Saturday, 23 November 2013

Guaranteed basic income assignment

The take homewriting assignment is to prepare a compare and contrast essay on the topic of a guaranteed basic income such as the scheme heading towards a national referendum in Switzerland right now.

What if a guaranteed basic income were introduced in Poland? Assuming it was implemented, how would it be implemented? Would it be means-based or universal? Would it apply at birth or at some specified age? Who would qualify? How would it impact the economy? We explored these questions and came up with a list of categories that would be impacted:

* Social assistance would likely be scrapped (which is the plan in Switzerland if the referendum succeeds)
* The money supply would be affected but how? Most social assistance is not fungible (housing assistance has to be spent on housing, and so forth)
* Would a GBI stimulate artistic expression?
* What about entrepreneurial activity?
* Would it be cheaper due to administrative savings? Would it result in smaller government?

The ideal essay will make claims based on reasons because of evidence. It will make certain assumptions about what form the GBI would take if it were implemented in Poland. It will compare and contrast a selection of the most relevant areas of society which would be impacted including relevant warrants (connections between claims and reasons which are not self-evident) and it will conclude with an informed opinion whether such a scheme could succeed in Poland (everyone agreed it was impossible) and what are the reasons based on evidence (historic evidence was the most often cited in class) which support their conclusion.

Students can cite any references they have but if they submit electronically, they should use to format it correctly. They can help each other, it's not a test. Hand-written papers using citations can just cite sources inline. I don't think too many sources are necessary.

The aim of this exercise is to demonstrate their understanding of the form and content of an academic compare and contrast essay. paying attention to audience, purpose, style, organisation.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Neil Postman - The End of Education


The title of my book was carefully chosen with a view toward its being an ambiguous
prophecy. As I indicated at the start, The End of Education could be taken to express a severe
pessimism about the future. But if you have come this far, you will know that the book itself
refuses to accept such a future. I have tried my best to locate, explain, and elaborate narratives
that may give nontrivial purposes to schooling, that would contribute a spiritual and serious
intellectual dimension to learning. But I must acknowledge—here in my final pages—that I am
not terribly confident that any of these will work.
Let me be clear on this point. I would not have troubled anyone—least of all, written a book
—if I did not think these ideas have strength and usefulness. But the ideas rest on several
assumptions which American culture is now beginning to question. For example, everything in
the book assumes that the idea of "school" itself will endure. It also assumes that the idea of a
"public school" is a good thing. And even further, it assumes that the idea of "childhood" still
As to the first point, there is more talk than ever about schools' being nineteenth-century
inventions that have outlived their usefulness. Schools are expensive; they don't do what we
expect of them; their functions can be served by twenty-first-century technology. Anyone who
wants to give a speech on this subject will draw an audience, and an attentive one. An even
bigger audience can be found for a talk on the second point: that the idea of a "public school" is
irrelevant in the absence of the idea of a public; that is, Americans are now so different from
each other, have so many diverse points of view, and such special group grievances that there
can be no common vision or unifying principles. On the last point, while writing this book, I
have steadfastly refused to reread or even refer to one of my earlier books in which I claimed
that childhood is disappearing. I proceeded as if this were not so. But I could not prevent myself
from being exposed to other gloomy news, mostly the handwriting on the wall. Can it be true,
as I read in The New York Times, that every day 130,000 children bring deadly weapons to
school, and not only in New York, Chicago, and Detroit but in many venues thought to provide
our young with a more settled and humane environment in which to grow? Can it be true, as
some sociologists claim, that by the start of the twenty-first century, close to 60 percent of our
children will be raised in single-parent homes? Can it be true that sexual activity (and sexual
diseases) among the young has increased by 300 percent in the last twenty years? It is probably
not necessary for me to go on with the "can it be true's?." Everyone agrees and all signs point to
the fact that American culture is not presently organized to promote the idea of childhood; and
without that idea schooling loses much of its point.
These are realistic worries and must raise serious doubts for anyone who wishes to say
something about schooling. Nonetheless, I offer this book in good faith, if not as much
confidence as one would wish. My faith is that school will endure since no one has invented a
better way to introduce the young to the world of learning; that the public school will endure
since no one has invented a better way to create a public; and that childhood will survive
because without it we must lose our sense of what it means to be an adult.

Postman, Neil. The End of Education Redeļ¬ning the Value of School . 1st. ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1995. Print.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Long time high school teachers of reddit, how have students changed over the years?

This answer appeared in the thread and I have reposted it here because I wonder what University teachers would say if asked the same question and whether students would agree or disagree upon investigation?

So I think I missed the boat here, but I interviewed my retired high school German teacher about the changes he experienced in education. His answers were great. Here it is:
Describe your expectations from students during your first years of teaching as compared to later years.
I always expected my students to do their best. Toward the end of my career the administration was requiring us to dumb things down and grade on a more lenient scale so every kids could be successful. For them it was always about the numbers.
Did your personal philosophy on teaching change throughout the course of your career?
No, I always felt my job was to make my students as knowledgeable about my subject as I could in order to help prepare them for life after high school.
What are the major changes you have seen in the education field?
It's been dumbed down. We don't encourage real excellence anymore. Instead it's more about uniformity, make it so everyone succeeds by lowering the standards. It's all about feel good, everyone passes, everyone gets the prize. All the attention is centered on the kids at the bottom, ignoring those at the top. The feeling is that the good kids will make it anyway.
Have the students changed? If so, how and why do you think that may be?
Yes, the world we live in has changed drastically since I started teaching, how could the kids not. We now have vast amounts of information at our fingertips, instantly. Many kids are much more informed about the world and what's going on. A negative aspect to that, though, was the distraction caused by cell phones. I also saw a shift in the approach to school, a more serious attempt to master their subjects and earn the best grades they could.
Have they remained the same in any aspect?
Absolutely, kids are still kids. They're still concerned with girlfriends and boyfriends, getting a license, getting a car, working, all the things kids have always been interested in.
What did you like and dislike most about teaching when you first began? During the last few years?
When I first started it was easier to relate to the kids and be accepted by them because I was closer to them in age. The difficult part was learning "the system", how the school really worked and who did what. It was also necessary to learn how to actually teach your subject matter; what pace to present the material at, how much to present at once, which concepts took more time and needed additional drilling, which order to present things in, etc. The last few years it was harder to relate to the kids because so much had changed that I had no experience of, also because of a built-in bias in our society where young people disdain older people as having nothing to offer them.
At what point did you enjoy teaching the most and why? The least?
I enjoyed teaching the most when I was in the classroom with my kids. I enjoyed it least when having to deal with an administration that was completely out of touch with reality. The vast amounts of useless paperwork they required that had nothing to do with the quality of classroom learning, just so they could point to a file cabinet and boast about what a wonderful school we had.
Do you feel the administration put forth their best efforts to provide a meaningful learning environment for both students and teachers? Please explain.
No, administration's first priority was always themselves, followed by the kids, then the teachers. They rarely asked for input and when on occassion they did, they ignored what they got. They would formulate the most ridiculous plans (without teacher input) that would inevitably fail, then blame the teachers for the failure. They were always generating paperwork to justify their existence.
If you could change anything the education field, what would it be?
Just about everything. Teachers would have a much greater say in the day-to-day running of the school. Administrators would be returned to a suppport position. I'd change to a more european system. Everyone would receive 9 years of general education, then you would specialize based on aptitude and test scores. College bound kids would receive 3 or 4 more years of more advanced work. The other students would move into technical schools and apprenticeships and start learning job skills. We waste too much time insisting on everyone having 12 years of general ed.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Charlatans and frauds

According to science, what is homeopathy?

Pseudo-medicine, a placebo, ineffective.

Homeopathy is very expensive water. (full marks on the mid-term, any other materially different answer gets zero).

Homework: go to

Report on what you find there.

What is the purpose of the organization?

Who is James Randi?

What is Avogadro's limit?

Leave your answers in the comments to this post.

Short Answers

01. What is the "hole in the wall" project?

It's a project where children in remote areas have access to a computer which allows them to teach themselves without a teacher.

Sugata Mitra

Meg Ray homework

:Homework for Monday, complete the exam questions with model answers. Add a tl;dr. The first one has been done for you.

Define the following terms as they are used by Psychologist Meg Ray.

Extended adolescence
Adolescence is commonly understood as beginning at birth and ending with the end of puberty. Extended adolescence is the detrimental prolongation of adolescent behaviours beyond puberty and the deferment of adult roles and adult responsibility. Some consequences named in the video include not being able to have the career you want, not being able to marry the person you want, not being able to have the children you want.


Extended adolescence is a continuation of pubescent behaviour post-puberty. Biological adulthood without social or mental adulthood.


Neologism describing a new generation of young adults trapped between adolescence and adulthood. They are mostly people who still live with their parents. They don't have jobs; or their jobs are part-time and often paid. Twixters tend to marry later and defer other important life decisions until later as well. synonym: kidults, peter-pan, young-at-heart, empty of wallet.

Polish equivalent: gniazdowniki (people who won't leave the nest)

Being intentional and making mindful choices.
Doing something on purpose. Thinking out your actions and acting on them.

To infantalize is to treat an adult person like a child or reduce their status to that of an infant or child.

Trivialized defining decade
Deprecating the value of your twenties.

Underestimating the most flexible time of our lives.

Benign neglect
Ignoring or dismissing as unimportant some issue immediately which manifests adverse consequences much later.

Blowing it
Failing to take advantage of an opportunity, when you are messing up, or screwing up, or doing something wrong

Robbed of urgency and ambition
Society's attitude towards twentysomethings encourages them to waste time, delay important life decisions, slack off. This is epitomized in the phrase "Your 30s are your new 20s"

The perception that twentysomethings have the option of  'do over,' ie. they can defer indefinitely important life decisions again and again.

Identity capital
An investment in who you want to be and what you want your life to look like. Identity capital is achieved by exploring work opportunities and engaging in meaningful relationship.

Investment in your adulthood and creating a social network to make a proper foundation for the future. It's about adding value to who you andwho you want to be.