Friday, February 27, 2009

Should Science Be Fun?

Hi Maria,

In a recent interview with Professor Neil deGrosse Tyson, Charlie Rose asked him if science is fun. The implication was that it should be. Dr. Typson instantly went on the defensive. I cringed at the prospect of what would follow.

Far to often the science teacher plays the role of the fool that delight student with explosions and amazing events. These wild-eyed science teachers are even sometimes rewarded by being recognized as the teacher of the year and showered with undeserved accolades.

Science is not fun in the sense that Joy Land is fun. Science rewards the students with the satisfaction that comes from understand and knowing that is derived from discovery. It is freedom from ignorance. It is the satisfaction that comes from knowing that having mastered the scientific method, they can discovery the solutions to yet new problems.

Science is not fun. It is much more than that.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What are your students doing tonight?

Young partygoers arrested for trashing a foreclosed Florida home

FEBRUARY 24--A group of young Floridians invaded a foreclosed home over the weekend and threw a raucous bash that caused about $75,000 in damage and resulted in the arrest of 17 partygoers. According to police, the trashed Fort Myers home, now owned by Wells Fargo Bank, was overrun Friday night by partygoers who broke windows, punched holes in the home's walls, and spray painted graffiti inside the residence. Deputies with the Lee County Sheriff's Office arrested 10 juveniles and 7 adults (aged 18 to 25) on loitering and prowling charges. The adult defendants are pictured in the below mug shots. The underage arrestees were also charged with possession of alcohol by a minor, while the adults were hit with contributing to the delinquency of a minor counts. According to a probable cause statement, sheriff's deputies found cans of Bud Light beer in the 4000-square-foot home, and party attendees acknowledged that they congregated together "for a party in which alcohol was being served." (3 pages)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

China is becoming the largest English speaking country.


Sheriff Bob White told the middle school students that within 10 years that China will become the largest English speaking country. I can not confirm that. It seems incomprehensible that could happen.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pasco Sheriff Bob White said ....

Pasco Sheriff Bob White said, "He chose to go up against my SWAT team and lost." He said that when he was addressing middle school students at the annual Law Enforcement Parade in Holiday, FL.

You can read about this even in the St. Petersburg Times, Pasco section

Times Staff Writers: Drew Harwell, Kmeel Stanley and Erin Sullivan

Law enforcement parade began at the middle school.


Today Pasco County law enforcement made a show of force again with a parade. It began at the middle school with patriotic songs. Sheriff Bob White was the first speaker. He began by saying that we are here celebrating freedom. He said nothing in support of academics. He stressed karate [a marshal art], sports, military and law enforcement. He told us that last night that someone had chosen to challenge the SWAT team last night and suffered the consequences. This morning I read in the paper that the SWAT team killed 'FAT BOY' while serving a warrant. There was also in the same area a 40+ acre fire that destroyed multiple houses. The timing and proximity was near enough to wonder if these events should be connected.

I was intimidate by all the large men and their guns. If their intention was to intimidate me and everyone other then themselves, then they succeeded.

A parade has an effect. It is a psychological tool for causing a commitment to be made. One that provokes a choice. 'You are either with us or against us.'

The students and the parents may think the law enforcement parade is a fun event. It is something other than that. Think about it.


Monday, February 16, 2009

The Preoperational Stage (Years 2-7)

(Pre)Operatory Thought in Piagetian theory is any procedure for mentally acting on objects. The hallmark of the preoperational stage is sparse and logically inadequate mental operations. During this stage the child learns to use and to represent objects by images and words, in other words they learn to use symbolic thinking. Thinking is still egocentric: The child has difficulty taking the viewpoint of others.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Is hyperinflation in our future?


"In economics, hyperinflation is inflation that is "out of control", a condition in which prices increase rapidly as a currency loses its value. Definitions used by the media vary from a cumulative inflation rate over three years approaching 100% to "inflation exceeding 50% a month." In informal usage the term is often applied to much lower rates. As a rule of thumb, normal inflation is reported per year, but hyperinflation is often reported for much shorter intervals, often per month. " source:

I have experience as you have a large percentage increase in the price of fuel. Recently, I went to the Home Depot to buy fertilizer. A 40# bag of Scott's citrus fertilizer last year was $12, about 6 months later the price is $19.98. That is a 66% increase in about 6 months.

A near trillion dollar economic stimulus is about to effect us. We might be in the early stage of hyperinflation. I never had the unfortunate experience of living through hyperinflation. We might be about to know what it feels like. I wish I could tell you what you need to know to survive.

I am going to the Home Depot now to see if I can find more inflation symptoms. [I did. Yes! There are others.]



"We are confronted with a broader and deeper slowdown than has been experienced in decades," said U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

"We will work closely with our colleagues in the G7 and the G20 to build consensus on reforms that match the scope of the problem revealed by this crisis."

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Bipolar Teacher


"We should not be speaking to, but with. That is second nature to any good teacher." source: Noam Chomsky

What Noam Chomsky wrote is the key to understanding why someone that is bipolar should not be teaching.

There are two halves to the bi-polar personality: manic and depression. Their medication levels the extremes. This makes it possible for them to function successfully in the classroom. They seldom do because the manic phase is euphoric and gives them a false sense of effectiveness.

During the manic phase thoughts race through their mind and speech is so rapid and loud that the teacher disconnects from their students resulting in a failure to understand what the teacher is talking about. The worse case is when this disconnect results in the majority of the students talking loudly and rapidly to no one.

It is my opinion that bipolars should not be teachers, because they can not be trusted to take their medication.


When will it end? Never!

The full story is at

FEBRUARY 12--Meet Curtis Pickard. The Georgia student was arrested this week after he allegedly used his cell phone to take "upskirt" photos of a teacher, which he then showed to fellow high schoolers. According to a Columbia County Sheriff's Office report, Pickard, 17, surreptitiously snapped photos of Greenbrier High School teacher Ellen Hotchkiss on Monday. After several students on Tuesday told a school safety officer that he was showing the photos around, the officer seized Pickard's phone. The 33-year-old Hotchkiss, pictured at right, examined the images and "identified her legs and underwear from the previous day." Pickard was charged with unlawful eavesdropping or surveillance and booked into the Columbia County Detention Center, where the below mug shots were taken. He was released after posting $2600 bond on the felony rap.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Concrete Operational Stage

The Concrete operational stage is the third of four stages of cognitive development in Piaget's theory. This stage, which follows the Preoperational stage, occurs between the ages of 7 and 11 years and is characterized by the appropriate use of logic. Important processes during this stage are:
Seriation—the ability to sort objects in an order according to size, shape, or any other characteristic. For example, if given different-shaded objects they may make a color gradient.
Classification—the ability to name and identify sets of objects according to appearance, size or other characteristic, including the idea that one set of objects can include another.
Decentering—where the child takes into account multiple aspects of a problem to solve it. For example, the child will no longer perceive an exceptionally wide but short cup to contain less than a normally-wide, taller cup.
Reversibility—where the child understands that numbers or objects can be changed, then returned to their original state. For this reason, a child will be able to rapidly determine that if 4+4 equals 8, 8−4 will equal 4, the original quantity.
Conservation—understanding that quantity, length or number of items is unrelated to the arrangement or appearance of the object or items.
Elimination of Egocentrism—the ability to view things from another's perspective (even if they think incorrectly). For instance, show a child a comic in which Jane puts a doll under a box, leaves the room, and then Melissa moves the doll to a drawer, and Jane comes back. A child in the concrete operations stage will say that Jane will still think it's under the box even though the child knows it is in the drawer. (See also False-belief task).
Children in this stage can, however, only solve problems that apply to actual (concrete) objects or events, and not abstract concepts or hypothetical tasks.

Formal Operational Stage

The formal operational period is the fourth and final of the periods of cognitive development in Piaget's theory. This stage, which follows the Concrete Operational stage, commences at around 12 years of age (puberty) and continues into adulthood. It is characterized by acquisition of the ability to think abstractly, reason logically and draw conclusions from the information available, as well as apply all these processes to hypothetical situations. During this stage the young adult is able to understand such things as love, "shades of gray", logical proofs, and values.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The cognitive approach replaced the behavioral approach.

Hi Maria,

When I was teaching at Mid Michigan Community College, it was my responsibility to select textbooks for my department. At the time, every textbook had in the preface a statement disclosing that the text was a behavioral approach to the subject. There wasn't a choice.

I was then expected to spend a summer writing behavioral objectives. I told the Dean that I would not do that. It went so far that the legislators in Lansing passed a law requiring all teachers in Michigan to write behavioral objects. If they did not, state financial support would be cut.

I knew then there was something fundamentally wrong with Behaviorism. I just did not speak well enough to make the case against it.

I learned last week that behavioral approach has been replaced by the cognitive approach. The behavioral approach is dead. Yippee …

Behaviorism’s fundamental flaw is that it is based on the premise that thinking cannot be seen or measured, thus it is not important. It is only behavior that can be seen and measured that was thought at the time to be important. That proved to be the undoing of the behavioral approach.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Behavioral approach

I recall when the all of the text book prefaces explained that the text was a behavioral approach to whatever the subject was. I'm pleased that it has been replaced by the cognitive approach.