvement, but the current testing model is horrendously broken and moving further towards it is not really the right way to go.
Most states have not even really started to do that yet. What we have now are a few commercial companies who are rushing shit products out the door with a "Common Core" sticker slapped on them, and the world is judging the entire concept based on these crappy products. See for example:
> An increased emphasis on tests sadly tends to lead to teaching to the test.
This is not a dependent relationship; it is a choice. It is up to administrators and teachers to decide how curricula are designed and teachers teach.
The idea that setting standards automatically results in worse performance would not make sense in any other context; yet it's taken as a given in education.
UK has significantly higher graduation rates for both High school and for college than the US, and the UK just loves its standardized testing (it's where I grew up).
It's great in that those who would be under-performers are held to a higher standard than they otherwise would be. There's no getting a free pass for playing sports. The year I graduated high school, my school ranked as one of the top 5 in the UK public school system (it was also the only one that the examiners made no mention of ways to improve, meaning it was likely the top school in the country) and I didn't even know we had a football (soccer) team that competed against other schools. In fact, the only competition I was aware my school entered for sports was the cross country marathon because one of our class members (son of two Kenyan immigrants, no one was surprised as he used to lap us in track and field) won the competition.
However, it's bad in that the over-performers are held to no standard whatsoever. I was an over-performer. I got one of the highest grades in class and did nothing, didn't hand in homework because anything that was to the standardized test I aced. One of my elementary school teachers thought I was slow and wanted me to get tested for dyslexia or other learning disorders and said I would fail the Key Stage 1 tests. I was 3rd in my class. The bar was so low that me and my "nerdy" friends in high school barely worked in classes. My chemistry class we would be finished our work within 20 minutes and spend the rest of the class talking with the teacher.
There was no drive to excel. There was no "this kid's smart, lets focus on him more". I passed so they didn't give a fuck, it meant they could spend more time on the dumb kids and subsequently boost their budgets.
If you benchmark on your bug count, it will go down, but there is no reason to believe quality will improve.
Regarding the over-performers in school, I've always had this idea that they should help teach in some way. It can give meaning to bored children in a way that few other things can.
"how can children, still learning themselves, teach others? One answer: They can tutor younger kids. The benefits of this practice were indicated by a pair of articles published in 2007 in the journals Science and Intelligence. The studies concluded that first-born children are more intelligent than their later-born brothers and sisters and suggested that their higher IQs result from the time they spend showing their younger siblings the ropes."
I'm surprised if your secondary school was examined by Ofsted, and found to be faultless - they are normally very hot on schools being able to engage talented and gifted. Although, as an independent, was it inspected?
I think it could have gotten anomalously high because the next time it got tested it dropped drastically, although there was an exodus of the better teachers.
The whole thing had a startup getting its IPO feel. Once it got that report it took maybe two years for the best teachers to be gone and moved on to being department heads elsewhere.
If Gates pushed what was best for his kids to others we would have an uproar about the fact that most kids can't go from interest to interest with no concern for income at all.
Excerpt: "Everybody has heard of Julius Caesar - but who knows about his contemporary Sergius Orata, the Roman building contractor who invented central indirect house heating? Yet
Orata has affected our daily lives far more than Caesar ever did." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergius_Orata)
When will it be the turn of engineers and entrepreneurs -- the individuals who have in actuality moved mankind out of the caves and into skyscrapers? To our great shame, I can't say when that day will come. And I'm not holding my breath for it.
Are they absent from the engineering past or only the recorded history? For example, much of modern technology involves mobility. Would it be useful to study the technology of mobile nomadic tribes? What was the historical equivalent of http://bulletjournal.com?
Or, Mayan civilization where Europeans destroyed all books, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8113410 "Unfortunately only 3 of these Mayan codices have survived (imagine inferring 1,000 years of Western civilization from a comic book, an almanac and a prayer book). Here are some of the codices which contain very accurate astronomical forecasts on Venus, Mars, eclipses and the sun"
In this map of 1492, http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/haywood/s4_9519.pdf, we see that http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenochtitlan was the largest city-state in pre-Columbian Americas and the fifth-largest city in the world. Look at the size of the Aztec, Inca and Mayan civilizations. What could we learn from their science and engineering accomplishments?
We need more projects like Joseph Needham's Science and Technology in China, started in the 1950s and still ongoing, http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_and_Civilisation_in_C....
One example is http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bury_My_Heart_at_Wounded_Knee
1) What is David Christian's professional reputation among his peers?
2) What do professional historians see as the strengths and weaknesses of Big History?
3) Does he really know enough about all these subjects to provide expert knowledge and analysis? Wouldn't it be better to have the evolution section taught by an evolutionary biologist?
If these questions are answered in the article, please forgive me. I skimmed it, but it's 12 pages (converted to PDF).
1) While I don't know a lot about academic circles from what I gathered his method of teaching history is seen as different but not at all bad, he has connections in other fields who seem to love what he's doing.
2) Can't really answer that unfortunately.
3) David Christian is interesting as he'll readily admit if he doesn't know something in a lot of detail. That said, I found his knowledge to be quite good across all of the history we covered and he answered student questions well, pulling on others with more knowledge if he was unable to fully explain something or was unclear. He does in fact enlist the support of other professors for teaching certain topics, the lecture of the formation of the Earth was given by a Geologist and Evolution was in part covered by Dr Greg Downey, an anthropologist.
I actually really enjoyed the course as, coming from an IT background, it was quite a bit more engaging and interesting and the group discussions in tutorials were very interesting with many good discussions had.
4000 year histomap: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2013/08/12/the_1931_his...
5000 year timeline: http://www.usefulcharts.com/history/timeline-of-world-histor...
https://audioboo.fm/boos/1574606-james-burke-predicted-the-f... (WARNING: webpage auto-plays an audio track of Burke)
It is the best enrichment course I had ever taken. I wonder if the lecturer (Yuval Harrari) was influenced by this "Big History", or he arrived at this teaching method independently.
Maybe it shouldn't be framed as a "history class" though. It's really not "history, expanded." It's more like "The Big Picture, of Everything You're Learning."
- are interesting people
- are smart
- have opinions that are well founded and worth listening to
- are good leaders
- are role models
... moreso than people who are not rich
But Bill Gates has a lot of money, which means (apparently) that he's more worth paying attention to, regardless of the topic.
"How dare the author pique my interest with his verbal chicanery! A pox on thee!"
Article text: "$10 million that he has personally invested in the Big History Project" -> "Bill Gates personally invests $10 million in Big History Project"
Article text: "Barr allowed the Big History Project to replace World History, which is known as Global Studies in New York, as a required course." -> "Big History replaces World History in Brooklyn high school"
Edit: to further expand, there have also been articles I click through to with "linkbait" titles, that ended up being poorly written or not what I thought they were going to be about. I close them after a couple of paragraphs (and don't feel cheated or tricked). Were I on another community I might be more wary of links to crap but since HN tends to skew more towards quality stuff I'd rather let the "linkbait" if enough of the community thought it was good enough to get it to the front page. I get suitably more discriminating when browsing the New section.
This applies to any stock with a high P/E ratio.
Also, anyone with a spare $100 can get started investing in securities.
anyone with a spare $100
Being impoverished doesn't just mean that you're unlikely to have a spare $100 at any given time, it means that any negative life event is that much more likely to wipe out any savings you may have been able to accumulate, including an investment in securities.
Schools often don't look for kids who need beyond average services, and may defer, even resist doing so unless parents make a point of pushing the issue. I've known parents who have taken schools to court to get cooperation. Too bad that's necessary, schools invariably relent. It is the law.
Of all of the countries that are top performing (as rated by NCEE), which have privatized school systems?
That's a poorly thought out platitude. Plenty of rights are also choices such as the right to vote, to remain silent, to bear arms, to a trial by jury.
* Dave Christian has Bill Gates' email address
* Dave Christian lectured at San Diego State University
After a minute of Google searching, I discovered that http://advancement.sdsu.edu/marcomm/experts/department/al_hi... lists firstname.lastname@example.org as his email address.
This means that the sysadmins of mail.sdsu.edu have Bill Gates' personal email address. So if any of their IIS machines go down, they have the rare opportunity to complain directly to the man who started it. ;D
I do think it's appropriate to call out Dave's contact info publicly like this...
We have reached an impasse.