First woman Scoutmaster, Catherine Pollard

December 16, 2006

Catherine Pollard died in Largo, Florida last week. She was 88. Catherine Pollard volunteered to be Scoutmaster for Milford, Connecticut Boy Scout Troop 13 from 1973 to 1975, when no one else would volunteer. Scout officials refused to accept her application at the time, citing a perceived need for male role models for boys. Eventually the troop dissolved when no one else stepped up as Scoutmaster.

In 1988 Boy Scouts of America abolished gender requirements on all volunteer positions, and made Ms. Pollard the first woman Scoutmaster.

A funeral service is set in Milford for Monday, December 18. Her casket will be carried on a fire truck from the Milford Fire Department, for whom she volunteered in different positions for years. When the ban on female Scout volunteers was lifted, it was the Milford FD that sponsored a troop so Pollard could be Scoutmaster. Read the rest of this entry »

Still in coma, Papert to be flown to U.S.

December 16, 2006

Seymour Papert remains in a coma following surgery for a head injury suffered when he was struck by a motorcycle in Hanoi. Latest news is that he was to be flown to the U.S. on Saturday, December 16. Papert, a professor at MIT, is known as a creative thinker in technology and education. He is credited with the $100 laptop idea.

Ironically, he was discussing computer models of Hanoi’s out-of-control traffic at the time he was struck, according to his colleague Uri Wilensky of Northwestern University.

Update Sunday morning: The Boston Globe has a longer story on Papert’s contributions and how his work could help understand Hanoi’s traffic difficulties.

Update December 22: This group came up with the idea of sending the largest virtual bouquet ever to Dr. Papert. You may join to send a virtual flower; instructions are here:

Finn of Fordham: Read the commission report

December 16, 2006

I’m a bit surprised.  Chester Finn, president of the Fordham Foundation, recommends we read and take seriously the recommendations of the New Commission on Skills of the American Workforce.  I had thought he’d be a lot more skeptical a lot earlier.

Which means a couple of things:  One, we ought to read and take seriously the report, as Finn urges; two, Finn continues to think originally about problems of education, and can’t be pigeon-holed into positions that he personally finds difficult to defend on the evidence, or into positions that others “think” he ought to have.

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