Europe is a country? Whom the gods destroy . . .

February 15, 2008

No.  Europe is not a country.
Was it Euripides who said, “Whom the gods destroy, they first make mad?”  Does stupid count as mad?  We might have some concerns for our nation.
I’ve told my history students they’d better know the answer to this one.  It will show up on the test. 

Also, see this story in the New York Times, “Dumb and Dumber:  Are Americans hostile to knowledge?”

Tip of the old scrub brush to the Wayback Machine.

Geography revolution, next wave: Ready in your classroom?

February 15, 2008

Depression presents a serious occupational hazard, moving back and forth between the classroom and business, classroom and internet. When do administrators and legislators get serious about catching up education?

Microsoft plans a product announcement at the end of this month. Rumors claim it’s a new version of Photosynth. Photosynth mades “3D” touring by computer possible for almost any destination.

I’ll wager not a single classroom in the nation is ready to make this work. If you disagree, I’d love to hear about the class that can make use of it.

System requirements for Photosynth won’t tax the computers that most high school gamers use, but they are beyond most of the classroom computers I’ve seen in the last five years.

Probably more to the point, curriculum designers in public schools don’t even have Google Earth on their horizons. Photosynth? I’ll wager it’s not even on the radar screens of GIS users in the nation’s Council of Governments (COGS).

Geography is an exploding discipline. GIS and computerized map programs make cell phone companies go, not to mention oil and gas exploration, coal mining, air pollution monitoring (for building new power plants, for example), and road building. GPS helps drive express shipping, and all other shipping. RFI and GPS together are revolutionizing retail.

You must know how to read a map just to get a job delivering pizza.

But 9th grade geography classes? The exciting stuff is absent today.

At the Texas Education Agency (TEA), officials fret about how to stop science from being taught in science classes, for fear the facts will skew the religious beliefs of their children. They need to worry about their children not even getting hired by the pizza delivery company for being ignorant of nature and science, and the maps that show them. In a competitive, technologically savvy world, inaction, dithering and damaging action by the TEA mean our kids won’t even have a prayer.

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