The Case Against Common Core

I recently discovered this eye-opening, might I even say jaw-dropping lecture where a very knowledgeable speaker, Dr. Duke Pesta, challenges all the commonly quoted “wisdom” about common core in public education. He exposes is for what it is, using the very language of its creators and erstwhile proponents. It’s long (over 2 hours) but well worth the time invested to better understand and better argue against this destructive set of mechanisms which has been foisted upon our public schools.

One commonly held notion he debunks is that these standards were developed by representatives of state governor offices. As you’ll see, and the speaker thoroughly documents everything, nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s really the result of crony capitalism deals between the federal Department of Education and large publishers of educational materials. The so-called standards had absolutely no involvement by school teachers, administrators, or anyone else with any professional background in teaching or education!

Be sure and watch all the way to the end, where he exposes some of the shocking content, as well as the corrupt processes, of common core.

And for good measure. please listen to this one-hour lecture by another insightful college professor and author, Dr. Terrance O. Moore, as he describes his research on Common Core to an audience at Hillsdale College in Washington D. C.. He has recently written a book on the topic, entitled, “Story-Killers: How the Common Core Destroys Minds and Souls.”

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Tragedy AND Hope in Detroit

As I’m sure many other Americans have felt, I have been really saddened by the continued bad news about Detroit, Michigan. I remember when I was a teenager, Detroit was a hub of manufacturing, cool automobiles, and culture-shaping music. Henry Ford first capitalized on the assembly line manufacturing method in Detroit, which eventually became known as “the motor city.” “Motown” music was birthed and thrived there, and Detroit’s various physical and cultural products were exported around the globe.

Now, thanks to over forty years of “progressivism” in its government, the city has been devastated financially, physically, and culturally. Detroit recently became the largest city in history to declare total bankruptcy. Businesses have abandoned the city in droves. Current government estimates are that over 63% of its original population have left the city, never to return. City services are so stretched for resources that emergency services like fire and police 911 calls now routinely take over an hour to respond, and some parts of the city are so dangerous that even police officers routinely refuse to enter them. Videos of those parts look like bombed-out war zone news coverage of WWII.

Many are now pointing to Detroit as a harbinger of what is to become of the entire United States if it continues down the Progressivism path that the current administration has put us on. The unsustainable level of Federal spending, government largesse, and exponential increases in intrusive Federal control could very well turn the entire nation into another Detroit.

However, at least one new business has been birthed in the middle of Detroit’s tragedy — some may say even as a result of it. Shinola Watchmaking Company was started by an optimistic entrepreneur who saw a great opportunity for the assembly-line workforce to be employed in a similar process on a much smaller scale, making quality watches and timepieces.

Please review BOTH videos below. The first is a heart-rending report of the status of Detroit and what it may mean for the future of the U.S.  The second is an encouraging report about Shinola.

What Progressivism has Done to Detroit

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Detroit Chosen for Watchmaker’s American Dream

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They teach extra-mile sportsmanship in Texas!

Wow. Another great, inspirational story about a young man with developmental disabilities. This story has THREE “Wow that’s amazing” parts.

  1. Mitchell Marcus grew up loving basketball, and at Coronado High School in El Paso, Texas, he got to experience it as a team manager. That would probably been cool enough to report about.
  2. But at a recent game, at the end of the season, his coach gave him a wonderful gift, and let him suit up with the team. Near the end of the game, the coach put Mitchell in to get some live play in a real game. He had even instructed the rest of his own players that, no matter whether the game’s outcome was looking like victory or defeat, Mitchell was to receive a pass to shoot at least one shot during the game. In an interview after the game, the coach stated that yes, he was willing to forego a victory to ensure Mitchell a chance at a dream play in a real game. THAT was a really cool thing for the team to do for Mitchell.
  3. However, the real “Wow” moment happened after Mitchell had actually taken several shots, and unfortunately he had missed them all. On the last attempt, a pass to Mitchell flew off his hands and went out of bounds, with only seconds remaining in the game. The opposing team took the ball out of bounds. However, the other team’s player inbounding the ball, shouted out Mitchell’s name, then passed it to HIM! Mitchell caught the pass, turned around, and made the shot. The crowd went wild!

Please watch the video report below, and be grateful along with me that young people are still learning great values like sportsmanship, individual respect, and love for their peers.

Wow!

 

Future technology — but not too distant future (probably!)

[I] was introduced to the video below through the Coursera MOOC (massive open online course) in which I am now enrolled. The course is about “E-Learning and Digital Cultures” and I, plus about 260,000 classmates (yes, it’s really that massive), have been exploring how learning intersects with past, present, and future digital technologies in our culture.

The course has asked us, the students, to consider whether past, present, and future technologies of the emerging digital culture have been or will be utopian (i.e., contributing to or even causing a “better” or “higher” culture and society) or dystopian (i.e, contributing to or even causing a “worse” or less-desireable version of culture and society). In this video, Microsoft is obviously inferring that the future appears more utopian with the new technologies. The optimist in me wants to embrace this view. However, in the course we have also explored how technology potentially has a dark side, potentially being disruptive in a negative way, giving certain privileged segments of the population unfair or even potentially oppressive power. For an example, see my earlier post about whether we should trust Google. As a university professor, I now include a review of these cautions about Google in my own courses on computer network design, security, and privacy).

I found the video below, produced by Microsoft, quite engaging and thought-provoking. I’m mainly wondering how long (or, how short) the time will be before we see most or all of them in common use in our homes, education providers, and businesses. I think you will enjoy it, too.

(6 minutes)

#edcmooc

Amazing “Second Screen” digital broadcast technology at TheBlaze.com

[I] am continually fascinated at the new things coming out of The American Dream Labs and TheBlaze.com television network (Dish Network satellite TV channel 212). Glenn Beck and his production company are working on the cutting edge of digital technology, news reporting, and media production.

In the segment below, Glenn discusses what he calls “second screen” technology, whereby traditional broadcast TV is combined with some amazing interactive technology on a digital tablet (e.g., an iPad) or notebook computer, to give the viewer a highly-controllable dual-screen experience. The basic concept is not uniquely new. For example, Dish Network has already built some interactive technology into its system. I notice that during some commercials, in particular, a message will pop up on the screen inviting me to press a button on my remote to view additional information about the product currently being shown. This puts the original video feed on hold while the viewer goes out to explore more information.

What makes TheBlaze.com’s second-screen approach unique is that they invert the implicit priority of the feeds. The user’s own smart device (iPad, laptop computer, etc.) actually becomes the control center for interacting with all the material, AND potentially with the production studio itself. For example, one might be able to visually explore, and even interact with the production set in real time as a live broadcast is underway.

Check out the relatvely short video below to take a quick tour of this new technology’s potential!

(12 minutes)
#edcmooc

I’m taking my first MOOC — Massive Open Online Course

[I] just signed up for the first MOOC I’ll have been any part of. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. Several different educational consortia now offer quite a few such courses. The course I’ll be taking is E-Learning and Digital Cultures, from a team of “tutors” at Edinburgh University in the UK. A course description from the Coursera website:

“This course will explore how digital cultures and learning cultures connect, and what this means for e-learning theory and practice.”
More info at: https://www.coursera.org/#course/edc

The course starts next week, and runs for five weeks. I just received an email confirmation from the course team today, and they shared that they now have over 260,000 participants enrolled in this one session alone!

One of the hallmarks of MOOCs is that they are nearly all free, as this one is. It is coordinated by a consortium of universities founded by two faculty members from Stanford University, named Coursera, at www.coursera.org.

Here is a short video overview of the course:


(3 minutes)

Visualizing human development from conception to birth

[I]n a recent TED presentation, technical/medical artist Alexander Tsiaras dazzled his audience with an amazing visual journey. Using state-of-the-art medical sensing and scanning devices, powerful computer technology, and his largely self-taught but nonetheless stunning artistic abilities, he has created an animation that documents the full development of the initial conception of a human being through his or her birth event.

One of his comments early in the talk really stuck with me, as he was discussing the structure of collagen and how it is arranged in the human body, “… it was hard not to attribute divinity to it.” He uses words like “marvel” and “wonder” when describing what he discovered and modeled on the way to producing this piece.

You can read a biography about Tsiaras here:
http://www.washingtonspeakers.com/speakers/biography.cfm?SpeakerID=6284

Please watch this 9-minute video and marvel, as I did, at the Creator’s handiwork in making you, me, and all of our fellow human beings, from the instant of conception until our birth.

(10 minutes)

I recently discovered The Piano Guys, and I’m hooked!

[I] was recently watching a Fox News morning program recently, and they introduced a set of guests I was not familiar with at the time. They are five talented music professionals that got together “by accident” in a small music store in Utah (although I think they now believe it was divine Providence) and started making original music and entertaining videos together. They now have a very substantial website at www.thepianoguys.com where you can enjoy their work.
Part of what amazed me about their talent is how they turn a single piano into a veritable symphony by each of them “playing” a different part of the instrument at the same time. You’ll have to watch the video below to see what I mean. Be sure and notice how their cellist uses a cello bow to stroke the wires of the piano to get a background note, plus all the percussion opportunities the various members of the group take (such as banging the keyboard cover up and down!).

Watch this same clip that hooked me, and learn a little more about the group members themselves, as well as watching their amazing music performance live in the TV studio.

(5 minutes)

Finally, here is my favorite of their pieces I’ve heard so far. It’s a moving combination of classical instruments (piano and cello) and African rhythm and lyrics. Read the story about how and why they created this piece at: http://thepianoguys.com/newstore/songs/peponi.html.

(5 minutes)

Happiness Revealed — Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.

I was moved and inspired by this TEDTalks video by Louie Schwartzberg. He has spent a lifetime producing vivid images of nature in still photography and videography. He has become an internationally-reknowned specialist in time-lapse nature photography, and his special interest is documenting the delicate and wondrous opening of hundreds, if not thousands of varieties of flowers.

In this video he shares with us how his own wonderment for these natural processes, and he reflects on the natural reaction many of us have in our own minds, or even our own verbal exclamations of “Oh my God!” when we actually notice such everyday wonders. This spills over into a sense of appreciation and gratitude to our Creator as we acknowledge our own day-to-day blessings.

Be sure and watch the preview of his current project at the end of the video!

(10 minutes)

If God Made the Universe, Why Is It The Way It Is?

In the following video, astronomer and pastor Dr. Hugh Ross gives some of his personal testimony, and provides a brief history about the why he wrote the book, Why The Universe Is The Way It Is. Next he shares why he later created a video series by the same name for small-group study. In this 9-part multimedia series, Dr. Ross shares Scripture, stunning satellite photos, and the most recent scientific findings to explain the great love story that is our universe.

I am hosting and co-presenting this series in monthly sessions over the next nine months. We will be gathering at MidAmerica Nazarene University on the second Tuesday of each month, at 7:00 p.m., in the Ramsey Auditorium of Smith Hall (Room 200). Everyone in the area is invited to attend. Admission is free, and there will be free refreshments and door prizes. Please join us!

Dr. Ross is founder and president of Reasons To Believe. The mission of Reasons to Believe is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries — consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. Discover more at www.reasons.org.

Please watch Dr. Ross’s testimony here: