Thursday, November 18, 2010

David Dark, Confusing but Honest

Last night David Dark spoke before Taylor students. He's written the book "The Sacred of Questioning Everything." It was mostly a conversation in which he essentially dialogued with students on whatever they felt like. He dealt with some issues of knowledge and certainty, doubt and a story about Uncle Bill.

I appreciated Dark's honesty, humility and curiosity. I was able to hear him talk with other students at the Honors Lodge afterwards. At one point, a student asked a question which he attempted a reply. (Noting that he wasn't quite sure how to answer.) Immediately after he asked the student to offer his opinion. This is the first time I remember seeing a speaker at a Taylor event ask a student to share his/her opinion and then listen.

I struggled with Dark's lack of clarity. Perhaps it was because of the format, but when a speaker lacks clarity and leans toward quoting famous thinkers and giving snippets of profound thought, I tend to become cautious of the content of what they're saying. The reason being, I don't know what is their content. Certainly a lot of random things Dark said were really important, but on the other hand they were only random and small. He didn't carry them to a conclusion or attempt to clarify the ideas he was trying to get across.

[His answers to some of my questions were interesting. His understanding of knowledge as being of action, essentially you know something if it carries into your action was an interesting discussion. I'm not sure what he meant when he said Western theology is mostly a "construction."]

I think Dark did a good job of creating a feeling of depth and insightfulness. I think that depth and insightfulness was lacking. I haven't read his books, and certainly I admire his character. His perspective is unique and challenging, if you can figure out what it is.

Monday, November 15, 2010

There is no Quick Fix to Education in America

I just finished writing a review on reading and literacy in the classroom in the journal "The History Teacher." The author, Paul Otto bravely calls for getting rid of textbooks in the classroom. I generally agree with some of what he says, but am a bit apprehensive of suddenly getting rid of textbooks.

Alfred Marshall was a 20th century economists who was able to synthesis the marginalist revolution of the mid 1800s and the classical school of economics. His life motto was "natura non facit saltum," Nature does not make leaps. The point is, in order to bring about good lasting change that contributes to the betterment of society, one can't change things quickly.

Paul Otto asks for a sweeping change. (Getting rid of textbooks.) No Child Left Behind was also a sweeping change. A movie coming out about education reform is called "Waiting for Superman." Sounds like people are waiting for someone to come along and change everything. [I'm not sure what the movie is specifically about except that it shows three kids experience in public education.]

This is not possible with education for three reasons.

1. Education is run by states. There are fifty states. So unless you want to work at the federal level, influencing the whole education system is quite hard.

2. The more the federal government gets involved in education, the worse it will get. (My third points explains why.)

3. The core of education is the relation between the teacher and parent working together to help the students learn. Ultimately, it's up to the student to learn, but the closest ones to the student are the teacher and parent, and if they are able to work together then the education system will produce better students. Having the federal government involved in this process naturally inhibits this three-way relationship because it has proved itself incapable of understanding the unique needs of people. It tries to create a one-size fits all. There is no one-size fits all. How you do education in Kansas City will be different then doing education in New York City. How you teach a student with autism is different then a "normal learner," and you normal learners need to be taught differently from each other.

The core of my post: the education system can be "fixed" (Or begin to produce well educated students.) by teachers and parents working together with the student in a system which fosters a positive relationship between the three.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Announcement + A Response

Taylor University Ethics Bowl team, which I am proud to be a part of, has received first place at the regional competition located at Marion University in Indianapolis. This was out of twenty teams including, Depaul, University of Michigan, Butler University and IU. It was pretty cool to win. We're going to nationals which are March 3rd.

A Response
On another note, Alyssa Guebert proposed a dilemma to my last post. She explained how someone spilled something on the floor of the classroom. The blow dryers don't seem to be helpful in this case. Here is my response.

1. the elementary classroom in Reade does have paper towels. Alyssa's response to this proposition was that this accident occurred in another building. So I have come up with another suggestion.

2. Take a large number of pipes and link them together throughout the building leading up to the blow dryer machine and turn it on. The pipes should direct the spot which is in need of clean. Since this may not be feasible in some cases, I have provided a last ditch option.

3. Lick up the mess with your tongue. (Though I don't advise this last one since it is unsanitary.) In the least though, time will take care of the problem.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to Dry your Hands

Yes, this is a post that hopefully will help your forget that I failed to correctly predict the election.

Recently, Taylor University has changed how people dry their hands in the public restrooms throughout campus. Previously, we were provided with machines which contained paper towels. We would press a lever and paper would pop out. We'd tear it away from the ream, and dry our hands. This is no longer so.

Taylor University has installed machines that blow hot/warm/cold air. When I first used these machines I noticed a couple problems. First, it takes longer to dry your hands. Second, your hands become rather dry because the water is often blown directly into your skin and when it dries out, your hands are left that rough scratchy sensation. Lastly, it is no longer possible to dry your face when you splash water on your face.

Because of these problems, I have developed certain methods of drying your hands and using these blow dry machines in the most efficient and practical way.

The Time Problem
I have found that there is a method which greatly saves on time. After your wash your hands, shake them virgorously, but let your wrists and fingers relax so you get kind of a snap while your hands shake. Then, while keeping your wrists limp and fingers pointed down, put your hands under the machine. Direct the air flow directly on the highest point on the backside of one hand. Go down all the way to where your fingers begin. Then get the sides and proceed to do the other hand. Switch back and get ready to hit the fingers. (Your fingers should be pointed down the whole time.) Begin by hitting the lower part of the fingers and work your way to the tips. You should notice that the water is not being blown into your skin, nor dried out, but rather being pushed toward your finger tips where they simply drop off. With a little practice, you can get your hands dried as fast as your would with a towel.

The Dry Hands Problem
The key to this drying your hands method is to direct the air to push the water down your hand, toward your finger tip and not into the skin. That is why you keep your fingers pointed down and wrists always limp. Though this doesn't stop your hands from becoming dry, it does help reduce the problem.

Drying your Face Problem
This has a story behind it. I was working late in the library, and was starting to feel sleepy so I went to the bathroom and splashed my face with water. I forgot we no longer had towels and so when I turned to dry my face, I realized, while dripping with water, that I couldn't dry my face. So I stuck my face underneath the blow dry machine and felt like I was sticking my head out a car window at 60 mph.

Though it worked, I have discovered a more efficient way to drying your face with a blow dry machine. Simply cup your hands together like you're going to drink water from you hands, hold it up to the machine and direct the air to bounce off your hands and into your face.

So now you know how to deal with some of the issues involved with blow drying your hands and can deal with them more efficiently.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Prediction

The Republicans will regain the house and the senate. Wish I had time to give my analysis, but I'll let the voters prove me right. Look forward to some more blog posts in the near future, I have been sick, but because I'm feeling much better, more posts will be coming up soon.