Here’s an interesting throwback to my early days of computing. I learned about computing and programming on a Times-Sinclair 1000 back in 1982. For a “reasonable” cost, it was a keyboard and computer all-in-one that you plugged into your TV set (for display) and audio cassette player (for data storage).
This is a nice intro to the new Raspberry Pi 400 all-in-one computer… This is 1,000 generations follow-on from the Times-Sinclair 1000. And yet, it’s so very similar: all-in-one, connect to your monitor, etc. Also, it’s the same current dollars cost: The Sinclair cost $99 in 1982 dollars and the PI 400 costs $100 in 2020 dollars for a kit that includes a hefty beginner’s guide, power supply, mouse, and video cable.
These kinds of devices allow for discovery and tinkering in a way that tightly controlled ecosystems such as the iPhone, iPad, and even Android platforms generally do not. Here’s hoping such systems inspire more generations to explore the possibilities of computing.
When a learner asks a question, I often hear their peers and teachers respond in a way that suggests “don’t ask that question; learn something different”. I see the same thing occurring on Q&A support boards all the time:
Questioner: “I was wondering how to cook an egg in the microwave.”
Supposed answerer: “Don’t use a microwave, use a pressure cooker.”
Supposed answerer: “Why would you want eggs? Go vegan.”
As an educator myself, I find it’s better not to say NO to someone interested in learning and instead say, “yes… and…….” to find out what interests them and connect the topic to their interests.
It’s a lesson I draw from the improv and acting communities: “no, but…” (or even “yes, but…”) stops conversations. “yes, and…” encourages them.
“Both students and instructors perceive standard-error statistics as a confusing collection of specialized tools. To improve student learning, instructors long for a reduction in the number of topics needed to support statistical thinking. This book is a roadmap for instructors who wish to simplify inference while continuing to teach using traditional tools.”
“I hope that this little book can help instructors see that statistical inference can be handled as one topic among the many needed for modern statistics. Inference, important though it be, does not need to be such a sprawling set of methods and details taking up so much of the introductory course that other essential topics get neglected.”
I like this recent GOTO conference talk about the role of linguistics in understanding the language of coding. It touches upon many issues I’ve noted over the years as well as newer-to-me issues in non-English programming.
As an educator who advises students working on theses and dissertations, there’s a standard question I ask—I refer to it as “the PhD question”: So what? It’s a shorthand to challenge students to consider the question: If everything you’ve just said is shown to be true, what will that mean for changes in our understanding of the world or how we engage with it?
I found myself using So what? again recently at ICER 2019, a community of education researchers that values openness and community building. I heard myself saying it, and I realized I didn’t like the tone of it at all. So what? is confrontational. It’s a conversation stopper, not a starter. It’s a blockade, not an invitation. Yes, I learned it from my graduate advisors way back when, and I think it’s time to put it to bed.
I believe that I can be a better educator through reflection and active engagement. I believe that I can better serve my students and colleagues by being honest with them. I believe that reflection, engagement, and honesty can help other educators improve their praxis, should they feel so inclined.
The Washington Post— and many other outlets— recently reported on the resignation letter of Gerald J. Conti, a social studies teacher at Westhill High School, Syracuse, New York. Mr. Conti has 40 years of teaching experience, but feels that teaching has been marginalized in the increasingly aggressive drive for standardization of curricula, instruction, and assessment.
With regard to my profession, I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliche with me, I’ve used it so very often) that “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised. STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings.
– Gerald J. Conti
“Adjuncts are not regular members of the faculty; we are paid an hourly rate for time spent in the classroom. We are not paid to advise students, grade papers, or prepare materials or lectures for class. . . . To ensure that we remain conscious of the adjunctification of CUNY, we ask that you do not call us ‘Professor.'”
When a close friend sent me a copy of this book, his inscription read, in part
it has always been about the students
In this short video, Dr. Steven Strogatz— a Cornell Mathematician— reminds us that the student-teacher relationship is complex, dynamic, enduring, and often unpredictable; far from the Brave New World-style cold, isolationism espoused by the so-called professionalization of education that the United States has experienced over the past 100 years.
This 70-minute lecture by Charlie Kaufman— Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation, Being John Malkovich— on screenwriting applies equally well, I think, to being an educator. Consider the following excerpt, but replace screenplay with learning— for the student perspective— or even teaching!
A screenplay is an exploration. It’s about the thing you don’t know. To step into the abyss. It necessarily starts somewhere, anywhere, there is a starting point, but the rest is undetermined, it is a secret, even from you. There’s no template for a screenplay, or there shouldn’t be. There are at least as many screenplay possibilities as there are people who write them. We’ve been conned into thinking there is a pre-established form.
While I sometimes found it difficult to distinguish quotations from his original thoughts, I found both to be engaging and inspiring.
One of the first lessons any successful graduate student (and that should read “undergraduate student”) learns is to introduce themselves to the reference librarian who is responsible for their favorite subject areas. They can serve as guides to the existing collection, alert you to new acquisitions, and help you to acquire books that you may be interested in reading.
Know the LOC system, know which sections interest you, and know who is responsible for maintaining those sections at your institutions. You’ll make a librarian’s day when you introduce yourself as being “particularly interested in the QAs” or any other category.
For any matched pair of non-trivial examples
there exists (n == 1) pattern that the creator of the examples intended to highlight
but there also exist (1 < n <= infinity) unintended patterns that students will find.
It’s difficult to live-code programming examples… the conventions we use by habit often invite students to find the unintended patterns.
As an instructor, how do I get students to see the single pattern in which I’m interested, rather than the possibly infinite patterns that exist? Or, is that even the best goal? Should I, instead, be encouraging students to look beyond the first pattern they detect in order for them to appreciate the inherent complexity of interpretation?