Category Archives: Education

‘Mindfulness’ in Schools: A Waste of Time


My school doesn’t do anything with ‘mindfulness.’  The researchers examining the teaching of mindfulness in public schools have concluded that there’s no support that it helps kids learn, or be productive.

Heatstreet:

Trendy “mindfulness” classes springing up in schools across the country have no proven benefits, according to a new study.

The report suggests that the practice, a popular lifestyle activity among some adults, could even be harming the development of some children.

Mindfulness – a set of teachings derived from Buddhism and focused on meditation – has become popular in education circles in recent years.

You know what’s NOT popular in education? Checking to see if a method has any benefits before wasting precious resources:

It concluded that, though there was a “small” amount of evidence that it improved children’s mental health, there was nothing to suggest this had any knock-on effects on academic performance – i.e. the main point of going to school.

In some cases, it said, the mindfulness process could even damage the mental health of children involved – something which nobody has yet sufficiently researched.

At the same time, the classes are chewing up huge amounts of school time – not to mention money – which could otherwise be devoted to actual studying.

Teachers have around 180 days each school year to make a difference. Subtract field trip days, Field Day, the weeks after the annual testing, assembly days and any fire and tornado drills…and we don’t have time for stupid stuff.

Too much teaching research and teacher preparation revolves around pseudoscience, including Learning Styles and alternative Common Core related math. 

 

 

 

No, You Don’t Have a “Learning Style”


I wrote about this before here. The Federalist has an article here.

While nearly 90 percent of Americans think people have unique learning styles — the best known are labeled auditory, visual, and kinesthetic — cognitive research has steadily debunked the idea over time. To mark Brain Awareness Week this month, 30 internationally respected neuroscientists, psychologists, and educators issued a public letter asking teachers to stop wasting time with it.

Is there a way you’d prefer to learn? Sure. But the original Learning Styles theory was based upon the notion that Johnny learned using physical actions like dancing or creating, and Jaimie learned best by listening, while Jerome learned best by reading.

I doubted this was true but noted that there were no studies which proved it was true. That’s how science is supposed to work.  Develop a theory, test it, and then apply it.

In teaching, we skipped the testing step. We do that a lot.

Of course the Learning Styles notion was useless for complex concepts like nouns, verbs, polynomials and just about everything.

A recent survey about education myths pins both teacher training and the media for popularizing “learning styles” memes, which include the concepts of “right brain versus left brain,” “multiple intelligences,” and “reasoning versus intuitive.” These all make for fun TV segments and lots of moolah for pop psychologists like Malcom Gladwell, yet not only do not benefit learners through opportunity cost they keep people from doing something more useful with their thoughts and bodies.

[FYI: I actually am a right brain learner, plus I favor my left ventricle, right testicle and large intestine. — Dave]

I know some people don’t like learning from a book, and others can’t stand lectures, and others like building and making things. Each of these strategies is task specific, in my opinion. I don’t want a surgeon who has only learned it all from a book, or a mechanic who only has read the manual. On the other hand, I don’t really want a doctor who has merely learned where and how to cut, but understands nothing of the why. 

If your brain is so highly specialized that it cannot take in material at all in multiple ways, then congratulations. You’re autistic. Or disabled in some way. This is a really, really small percentage of people.

Update: The North Carolina teaching evaluation contains a requirement that teachers consider Learning Styles. In other words, pseudoscience:

Learning Styles.png

 

That’s Not Really the Choice, Is It?


Source.

(I really can’t figure out the artist’s name, and the site is ‘armycorpsofengineers.com’  They have an art site?)

It you create art which angers, and you are not already dead…you can thank those who with strength and resolve defend your rights. Those who would make war on your behalf don’t do so because they really think art is unimportant. They know that the full range of human activity would be threatened if those who want to kill or subjugate you were allowed free rein.  

You make art, literature, science and music only because you are not actively defending your country. Be grateful. 

Oh, and the subliminal “obey” symbol on her neck…

Not likely.

Celebrity and Politics


I smirk at celebrities testifying at government hearings, pontificating from awards shows or even spreading nonsense on Twitter.

Comb. Fix tie.

If you really think Woody Harrelson, Ashton Kutcher and  Meryl Streep are more knowledgeable about social issues than the average citizen, fine. Obviously, they have a right to their opinions.

Sam White notes some British examples of celebrities spouting, and then says this:

Aloof, blinkered, and dismissive of ordinary people’s opinions, they seem willing to put lives and liberties in danger for no other reason than to preserve their own warped ideology.

But take a breather and you remember that they’re not deliberately nefarious. They believe earnestly that they’re doing the correct, moral thing. And that is at once chilling, and simultaneously a paradoxical reminder of all that needs protecting in Western democracies.

It’s chilling because it illustrates their unknowing indoctrination into the rigid cultural orthodoxy of the modern left.

If we’ve learned anything about the modern left it is that they have filled the swimming pool bit by bit with their nonsense. We are floating is a container of silly notions: guns are bad, peace activists make a difference, religion means intolerance, (except Native American shams. They’re cool!) Earning a PhD is some nonsense means you know something useful. Somebody else should pay. Violence is fine if you are trying to prevent future hypothetical violence. Punching a Nazi? Good. Saying ‘punch’ in a room full of people who may or may not have ever been punched? Even when the punch is orange, and served in a large bowl? That’s a micro-aggressive trigger. 

It’s going to take some real work to get back to other ways of thinking. We also have to remind ourselves that the bulk of liberalism isn’t nefarious, but earnest. They think they’re right, while thinking we’re evil. we’re not, and they should know it.

 

 

How Little Can We Get Away With Teaching Him?


 

The Supreme Court will hear arguments this week in a case that might upend special education. A school district is arguing that an autistic child’s education plan was good enough as it provided “some educational benefit.” In other words, just this side of the minimum.

Edweek.org:

The case began when Drew was still in elementary school. He started to exhibit serious behavior problems and went through periods of self-harming behavior, including head-banging and running away from school. By the end of 4th grade, Drew’s behavior had deteriorated to the point where he had made minimal progress on his educational goals. His parents argue that the individualized education program that the district developed for 5th grade was just offering more of the same. They withdrew him from public school, enrolled him in a Denver private school called Firefly Autism House, and argued that the district should be responsible for his tuition. [He’s doing well at the private school. – Dave]

On the one hand, a new definition of the responsibility of school districts toward students could be written. On the other hand, if the parents win, your local school district could be on the hook for private school tuition.  Either way, it’s the latest chapter in a long saga starting in the 1970’s, when we decided that the best way to address special needs students was to create a bureaucracy. It’s something I’ve been living with over the last 17 years or so, and can’t take time to address here.

We don’t do education well for anybody, but we do it very poorly for those who need it most.  

Police Blotter


The Craft Blog has a zero tolerance policy for stupid.

The Daily Signal:

After examining the evidence—a single butter knife—the police department turned over the investigation to the local Florida state attorney’s office, which is now weighing whether to bring criminal charges against the student.

A spokeswoman for the school district maintains that the school followed district policy throughout the incident, while pointing out that the district is working with the family of the suspended student by agreeing to reduce her suspension from six to three days. Needless to say, the family is not satisfied with the ongoing investigation and has hired a lawyer to represent them in the matter.

It was a downsized, rounded, dull butter knife.  As dull as the adults involved, one might say.

You. You got time to arrest an 11-year-old for a butter knife? Me neither.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident, but yet another example of an overreaction to minor infractions due to a zero tolerance school weapons ban, which can have serious consequences.

In Ohio, 10th-grader Da’von Shaw gave a class presentation on how to make a healthy breakfast, which included an apple that he sliced in front of the class. Da’von received a five-day suspension for possessing a weapon on campus due to his demonstration.

In California, high school senior Brandon Cappelletti was not nearly as fortunate. He faced a misdemeanor charge after school officials discovered pocket knives left over from a family fishing trip in the console of his car, which was parked on school grounds. Cappelletti narrowly avoided expulsion due to community outrage against the disproportionate punishment.