Tag Archives: educational policy and politics

Albert Einstein on Teacher’s Salaries

“Now to the salaries of teachers. In a healthy society, every useful activity is compensated in a way to permit of a decent living. The exercise of any socially valuable activity gives inner satisfaction; but it cannot be considered as part of the salary. The teacher cannot use his inner satisfaction to fill the stomachs of his children.”

“Ensuring the Future of Mankind,” from a Message for Canadian Education Week, March 2-8, 1952. Published in Mein Weitbild, Zurich: Europa Verlag, 1953, excerpted from: Einstein, Albert. Ideas and Opinions. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1982.

Albert Einstein: Education for Independent Thought

“It is not enough to teach man a specialty. Through it he may become a kind of useful machine but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the student acquire an understanding of and a lively feeling for values. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and the morally good. Otherwise he—with his specialized knowledge—more closely resembles a well-trained dog than a harmoniously developed person. He must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their illusions, and their sufferings in order to acquire a proper relationship to individual fellow-men and to the community.

These precious things are conveyed to the younger generation through personal contact with those who teach, not—or at least not in the main—through textbooks. It is this that primarily constitutes and preserves culture. This is what I have in mind when I recommend the “humanities” as important, not just dry specialized knowledge in the fields of history and philosophy.

Overemphasis on the competitive system and premature specialization on the ground of immediate usefulness kill the spirit on which all cultural life depends, specialized knowledge included.

It is also vital to a valuable education that independent critical thinking be developed in the young human being, a development that is greatly jeopardized by overburdening him with too much and with too varied subjects (point system). Overburdening necessarily leads to superficiality. Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.”

“Education for Independent Thought,” from The New York Times, October 5, 1952, excerpted from: Einstein, Albert. Ideas and Opinions. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1982.

Wikipedia and Media Literacy

(As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I have long considered the American Federation of Teachers quarterly magazine, American Educator to be a credible and edifying periodical that includes useful research for teachers. Recently, it ran this excellent article on the problem of fake news in the United States. My school’s mindless ban on Wikipedia, I think, represents little more than an unwillingness to recognize the opportunities Wikipedia offers for students to learn how to evaluate evidence judiciously. In this short quote, the authors of the aforementioned article make the case for using Wikipedia for just that purpose.)

“You heard right: Wikipedia. Fact checkers’ first stop was often a site many educators tell students to avoid. What we should be doing instead is teaching students what fact checkers know about Wikipedia and helping them take advantage of the resources of the fifth-most trafficked site on the web.

Students should learn about Wikipedia’s standards of verifiability and how to harvest entries for links to reliable sources. They should investigate Wikipedia’s ‘Talk’ pages (the tab hiding in plain sight next to the ‘Article’ tab), which, on contentious issues like gun control, the status of Kashmir, waterboarding, or climate change are gold mines where students can see knowledge-making in action. And they should practice using Wikipedia as a resource for lateral reading. Fact checkers, short on time, often skipped the main article and headed straight to the references, clicking on a link to a more established venue. Why spend 15 minutes having students, armed with a checklist, evaluate a website on a tree octopus (www.zapatopi.net/treeoctopus) when a few seconds on Wikipedia shows it to be ‘an internet hoax created in 1998.’”

McGrew, Sarah, et al. “The Challenge That’s Bigger Than Fake News: Civic Reasoning in a Social Media Environment.” American Educator Fall 2017 (4-10). Print.

 

Mercedes Schneider Channels Betsy DeVos’s Deepest Thoughts

(Mercedes Schneider is one of the most perceptive analysts of educational policy out there, and here she really shows off her many talents while showing us what Betsy DeVos–and arguably the entire administration of Donald Trump–really intends for public schooing in the United States–and why.)

Diane Ravitch's blog

This post is a real tour de force. That means that Mercedes Schneider has managed to say something truly original, which I hope you will read in full.

Betsy DeVos is constantly saying how much she wants the best for every child, how urgent it is to let parents have charter schools, voucher schools, for-profit schools, cybercharters, almost anything but public schools. Despite her protestations, she is contemptuous of public schools and has spent many millions through her American Federation for Children to advance privatization.

So zmercedes uses her post to tell you what Betsy would say if she spoke her mind, without covering up any of her thoughts.

She begins like this.

“First of all, I’d like to thank all of you for coming because I appreciate yet another opportunity to campaign in a manner that ultimately promotes my favorite minority, the one to which I belong: America’s elite…

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Betsy DeVos and the Acton Institute Celebrate School Privatization and Free-Market Capitalism

(Betsy DeVos, like many ultra-wealthy people in the United States today, has the money to buy her own ideological echo chamber)

Diane Ravitch's blog

Thanks to reader and teacher-blogger David Taylor for sharing this post from the far-far-far right Acton Institute.

The Acton Institute will hold its annual dinner on October 18 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The keynote speaker is Betsy DeVos. There will be no protestors. She will be speaking to her tiny little claque of extremist libertarians, who are exulting these days about their great strides in rolling back the New Deal, shredding any safety net for the poor, getting rid of unions, eliminating pensions, and privatizing government programs and services. Betsy is their hero, because she has not only funded the free-market cause (and the Acton Institute) but has jumped into the arena to put her reactionary agenda into the mainstream.

The post includes the names and connections among some of Betsy’s friends.

Like J.C. Huizenga. Time for a personal anecdote. Many years ago, I was invited to lecture at Calvin…

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Betsy at Harvard: She is Unaccustomed to This Kind of Rude Reception

(I always like to end the work week with some good news….)

Diane Ravitch's blog

Having lived her life in a billionaire bubble, Betsy DeVos expects deference. She did not get it at the Kennedy zdchool at Harvard last night.

Protestors unfurled banners and raised their fists as Betsy tried to speak about the glories of school choice.

One said “Our Students Are Not for Sale. Another said, “White Supremacy.” Another said “Dark Money.”

When she asked in her speech whether more money would solve the problems, a line that must have been greeted with applause when she spoke at ALEC, a student shouted out “YES.” This was not the answer she expected.

Betsy thought she was in a safe space, given that the event was sponsored by pro-choice scholars and the Koch brothers and the Gates Foundation, but she forgot that the audience was students.

Students were warned that they would be evicted if they were disruptive but that didn’t stop the protestors.

In…

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Nancy Bailey: DeVos’ “Let’s Get Rid of Public Schools” Tour

(Diane Ravitch continues to cover this dim ideologue, for which I thank her.)

Diane Ravitch's blog

Nancy Bailey valiantly followed Betsy DeVos’s national tour, from a distance.

Her message everywhere was the same: Public schools suck! Private schools are awesome!

In public schools, children sit in desks arranged in rows. In private schools, well, maybe the same but it doesn’t matter.

In public schools, children hate going to school. In private schools, they are enthusiastic and happy.

This woman is an ideologue. She knows nothing and learns nothing. Whatever she proposes is meant to damage public schools and communities.

Education is a learning profession, and she is not open to learning anything!

We will wait her out, fight her at every turn, and return to the task of improving and strengthening public schools for all children, a concept unknown to her.

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