Every Sunday, I try to bring you a set of ten links that aren’t from Wikipedia that would serve to help a student begin a paper on a given topic, or understand a topic slightly better than before. My goal isn’t necessarily highly-academic sites; it’s simply a collection of images, video, and text to help a student grasp a subject more successfully. Previous topics have included Henry IV at Canossa, and Galileo’s championing of the Copernican Revolution. This week, my goal is to find ten sites related to the structure of the Roman Army. More
24 May 2009
Karl Fisch of the Fischbowl, and the famous “Did You Know?” video that was remixed by my friend Dave Gray and his colleagues at XPLANE, found another video by Barry Bachenheimer of a New Jersey school, that asks what we do with our 180 days of school. I thought this was an interesting challenge, so I made my own. The results you can see above.
As Karl and Barry both say on their websites — this is a conversation starter. I think all of the elements of these days that we miss are important content, and we shouldn’t necessarily drop this content from our school year. I do think that we need to have a conversation about how to use the time that we have left effectively, and how to consider ways of boosting the amount of instructional time we offer.
24 May 2009
There is good reason to suppose that responsibility has to be installed in the foundation of your mental equipment — at the level of perception and habit. There is an ethic of paying attention that develops in the trades through hard experience. It inflects your perception of the world and your habitual responses to it. This is due to the immediate feedback you get from material objects and to the fact that the work is typically situated in face-to-face interactions between tradesman and customer.
An economy that is more entrepreneurial, less managerial, would be less subject to the kind of distortions that occur when corporate managers’ compensation is tied to the short-term profit of distant shareholders. For most entrepreneurs, profit is at once a more capacious and a more concrete thing than this. It is a calculation in which the intrinsic satisfactions of work count — not least, the exercise of your own powers of reason.
It’s a brilliant article, and it suggests two things at once. First, that students in school should learn how to work with wood, with metal, and yes, with plastic. It should be as natural to our students and to us as working with words and grammar in the classroom.
But second, that we should in fact teach students to work with sketchbook and pencil and colored pens. The process of drawing what we see, and what we want to see, is as critical a part of an education as building things, and interacting with real people. We need plumbers and motorcycle repairmen, yes. We need artists and sculptors, and weavers, and potters, and basket-weavers. And those people work with their hands, too.