Sarcasm. We’ve all used it in our teaching, even though we are admonished from day one in our education courses that this is a “bad thing.” Piffle. Used correctly, with a deft hand and soft touch, sarcasm can be one of the greatest tools in your teaching arsenal.
Monthly Archives: September 2013
Once again we here in Texas are having that debate: Just how much religion do we teach in public schools? And once again, the religious—and obviously scientifically challenged—crowd want Texas schoolbooks to downplay evolution and add creationism to the curriculum. Don McLeroy is up to his old tricks, and he has a new booster in the form of Ide Trotter to help him in his cause.
Bill Gates has adopted education as a billionaire’s hobby for many years—once supporting small schools projects, but more recently focusing on teacher quality.
Little attention, however, has been paid in the mainstream media to Gates’s struggles in business (Microsoft) or his complete lack of expertise, experience, or success as an educational entrepreneur.
Until this expose by Vanity Fair addressing the key practices at the foundation of Microsoft’s failures (“Today, a single Apple product—the iPhone—generates more revenue than all of Microsoft’s wares combined”). 
Gates has argued for a need to identify the best (and worst) teachers in order to control who teachers teach and how:
What should policymakers do? One approach is to get more students in front of top teachers by identifying the top 25 percent of teachers and asking them to take on four or five more students. Part of the savings could then be used to…
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Many years ago, I wrote a paper for one of my graduate classes on the subject of motivation. It regarded the age-old question of how to motivate kids to practice and succeed in music, but I think the information is both still valid and applies across the whole spectrum of education. Here, today, I reprint it in its entirety. Enjoy!
I find it interesting the breadth of “reform” ideas put forth by the “school reform” hucksters. It has seemed to me, for some time now, that they are throwing everything they can against a wall just to see what will stick. Sometimes they simultaneously throw mutually exclusive ideas, but whatever…
Take technology, for instance. Most people get the impression that the hucksters want to throw massive amounts of money at schools in order in make technology purchases in order to improve teaching. At the same time, these same hucksters will, either silently or vocally, back billions in school budget reductions. These two ideas only appear to be mutually exclusive. The main function of additional technology in the classroom is to reduce the number of teachers, thereby saving money overall. It is, once again, the concept of profit and loss, where profit is defined as money cut from a budget, and loss is defined as money invested in the schools. This is short-sighted thinking at best, and destructive at worst. I happen to think that destruction is the plan of most of the hucksters.
So I was discussing the cost of attending college with a friend of mine a while back, and it occurred to me that few people ever look at it the right way. There are all kinds of statistics about current costs vs. prices from decades ago—adjusted for inflation, not adjusted, or simply made up numbers that seem real. I was left with the question: How do I make a cogent argument in a debate with a right-winger who thinks costs are out of control, but also doesn’t think the government should do anything about it?
Here’s what I came up with: