Ten best presentations – readers’ choice

October 3, 2006

KnowHR had a great post a while ago on the “ten best presentations ever,” mostly pertaining to IT and other technology. I noted it on this blog, and I also wrote in with some recommendations for other presentations that ought to be in a ten best presentations list.

Well, KnowHR has done another list of readers’ choices, including one of mine, perhaps the most controversial one.

It’s a useful list. Educators may want to make a special note of the presentation on creativity in education by Sir Ken Robinson.

Someone will always grouse about rankings of things that are difficult to compare, but I find that making such rankings is helpful to students in studying a subject, and such lists emphasize what is important to know when they refer to historical events. The rankings focus on two important facets: The effects of the event, which sometimes cascade over a great deal of time or great distances, and the relative importance of other events.

The Texas Education Agency ranks events in U.S. history, picking a eleven that are important enough students should know the dates by year. Here are the years; can you determine the events to be remembered?

  • 1607
  • 1776
  • 1787
  • 1803
  • 1861-1865
  • 1877
  • 1898
  • 1914-1918
  • 1929
  • 1941-1945
  • 1957
  • (and I would have sworn there was a date for the end of the Cold War, but I can’t find it just now at the TEA website . . . I list the date as 1991, the crumbling of the Soviet Union, which was officially dead at midnight, December 31, 1991) .

1957 stumped me a bit — which historic event was supposed to be the one Texas wanted? Once I learned the trick, I wondered whether 1969 wouldn’t have been a better choice.  (You can check out the link to figure out the event and the year — or pose the question in comments.)

In any case, check out the list at KnowHR. What’s been left off?

Public school successes: Nobel Prizes

October 3, 2006

Let’s track the results this year.

Several years ago I noticed that the annual announcements of Nobel Prize winners demonstrated a remarkable trend:  A majority of the winners in one year were products of one educational institution, the public schools of the United States.

Elementary and secondary education is not always indicated in the prize announcements, so it often takes a bit more digging.  Nobel Prize announcements come out this week.  Yesterday the prizes for Medicine or Physiology went to two Americans, both under 50.  Today the prizes in Physics went to two more Americans.

If you see a note talking about the elementary and secondary schooling of these people, would you send it along?  These prizes may indicate the health of the schools 20 or 30 years ago — but that would put it at the same time we were talking about “a rising tide of mediocrity.”  It’s a long-after-the-fact measure, but an interesting one (to me, anyway).

Year in and year out, public school alumni win most of the Nobel Prizes awarded since World War II.  How long can such a trend of success continue?

(I’m keeping quiet about the other trend.  The iRNA research is steeped in evolution theory; the COBE work for which the physics prize was awarded confirms the Big Bang.  Young Earth creationists especially must be hoping for other news to hide this research from general public understanding.)

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