Are you familiar with MOOCs ? Those are massive open online classes. They’re college classes taught online, some by the world’s leading experts in their fields at famous universities. The courses are free, but they don’t count for credit and don’t lead to a degree.
Who wouldn’t want to take an online course in something that is of interest to them, or could possibly help with certain skills they might need, AND IS FREE ?
The largest provider is COURSERA.ORG, with 108 partner institutions, 624 courses and more than 6.7 million students, according to the company.
Isn’t that wonderful that so many people are signing up for these free classes ? The newspaper article that I read about MOOCs did have one very disturbing statistic. According to the article, the dropout rate for these classes is 95%. You read that correctly, 95%.
What does this dropout rate tell us if anything about today’s seekers of wisdom ? Apparently, it is very difficult to keep people’s attention for very long when it comes to learning. (As if teachers needed to be told this). I think it also tells us that the “love of learning” and “learning for the sake of learning” is a rare commodity in this day and age.
Should we expect people to follow through on a class that doesn’t offer credits and that doesn’t cost them a penny ? People have so many forms of popular culture and entertainment to choose from today. Do you actually think there are some people who would rather listen to an online lecture about the ancient philosophies of Greece than watch their favorite television show? Let’s see, what does the average man want, a lecture on ancient philosophies, or a reality show featuring Kim Kardashian ? I think we know the answer to that question.
There may be an “education crisis” going on these days, but it has nothing to do with incompetent teachers, teacher unions, or failing schools. The crisis is in the fact that a love of learning and learning for the sake of learning don’t stand a chance in today’s highly charged atmosphere of instant entertainment and pop culture.
The United States may fall behind other countries when it comes to student achievement, but we lead the world in keeping our people amused and entertained. We are number one in the world and no country is even a close second. Give us time to export our values to Japan, S.Korea, Finland and all these other countries that have students with higher test scores than our students. Prepare yourself, you countries who still have people who have a love of learning. Our popular culture will soon overtake the daily thoughts of your people. We brought down communism by exporting Levis and rock and roll. We are now poised to make sure your youngsters value entertainment way more than learning. Be afraid, Japan, S.Korea and Finland, Justin Bieber will be approaching your shores very soon.
My local school board has just voted to approve the district’s role in a new youth court, which would serve as an alternative to criminal court for students with low-level misdemeanor crimes that take place on school property. Instead of going to court, students would appear before a jury made up of other students that would determine punishments ranging from community service to writing a research paper.
I just love it when ideas like this see a rebirth after having been tried thirty or forty years ago. Remember folks, other than changes in subject matter and curriculum to meet the needs of our modern times, there is very little in the world of education that hasn’t been tried before.
Ah, “youth court”, something that was all the rage back in the late 1960′s when I was teaching in the inner city. Student courts were going to be the answer to our severe discipline problems. We were going to let students determine the fate of other students who had committed CRIMES! If a student vandalized the school to the tune of $10,000, rather than be arrested and go to a regular juvenile court, the offender would go to our school “youth court” where as a punishment, they would be assigned to write a repentant essay, while everyone would then sit around and sing Kumbaya.
The youth court idea eventually went the way of the hula hoop and other fads, and I can’t say that I was sad to see it go. I never understood the concept of treating “crimes” as if they were simple acts of misbehavior. We should not treat normal student misbehavior and criminal acts in a similar manner. Our regular court systems are the place to deal with crimes. Let the professionals determine how to handle criminal behavior, not a group of students.
The Academy Awards Show was already 8 minutes past its alloted time, and they had yet to award the Oscar for Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture. I was livid.
Can we please get a teacher to direct the Academy Awards Show?
A teacher in charge would never let the show run so late. Teachers know how to get a lesson finished in a certain amount of time. They do that several times a day, for years on end.
Teachers know how to administer much-needed discipline. This years’ Academy Awards didn’t even play music to signal when an award winner was speaking too long. If a speaker was rambling on, the teacher director would simply announce, “thank you for sharing, now please take your seat.”
The people who received the more obscure awards were usually seated high up in a theater box. It took forever for them and their entourage to meander down to the stage. There should have been a microphone up in each box, and the obscure winners could simply say a few words from their box, while an usher quickly gave them their Oscar. It’s about what we teachers call “classroom management”. We desperately needed “theater management”.
A teacher director would know about “teachable moments”. Award recipients who were giving inspiring and relevant acceptance speeches would be given extra time. Those recipients who were giving a mundane speech should be cut off.
How in the world do you give the 4 most important awards all together in the last 5 minutes of the show ? Any teacher would have spaced the most important awards so at least one award of importance was given at least every half hour. Every teacher knows how to keep the interest of an audience. The Awards Show went almost two hours without a major award. In the classroom, you better not go 5 minutes without some big payoff.
Ellen DeGeneres wouldn’t last 5 minutes as a teacher. One critic of her performance hit it right on the head when he said, “there’s a fine line between unpretentious and just a little dull”. Ten minutes to pass out pizza ? Cute, but this is the Academy Awards, we expect better. A teacher director would be able to distinguish dull from blockbuster entertainment. Teachers are in the entertainment business. Good luck keeping the attention of a class full of 12 year olds if you can’t distinguish “dull” from “entertaining”.
I found the following information in a local newspaper.
“U.S. Senate candidate Jim Oberweis, who cites his successful push to raise Illinois’ speed limit as the top accomplishment of his first year as a state lawmaker, has been ticketed for speeding 11 times since 1988, according to public records.”
Too funny. Where do we find these people ? Illinois politicians, you are hilarious !
Chicago public school officials just released data showing that privately run charter schools in the area expel students at a vastly higher rate than the rest of the district. The newspaper headline about these statistics makes it look like this is some shocking revelation.
Imagine that ! How shocking !
I have written this several times, but I guess it needs to be repeated. THE ONLY WAY CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE DIFFERENT FROM THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS IS THAT THEY HAVE STRICT DISCIPLINE AND PARENTS THAT CARE. That’s it folks, no secrets, no innovative techniques, no secret curriculum. Ask any veteran teacher, if you don’t have classroom discipline and parents who care, then you are facing almost insurmountable obstacles to student achievement. End of story.
I hereby award a prestigious Golden Chalk Award to the Danish researchers who uncovered a connection between ADHD children and their mothers who took acetaminophen during pregnancy.
Who knows if the study is totally valid and accurate, but I applaud the Danish researchers for at least trying to find an answer to the ADHD epidemic.
I continue to be baffled by the limited amount of research into such childhood maladies as ADHD, autism, allergies, asthma, ear infections, and all the problems modern children have that were virtually nonexistent when I was a child. People of my generation know that the number of childhood maladies are occurring at an alarming rate compared to when we were children.
I understand that these scientific studies take time, but I rarely hear of any studies being conducted here in the United States. Why is this not a priority for our government officials? We spend money on so many ridiculous items, and yet almost nothing on childhood research. Children are supposed to be our most precious commodity. Can we please concentrate on why millions of our children are affected by maladies that were almost nonexistent years ago?
Seniors like myself have a responsibility to urge our government officials to take action. Younger adults probably think that all these current childhood maladies are similar to what previous generations experienced. THEY ARE NOT. Let’s get busy and find out what’s causing all these problems for our children.
The above headline was the lead editorial in the Chicago Tribune.
Oh my, yes, Chicago Tribune, teacher tenure not only traps kids, but it’s endangering all of civilization as we know it. Yes, Tribune, you would love to see teacher tenure disappear and therefore render teacher unions virtually meaningless. Just think, without teacher tenure school districts could fire all those experienced high salaried teachers in a heart beat, and replace them with low salaried beginners, thereby saving taxpayers millions of dollars. In fact, that’s the answer to our current pension problems. Let’s fire those experienced tenured teachers before they can get in enough years to draw much of a pension. We don’t need a REASON to fire those experienced teachers, if there was no tenure we could do it in a day’s time!
The Tribune also somehow knows that politicians who support unions are out to prevent any meaningful education and pension reform. Here is an interesting phrase written in the Tribune editorial. “The California litigation will inspire changes to education employment in other states WHERE UNION-FRIENDLY POLITICIANS HAVE BLOCKED REFORMS.”
I find it interesting that the Tribune describes politicians who support unions as “union friendly.” If we are to follow the Tribune’s logic, then any legislator who consistently voted for civil rights must be, “civil rights friendly.” Any politician who consistently votes to extend unemployment benefits would be, “unemployment friendly.”
If a politician consistently votes against something, they must be UNfriendly to that particular type of legislation or group of people.
Can we say the same of newspapers ? If a newspaper has written literally dozens of editorials denouncing teacher unions and blamed incompetent teachers for every problem facing America’s children, can we then describe that paper as “teacher unfriendly” ? If that same newspaper would love to see teacher pensions completely voided and retired teachers left with almost no income, could we then describe that paper as, “unfriendly to retired teachers”?
Chicago Tribune, no other newspaper can come close to the amount of print space you have devoted to destroying teacher unions. It’s fair to describe your paper as being obsessed with the demise of teacher unions. I’m sure you view any politician who ever voted in favor of teachers or teacher unions as being “union friendly” and an enemy of children everywhere. Tribune, you will stop at nothing to convince the public that teacher unions are responsible for any and all perceived problems in education. Shame on you.