Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Educational Items

"Back when I taught at UCLA, I was constantly amazed at how little so many students knew. Finally, I could no longer restrain myself from asking a student the question that had long puzzled me: "What were you doing for the last 12 years before you got here?" - Thomas Sowell

1. Mr. Sowell recently retired and this quote was taken from his last column. I'm only vaguely familiar with Mr. Sowell's works, but since I started teaching at the college I've wondered the same thing. How did you guys get into college with your skills? Going along with this, I started a Facebook page a couple of months back - now that's one big sinkhole of a time waster - and it didn't take me long to discover that many of the people posting should have paid closer attention in English class over the years. Granted, some of the cell phone shorthand is to be expected, and people probably don't put a lot of thought into posts of cat videos or their grandchildren, but still, if you're going to send it out into the world don't make yourself look totally illiterate. The stuff I write here is not always grammatically correct. I write in "conversational" sentences, if there is such a thing and I think much faster than I can type which can lead to some interesting sentence structure. Normally, however, I try to write a post then come back later and proof read it. The cooling off period allows me to catch most of my mistakes.

2. I checked the National Endowment for the Humanities site to see what they were offering for summer workshops and seminars. Nothing much that an adjunct welding instructor would qualify for but they are offering the program at the Henry Ford again for K-12 teachers. I've attended three of these summer workshops on the subject of the Industrial Revolution including the one at the Henry Ford. Besides learning quite a bit of history, at the Henry Ford we rode the steamboat, the steam locomotive, toured a Ford assembly plant, did an after hours tour of the grounds of the Greenfield Village, and had access to areas of the Henry Ford normally off limits to visitors. Shop Teacher Bob highly recommends the NEH summer workshops. You can find the info here.

3. The  most recent Imprimis from Hillsdale College delved into education issues. Hillsdale has successfully started sixteen charter schools with more in the works. These offer an education based on the classical model with Latin, history, literature, philosophy, etc. being taught. The chairman of Hillsdale's education program has written a series of standards for K-12. The standard for each grade takes up only about a half sheet of paper but according to the author, if the child can do the things on that half page, he/she has learned a lot. Mostly it seems to be common sense vs Common Core. You can read the whole article online here

4. I just finished reading Generation Debt by Anya Kamenetz. Interesting look at how young people are struggling to get a decent start in life - college loan debt, credit card debt, lack of jobs (especially those with benefits), and other factors that play into keeping them from having their slice of the pie. The book was written in 2006. After the meltdown of '08 and the following years, I'm sure things haven't improved much for those who fall into the 18 - 30 year old category. Looking at it from my perspective, I see things differently than the author but that's to be expected. However, when things are tough, that might be the time to look to your elders for some advice. As the book mentions, though, many of the older people they look to for help are people with problems of their own. The book does a really good job of explaining the problems and the issues facing young people trying to make their way in the world but I wasn't real impressed with the solutions offered at the end of the book. Here's a couple of things I would offer: Understand fully the economic concepts of compounding interest and opportunity cost. Have marketable skills. Get a job and do not quit that job until you have a better one.


Surly said...

I had to look up Imprimis. Google helped me spell it correctly.
"in the first place - used to introduce a list of items or considerations"
And yes, the " monthly speech digest of Hillsdale College..."

Shop Teacher Bob said...

Rather ironic I would misspell it after railing against just such things earlier in the post. In my defense, I'll go with the fact that the I and the U are next to each other on the keyboard.

Surly said...

Yeah, that's probably why our President Elect is so misunderstood as well.