RSSCategory: Education

Conversing in a public library

April 12, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More

Once a month I teach English as a Second Language at the St. Louis Public Library. I’m assigned a small corner of a big library and I teach English conversational skills to a group of up to eight adults at a time, people from all over the world. During this afternoon’s class, a group of talkative men sat 20 feet away from our table. They weren’t part of any group, just guys talking with each other. Those men made it somewhat difficult for my students to hear each other, forcing us to be louder than normal. Eventually the Library Security Guard briskly walked up to the table where I was teaching and told my class to stop talking. I told him I was teaching ESL, but he said he didn’t care. He told me to quit talking. I showed him the sign designating our space (see the photo – “Conversation Practice”) and told him “It is my JOB to converse with these students.” He said that if I didn’t stop talking he would throw all of us out of the library.

ESL sign

I found the librarian in charge, convincing him that the unauthorized loud talkers nearby should be quiet, so that we could continue with our class. Eventually, the librarian agreed while the security guard sulked. My English conversation lesson for the next 15 minutes was focused on making fun of the ignoramus security guard.

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The myth of working one’s way through college

April 6, 2014 | By | Reply More

What does it take to earn one’s way through college? From the Atlantic, some stunning numbers:

[Olsen] added a linear regression analysis to extrapolate the stats for 1979-2013, and found that the average student in 1979 could work 182 hours (a part-time summer job) to pay for a year’s tuition. In 2013, it took 991 hours (a full-time job for half the year) to accomplish the same.

And this is only considering the cost of tuition, which is hardly an accurate representation of what students actually spend for college. According to the College Board, average room and board fees at public universities today exceed tuition costs by a little more than 100 percent. (For the current academic year, average tuition at 4-year public schools is $8,893, but with room and board, the total average cost comes to $18,391.)

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Commenting without reading: An April Fools experiment by NPR

April 5, 2014 | By | Reply More
Commenting without reading: An April Fools experiment by NPR

NPR played a clever April Fools trick this year. It posted a link on FB with the following headline: “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?.”

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Ken Ham’s Lack of Wonder

February 7, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
Ken Ham’s Lack of Wonder

By now, I’m sure, many people know about the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham.  Only 9% of respondents apparently saw Ham as the winner.  Of course that won’t be the end of it. 

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The humble yet effective seat belt

February 4, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More

From Public Citizen:

Seat belts are the single most effective traffic safety device for preventing death and injury, according to NHTSA. Wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent. Seat belts saved more than 75,000 lives from 2004 to 2008. Forty-two percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2007 were unbelted. A 2009 NHTSA study estimates that more than 1,600 lives could be saved and 22,000 injuries prevented if seat belt use was 90 percent in every state.

It amazes me that there have been a few people I ridden with who don’t use a seat belt. I tell them I won’t move my car until they put on their belt, and they always have, sometimes unhappy about it. I should just tell those people that it is an anti-terrorist device that will save 1,600 lives every year from Middle Eastern terrorists. Then they’d have federal checkpoints to make sure everyone is belted in.

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What to say to anti-vaccination advocates

January 29, 2014 | By | Reply More

Penn and Teller offer a response that takes less than 2 minutes. Not that any of this makes it any easier to see your baby subjected to multiple jabs of concoctions created by Big Pharma. That said, the statistics beg for us to make sure we vaccinate our children. And see here.

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7 parenting behaviors that stunt children’s growth

January 21, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More

This is a worthy seven-point article from Forbes. The topic is 7 parenting behaviors that stunt their children’s growth. Here are the titles to the sections:

1. We don’t let our children experience risk

2. We rescue too quickly

3. We rave too easily

4. We let guilt get in the way of leading well

5. We don’t share our past mistakes

6. We mistake intelligence, giftedness and influence for maturity

7. We don’t practice what we preach.

Immediately after reading this Forbes article, I stumbled upon this parenting article from The Atlantic: “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy.” Lots of common ground between the two articles.

[U]nderlying all this parental angst is the hopeful belief that if we just make the right choices, that if we just do things a certain way, our kids will turn out to be not just happy adults, but adults that make us happy. This is a misguided notion, because while nurture certainly matters, it doesn’t completely trump nature, and different kinds of nurture work for different kinds of kids (which explains why siblings can have very different experiences of their childhoods under the same roof). We can expose our kids to art, but we can’t teach them creativity. We can try to protect them from nasty classmates and bad grades and all kinds of rejection and their own limitations, but eventually they will bump up against these things anyway. In fact, by trying so hard to provide the perfectly happy childhood, we’re just making it harder for our kids to actually grow up. Maybe we parents are the ones who have some growing up to do—and some letting go.

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How to eat a lightbulb

January 18, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More

You can really eat a light bulb. I saw this done at a fair a few years ago. Fascinating. The instructor says, “Don’t try this at home.”

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Stated more simply . . . College dissertations in a sentence

January 2, 2014 | By | Reply More

This is an article that explores the simple meaning of complex-seeming college dissertations. Quite enjoyable.

Here’s LOL My Thesis, where you can read the dissertation summaries.

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