Friday, September 09, 2011

Weekend Reading: The Back to School Edition

You probably heard that my county and large portions of the neighboring counties, as well as parts of Baja California were without power yesterday afternoon and evening. We came through just fine- the only casualty was a half tub of chocolate chip ice cream that I had to eat before its time. It was actually an interesting dry run for our emergency preparedness plans, and I'd like to write about that. But not tonight. I'm too tired from being up from 3-5:30 this morning with Petunia, who, it turns out, thought candles were so cool that she wanted to spend some quality time looking at them at about 4 a.m. I am not joking- she wiggled out of bed, ran down the hall to the kitchen, pointed to her chair, then pointed to the candle on the table until I lit it. Then she sat there with a big smile on her face watching the flame. I, meanwhile, went slowly insane.

So I think I'll get some sleep and wait until I think that story is as funny as everyone else does before I write anymore about the blackout experience.

Tonight, I have some links in honor of the fact that kids are back in school. Sorry, I'm too tired to figure out where I found these... sincere apologies for not giving credit where it is due. Most of them came from my Twitter stream, so I suppose you could just follow the people I follow. They all tweet good things!

First, I found an interesting post from Mike the Mad Biologist arguing that American schools are actually doing just fine in the international rankings... as long as they aren't poor. He'd like to see us stop worrying so much about the kids whose schools are actually doing great (i.e., the middle class and wealthy schools) and focus instead on our poverty problem. I haven't taken the time to really dissect his numbers, but I'm sympathetic to the argument.

Then, I came across a post from Seth Godin arguing that we've actually got it all wrong, and shouldn't be worrying about the tests at all. Like many (most?) Seth Godin posts, it is more interesting idea than meaty argument, but again, I'm sympathetic to the argument.

I'd actually recommend reading Bad Mom, Good Mom's posts on education for more data and analysis relevant to both of those arguments.

I also came across an interview on Slashdot with Kevin Kelly, who writes for Wired Magazine, among other things. I liked it mostly for his thoughts on the value of travel, which resonated with me- I've got a long-standing interest in the question of why humans seem to like to travel so much, and what purpose it might serve. Here's the quote:

"I've found there is no better education dollar for dollar than traveling. No matter what kind of learning you want to do, whether schoolbook, or business research, or artistic, or goalless exploration, then travel is your best bet. I think a lot of the woes of America could be cured by establishing a two-year national service requirement for all youth, without exceptions, which could be fulfilled by service abroad -- Peace Corp like -- in hundreds of different programs in alien places.

The benefit of travel like this is confronting "Otherness." The Other forces you to examine your assumptions, to question your beliefs, to stretch your perspective, to widen your horizons, and to entertain alternatives -- all skills worth a million dollars in today's world. You won't get very much of this at college. But go to India, or the Congo, or Albania, and its Otherness will teach you."

I actually disagree that college won't do all those things- my college did. But I also think that traveling is definitely an educational experience, and I agree with the reasons he gives. I guess I think traveling is like parenthood- done right, it teaches a lot and provides a certain maturity. You can learn those things and get that maturity in other ways, too, but traveling (and parenthood) almost force them on you.

And finally, I offer proof that the youth of other countries waste time on the internet, too, in the form of an amusing YouTube video my husband found:

1 comment:

  1. Zenmoo3:33 AM

    Loved that video - very amusing.


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