I wanted to share the letter I sent to my US Senator.

I have great concerns over Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education and here is what I sent my Senator.

To the Honorable Senator Johnson,

I have been a life long Republican and put my first GOP sign up in 3rd grade. I have lived in Wisconsin for 15 years now and have been proud to vote for you a couple times. I am writing to express my concern over Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. I believe this person has no qualifications to serve in this role. I have worked in Higher Education for more than 20 years and I do see a need for change in both the K12 system and Higher Education. I do believe that placing a person in the role of Secretary of Education with no personal experience with public education is a mistake.

I do support both Charter Schools and Voucher programs, both can be a benefit to a number of students. But I don’t believe these are the solutions to our struggling education systems. Much better examples of educational reform can be found in the ideas presented by Jeb Bush or Sir Ken Robins.

Further, I believe her views on main streaming students with disabilities will hamper the improvement of the public classroom. I say this as a person with dyslexia and having spent a great deal of time in special education classes. Teachers in the classroom already struggle to engage our best students when they are contently trying to help those struggling. Placing more students in a classroom that require even more attention will further hinder those students at the top and wishing to be challenged.

One final thought and I quote Benjamin Franklin “Genius without education is like silver in a mine.” I believe a vote for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education is a vote squash the potential and the dreams of the genius that exists in our public school systems. Thank you for your excellent representation.

Thank you for your time,
Russel Pearson

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15 Questions To Ask About Tech Integration In Your Classroom

*this blog was originally published at TeachThought PD

by Drew Perkins, Director of TeachThought PD

For professional development around integrating technology in your school visit our technology integration workshops page.

As I watched Christmas, and the corresponding break from school for my daughters, come and go I was reminded of the fun that technology toys can provide. I was gifted the new Google Home device and it’s quite entertaining for my daughters to ask it to make funny sounds, play silly games, set timers, and even ask it for help on their homework. For me it’s a great way to start my day asking it to tell me the news or play music throughout the house.

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First thoughts on Abundance: The future is better than you think

Book by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler

Today I stated reading “Abundance: The future is better than you think”. It has been on my reading list for awhile.  As I read through this book, I will post some of my thoughts and take a ways. As I began reading about the possibilities of a planet where there is an abundance of resources for everyone, it was the mental hurdles we face that struck me. It seems that the same things that hold us back on believing in an abundant society are the same hurdles we face daily when dealing with all kinds of situations.

Heuristics are cognitive shortcuts, time saving, energy saving rules of thumb that allow us to simplify the decision making process. In social psychology these show up when we assign probabilities like evaluating the possibility that a suspect is armed. The first thing the brain does is check it’s database for known situations and examples. The ease of access of this information is known as the availability heuristic and leads to increased perception of the probability.

Heuristics are an essential tool in decision making when we have limited information, limited time to respond and limited mental resources available. Although on average this process of decision making can be very effective, there are times when it can lead to severe errors in judgment. There are a number of cognitive biases that can impact our decisions. Among the most powerful is the conformation bias. This is the bias where we unconsciously search out information that tends to confirm or support what we already think or believe. Then there are biases like anchoring, where we tend to focus too much on one piece of information.

These biases and others work in tandem to affect our decisions and thoughts. When combined with our tendencies to be local optimists and global pessimists this can lead to even bigger problems. This means we tend to seriously overestimate our abilities and significantly under estimate the world at large.

Which comes first? Pedagogy or technology?

Miranda picks up on a common point around the combination of technology and pedagogy with this post titled Pedagogy First then Technology. I disagree. If you have to think in simple sequential terms, then I think pedagogy should be the last consideration, not the first. The broader problem though is our tendency to want limit ourselves to the sequential

Here’s why.

 

Elise Roy: When we design for disability, we all benefit

“I believe that losing my hearing was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received,” says Elise Roy. As a disability rights lawyer and design thinker, she knows that being Deaf gives her a unique way of experiencing and reframing the world — a perspective that could solve some of our largest problems. As she says: “When we design for disability first, you often stumble upon solutions that are better than those when we design for the norm.”

Molly Winter: The taboo secret to healthier plants and people

Our poop and pee have superpowers, but for the most part we don’t harness them. Molly Winter faces down our squeamishness and asks us to see what goes down the toilet as a resource, one that can help fight climate change, spur innovation and even save us money.

Stop Teaching, So Students Can Start Learning

Dr. Mariappan Jawaharlal Professor of Mechanical Engineering California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

I have an issue with the use of the word ‘teaching.’ We often use ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’ synonymously. In reality, learning is distinctly different from teaching: teaching is about teachers, and learning is about students. In traditional education, teaching is like a teacher giving a student a cup of water, and learning is like a student drinking the entire cup. If this were true, however, every student would be an “A” student, as this transfer of knowledge would be full and complete. Unfortunately, learning is not an information-transfer process akin to drinking water from a cup or copying files from a high-speed USB drive.

But why am I hung up on the word ‘teaching’? Why must we make this differentiation between ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’? We often use words to convey messages and express feelings but tend to forget that we also use words to develop understanding and to control our mind. Our belief system controls our actions. If you believe your responsibility is to teach, then you focus on your presentation of the material, your ….

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