education

Cadete (Mescalero Apache) on Indian & White culture

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Mescalero Apache Chief Cadete
Mescalero Apache Chief Cadete

In the main Western culture has had a poor record of pausing in conquest long enough to record the views of vanquished foes. We have always sent soldiers to dismantle cultures in the way of ‘manifest destiny,’ so too often it is the hard country of military dispatches in which the death songs of whole peoples echo down through the years. Perhaps we catch so much of the rich intonation and meaning in Cadete’s words because Capt. Cremony was both a journalist by training and a fluent speaker of Apache, indeed the first white man to learn the language.

Here Mescalero Apache chief Cadete offers not the expected maudlin call to the old ways, but an incisive comparative analysis of Western and Apache cultures.

“You desire our children to learn from books, and say, that because you have done so, you are able to build all those big houses, and sail over the sea, and talk with each other at any distance, and do many wonderful things; now, let me tell you what we think. You begin when you are little to work hard, and work until you are men in order to begin fresh work. You say that you work hard in order to learn how to work well. After you get to be men, then you say, the labor of life commences; then too, you build big houses, big ships, big towns, and everything else in proportion. Then, after you have got them all, you die and leave them behind. Now, we call that slavery. You are slaves from the time you begin to talk until you die; but we are free as air. We never work, but the Mexicans and others work for us. Our wants are few and easily supplied. The river, the wood and plain yield all that we require, and we will not be slaves; nor will we send our children to your schools, where they only learn to become like yourselves.”

– Mescalero Apache Chief Cadete,
as related to Capt. John C. Cremony“The Apache Race,”Overland Monthly, Vol. I (September, 1868), 207.

BBC: The future of education in Africa is mobile

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kindle-africa-schoolThe UN’s Steve Vosloo arrives at the same conclusion I drew five years ago from my experience in Grenada, specifically that increasing mobile bandwidth was the way to get data connections into every home (as opposed to cable or fiber solutions). From an educator’s perspective I instantly saw this as a way to get the strongly mobile- and cloud-based curricula I was designing into as many hands as possible.

While education struggles to cope, mobile communication has grown exponentially. Africa is today the fastest growing and second largest mobile phone market in the world. While in some countries – including Botswana, Gabon and Namibia – there are more mobile subscriptions than inhabitants, Africa still has the lowest mobile penetration of any market. There is plenty more growth to come. Over 620 million mobile subscriptions mean that for the first time in the history of the continent, its people are connected.

These connections offer an opportunity for education. Already, we are starting to see the beginnings of change. An increasing number of initiatives – some large-scale, some small – are using mobile technologies to distribute educational materials, support reading, and enable peer-to-peer learning and remote tutoring through social networking services. Mobiles are streamlining education administration and improving communication between schools, teachers and parents. The list goes on. Mobile learning, either alone or in combination with existing education approaches, is supporting and extending education in ways not possible before.

This is the conclusion I made in 2009: that cloud- and device-based distance learning curricula were the single best, most reliable way to bring ‘first world’ education to the developing world, let alone represent a quantum expansion into untapped markets for online education. At the time the prevalent mindset was to adapt current web-based services for online on private servers. Cloud curricula aren’t subject to point-outages of power, servers, or internet. Providers of free cloud services (Google, for instance) don’t ‘do’ down. The First Law of Online Education is ‘Access is everything,’ and in places where cable or fiber internet are impracticable or prohibitively costly mobile internet –fueled by & in turn fueling the explosion in mobile devices & laptop-like 4G Chromebooks– is the only technology that can plug entire communities in with the flick of a switch. Those communities are then free to be informed, conduct commerce, or learn.

Read the remainder of Steve Vosloo’s story here.

Arming teachers in America

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Pap Smear, USMC-style?

Asking a teacher to carry a gun is like asking a Marine to carry a speculum. Yeah they didn’t cover gynecology at Parris Island, and yeah there are people better suited for that job, but imagine how you’d feel watching one of your buddies get a really gross infection for lack of a pap smear…

I’m a college professor (read: teacher). I’m also a realist. If we’re going to have a country full of unregulated guns we are accepting a calculated risk just in going out in public. Up here a guy got hit in the side of the head by a stray bullet while driving down the street in his minivan with his family. Can’t get much more random than that, and you can’t get much more ‘gun violence’ than headshot in front of your kids.

We see only the bottom line of that calculation though, in the sum of men, women, and children killed by firearms. We’re asked to accept –with increasing incredulity– that this bloody price isn’t too much to pay for whatever inscrutable, intangible benefit gun owners enjoy.

Boys I sure hope you’re enjoying whatever it is you get out of guns, because your neighbors are paying the price every day.

English Major Humor

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Coma. Coma. Coma. Coma. Coma. Chameleon.
Coma. Coma. Coma. Coma. Coma. Chameleon.

I’ve been telling my students this for years: bad language skills hurt them professionally

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Granted one example hardly proves my point, but it does give that point some traction by proving a certain viewpoint exists, namely that people with poor language skills are looked down upon in professional situations (my emphasis):

If you confirm an interview with Kyle Wiens with a note that says, “See you their,” you’ll never be hired at iFixit. Wiens, CEO of the San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based online repair community, won’t hire anyone who uses poor grammar or misspells words. In fact, he thinks people who haven’t mastered basic grammar deserve to be passed over, even if they’re otherwise perfect for the position.

“The person who has decided to not care about grammar is not the kind of person I want to work with,” Wiens said. “I understand missing a comma, but if you use ‘to,’ ‘too’ and ‘two’ incorrectly, it shows me you have no idea what you’re talking about. There’s a very big difference between a typo and something that makes it clear you’re fundamentally incompetent.”

Read the rest here.

What do professors do, anyway?

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This is a good synopsis of the thrill-a-minute, behind the scenes life of academics. If a few commonly-held (and often pervertedly cherished) misconceptions about the work of educators are dispelled in the process of reading this article, so much the better:

For professors, actual time spent teaching in the classroom is the tip of the iceberg that follows a great deal of preparation: sifting through mountains of books and articles to pick the texts for students to read; creating detailed course plans; producing voluminous notes and presentations for every class and writing a syllabus, among other things. Professors don’t just stroll into class and say what’s on their mind.

 Read the rest at HuffPo.

The value of paying attention in English class

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This moment of mortification is brought to you by someone in the agency for Starbucks and every single person in their marketing department who vetted these materials.

Business students, learn this important fact now: if you’re not going to attend your English/writing classes because you can’t reconcile the ROI, you’d better make so much money you can hire someone who did. Just like there is never a second chance to make a first impression, the appearance of laziness & amateurism is stickier than maple syrup on a three year old.

Vegetables ≠ vegatables
Vegetables ≠ vegatables