Education: The Bell Curve

bellcurve

Good Design: System International Units

fullerines

I have been working to accept nature as it is. I found myself looking at the System International Measure Units:

1. Prediction – Radiation – Mission – Art – Visual – Eye – Video – Candela
2. Harmonization – Vibration – Strategy – Science – Tempal – Ear – Audio – Celcius
3. Synchronation – Duration – Tactics – Design – Signal – Nose – Events – Second
4. Information – Distance – Operation – Engineering – Gradual – Throat – Graphics – Metre
5. Validation – Mass – Product – Skill – Technical – Jaw – Text – Kilogram
6. Transaction – Current – Service – Training – Clerical – Body – Equations – Ampere
7. Satisfaction – Molarity – Price – Education – Medial – Thumb – Numbers – Mole

I am of the opinion, if we stick to the basics we will develop better systems.

Links:

English, Globish and English Mania

2 Billion non-English speaking people are learning English as the language of international trade.

Debunking the Pastoral Myth

pastoralmyth

Most of us are a few generations off the farm.  We are probably living in a metropolitain area.  We are probably earning decent incomes.  We have insulated homes, heat, electricity, running water.  We buy our organic groceries at a supermarket.  We don’t realize that most of the people who work on farms do so hoping that their children will get a good education and get a job living in the city.  This includes our forefathers. Why?  Because farming is a shitty way to make a living.  It is not a hobby you perform on your off time with a $60,000 a year salary to earn during the day or a pension check coming in each month.

Californians are living in a complete delusion.  They look at the pastoral pictures thinking that those people living in borderline poverty performing manual labor from dawn to dusk have the good life.  Agriculture for most people in the world is a second or third world existence.  They wish it on no one.

A majority of our food comes from industrial agriculture.  Our quality of life and our ability to feed ourselves is dependent on large scale agriculture and agricultural science.  And because of industrial agriculture only a few percent of the developed world’s population works on farms.  Even today most farmers in the developed world want their children to live and work in the city so they can enjoy a better quality of life.  When we ask farmers to produce “organic” products we are actually reducing yield and the farmers are making less money.  Our romantic notions about agriculture are actually imposing more work for less return upon the world’s farmers.  Organic agriculture is a formula for poverty.

For most of the world, growing and eating locally is not viable.  Many regions have short growing seasons that greatly reduce the number and type of crops that can be grown.  Yes, staples can often be grown locally during one season, but winter and the need for nutrition and variety of diet requires long distance transport of produce.  California is the exception, not the rule, and should not dictate agricultural policy for the rest of the world.  Fuck local.

The world does not want to be hungry.  In many cases scarcity in other countries is due to our food fetishes or our food phobias.  Let the people of the world coordinate the growing of crops to feed themselves using the latest techniques of agriculture and aquaculture.  Yes, one company owning all seed varieties is a crime against humanity.  However, there are good agriculturalists who can apply large scale agriculture for our benefit.

Think Global.  Let Us All Eat Bread, Meat, Poultry, Fish, Fruit and Vegetables Year Round.  Cake, too.

Essentials: Brooklyn Superhero Supply

bshs_front

826NYC is a nonprofit organization (located in Park Slope, Brooklyn) dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Services are structured around the belief that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this in mind 826NYC provides free drop-in tutoring, after-school workshops, in-schools tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. Drawing from a volunteer base of over 1,000, which includes many teachers, writers and journalism professionals, 826NYC unites eager students with eager helpers. There are also 826 National chapters in San Francisco (826 Valencia), LA (826LA), Seattle (826 Seattle), Chicago (826CHI), and Ann Arbor (826 Michigan).

Each unique storefront serves as an entertaining front to the service’s study areas.

Literacy and Numeracy: Who Needs Them?

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When Plato was teaching his students he was often frustrated by their note taking and reference to written records.  Plato was of the opinion that the new technology of literacy was creating a generation that was unable to think and meditate on what they were learning because of their dependency on the written word.

Today, technology is providing us with a broad array of new media with which we record, replay, produce, publish, communicate and collaborate without using literacy or numeracy.  Academics, publishers and governments are alarmed at declines in the reading of printed publications and student’s declining performance in the classroom.  They are claiming that “computeracy” is creating a generation that cannot read, write or perform mathematical operations because of their dependency on digital communication.

The truth is literacy and numeracy are simply primitive techniques for encoding information.  Composition and mathematics are just a bag of mental tricks for processing information.  And most of us do most of it poorly anyway.

Grieving over the loss of literacy and numeracy is like grieving over the inability to weave cloth or tailor one’s own clothes.  Computers have made literacy and numeracy very much like the mechanization of textile production.

What is happening in classrooms, to publisher’s sales and bureaucracy is not a decline in the intelligence of our next generation.  It is an increasing obsolescence of traditional literacy and numeracy.

Our children are not thinking at lower levels.  Instead, they are not wasting time with the mental effort required to mechanically process at the level of traditional literacy and numeracy and applying themselves to higher level thought.

The current method of submitting papers for peer review is completely obsolete.  HTML was an attempt to take the primitive technology of the printed page, reference and citation and emulate it with the small addition of hyperlinks.

The yet to be fully realized method of academic publication will be the publication of databases containing problem and hypothesis, subjects and researchers, schemas and forms, data and queries, measures and units, amounts and currencies, results and conclusions all available for peer review and public consumption–research databases and white databases.  And beyond that entire models in common formats which we are seeing in Computer Assisted Design Systems and Geographic Information Systems, for example.

This new generation using new media is modeling the universe in ways and at scales that were impossible with pen, paper and chalkboard.  They are even beyond printing press, radio, television, recorded audio, recorded video and most physical storage.  And the new generation can already interact globally in all of these new media.

Where are the people that are supposedly preparing them for life in this new world?  Complaining that their students are not interested in reading text books.  Even pumping normal children full of Ritalin to deny they as educators are not worthy of their students’ attention.

Duncan J. Watts: Newtork Persistence

six-degrees

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
–Calvin Coolidge

I have just finished reading Duncan J. Watts Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age and I have come away with several revelations.  The first is that Goal nodes, Contact nodes, Product nodes, Service nodes, Location nodes, Event nodes and Measure nodes all have a unique datatype and together create a State.  However, network theory is not at this point yet and thinks the combined nodes creating a state are the Contact nodes.  Second, power curves, phase changes and singularities exist in all networks as well as Lorentz transformations.  Third events (Time) and points (Space) are the foundation of success more than anything, if you have a moral code, leadership, training and discipline, but do not have persistent timing and location, you are not likely to encounter the network state you need to succeed.  As Duncan puts it, it is like a tree spreading seeds, only a few will land on the right ground at the right time.  As Woody Allen put it, “Show up.”