Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig makes the case that our democracy has become corrupt with money, leading to inequality that means only 0.02% of the United States population actually determines who's in power. Lessig says that this fundamental breakdown of the democratic system must be fixed before we will ever be able to address major challenges like climate change, social security, and student debt. This is not the most important problem, it's just the first problem.
Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, former director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and founder of Rootstrikers, a network of activists leading the fight against government corruption. He has authored numerous books, including Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Our Congress—and a Plan to Stop It, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Free Culture, and Remix.
'Tis National Poetry Month! In April, classrooms around the country will dive into the expressive art of poetry -- Shakespeare, Neruda, Angelou, Hughes, Dickinson, the list goes on and on.
There are many great ways to bring poetry into the classroom, and whether it's through reading, writing, or performing, poetry can be a great way to engage students. To help you bring poetry into your classrooms, we've compiled a list of some of the best open resources.
"Something is rotten in the state of biomedical research. Everyone who works in the field knows this on some level. We applaud presentations by colleagues at conferences, hoping that they will extend the same courtesy to us, but we know in our hearts that the majority or even the vast majority of our research claims are false.
When it came to light that the biotechnology firm Amgen tried to reproduce 53 'landmark' cancer studies and managed to confirm only six, scientists were “shocked.” It was terrible news, but if we’re honest with ourselves, not entirely unexpected. The pernicious problem of irreproducible data has been discussed among scientists for decades. Bad science wastes a colossal amount of money, not only on the irreproducible studies themselves, but on misguided drug development and follow-up trials based on false information. And while unsound preclinical studies may not directly harm patients, there is an enormous opportunity cost when drug makers spend their time on wild goose chases. Discussions about irreproducibility usually ends with shrugs, however—what can we do to combat such a deep-seated, systemic problem?"
"Enthusiasm for the Humanities, though, is much diminished in today’s educational institutions. Our data-driven culture bears much of the blame: The arts can no longer compete with the prestige and financial payoffs promised by studying the STEM fields — a curriculum integrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These are all worthy disciplines that offer precise information on practically everything. But, often and inadvertently, they distort our perceptions; they even shortchange us. • The regime of information may well sport its specific truths, but it is locked out of the associations — subjective but also moral and philosophical — that bathe all literature. A new technology like GPS provides us with the most efficient and direct route to a destination, but it presupposes we know where we are going. Finding an address is one thing; finding one’s way in life is another. Even our smartest computers or most brilliant statisticians are at a loss when it comes to mapping our psychic landscapes. • When and how do you take your own measure? And what are you measuring? Both Oedipus and Lear could initially subscribe to Shakespeare’s notation, 'every inch a king,' but by play’s end, something different, varied and terrifying has come to light: for one, an unknown history of parricide and incest, for the other, an opening into a moral vision of such force that it wrecks all prior frames, leading to madness, as Lear suffers his kinship with all 'bare, fork’d animal[s].' Life’s actual hurdy-gurdy often explodes our labels and preconceptions. • 'How much do you know about Shakespeare,' I once asked a friend who has committed much of her life to studying the Bard. She replied, 'Not as much as he knows about me.' Remember this the next time someone tells you literature is useless. •Why does this matter? The humanities interrogate us. They challenge our sense of who we are, even of who our brothers and sisters might be. When President Obama said of Trayvon Martin, 'this could have been my son,' he was uttering a truth that goes beyond compassion and reaches toward recognition. 'It could have been me' is the threshold for the vistas that literature and art make available to us."
It’s easier than ever to capture activity on your iOS device screen and turn it into a movie. It’s just a matter of mirroring your device onto your laptop with any number of apps then firing up a tool like Camtasia to record what’s happening on your screen.
But there are still a few quirky things you may encounter along the way. These tips will help you get great results the first time you dive into iOS screencasting.
"… Joseph P. McDonald, a professor of teaching and learning at New York University’s school of education, who viewed the video at The New York Times’s request, described Ms. Dial’s behavior as 'abusive teaching.'
'We don’t see enough here to know for sure that this classroom is typically full of fear, but I bet that it is,' he wrote in an email. 'The fear is likely not only about whether my teacher may at any time erupt with anger and punish me dramatically, but also whether I can ever be safe making mistakes.'
Indeed, several of the current and former staff members interviewed said that the network’s culture encouraged teachers to make students fear them in order to motivate them. Carly Ginsberg, 22, who taught for about six months last year at Success Academy Prospect Heights, said teachers ripped up the papers of children as young as kindergarten as the principal or assistant principal watched. She once witnessed a girl’s humiliation as the principal mocked her low test score to another adult in front of the child.
In one instance, the lead kindergarten teacher in her classroom made a girl who had stumbled reciting a math problem cry so hard that she vomited. Ms. Ginsberg resigned in December because she was so uncomfortable with the school’s approach. 'It felt like I was witnessing child abuse,' she said, adding, 'If this were my kindergarten experience, I would be traumatized.'"
"So it’s possible to achieve the recommended levels of gratitude without spending a penny or uttering a word. All you have to do is to generate, within yourself, the good feelings associated with gratitude, and then bask in its warm, comforting glow. If there is any loving involved in this, it is self-love, and the current hoopla around gratitude is a celebration of onanism. • Yet there is a need for more gratitude, especially from those who have a roof over their heads and food on their table. Only it should be a more vigorous and inclusive sort of gratitude than what is being urged on us now. Who picked the lettuce in the fields, processed the standing rib roast, drove these products to the stores, stacked them on the supermarket shelves and, of course, prepared them and brought them to the table? Saying grace to an abstract God is an evasion; there are crowds, whole communities of actual people, many of them with aching backs and tenuous finances, who made the meal possible. • The real challenge of gratitude lies in figuring out how to express our debt to them, whether through generous tips or, say, by supporting their demands for decent pay and better working conditions. But now we’re not talking about gratitude, we’re talking about a far more muscular impulse — and this is, to use the old-fashioned term, 'solidarity' — which may involve getting up off the yoga mat."
Five great revolutions have shaped political culture over the past 50 years, says theorist Ivan Krastev. He shows how each step forward -- from the cultural revolution of the '60s to recent revelations in the field of neuroscience -- has also helped erode trust in the tools of democracy. As he says, "What went right is also what went wrong." Can democracy survive?
There's no doubt that when taught well, poetry can get kids excited about reading, writing, performing, and finding their voice. As we approach the beginning of April, which is National Poetry Month, I've put together a selection of videos about the power of poetry for young people -- both in the classroom and beyond.
"For each school day of the past three years, I've started my ninth-grade English class with a poem. When I first made this commitment, I feared that I might not have the stamina (or enough engaging poems) to sustain us for the full 184 days of class. And I wasn't the only skeptic. Each year, I get a few sideways glances and furrowed brows when I explain our daily opening routine for class. But before long, students are starting English class with Billy Collins and Mary Oliver and Robert Pinsky, Rumi and Basho and Shakespeare. These voices, contemporary and classic, have helped define my classroom culture to such an extent that on the rare occasion when I postpone the 'Poem of the Day' until later in the class period, my students interrogate me about it. I confess that it makes me smile.
So if this year's National Poetry Month inspires you to give daily poetry a go in your classroom, maybe even just for the month, consider these four reasons why starting class with a poem each day will rock your world. Just for good measure, I've included a few poem suggestions as well."
It is possible, however, to learn enough about the powers and limitations of the scientific method to intelligently determine which claims made by scientists are likely to be true and which deserve skepticism. As a starting point, we could teach our children that the theories and technologies that have been tested the most times, by the largest number of independent observers, over the greatest number of years, are the most likely to be reliable. If someone is going to choose areas of science to reject, evolution and vaccines are terrible choices. We should also teach our children about the ways in which data can be misinterpreted and manipulated, and how much bias plays a role in how information is presented. Most importantly, if we want future generations to be truly scientifically literate, we should teach our children that science is not a collection of immutable facts but a method for temporarily setting aside some of our ubiquitous human frailties, our biases and irrationality, our longing to confirm our most comforting beliefs, our mental laziness. Facts can be used in the way a drunk uses a lamppost, for support. Science illuminates the universe.
"For the first time, scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have documented migratory movements of bird populations spanning the entire year for 118 species throughout the Western Hemisphere. The study finds broad similarity in the routes used by specific groups of species—vividly demonstrated by animated maps showing patterns of movement across the annual cycle. The results of these analyses were published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B."
"John Leonard is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who roots for the Philadelphia Eagles, listens to sports talk radio when he is exercising, and teaches a course called Measurement and Instrumentation. When the Deflategate story broke after last year’s A.F.C. championship game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, he found himself fixated on it, yearning to dig into it from a scientific point of view.
On the off chance you have spent the last year on Mars, Deflategate refers to the scandal that ensued after the Colts accused the Patriots of deflating their footballs to give quarterback Tom Brady an unfair edge — an accusation that the N.F.L. and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, ultimately determined was probably true.
'Of course, I thought of the Ideal Gas Law right away,' Leonard says, 'but there was no data to test it.' Although the N.F.L. had measured the pounds per square inch (p.s.i.) of the Patriots’ footballs at halftime after the Colts complained — under the rules, game balls must be inflated to pressures ranging from 12.5 to 13.5 p.s.i. — it had not released any numbers."
"There is another layer to this story. The act of purification accompanying the creation of the modern research university was not just about differentiating realms of knowledge. It was also about divorcing knowledge from virtue. Though it seems foreign to us now, before purification the philosopher (and natural philosopher) was assumed to be morally superior to other sorts of people. The 18th-century thinker Joseph Priestley wrote “a Philosopher ought to be something greater and better than another man.” Philosophy, understood as the love of wisdom, was seen as a vocation, like the priesthood. It required significant moral virtues (foremost among these were integrity and selflessness), and the pursuit of wisdom in turn further inculcated those virtues. The study of philosophy elevated those who pursued it. Knowing and being good were intimately linked. It was widely understood that the point of philosophy was to become good rather than simply to collect or produce knowledge. • As the historian Steven Shapin has noted, the rise of disciplines in the 19th century changed all this. The implicit democracy of the disciplines ushered in an age of “the moral equivalence of the scientist” to everyone else. The scientist’s privileged role was to provide the morally neutral knowledge needed to achieve our goals, whether good or evil. This put an end to any notion that there was something uplifting about knowledge. The purification made it no longer sensible to speak of nature, including human nature, in terms of purposes and functions. By the late 19th century, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche had proved the failure of philosophy to establish any shared standard for choosing one way of life over another. This is how Alasdair MacIntyre explained philosophy’s contemporary position of insignificance in society and marginality in the academy. There was a brief window when philosophy could have replaced religion as the glue of society; but the moment passed. People stopped listening as philosophers focused on debates among themselves. • Once knowledge and goodness were divorced, scientists could be regarded as experts, but there are no morals or lessons to be drawn from their work. Science derives its authority from impersonal structures and methods, not the superior character of the scientist. The individual scientist is no different from the average Joe; he or she has, as Shapin has written, “no special authority to pronounce on what ought to be done.” For many, science became a paycheck, and the scientist became a “de-moralized” tool enlisted in the service of power, bureaucracy and commerce."
"Concerns about religious indoctrination have emerged in several overwhelmingly white, Christian counties. Why?" "• Williamson County, Tennessee, embodies demographic stereotypes about the South: The county just south of Nashville is overwhelmingly white, Christian, and Republican. But this fall, a curious controversy emerged there. Parents and school-board members have voiced worries about alleged Islamic indoctrination in the public schools. • In seventh grade, kids study world geography and history, including a unit on “the Islamic world” up to the year 1500 A.D. “Williamson County parents and taxpayers have expressed concerns that some social-studies textbooks and supplemental materials in use in Tennessee classrooms contain a pro-Islamic/anti-Judeo- Christian bias,” one school-board member, Beth Burgos, wrote in a resolution. She questioned whether it’s right to test students on the tenets of Islam, along with the state and district’s learning standards related to religion. She also said the textbook should mention concepts like jihad and not portray Islam as a fundamentally peaceful religion. “How are our children to reconcile what they’re seeing happening in the Middle East when they’re not even exposed to the radical sects of Islam like ISIS?” she said at a working meeting in mid-October. (Burgos did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls requesting • In interviews, a number of parents and school-board members used the word distraction to describe the local debate over “Islamic indoctrination.” “We have a shortage of bus drivers,” said a school-board member, Robert Hullett, at that October working meeting. “We have a problem with substitute teachers. We have things that are affecting our kids right now, and we're fooling around with this.” • Ultimately, the resolution was withdrawn, but Islam and education continues to be a topic of discussion. This week, the local chapter of Glenn Beck’s nationwide advocacy organization, the 912 Project, is hosting a townhall about it. Other Tennessee counties are talking about this, too. In October, the school board in Maury County, which borders Williamson, submitted a resolution to the State Board of Education questioning whether basic knowledge of world history “requires the depth of study of the underlying contents or tenets of world religion to the extent that the State currently requires in sixth and seventh grade social studies, especially given the impressionable nature of students’ ages during such grades.” The resolution also called for units covering religion to be moved to high school. In White County, farther east, a group that calls itself Citizens Against Islamic Indoctrination placed an ad in the local paper, the Sparta Expositor, featuring all-caps text: “ISLAMIC INDOCTRINATION IS IN SCHOOLS ACROSS OUR STATE AND OUR NATION,” it read, inviting parents and citizens to attend a town-hall meeting with a self-identified Muslim convert to Christianity. It also featured this graphic:"
"Donald Trump's proposal to bar Muslims from America may be a gift to ISIS recruitment and a grotesque echo of the sentiment behind the Chinese Exclusion Act and the internment of Japanese-Americans. But, like those earlier spasms of exclusion, the Trump proposal has plenty of supporters. • In one recent poll, more than three-quarters of Republicans said that Islam was incompatible with life in the United States. There’s a widespread perception in America that Islam is rooted in misogyny and violence, incorrigible because it is rooted in a holy text that is fundamentally different from others. • So here’s my quiz on religion. Some questions have more than one correct answer."
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