Can schools be agile?

First and foremost, schools should be independent. Whether they should also be agile is something to consider on a case-by-case basis. Agility is always welcome when it serves independence. Since “agile” is something of a corporate buzzword, if I heard the question “Can schools be agile?” with no other context, my first instinct would be to say “no”. There is too much push to turn education into a means to the end of employability and entrepreneurship and the like. Preserving the idea of learning for its own sake for future generations is of the utmost priority.

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Quotebag #125

Julius Goat:
Principles scare the shit out of the GOP, and pragmatism doesn’t. For good reason.
Martin Tisne
Data rights should protect privacy, and should account for the fact that privacy is not a reactive right to shield oneself from society. It is about freedom to develop the self away from commerce and away from governmental control.
Fabiana Cecin:
You want to believe you live in a world where people are rational and intelligent, but unfortunately people are more like insects who respond to “incentives,” i.e. rule by various forms of external power they don’t understand.
James Fillmore:
A thing I’ve seen more times than I care to count is the person who used to be concerned with injustice and wasn’t once they got rich. Invariably this is described by them as some form of hard-nosed realism; “I realized how the world works” or “I grew up.” Often seasoned with a pinch of cynicism; you can’t change human nature.
Dale Carrico:
The lies of the futurists are exposed in mainstream media publications on sn hourly basis these days now that “the singularity” turns out to have been the stupid refeudalization of the postwar economy while we were distracted by the spectacle of Jeff Bezos re-inventing the Sears catalogue and google/facebook turning cyberspace, “Home of Mind,” back into broadcast television.
sethb78:
The Libertarian dream of private ownership of everything is becoming disgustingly true
xXx_thrownAway_xXx:
Anyways I didn’t have the necessary experience for an entry level position to gain the necessary experience for an entry level position
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Enough about tracking in education, already

The unfortunately popular agenda of steering both resources and students from academic to vocational learning is all kinds of problematic. We need to fight the assumption that those are mutually exclusive choices. I see no reason very large numbers of people can’t have both liberal arts degrees and journeyperson cards. Life expectancy is more ample than it used to be, and so is GDP. The larger the portion of the population that is leading the examined life, the better quality of life will be for all of us, I’m quite sure.

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American Fascism 1– What Is Fascism, and How Did It Get Here?

Michael O. Church

This series of essays shall cover one of the most depressing topics I’ve ever written about: fascism. The truth is, I’ve been writing and rewriting “the fascism essay” for almost two years. I’ve worked on one version or iteration, polished a bit… only to decide not to publish it. It’s such a dreary, demoralizing subject.

When fascism descends, one is faced with a fight– probably a losing fight– that a person of conscience still owes the world to fight.

I promise that this series will not focus on Donald Trump. It would be a mistake to conflate him with the more general fascist threat. More than he is a fascist, he’s an opportunist. Inevitably, someone would have tried what he did. Perhaps we are lucky. For reasons that will be discussed later on, he is quite ineffective when it comes to fascism. He has damaged this country, and he will…

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Education and training in a better future

The bootmaker will still be the authority concerning boots, so most likely there will still be apprenticeships. Hopefully in the future apprenticeships will put more focus on imparting skills and knowledge and less (really, none) on indenturing and hazing the apprentices, limiting access to learning (understandable as necessary economic self defense under the status quo of competitive markets) and preserving trade secrets. Hopefully all workforce development will consist of apprenticeships of this new type.

As for primary and secondary education, hopefully we can get rid of the cohort system, so that a child is free to function, say, at second grade level in one subject and seventh grade in another. Also, let’s blow away the assumption that primary and secondary education are exclusive to childhood and adolescence. In a truly self-paced education, there should be nothing wrong with taking until past age 30 to finish high school, or with starting university studies at age 10.

Universities should be centers of both teaching and research. They should be under joint faculty and student governance. There should be no classified or proprietary research. Curriculum should also be nonproprietary. Also, if for some reason there are still “professional degree” programs in the hopefully better future, at least get rid of the cohort system there (which discriminates against many types of disabilities) and also abolish any hazing which might be connected with professional degree programs. Professions should exist to foster collegiality among workers, and for no other purpose.

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Quotebag #124

Alan Mitchell:
In fact, we do not have any data commons at the moment, where each party gets their fair share. Quite the opposite. We have data enclosures, where a few powerful corporations harvest data for themselves to extract its value in deeply unfair ways.
Jason Stanley:
[David] Horowitz’s free speech attacks on universities lack legitimacy. Given the formal protections of academic freedom, universities in the United States host the freest domain of expression of any workplace. In private workplaces in the United States, free speech is a fantasy. Workers are regularly subjected to nondisclosure agreements, forbidding them to speak about various matters. In most workplaces, workers can be fired for political speech on social media. Attacking the only workplaces in a country with genuine free-speech protections using the ideal of free speech is another instance of the familiar Orwellian nature of propaganda.
Jade Blackthorne:
So how do you remove wealth from labor? We already know. By raising the costs of your basic needs. Basic needs like rent, mortgages, water, food, healthcare, education and transportation. You might notice that healthcare and education are the highest costs. Can you figure out why? Now imagine a whole community with free access to those resources and healing their minds and bodies and that community opening their eyes? That’s my fantasy.
John Patrick Leary:
Think about it: What could be less innovative now than founding yet another academic center for innovation and entrepreneurship?
assi9001:
Well no shit you make 125,000 to $150,000 a year you’re going to make a boatload of cash in a short period of time. being frugal and making a lot of money is always a recipe for success. being poor and frugal is a recipe for malnutrition and crippling depression.

 

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Should programming be taught to all K-12 students?

Computer literacy should absolutely be universal in the adult population and hopefully universally under development in the entire juvenile population. I’m not sure programming literacy is the most important component of this literacy. While there’s more than a little truth to the old saw “program or be programmed,” I’m currently more concerned about the level of data literacy in the public. Public policy discourse around counterterrorism, law enforcement and so much more is full of talk about “inter-agency information sharing,” while consumer issues getting a lot of airplay include things like “privacy policies,” “data brokers” and datasets said to have been stripped of “personally identifiable data.” As an inoculation or public health measure I would recommend a high school course, strongly encouraged if not required, that introduces database concepts, perhaps using SQL (which seems to me to have a gentle and intuitive learning curve, but my mileage may be atypical). I would want this introduction to take the students at least as far as the concept of a table join. That is because this is (in my opinion) where the “magic” of SQL happens. This is why having access to two datasets confers more than twice as much informational power (and Information *is* power) than having access to one dataset. Exercises for the kind of data literacy course I’m proposing would ask questions such as,

  • How would you go about trying to infer individual identities from records in this dataset which has been stripped of identifying information?
  • How would you go about devising a system for calculating a numeric “score” for each of the [people, products, locations, etc.] in this dataset, where your goal is that higher scores might be predictive of higher probabilities of [a crime taking place, a loan going into arrears, a consumer making a purchase, etc.]
  • How would you go about building a recommendation engine? Again, I’d like to see the emphasis less on the coding and more on the choice of what data, and data relationships, to work into the recommendations and in what way.

One more thing: Far too many of the programming courses I have taken (in conventional colleges and universities) rely far too heavily on quasi-business problems that are grossly oversimplified and unrealistic. I seem to remember a “write a simple reservation system for a simple hypothetical airline” or something. No wonder there’s no such thing as an entry-level job. I would hope that for the data literacy course the datasets would be empirical, which is to say, real world data. I would also hope that at least some of the datasets would be large-ish. Keeping in mind that (unfortunately for my purposes) information does NOT want to be free, some class assignments may be data collection assignments, perhaps sending the students out to conduct some surveys, or keep a food diary, or do some GPS-surveying or what have you.

 

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