Thursday, May 31, 2012

From MUSE: "How do we make learning relevant to students?"

From Krystal, by Good

I particularly liked the suggestion of Sugata Mitra, an education scientist and professor at Newcastle University in the U.K., that we replace Readin', 'Ritin', and 'Rithmetic with the following:
Reading Comprehension
Information Search and Retrieval
"How to Believe," which sounded like the ability to distinguish between good and bad information: "arming students against doctrine"

As I noted to Krystal, there is still a part of me that wonders whether things like arithmetic need to be internalized before one can really have a good sense of, e.g., how to search and what questions to ask, but I also think those things can be internalized along the way to building other, more relevant skills.

Also, that part about teaching kids to sit quietly and disengage and just deal with the horrible feelings that engenders: yes!  I want a wild and rowdy classroom!

This post was also published on MUSE '13

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From MUSE: Marriage Equality and the Dangers of Argument from Definition

This is a thoughtful excerpt from a new book on the Marriage Equality debate and, as djw notes on Lawyers, Guns, & Money, "an excellent demolition of the argument by definition strategy, which is always an exercise in sophistry when dealing with a concept that has a complex social history and is both an empirical and normative capacity. "

This post was also published on MUSE '13


20 Essential Songs from the Late Lookout! Records by Dr. Frank from the Mr. T Experience

I'm a little bit surprised at how much nostalgia this article is invoking for me.  I mean, I knew I'd know some of the songs, which is why I clicked on it in the first place, but I didn't realize how vividly the sounds and the stories would evoke the world of my late teens and early twenties.  I felt so on the fringe of things at the time, so attenuated, that I failed to notice how much of the East-Bay-Punk-Rock-Gilman scene had seeped into my brain and my blood.

I have more to say about this, I think . . . maybe.  But it's difficult because Danny is gone now, and that is hard to look at, being so ridiculous and ugly and unnecessary.

And yet, I cannot separate him out.  He was my link to the whole thing, my entree into that world.  At least that's how it started, and that's certainly how it felt at the time.  And afterward... well, it was hard for my little 23 year old self to figure out what of it was him and what of it had become part of me.

Fairly quickly, it became clearer (thank god, or this would just be pathetic), and I bought my own record player and a few punk rock albums.  And then my musical world view really opened up, as I discovered more and more music on my own and through new and old friends and figured out what I liked and didn't like.

But he, and childhood, and growing up, are so twisted around with this music and this world that they're impossible to separate without doing some damage, like performing surgery on conjoined twins.  The flesh has knitted, and blood vessels are shared, and there is no dividing line, no space between.

And so it hurts and it's good, and I'm sad and I'm happy to revisit something past.  And I'm seeing me and not me reflected everywhere.  And, yeah.  Nostalgia.

Monday, May 21, 2012

From MUSE: Science Leadership Academy

The last segment in this video (which is awesome generally) looks at Science Leadership Academy, which is doing some really fantastic things in social studies, it seems.

The What If? History Project looks amazing, and it seems to be part of a larger well-considered curriculum.  I will definitely be looking into this further!

This post was also published on MUSE '13

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cat Ear Parabolas

So, I promise this isn't going to turn into a cat blog.  I mean, I am obsessed with my cat, I ain't gonna lie, but I have a modicum of control.

However, I was thinking recently about how Copernicus' ears look like 3-D conic sections.

And then I thought about the parabola that is the front outline of his ear, and I decided, since I am done with school and can do random fun things like this now, that it had to be done.

So I took a picture of his ear.
And then I traced it in Adobe Illustrator (badly), rotated the drawing so that the vertex was at the top, and overlaid a graph.  The points that I found were based on the 8-by grid that was visible for editing on Illustrator.  I placed it so that my graph could have 2 x-intercepts.  For the graph I'm going for, it doesn't matter where on the coordinate system it lies.  It's about the shape.

Then, I looked up how to find the equation of a parabola from points on the graph because I couldn't remember it.  Turns out you need the vertex and one other point for the simplest process.

For a vertically symmetrical parabola, you start with y=a(x-h)^2 + k, where (h, k) is the vertex.

My vertex was (0, 25), so I started with that:  y=a(x-0)^2 + 25, i.e., y=ax^2 + 25.  Then input another point and solve for a.  I chose (-8, 16), because I was fairly sure of my sketch at that point on the graph.

16=a[(-8)^2] + 25 . . . 16= 64a + 25 . . . -9 = 64a . . . a = -0.138461538

So my equation for that view of Buddy's ear is

 and the graph of that function is ...

 Which, if you imagine some angling and perspective isn't bad.

I really want to try one with a better head-on picture.  Getting Bud to sit still for that, however, is the hard part.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Buddy being neighborly

This was taken last year, but it still cracks me up. He's such an ass sometimes.

It's a start...

A step forward if nothing else.

Obama announced support for same sex marriage yesterday. Unfortunately, at one point he used the phrase "for me, personally."  Common! let's just put this thing to bed already.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

from via

Alienation from the self I want to be

It is the phenomenon somethings called “alienation from self.” In its advanced stages, we no longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something; that we could say no without drowning in self-reproach is an idea alien to this game. Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains the will, and the specter of something as small as an unanswered letter arouses such disproportionate guilt that answering it becomes out of the question. To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves - there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.
by Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem