Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jameis Winston in The Crime Upon the Table

It reads like a murder mystery, this ongoing saga of the young man without a moral compass. The mystery is why Florida State University decided to act on a minor misdemeanor, a very typical young man stunt of shouting something, we don’t know what but its nature was vulgar and directed toward females, based upon an internet meme traveling among the social media of college-aged students.
Previously, FSU went with the decision of the local State’s Attorney’s Office that as there wasn’t enough evidence to support prosecution of a young woman’s claim of rape, there was no need for the University to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Winston in that incident.
Only when the Feds got interested under Title IX did the University feel the need for a pretense that they would do something. This is FSU, remember, and Jameis Winston is not the first athlete whose questionable behavior was ignored as long as the Garnet and Gold won football games.
Is it a case that (wink, wink) sexual escapades are part of the make-up of muscle-bound, virile, testosterone-fueled young male athletes who smash heads on a grass-covered field in the afternoon and then seek a different conquest at night? Everyone remembers the wild oats of their youth or the wild oats as they wished it had been?
Notice the male oriented nature of that paragraph. Women must have a very different orientation or why, long ago, in my college days did two women take out a personal ad in the campus newspaper calling out the winning quarterback, “Hey, (name deleted), you had one pass that failed Saturday night!”
The incident in the supermarket continued the bad press just when FSU could hope that the attention would fade away. Again we had excuses: he forgot to pay, he had a moment of “youthful ignorance.” (His words.)
In this case, he received a civil citation to divert the case from criminal court, performed community service (he had seven days to do so; one must wonder how many hours were assigned), reimbursed the store, and served a suspension from the baseball team.
But there were no football penalties. That might cost victories.
Until now. Jameis Winston was suspended for one game, which was first a half-game suspension until media condemnation resulted in FSU making the punishment a full game.
Winston took the reprimand to heart. So much so that he was seen in full uniform taking snaps and throwing passes during the pre-game practice.
The coach ordered him off the field. He returned for the game wearing his jersey and sweatpants.
Some suspension. Really, FSU? Seriously?
At a minimum, he should have been banned from the stadium. Allowing him to stand on the sidelines, to be there should the back-up falter as a visual I-told-you-that-you-can’t-afford-to-play-without-me, negated any effect upon him.
A more effective punishment would have been to mandate him to attend classes about showing proper respect to women and then taking one hour of practice time for the entire team to listen to him share what he learned. That would sanction not only the quarterback, but the entire program that fosters a culture of tolerance toward the misconduct of its players.
Similarly, he could have been ordered to attend counseling sessions for one hour every week at a time that would cause him to miss practice. The counseling would help him to find his motivation for his behavior and attitudes as well as to realize that the NFL will not want him if this is what he brings to the professional gridiron. They have enough troubles of their own.

Jameis Winston in The Crime Upon the Table. The mystery is why a major university shows no remorse for the culture it encourages.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Morning Musings on the Common Core

The debate is fierce with good points being scored by both sides. Here is what I agree with:

·         The lack of early education experts in developing the standards resulted in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) being developmentally inappropriate for the early years of K – 2 especially, but even the upper elementary grades.
·         Testing of the standards should be separated from instruction by the standards.
·         Standardized testing of young children in the early grades is not appropriate.
·         The standards are being confused with inappropriate methods of teaching by the standards.
·         Inappropriate methods of instruction are being created by educational publishing houses because they are also creating the tests and that is how they plan to write test items.
·         Teachers are therefore forced to use inappropriate methods of instruction.
·         CCSS is a huge change: the period of transformation is not long enough. Those who call for a three year hiatus from high stakes testing are correct.
·         If the purpose of testing is to determine the quality of teachers and schools, then statistical sampling should be used to test a small number of students. If Gallup can sample 2000 adults and accurately predict an election, we should be able to test a small number of students and reach accurate conclusions about teachers and schools. (Shout out to Mark Naisson, Badass Teacher, for the idea.)
·         Having a common set of standards that all states implement is a good idea.
·         States should not be forced to accept a common set of standards from federal government coercion, achieved through its taxing power and subsequent ability to dangle huge sums of money in front of states, but states should voluntarily adopt a common set of standards because they recognize the advantages of doing so.

Windows 9 is under development and has reached the point where Microsoft will release details of its technical requirements to third party software developer partners so they can begin to develop new versions of their products to work under the new operating system.

Stay with me. Microsoft has a hit/miss history with Windows. Windows 98—terrible. It was so bad I abandoned Windows for a few years and ran my computers under the Linux operating system. 2000—a joke. Then we got XP, an OS so popular that it still runs on hundreds of millions of computers around the world. Microsoft had to extend the life of XP many times because people would not give it up.

But the world of computing advances rapidly. Microsoft tried to develop a new version of Windows, called Vista. Vista was terrible. People hated it. Microsoft figured out what was wrong and how to deliver a great OS. Windows 7 was born, a Windows so good that Microsoft allowed the overarching brand name to be attached. They did not develop a sub brand like Millennial Edition, XP, or Vista.

Windows 8 was garbage. Microsoft tried to force the cellphone or mobile platform onto people’s desktops. User complaints were loud and constant. Microsoft tried to put a sub brand onto this, Metro, which ran into trademark problems in Europe and that forced them to change to Modern, but it didn't take. Now they’re moving to Windows 9 as fast as possible.

How does this relate to CCSS? It seems to me that the standard setting movement is in its Vista moment. CCSS is crap. There’s good stuff in it, but overall the experience is crap.

Let’s move on to a better set of standards. And this time, standard setters, listen to the users: teachers, parents, students, school based administrators, developmental experts, and do it right.

If colleges are complaining that students are not ready for college, maybe colleges should self-reflect on their mission and change to meet their matriculating students’ needs.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Mathematical Rant

I am angry. I am angry this morning at know-it-alls who think that what works for me should work for everyone. I am tired of self-appointed experts in education who are actually ignorant of learning and how it happens.

This rant is brought to you by the people who share this and damn it with no understanding of why this type of thinking helps children to understand math:

And then there is this internet meme that’s gone around for over a year:

I’m tired of hearing “this is how I learned it in school and everyone else should do the same.”

Because it’s not working. Because I have to teach children 12 to 15 years old who cannot add, subtract, and multiply. Memorizing math facts with no understanding works for a few, not all.

Why don’t you know-it-alls try talking to a math teacher about what these techniques are helping children to realize? They are learning how numbers are put together and how they can be manipulated to find answers when performing basic operations. By the time the learning takes hold, the students will be able to do arithmetic in their heads and have the fluency to excel at higher mathematics: algebra, geometry, and calculus.

To Jack’s parent I say this: You have a college degree in electrical engineering and you can’t figure out the assignment? The termination you’re talking about, buddy, is yours. Employers do not need nor do they want employees who work out of recall with no understanding. They need workers who have flexible thinking processes to approach problem-solving with a confidence that they can find a method out of their existing knowledge.

To say that basic recall is all that’s needed for success—and these are TEACHERS talking—have you ever heard of Benjamin Bloom? His work is 50 years old and still relevant today.

Lastly, if the people who share these internet memes would bother to read the actual common core standards (you can download them here: , you would find out that fluency, the ability to perform arithmetic based on memory and recall, and standard algorithms, which those memes promote, are required. They are a part of the standards.

I do have questions and concerns about the Common Core standards, but enough is enough. I have had it with knee-jerking reactionaries across the political spectrum. Do your homework or zip your lips.

Rant over.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Instructional Reviews

Go here to find my thoughts on Education's equivalent of the Spanish Inquistition (why does that bring an image of Monty Python into my head?):

A Daughter's Hand for a Wedding

Traditions: those things we do because theyve always been done when we no longer have a reason for doing them.

Does that fit as a definition? I’m reading a post to a Facebook group in which a mother joyously announces her daughter’s engagement. It was a wonderful story, but a jarring detail caught my eye.

The lucky young man called her father and asked for her hand in marriage. Mom thought that was sweet.

But what does that imply? Asking for a hand in marriage is an old custom, a legal custom, that was necessary when the legal system viewed women as property of a man. When a woman married, her custody moved from her father to her husband. This act was signified by the woman taking the name of her new husband. It’s no longer done, but Betsy Smith would become Mrs. Joseph Clark upon marrying Mr. Joseph Clark.

Nowadays, the name change is limited to the last name. Sometimes the couple tries to finesse the issue by hyphenating both names, but that is socially awkward and people will default to one name, usually the last one on the hyphen, which I’ve always assumed is the male name.

As people marry later, that can cause confusion in the woman’s work world. It is not unusual for a woman to maintain her birth name as her professional name even as she changes for social venues.

Children receive the father’s surname. This happens in all situations. However, when the parents do not live together, children mostly remain with the mother. Great confusion arises when children named Johnson live with a mother named Williams.

An improvement would be for a woman to keep her name and children to receive her surname. If anyone needs to change a name, let the man do it.

As for the hand in marriage, it is an insult to an independent, legally competent woman to act as if her approval, her consent, is not enough. The counterargument is that it is only a custom with no real meaning. Why do it then?

Maybe because receiving the goodwill of the parents will be important to the success of the marriage. Why then does no one ask the mother?

Asking a father for a daughter’s hand is a tradition that no longer fits our society. Let’s allow it to die out.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fresh Eggs, 9-1-14

I took some time off from posting, but I am back. Since I've missed the regular schedule, I’ll get some bonus posts up. Today is Fresh Eggs, a sampling of random, unconnected thoughts in short bullet points:

  • ·         It’s amazing how the body uses many muscles to accomplish the most ordinary of tasks. We never know how many muscles we are using until one of them becomes sore. Then, how we do feel it!

  • ·         Israel opening up 1000 more acres of West Bank land for settlements means that the current government has given up on having a meaningful peace process with the Palestinians.

  • ·         Vladimir Putin will not stop playing footsie with the West until the West stomps on his foot. He is a masterful politician, the best of this generation, but that doesn’t make him unstoppable.

  • ·         As long as teachers support the Democrat Party, without questioning its agenda and policies that hurt them, the same Party will take them for granted. Stop voting for them! The same is true for African-Americans. Seriously, what has the D.P. or the current President done to help them in the last six years?

  • ·         Jack and nada.

  • ·         Why is it that some workers do not have a holiday on Labor Day, the day set aside to honor the American worker? I can wait until Tuesday to have my trash picked up.

  • ·         When I was a kid, grocery stores closed on all major holidays. They would put signs up the week before: Get your barbecue and beer now because we will be closed to give our employees the day to spend with their families. I miss those days.

  • ·         One bad apple doesn’t spoil the barrel, but it does cause people to turn up their noses and get their food somewhere else. Human beings will judge all apples by the example of the bad one.

  • ·         Three generations from now, the Surgeon General will pull a 1964 and warn against the use of marijuana. Cancer stick, anyone?

  • ·         Power has been flowing to the center for a very long time. School boards have very little authority left: they can pick superintendents and fire misbehaving employees. Everything else is decided in state capitals and Washington, D.C.

  • ·         Small municipalities that sell utilities to their citizens have no tolerance for unpaid bills. They cut them off very quickly. Commercial enterprises, under regulation, are far kinder.

  • ·         Fresh eggs expire quickly, and these thoughts are no different. They are good for the moment, but events move quickly. That’s what makes a blog like this one difficult: I seek to write after long contemplation. Many drafts quickly become outdated and irrelevant. But I will soldier on.