- Legalising gay marriage...
- Hazy Sunrise At Tanjung Tokong
- Moving In The Right Direction?
- Terdesak Sangat Sampai Klon Twitter Anwar
- Nando’s Malaysia Is So Cool
- 888 Hokkien Mee @ Lebuh Presgrave Dinner
- Kes NFC Bermula, Shahrizat Tak Tahu Suaminya Bida Projek NFC
- Project Annakate’s Nursery (Round 3)
- What I missed yesterday...
- Humiliated? Why so proud, Shahrizat? I also a cow!
- Noh Omar Tidak Layak Bicara Soal Wang Rakyat!
- Birthday 2012
- Dog Didn't Die, Claim Perpetrators
- The King of Spain, classrooms and subjects
- A message to Bachman, Duncan, and every other politician who thinks he knows how to fix education
- The real damage done by testing in the schools: a conversation with Milo
- Career Choices: Please don't make me be a dentist!
- college is about status not education
- If you want someone to remember something, tell them a story.
- drugs, school testing, ADHD, and baseball
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 10:04 AM PDT
In Malaysia, same sex marriage and LGBT are symbiotic to the labels of 'human rights' and 'freedom'. Lawyer Ambiga, Marina Mahathir and the Opposition are gaining popularity for promoting it.
In that aspect too, sodomy is deemed to be part of it. Wonder if same sex marriage will be legalised should Pakatan Rakyat wins the next general election as someone had already set the precedent.
Read the story below (and note how they spell Kuala Lumpur):
KUALA LAMPUR: A gay Malaysian pastor said Monday he had held a wedding banquet with his American partner despite earlier outrage by conservatives in the Muslim-majority country opposed to their union.
Ngeo Boon Lin, who has authored a number of books on gay and other issues under the name Ouyang Wen Feng, said he held the private, traditional Chinese wedding celebration at a restaurant in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
"I wanted to inspire others to speak the truth and to stand up for our rights," he told AFP.
Ngeo married his partner, African-American Broadway musical producer Phineas Newborn III, last year in New York, where they live. That came shortly after same-sex marriages were legalised there.
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 08:53 AM PDT
Hazy Sunrise At Tanjung Tokong – Few days ago while I was still in Penang, I woke up early, at about 7am to check out and see if there's any nice sunrise from my condo's balcony. Unfortunately, NOT! It's so hazy, haze it's not really a problem, but it's the cloud that blocks away the sun.
At some point, I could see the big red round sun, but a few minutes later, it's gone! It's risen into the thick cloud.
I went back to my bed after that. =D Very addicted to sunrise/sunset lately, they are the most beautiful moment of the day.
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 09:01 AM PDT
The following is the address by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng at the Penang Forum in Kompleks Masyarakat Penyayang In George Town on 4 August 2012 as published in the CM's Facebook page here. I have not changed or corrected any part of the speech and am posting it exactly the way it was posed in FB. Just one comment - the title of the movie should be Dances With Wolves. If you have the time, please read my post Will It Make Any Difference? on the same topic. Please share your comment or response. Thanks!
Penang As An International And Intelligent City Is Leveraged On Building A Liveable City That Attracts Human Talent And Formulates People-Centric Policies That Transforms Penang Into A Developed, Sustainable And Inclusive Economy Without Poverty.
I wish to thank the Penang Forum for inviting me to be here to speak to you this morning on my vision for Penang as an International Liveable City. I think that it is a tribute to the vibrancy of Penang's civil society that the Penang Forum has continued year on year to organise and to mobilise Penangites to take an interest and to play their part in determining the future of their city and their State.
I was told that I would be walking into a wolves' pit but one of my favourite films is the Oscar award winning movie, Dancing With The Wolves. Even though I expect to be criticised and even roundly abused, this is part of participative democracy, which this 4 year old PR state government is proud to initiate as well as be involved. Even Lim Mah Hui who is so so critical continues to serve at Penang Institute and the MPPP as councillor, which is never found in BN-controlled states.
But criticise us for the right reasons not for the wrong ones. We will admit honest mistakes but not bear the sins of the past. We will act against corruption and abuse of power but will also react strongly against the false allegations against our integrity. This government is clean and we are proud of our integrity in leadership which is acknowledged far and wide.
We are proud of not only being the first state in Malaysia to enjoy freedom of speech but also freedom after speech with Speaker Squares at both the island and the mainland. As Chief Minister, my doors are always open to members of civil society in Penang, and I welcome this opportunity to engage with and to listen to the Penang public.
Penang is never easy to govern much less rule. I was told that a former Ketua Setiausaha Negara once proclaimed that if a federal civil servant can handle the people of Penang and can do well in Penang, then he is good enough to handle a position anywhere in Malaysia. I think this is due to 2 success factors that is quintessentially Penang.
One is to forge a strong civil society, society must first be civilized. In that respect Penang takes the lead with a strong education base and tradition with democratic institutions. Two, Penang boasts of producing some of the the best and brightest in Malaysia – our quality human talent.
In 1951, A.S.M. Hawkins, the British Supervisor of Elections for the local elections for George Town, the first to be held in Malaya, reported that:
"Penang is a suitable ground for the growth of democratic institutions ... Its long and honourable record in education has given it a higher degree of literacy than other towns. [Local institutions] help to weld the people into a community not only of common interests, but of common ideals. There are also local pride and local patriotism, not split by the schizophrenia of a metropolitan town. A town that has on its lips the words "Penang Leads", as Birmingham has "Forward", and uses the motto neither as a prayer nor an aspiration, nor yet as a boast but as a simple assertion of fact, is obviously a place of quality."
Penang is still a place of quality. But over the previous 18 years, we have seen the motto "Penang Leads" fall away from the lips of Penangites, and have suffered instead the indignity of being branded "Pulau Pinang Darul Sampah" by a certain doctor from Kubang Pasu. We have suffered from neglect and mismanagement.
The historical Penang Port, once the principal port of the Federation, two and a half times larger than Port Klang in 1950, is now only No. 5 in Malaysia, behind Bintulu and Johor. The Federal government has given up and now offers to privatise it or piratise it since there was no open competitive tender. The neglect of our roads and physical infrastructure is such that no less than Lee Kuan Yew said in 2009 that we were in danger of falling behind Ipoh and Seremban.
The only way out is to go back to basics – follow the secrets of Penang's successes in the past, which is to be part of the global commnity. We must transform Penang to be an international and intelligent city with world class standards, best practices and a magnet for human talent.
Penang as an international and intelligent city is leveraged on building a liveable city that attracts human talent and formulates people-centric policies that transforms Penang into a developed, sustainable and inclusive economy without poverty. Naturally this is focused on 3 key areas of growing the economy that is inclusive, establishing centers of excellence in our core competencies and improving liveability.
We have the Penang Blueprint until shelved to allow a collaborative effort with the Federal Government through the Greater Penang Masterplan. I spoke to Datuk Seri Idris Jala last week who said that he is still trying to get a date with the Prime Minister to present the conclusions reached together. Let's hope it would not be after the general elections.
Being an international city does not mean that we have to ape cities like Singapore or Hong Kong or even KL. Penang has to find its own niche based on its own comparative strengths and advantages. So long as KL remains the administrative and financial centre of the country, Penang must play a secondary role.
But being a secondary city does not mean that we can or should accept being second-class or second-rate. Secondary cities such as Barcelona, Melbourne and Edinburgh can be as rich and of comparable international stature as the capital cities in their own countries. Well-run secondary cities should be refreshing counterparts to mega-metropolises, given the latter's pressures of "grime, crime and time".
Of course, we need a fair allocation of resources by the Central Government. But we also need a change in mindset, to one that demands and expects international standards of governance and development, and one that recognises Penang as a world-class city that is able to attract international talent and that is deserving of a place on the world stage.
We want to build a Penang that has space and opportunities for all. One of the issues facing Penang today is a shortage of opportunities for our young people. A common lament that I often hear among parents in Penang is how they maintain large homes for Chinese New Year and Hari Raya when the family is together, but for the rest of the year their homes are empty because their sons and daughters have left for KL and Singapore to find jobs and to raise their families.
As much as we welcome and respect our senior citizens, Penang deserves better than to become just a retirement community. A successful Penang will grow, and to be successful Penang has to grow in population, in order to develop the economic density that is necessary to create and sustain high-paying jobs, cultural facilities and good public transport.
There are those who will oppose this, fearing increased traffic and property prices. But the truth is that the price of stagnation has been that Penang has lost the best and brightest of her sons and daughters, while over the past twenty years the populations of towns in the Klang Valley and Singapore have doubled through the economic migration of our young people.
If increased economic pressures on space are the price of growth, then we must manage these pressures so that Penangites are not priced out of their own homeland. We believe that the State Government has an active role to play in the building and financing of affordable housing, and we have set up a State Housing Board and have recently announced a RM500 million fund to finance 18,000 affordable homes, including 1,328 in Jln SP Chelliah (Lines Rd) in George Town, 12,000 units in the new industrial park in Batu Kawan and the remainder elsewhere in the State.
We have increased the minimum threshold for foreign purchases of land to RM2 million for landed property on the Island, [and we are also now reviewing development charges and registration fees for transfers of luxury properties to ensure that property development is not skewed towards speculative luxury developments for the few at the expense of affordable development for the many]. At the same time, we have to use our land more wisely through better planning. And we also want to improve connectivity between the Island and the Mainland to reduce the pressures on land on the Island and to spread the benefits of growth to the majority of the population who live on the Mainland.
Penang today benefits from having not only a skilled and educated population but also the attractions of its hills, its beaches, its food and its colourful social and physical heritage. These are the treasures of Penang that attract people, investors and tourists to Penang and that make it the most liveable city in Malaysia and 8th most liveable in Asia.
You have my assurance that this Government will protect these treasures. We have prepared or are in the midst of preparing Special Area Plans to conserve, improve and protect the George Town World Heritage Site, the Botanic Gardens and Penang Hill, and several public consultations have already taken place. We have also recently announced for public consultation our proposals for a new public park, open square and arts and culture centre beside the Prangin Canal as our Phase 5 of KOMTAR, and we hope to be able to carve out new public parks to reclaim public places for Penang in the future.
We hope that even though the Federal Government jealously guards its control over public transport, the Penang Public Transport Masterplan will solicit Federal Government support and cooperation. Doing nothing is not an option. We have undertaken an ambitious building of public infrastructure. Whether we succeed or fail will be determined by the people of Penang.
But let it not be said that we did not dare to try. I say that I am willing to fail trying than fail to try. This State Government has been elected by the people of Penang to end the stagnation of Penang and to deliver clean, efficient and equitable development. We will do so based on our belief that Penang can once again lead, and show the way forward for the rest of Malaysia.
LIM GUAN ENG
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 10:33 AM PDT
Account twitter DS @anwaribrahim di klon .... hmmm terdesak sangat sampai klon-klon account org lain.....sampai ada menteri yang hampir terkena tipu...kuikuikui
"Datuk Seri, terima kasih atas tawaran. Saya jawablah," kata Saifuddin sekitar jam 11 pagi tadi.
Bagaimanapun tawaran itu dipanjangkan kepada beliau menerusi satu akaun palsu yang menggunakan nama Anwar, Ketua Umum Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
Akaun palsu itu menggunakan alamat @anwaribrrahim sedangkan alamat Anwar yang sebenar ialah @anwaribrahim. -PR Supporter
Saifuddin tolak 'tawaran Anwar' sertai PKR
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 08:20 AM PDT
Nando's Malaysia Is So Cool – Nando's Malaysia is so cool, they posted the above image on their Facebook page to give support to Dato Lee Chong Wei. Yeah!
Now, check out the Nando's that I had few days ago at Gurney Plaza.
I dislike Nando's for not having free sky juice. I've to pay RM3 for this little bottle. =(
Ordered Hot Peri level of quarter chicken with coleslaws and Peri-chips. I guess next time order Mild Peri then I add in the sauce myself is better. =D
Do you like Nando's?
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 07:41 AM PDT
888 Hokkien Mee @ Lebuh Presgrave Dinner – It was the night before London Olympic 2012 Opening Ceremony, a few friends gathered around at Presgrave Street or more likely known as Sar Tiao Lor (3rd Road) for local to eat a hot bowl of Hokkien Prawn Noodle with Roasted Pork (Siu Yok/Sio Bak) and icy ice kacang with ice cream topping.
It'd been a while that I've visited this Hokkien Mee stall in Penang. It's one of my favourite place for Hokkien Prawn Mee, especially for the top up of roasted pork (sio bak/siu yok). The soup has a strong aroma of shrimp essense and I like it with springy instant noodle. Personally, just put a little bit of chili paste will do, too much will ruin the taste of the soup. It costed me RM4.50, reasonable.
An addition bowl of icy ice kacang with vanila ice cream topping complements to the delicious bowl of hokkien mee. I've forgotten about the price, roughly RM2+. Very cheap only.
Arron and Simon Cheong.
After dinner, we went to CC's house for KTV until midnight, then went to supper and cyber cafe for 2 round of DoTA (very noob and I don't really play), then went back to CC's house for Olympic's Opening Ceremony. Sorry that I've got to say, it was not awesome, except for Mr Bean's part.
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 08:01 AM PDT
Kuala Lumpur: Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur hari ini mula mendengar kes saman bekas Menteri Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil terhadap Ketua Wanita PKR, Zuraida Kamaruddin dan Pengarah Strategi PKR, Mohd Rafizi Ramli.
Perbicaraan yang bermula hari ini telah mendengar keterangan dari Shahrizat berhubung dakwaan kontroversi beliau dalam projek Pusat Fidlot Nasional (NFC).
Shahrizat dalam keterangannya sebagai saksi utama berkata beliau tidak mempunyai sebarang jawatan dalam NFC Holding dan tidak tahupun suaminya membida projek itu.
Hakim, Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera menetapkan pada 10 Ogos ini bagi sambungan perbicaraan setelah mendengar keterangan dari Shahrizat berhubungan dakwaan pembabitan beliau dalam skandal NFC.
Kes saman RM100 juta ini dikemukakan oleh Shahrizat berhubung penyelewengan projek kontroversi Pusat Fidlot Nasional (NFC) yang telah didedahkan oleh kedua-dua pemimpin dari PKR itu.
Sementara itu, Rafizi yang ditemui selepas perbicaraan menyatakan keterangan yang dilakukan oleh Shahrizat hari ini sudah dijangkakan dan tidak mengejutkan beliau.
"Kita telah nenjangkakan keterangan yang beliau berikan hari dan ia tidak mengejutkan kita.
"Kita tunggu pada Jumaat ini bagi memulakan soal balas dari pihak peguam berhubung keterangan yang dilakukan nanti," jelasnya.
Tambah Rafizi lagi, kenyataan yang diberikan oleh Shahrizat hari ini menunjukkan beliau dan Zuraida adalah pemilik kepada media di negara ini yang boleh mempengaruhi seluruh rakyat Malaysia.
"Gambaran yang diberikan olehnya menunjukkan kami berdua telah berjaya mempengaruhi rakyat di negara ini melalui sebaran media.
"Seolah-olah kami ini pemilik Utusan Malaysia ataupun TV3, begitu jauh andaian yang diberikan olehnya," sambungnya.
Dalam pada itu, Zuraida memberitahu keterangan Shahrizat hari ini lebih kepada latar belakang beliau bagi menunjukkan beliau adalah seorang pemimpin yang baik.
"Penceritaan latar belakang yang kemas dan apa yang kita harapkan penceritaan yang kemas ini mempunyai keputusan sebaliknya," kata Zuraida.
Pihak defenden, Rafizi diwakili Peguam, Ranjit Singh manakala Zuraida pula diwakili oleh Razlan Hadri.
Shafie Abdullah pula bertindak sebagai peguam yang mewakili Shahrizat sebagai plantif.
Sebelum itu pada 19 Januari yang lalu Shahrizat telah memfailkan saman di Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur mendakwa, Zuraida dan Rafizi telah memfitnah dan memburuk-burukkan beliau berhubung projek NFC.
Namun pada 9 Mac pula, Rafizi dan Zuraida telah memfailkan saman balas di Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur terhadap bekas Menteri Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat berhubung satu ucapan didakwa "berbau fitnah" yang diujarkan bekas menteri tersebut.
Sementara itu turut hadir memberi sokongan adalah Presiden PKR, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Setiausaha Agung PKR, Datuk Saifuddin Nasution dan juga beberapa exco Kerajaan Negeri Selangor.
Kamar mahkamah hari ini dipenuhi dengan penyokong PKR yang turut hadir dalam memberi sokongan. -HD
Shahrizat: Saya tidak tahu mengenai projek NFC
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 05:36 AM PDT
I painted another canvas art for my little one's nursery.
Honestly, I preferred this to the other one. Wheee! I did have a lot of fun painting for her. I am so excited and can't wait for her to admire those paintings that mommy made for her.
What do you think of this piece of art?
<img src="http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/dd80/gracealyssaong/4cc44ad8.jpg" alt="kkp2 05" width="280/></p> <p>Do you think I should paint more? Hahaha! </p>
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 04:09 AM PDT
Yesterday was a most significant day at the London Olympics and I had to miss all of it because I was on a trip down to Kuala Lumpur and back. All these I had missed, unfortunately....
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 05:05 AM PDT
Former minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil described in detail in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today her humiliation at being called "Cow minister of the year" by parliamentarian and PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin.
Shahrizat should ukur baju di badan sendiri (measure yourself up) as per Dr M's advice:
"If we feel it is necessary to quit for the sake of party, we quit. When I wanted to quit, I didn't ask anyone. I hope others do the same. Don't wait for people to chase you off. Yes, ukur baju di badan sendiri (measure yourself up)." - Mahathir when asked if Shahrizat should resign.
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 05:39 AM PDT
Shah Alam – Kerajaan Negeri menafikan dakwaan Timbalan Pengerusi BN Selangor, Datuk Seri Noh Omar yang kononnya menyalahgunakan wang rakyat untuk membiayai kos guaman Pengarah Strategi PKR, Rafizi Ramli.
Exco Selangor, Dr Yaakob Sapari, berkata, dana itu diperoleh menerusi peruntukan Geran Selangorku bernilai RM5 juta bagi Program Pembasmian Rasuah dan Penyelewengan.
"Noh tidak layak bicara soal wang rakyat kerana beliau sendiri tidak mampu menyelamatkan penyelewengan dana Perbadanan Fidlot Kebangsaan (NFC) berjumlah RM250 juta oleh pemimpin Umno-BN," katanya dalam satu kenyataan akhbar.
Menurutnya, sejak kepincangan itu didedahkan, beliau selaku Menteri Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani Noh tidak mengambil sebarang tindakan bagi mendapatkan semula wang rakyat yang telah disalahgunakan oleh Pengerusinya, Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh.
"Selaku Menteri, Noh gagal menunaikan tanggungjawab berkhidmat dan menjaga amanah rakyat termasuk memastikan tiada penyelewengan melibatkan dana kerajaan.
"Walaupun pinjaman RM250 juta diluluskan sebelum Noh memegang kementerian itu, beliau sepatutnya ambil langkah-langkah tertentu bagi memastikan keluarga Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil mengembalikan semula dana itu kepada kerajaan," katanya.
Yaakob berkata, Geran Selangorku sememangnya diperuntukkan untuk kegunaan rakyat antaranya, Pengenalan Gaji Minima, Program Memperkasakan Wanita, Pembinaan Infrastruktur Sukan, Pembaikan Infrastruktur dan Program Pengukuhan Demokrasi.
"Bantuan yang disalurkan Kerajaan Negeri bukan untuk membantu kroni, sebaliknya sebagai sokongan terhadap usaha dan keberanian Rafizi mendedahkan kepincangan pengurusan dana rakyat.
"Rafizi adalah mangsa ketidakadilan sistem di negara ini apabila pelapor kes rasuah dan penyelewengan dilayan seperti pengganas dengan tangannya digari ketika dibawa ke mahkamah manakala suspek rasuah pula diberi layanan VIP.
"Rakyat Selangor dan Malaysia dapat menilai ketidakadilan yang berlaku di bawah pemerintahan Umno-BN.
"Kita yakin bahawa penilaian ini akan membawa kepada perubahan besar pada Pilihan Raya Umum (PRU-13) akan datang," katanya. -SH
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 03:13 AM PDT
Birthday present from Wuan – Lego #6860 The Batcave.
Photo taken with the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Wuan and I usually go shopping together. Somehow, she sneaked this large box of Lego home during one one weekend without me realising it. It is the size of a 24″ LED monitor, very difficult to miss, but she somehow managed to keep it concealed. I reckon assembling this will keep me busy for one whole month but, for the moment, it has to wait. August and September are busy months as I am occupied with preparing materials for a Disability Equality Training (DET) workshop slated to be held at the end of September. Thank you, Lou Por, for this surprise birthday gift! And thank you, everyone, for your birthday wishes in Facebook, emails, SMS and IMs.
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 02:37 AM PDT
PET+NEWS Manhole Dumped Dog Update:
Today's The Star reports Kanilla, the six month old dog that was dumped into a manhole in June, may still be alive!
At least that is what one of the Somali student who dumped the canine now says.
He rang up the newspaper with the story claiming that the animal escaped to safety through an external outlet large enough for it to get out.
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 02:32 AM PDT
Last week I was interviewed by phone from Spain. I was talking to authorities who were preparing a report for the King of Spain on how education might be improved in Spain. I am well known in Spain so it is not odd that they were calling me. They were certainly calling many others as well.
I started by saying that I am really radical and they said they already knew that. I then talked with them for about a half an hour about the kinds of improvements to education that I have been writing about for years in my columns and of course in my latest book:
They seemed to be enjoying talking to me and hearing what I had to say. Then, they asked one final question: "if you could just say one thing that need to be changed, what would it be?"
It is easy to imagine that they wanted a one liner for an executive summary here. I don't think I gave them what they wanted, judging from their reaction.
I said "just eliminate classrooms."
They audibly gasped.
First why did I say it?
Because if you eliminate classrooms everything else follows. No teacher talking to kids who aren't listening. No tests to see if they were listening. No kids distracting other kids who are bored by what is going one. No subjects that in no way relate to the interests of the child. Instead, without a classroom you can re-invent. We can think about how individuals can learn and while doing that we would need to confront the fact that not all individuals want to learn the same things. We would have to eliminate the the "one size fits all" curriculum. We would need to create curricula that met kids interests. We would be able to let kids learn by doing instead of vainly attempting to have them learn by listening. We could eliminate academic subjects. We could make learning fun. Classrooms are never fun.
Why did they gasp?
Because they can't do it. They knew it and I knew it. They don't really want to fix education. They want to make schools function better. And schools have classrooms. And that my friends is the beginning and end of the problem.
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 02:32 AM PDT
Michelle Bachmann, who is beginning to look to be someone who those of us who have been scoffing at will have to take more seriously, has an education agenda. All politicians have an education agenda. They all are sure the schools are broken.
This leads to two obvious questions:
1. Why do they all agree the schools are broken?
2. Why are their solutions always to the left of insane?
As for the insanity question, bear in mind that this is simply not a matter of politics. Bush's policies in education were insane. Obama's policies are insane. And, all the people running against Obama have insane educational policies. Why is this? How can this be?
The obvious question is what is insane about them. To answer that we need to address question #1.
Here are some reasons we hear about why schools are broken:
1. There is a lack of discipline
2. The teachers are often not very good
3. Tests scores in basic skills are bad
4. The average American doesn't know: (fit your favorite in here, who George Washington was, the capital of Delaware, where Iraq is on a map, the quadratic equation…)
5. Everyone needs to go to college and high school isn't preparing them properly
6. We need citizens with 21st century skills and school isn't doing this
7. We need more scientists and engineers
8. There needs to be more religion in schools
9. Schools don't teach everyone to love America enough
10. Schools are dangerous places
Here are my quick responses to each of these:
1. You try making 30 kids sit still all day, especially in the modern era.
2. There certainly are mediocre teachers but there are also some very good ones, which is amazing because it becomes more difficult each day to put up with the rigid system we have created for them to teach in.
3. Tests are moronic. Yes, moronic. If the tests tested performance they might have some credibility, but multiple-choice tests test nothing. Every driver who has to take a multiple choice test to renew his license has to study the manual first no matter how good a driver he may be. Multiple-choice tests test only one's ability to prepare for and tolerate multiple-choice tests.
4. Knowing facts really doesn't matter in any way. Because schools teach facts and test facts we have become convinced that facts matter. Facts that do matter in your life tend to be learned while doing (like the names of streets are learned by those who walk or drive on them.) Otherwise it is knowing how not knowing that that matters.
5. Everyone does not need to go to college. College as it exists today bases its curriculum on a research model that is driven by faculty recruitment. Universities teach students to be researchers not practitioners. Even masters programs which are supposedly designed to train practitioners, tend to be dominated by theories and arcane subjects that will never matter to a practitioner. We need to move to a more practical notion of education that leads to jobs. Liberal Arts colleges eschew this notion. We can't afford many more Literature majors.
6. I am not sure what 21st century skills are but I am pretty sure they include reasoning, communication, and human relations, which were good in any century and are really not part of K-12 curricula. What we need is a populace who can think clearly, which, judging from the extant political candidates, we clearly do not have.
7. We have plenty of scientists and engineers. If anyone thought we really needed more they would create a high school engineering curriculum. But that would mean throwing something out and the 1892 curriculum has become sacred.
8. Really? There needs to be religion in schools? Whose religion exactly? And why? So we can ram more facts into kids heads. Facts are only the medium of education because religious institutions were the designers of the schools in the first place.
9. School should teach students to criticize America not love it. With thoughtful criticism comes change.
10. This last one is right. Schools are very stressful places and they are places where bullying happens and where kids learn to feel bad about themselves unless they have a really good teacher who can make sure none of that happens.
My message to Michelle Bachmann and Arne Duncan and all the other fools who pontificate about education is simply this. If we had a good education system, maybe you all could reason better and would stop saying and doing insane things about education.
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 02:32 AM PDT
I had a long conversation with Milo, my six year old grandson, the other day. Milo is very smart. (Yes, I know. What grandfather wouldn't say that? But trust me, he is.)
I asked him what he had done that was fun recently and he told me about a game he had been playing with a friend, which was good to hear about since Milo went through a long obsession with chess that I am happy to hear is waning.
I then asked him about school. I asked him if he liked taking the tests (which are everywhere these days - even in first grade) and I also asked him if he had learned anything interesting lately. I know that he doesn't find school that interesting from previous conversations with him and from my daughter's (the "me" below) postings about him. Here is the most recent one:
Milo: I wish they would teach real science in science class.
Me: What's real science?
Milo: Like chemistry, biology, dissection.
Me: What kind of science do they teach instead?
Milo said he liked taking tests. He liked working out the problems and, of course, does well on them.
Now, I have been railing about these awful standardized tests for the last 25 years, long before NCLB made everyone aware of how awful testing really is. But, Milo made me realize that what I hate about testing is not the tests themselves. Milo made me realize that I liked taking the test as well when I was a child. I always liked contests and I liked winning. I am so against testing that I forgot that for a smart kid, they can be fun.
While teachers and principals correctly argue that testing is ruining our schools, the reasons that they cite, all of which are correct in my opinion, often do not include the main reason that I am so opposed to testing.
I became vehemently anti-testing when I began to question the validity of the curriculum being taught in the schools. As I began to invent different kinds of experiences for kids on the computer in the 80's and 90's. I came to realize that my software would never be used. The reason was clear enough. I was building software that did not relate to the existing curriculum. "Broadcast News" was meant to teach how to analyze current events through pretending to be a newscaster. "Crisis in Krasnovia" was intended to teach how political decision making works. "Road Trip" was intended to allow kids to explore the country. My team built many programs like this and they were never used because they didn't fit into the existing curriculum. Many factors make the curriculum intransigent: the colleges that insist on certain courses for their applicants, parents who think whatever was taught to them must be taught to their children, politicians who can't think about education in any sensible way as well as many other factors. But the number one issue is the tests. If all that matters are test scores then you can't really spend much time on any curriculum that doesn't get tested. In other words the tests make it impossible to change the curriculum from the one Charles Eliot specified in 1892.
This is why NCLB and Common Core are so insidious. They allow no modification of the ancient idea of what constitutes an education.
This leads me to the second part of my conversation with Milo. I asked him if he had learned anything interesting in school lately and he told he me that he had been learning about how the rhinoceros is an endangered species. He said they were being killed for their horns and that that was very sad. I asked him if he would be upset if he found out that wasps were an endangered species and he said wasps sting people and they are bad so it would be okay if they all died. I asked if he knew what wasps ate and if he understood that if there would be a lot more of whatever nasty stuff they dine on if there were no wasps. Of course his teacher had not mentioned any idea like that so this was lost on him. I asked if he was upset that people killed chickens and he said no because you can eat chickens. I said that you could eat rhinoceros as well and this was, of course, news to him.
My point is that the school, even when it teaches something that might not be on the test, still doesn't teach kids to think hard about what they are talking about. It teaches truth. So while rhinoceros extinction may not be in the Common Core, memorization of officially approved facts certainly is. School ought not be about the teaching of officially approved truth.
And that, then, is why standardized testing is so awful. They don't test creative thinking or reasoning from evidence or how to have an argument. They teach the truth. And the truth somehow always manages to include the quadratic formula but manages to exclude areas where the truth isn't so clear.
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 02:32 AM PDT
I attended a family occasion the other day. I saw people from one side of my family most of whom I hadn't seen in some years. I was introduced by my first cousin to her grandson. I was told that he was graduating college and would soon be attending dental school.
I broke out laughing.
Behind him were his two younger brothers. I asked if they would be going to dental school as well. At this point his mother chimed in that she certainly hoped so.
Now I was just sad.
Now, rest assured that I have nothing against dentists or dental school. A fine career choice I am sure. I have left out some information here. The mother of this boy is a dentist. I also left out that his father is a dentist. I also left out that his grandfather is a dentist. And, I left out that he (and I) have other cousins who are dentists as well. My uncle was dentist. His son is a dentist. His sister married a dentist. Her son is a dentist.
All these dentists are perfectly fine human beings and they all seem to be living well. It is funny to come from a family of dentists but really, so what?
At some point in the party we were all attending, as the music blasted and people danced, I saw that the young man whom I had first been introduced to had sat down next to me. He said that his grandfather had told him that I was some kind of professor and he asked me what I taught. After some chit chat I asked him if he really wanted to be a dentist.
He said that he had worked hard in college, struggling through required science courses and that it would soon all be worth it.
I asked him if had ever considered any other profession. He said 'No." I asked him why not and he said that there had been a lot of pressure from his family to be a dentist. I asked why and he said they had had good experiences and it had worked for them and they thought it was a great life.
I asked if there was anything else he could imagine being. He replied that he really wanted to work with people and that he liked talking to people and as he went on I got the idea that it wasn't the teeth part of people that he was referring to.
I told him that when I taught at Yale I devoted one class every term to the subject of what the kids in the class wanted to be when they grew up. I challenged them to be something other than what their parents wanted them to be. But for the most part, the children of doctors were going to be doctors and the children of lawyers were going to be lawyers.
We don't realize as parents how much we talk with children about what they are going to be when they grow up and how much we limit their choices by talking about the limited things we actually know about or by inadvertently putting pressure on them to look at the world in a certain way.
When I suggested that this young man not make any choice right now except simply deciding to decide all this in a few years while trying some other stuff out, he was mostly concerned about how he would explain this to his parents.
Now, usually I am writing about schooling in this column and this one is no exception. Except for my weird one day class, students at Yale got no real career counseling. They only get role models (who are all professional academics) or they get pressure from their parents, or advice from their peers about what is a hot choice right now. Why aren't we teaching our children how to think about making career choices, or life choices for that matter? Because we are too busy teaching them calculus or macro-economics.
Governments complain about the lack of skilled workers but they don't try to help in any way except to push more math and science courses which are irrelevant and in no way help one understand one's career options. Calculus is not a career choice.
Schools need to start helping kids figure out what they can do in life or else the advisors will all be parents who are limited in their world view.
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 02:32 AM PDT
I have friend who I won't name who went to a university I won't name. He is very proud of having gone to this particular school. He insists that is son will go there. He attends their football games regularly. He brags that he is the only member of his family who was ever admitted to that school.
Whenever he says something I think is silly, I make fun of him for not knowing much because he went to this dumb school. Now in fact, I don't think the school he went to is dumb and I don't think he is dumb but my razzing gets to him and we are friends so it just a way that we talk to each other.
The other day he insisted that his school was ranked in the top 20 universities in the country. This being my business I assured him that it was not and he got very angry and then eventually looked it up and realized that on some lists his school didn't appear even in the top 200. Recently he bet me that his school was in the top 10 hardest schools to get into. Of course it was no where near that hard to get into.
Why am I telling this story? I do not believe that one receives a better education in one university than one receives in another (unless one is planning a research career in which case where you go to college may matter a great deal.) It doesn't matter where he went to school, it does matter what he has done since school. But his alma mater matters to my friend a great deal.
When I moved, as a professor, from Yale to Northwestern, I was always being asked why I would make a move like that. People perceived me as moving down in class. And, I succumbing to the status issue we all live with, will usually respond "Yale" when asked where I was a professor if I don't have the time to list all the places I have been.
This is the point. The obsession we have with going to college in this country, with test scores, with SATs, with rank in class, and so on is not an obsession about education at all. It is an obsession about status. If you can say you went to Harvard every one will say ooh and wow and suddenly people will believe you are very smart.
Having taught at places that are thought of that way I can tell you that there are smart kids and there are dumb kids at all these places. What they have in common is an ability to please their teachers and do well on tests.
It is a very sad state of affairs that people spend tremendous amounts of money on exorbitant tuitions, push their kids from kindergarten onwards to get good grades, and obsess about test scores for small children, all in the name of status. Moreover, they attach status to schools that don't even have that status. I can't tell you how many times I have heard the phrase "its a very good school" after having been told that someone's kid went to some school no one ever heard of.
This isn't just an American obsession of course. Exactly the same phenomenon exists in the UK down to even which college at Oxford is better than which other college and in France with the Grandes Ecoles and in every other country I know about.
I wish I could say it is all nonsense but it isn't. Companies make hiring decisions based on which school one attended and your friends think about you differently based on which school you attended. But it is simply not about education in any way. A lecture is still boring everywhere. The same books and internet are available anywhere, and college has never actually been all that much about education any way. Graduate school maybe. College not so much.
We really have to start thinking about all this differently.
Here are some numbers to think about. Yale and Harvard are top research universities. They are really about researchers teaching students to do research. One out every 64,000 people in the US are researchers. On the other hand, there are 1 million lawyers, 6 million teachers, and 12 million health care workers. Colleges do not teach these three, graduate schools (and technical schools) do that.
Stop worrying about what college your first grader will go to. Leave him alone. Let him have fun and learn what he wants. Most of us never attended Yale (including me) and have managed happy lives.
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 02:32 AM PDT
As I have mentioned in this space before, when I am in Florida, I play in a couple of old guy's softball leagues most weekday mornings. I have been playing in one league for about four years but the retired Marine drill sergeant who runs the league (and picks the teams every day) has never learned my name. Now there are more than 100 guys playing so this is understandable but last week I decided to fix the problem.
I decided to tell him the story of my name.
My parents were both Army Air Corps (now the USAF) officers during World War II. Pilots speaking over the radio on US planes when given an order always respond "Roger Wilco" which means "understood, will comply." My father thought it would be a laugh riot to call me Roger Wilco Schank. My mother didn't think that was all that funny. But he called the New York Times anyway and told them two air force officers had a son called Roger Wilco. He said if the Times printed the story on the front page, it stayed. I was told that they did print it, but not on the front page, so I got a more normal middle name.
The ex-Marine team picker loved this story and, this morning, he called me by my name when he picked me, muttering "RW" as he selected me.
I am telling this story because it has an important educational message. I have been talking about story telling for more than 20 years (since I wrote "Tell Me a Story.") And, I am tempted to say, that the schools haven't been listening, but it is not true.
Propagandists always knew the power of story telling for getting people to remember a message, which is why we all know the story of George Washington who never told a lie, but fail to remember the George Washington who married a rich widow to get her money and her 300 slaves.
If you want someone to remember something, tell them a story.
Posted: 06 Aug 2012 02:32 AM PDT
This column was to be about (sort of) baseball. (For my non-US readers you can keep reading. All you need to know is that baseball requires athletic ability.)
I heard the announcer (Ron Darling from Yale - a student when I was a professor there, say that 100 major league baseball players had been diagnosed with ADHD and were now receiving treatment. He mentioned that one of them (who plays for the Mets the team I follow and the team for he announces) was doing much better this year now that he had been diagnosed an treated for ADHD.
This is so sad and was said in such a matter of fact way that it needed a response. Players are doing better because they are being given speed. It focusses them. I am sure it does. What I am not sure about is why this isn't a scandal.
Baseball went through a terrible scandal when it was discovered that its best players were taking steroids. They were quickly banned. Why not ADHD drugs?
And then yesterday the New York wrote this on its front page:
Kids are getting themselves ADHD drugs to help them do better on tests. Here is a paragraph of that article:
The drug was not cocaine or heroin, but Adderall, anamphetamine prescribed forattention deficit hyperactivity disorder that the boy said he and his friends routinely shared to study late into the night, focus during tests and ultimately get the grades worthy of their prestigious high school in an affluent suburb of New York City. The drug did more than just jolt them awake for the 8 a.m. SAT; it gave them a tunnel focus tailor-made for the marathon of tests long known to make or break college applications.
Here is another:
At high schools across the United States, pressure over grades and competition for college admissions are encouraging students to abuse prescription stimulants, according to interviews with students, parents and doctors. Pills that have been a staple in some college and graduate school circles are going from rare to routine in many academically competitive high schools, where teenagers say they get them from friends, buy them from student dealers or fake symptoms to their parents and doctors to getprescriptions.
And I was getting upset about baseball!
We have created a society where is not ok to be bored in school (or you will diagnosed with ADHD and drugged into submission.) This has extended itself into sports were it is also OK to be drugged into focussing better apparently.
Now I don't really care if we want to make sick monsters of our athletes. Their choice. So they will hit the ball further. No one's issue but their own.
But when we have so many kids worried about getting good grades and getting into good colleges that we have made them crazy enough to drug themselves in order to do it, we have the makings of a very sick society.
I have been writing about the evils of ADHD diagnosis for 20 years and about the evils of testing for the same amount of time (at least).
I never made the connection before. Its almost as if the testing companies and the drug companies were in collusion. Nah. Not possible, right?
I sure hope not.
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