Category Archives: science

MACS and Common Core

I have been thinking about traditional school and standards lately — it’s in the news a lot. I guess as it always is, but perhaps especially because it’s the beginning of another school year.

For example, there is this recent one from the NY Times lauding Massachusetts (LINK) But is it that actually so great?

The article notes:
1. This is just one test of 8th graders
2. There is still a substantial performance gap between rich and poor
3. Schools are improving, but a big part of that is due to “teaching to the test”. So does this even matter?
4. The 95% percentile in Mass is still substantially below Singapore in the chart they report shows. So we are not that great. Perhaps this is showing MA is substantially holding back a substantial group of kids.

My points would be (as a Sudbury Valley School parent and Sudbury School advocate)
1. There are clearly deeper problems causing the rich/poor performance problems
2. What are the graduation rates at these schools?
3. Parents should choose. This is not the way I choose to educate MY KIDS. But we each should choose.
4. I remember doing science projects in elementary school — hermit crabs, measuring rainfall, observing clouds, growing plants. It was vaguely interesting, but I am pretty sure that I was not grasping any greater point trying to be made. If anything, I remember it sorta sucking the interest out of me (being forced to measure rainfall, plant growth etc)
5. My wife happened upon a random science/biology textbook in her house when she was in elementary school (her brothers?) and DEVOURED IT. By herself. On her own terms.
6. Compulsory curriculum is not needed to produce inquisitive scientists, capable adults, upstanding citizens, good people. Sudbury Valley School has been doing it for more than 40 years. There is empirical evidence.
7. There is not a “critical window” for learning science.
8. Childhood is (in my opinion) for free play with direct experience with nature and their surroundings. Sounds like a good breeding ground for scientists. Kids at SVS are fishing, discovering crayfish, etc, etc in the creek. That is priceless vs sitting around in a classroom.
9. Most schools are generally not thinking about who the kids are now, but rather worrying about who they could/should/need to be in the future. Kids are people. Right now.

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Filed under ageism, school, science, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Crank the tunes! I gotsta get some work done!

“Eysenck’s hypothesis that introverts have higher cortical arousal than extraverts, and therefore require less stimulation from the environment to achieve their optimum level of arousal is cited and supported by Stenberg et al (1990). They found higher levels of blood flow into the temporal lobe in introverts than extroverts.”
Will Background Music Improve Your Concentration?

So does that mean I am an “I” or an “E”? (An “outgoing introvert” I like to say…)

But keep reading: “Performance was best in the silent condition and worst in the familiar music condition”

Figures. Still, I find that music (headphones… I have 20 year old Sony MDR-V6′s going strong) helps when I am doing more routine sorts of work perhaps as a sort of consolation prize… at least I can listen to some music?

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Filed under contrarian, evidence-based, motivation, programming, responsibility, science, work

If you are pondering indoor air-quality…

If you are pondering indoor air-quality in your home… I urge you to look into the issue of flame-retardants in furniture — specifically in the foam used in mattresses and couches.

Here is an upsetting recent article on the topic PBDEs and chlorinated Tris (I knew about PBDEs, but hadn’t considered that (DUH!) the replacement would probably be just as bad or worse. And that they don’t even work!)

Some good practical advice here (if you are a millionaire)

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Filed under corporations, erik-green, green, health, HVAC, IAQ -- indoor air quality, passive house, science, superinsulation

ZOOM

method 1:
http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/java/scienceopticsu/powersof10/
method 2: http://htwins.net/scale2/
method 3: http://htwins.net/scale/
others?

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Filed under science, visualization

Cheating in Science, Part II: School is a Breeding Ground for Cheaters

This article (link below) isn’t directly about SVS but it is related since there is no testing or evaluation at SVS unless it is initiated and asked for by the student (the enrollee). I can’t imagine what purpose cheating would have in such a situation. Interesting are the comments at this article which include people who cheated a lot in school but don’t anymore now that they are out of that environment.

Cheating in Science, Part II: School is a Breeding Ground for Cheaters
“One of the tragedies of our system of schooling is that it deflects students from discovering what they truly love and find worth doing for its own sake. Instead, it teaches them that life is a series of hoops that one must get through, by one means or another, and that success lies in others’ judgments rather than in real, self-satisfying accomplishments.”

From: Freedom to Learn
The roles of play and curiosity as foundations for learning
a blog by Peter Gray

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Filed under alternative education, science, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School