<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d30878775\x26blogName\x3dWhy+Do+You+Ask?\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dLIGHT\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttps://ydouask.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://ydouask.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-3194811367467951108', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Metaphor for Public Education?

3Rs vs. Skills vs. Vocational vs. Testing vs....

From our friends at The Onion

<br /><a href="http://www.theonion.com/content/video/are_violent_video_games">Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse?</a>

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Hey, Proof I Use My Brain...I Needed This

INTP - The Thinkers - Introvert, Intuitive, Thinker, Perceiver

The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

I'm just happy to know I'm using any of my brain when I write stuff.

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Twitter Backchannel During Presentations - Revolutionary!

I call BS.

TED Blog has a post entitled How to talk while people are Twittering.  Links to How To are provided.

Twitter is awesome!  Follow me - I'm rrmurry

This practice of hunching over a phone, Twittering while the speaker presents valuable information, in a short period of time, trying to edit down to what is necessary and enriching is causing quit a stir among leading thinkers.  The post even quotes Dean Shareski as saying that he is more engaged in the content when he gets to "interact and play" with the content.

Is this really revolutionary?

When I was in 7th grade, my teacher called it...

Wait for it...

Just a second more, while my brain recalls things from over 30 years ago...

I remember!  She called it...


Sometimes I wonder why we are all atwitter over doing the same things in a different way.

Yes, I get it.  You can see everyone's conversation on a screen beside the lecturer.  The lecturer might choose to follow and respond to audience questions.  But raising hands does that too, doesn't it?

I use Twitter...too frequently according to my wife.  I have met (virtually) people from every continent through Twitter, including Antarctica.  I have spoken to them, and they have replied to me.  For me it is about the CONNECTION with people, and their ideas.  Sure, Twitter is what you make it.  Those who Twitter in a conference help me learn, because I am not there.  I was totally hooked for 15 straight hours during the Mumbai siege.  I knew what CNN was going to say 30 minutes later, because Twitterers gave me the information.  CNN now relies on Twitter to fill their time with actual hosts.  It's cool. 

But please, TED folk.  Twitter while someone talks is not a new concept.  As a matter of fact, when I was in grade school, if students were not hunched over, using their hands to take notes, write questions, submit answers, or expand the concept, we got in trouble.  Now we think it is revolutionary. 

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I Told You So...What It Means To Our Role As Teachers

WARNING:  Sensitive Content

Don Meyer, at a coaching conference in the late 90s, said, "If you have to guard your words, you are not among friends."  If you don't know Don's story, it is amazing.  He is the winningest coach in college basketball...more than Bob Knight.

So, I will assume I am among friends, as I write about this touchy, difficult issue - racial prejudice, intolerance, and hatred.

It didn't take a month.  But I said it here.  Being called a "conservative" or "liberal" is something that can make a career, and be worn with pride.  Being called a "racist" is the ticket to unemployment.  There will be no room for anything that can be twisted into a "racist attack" in the parodies of President Obama.

Fox News Sunday had long discussion about the Editorial Cartoon in the New York Post.

The NAACP wants the cartoonist fired.
I wonder if the artist got his idea from here (from 2008), as well as the current event of an actual chimp going crazy on an innocent American.

Here are some links that have a little more on the "Chimp" Topic (if you need more discussion bites):

The Attorney General, Eric Holder (African-American) also made some comments this week, which are counterproductive to dealing with race issues.
Charles Blow has a quality op-ed piece about Holder's comments.


Just the fact that we have to either guard against saying anything that could be taken the wrong way, proves even further that we "are not among friends," and we continue to have a primary problem with race in this country.  The election of a minority president has not changed this circumstance.

This is the reality of the world in which we live.


Can teachers do anything to make the world a better place, in relation to race, prejudice, and hatred?  David Warlick's recent post comes back to my mind.

Here are my Essential Questions:
  • Is it possible to end racial prejudice?
  • Is it wise to end racial prejudice?
  • What would be better if racial prejudice was eliminated?
  • What would be worse if racial prejudice was eliminated?
  • If it is true that racism is something that is taught, can it be untaught?
  • Does having a president who is a minority help or hurt race relations?  How?
  • Is it "wrong" only when a minority is "made fun of" or compared to something that is seen as negative?
  • Is "reverse discrimination" a real issue or just something that allows the problem to continue?
  • How do we get to a point where a person is "judge by the content of their character" rather than "the color of their skin?"
What's the difference between this...

and this?

No, Really...What is the difference?

IMO - Both are wrong, yet we have devolved into a society wherein we find it acceptable.  Therein lies the biggest problem with race relations in the United States. 

See, I can be serious.  That usually messes with people who think they know me.

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Filters & Cell Phones & Encouraging News

Evan Abbey has a potentially encouraging post about venders who sell filtering software to schools.  Go read it, then you can read the comment I left him.

My response:

This is encouraging, but still I have concerns, and reservations, about any vender who is pushing filtering software.


Because they are in the business of selling a product.  Their philosophy on how to use the product does not necessarily enter into the district that buys it.

It is the decision of the local Tech Department (much of the time, because admins and boards know too little) as to how the filter will be used.  The new argument (past 2 years) of the Tech Depts is the "bandwidth consumption."  This is the new copout explanation of why sites are blocked.

Answer - increase the bandwidth.  Provide each school with it's own network, instead of a system-wide network.  Sure it's expensive, but if we would be given the opportunity to spend designated textbook money on networks, the cost is not much different.

Those of us who seek the use of networked resources must not become complacent when the argument changes (from student safety to bandwidth) when the result is still the same...no Internet usage.

I am beginning to believe that the only way the changes in policy will happen is when teachers choose to be life-long learners, and go back to school to become certified technicians, then become network administrators.  This way the people in positions of network authority may have the necessary educational background and pedagogical philosophy to make the changes that must be made. 

Personally, I don't see that happening anytime soon.  That is why I believe our best approach is to get rid of our total reliance on the school network, and move quickly to student-owned, parent-paid mobile technologies. 

As a matter of fact, I would like someone to really forge a paradigm shift by writing a grant that would cover cell phone data plans for all students during school hours.  Schools (teachers) could "credit" or "reward" students with pre-paid cards for appropriate use while using a mobile phone during school hours.  Parents would then have access to the URLs that their children visit, by contacting their carrier.  We then put the responsibility to monitor what kids do online where it belongs...the parents. 

Teachers could use mass SMS to notify parents of assignments which required students to visit web sites during the day...or, better yet, students could send the parent a text message prior to receiving teacher permission to work on an assignment through their phone connection.

What about kids who don't have a phone?  Well, according to Gizmodo, there are 426,000 cell phones decomissioned every day in the United States!  At that rate, with 30,000,000 students in the United States (k-12) it would take less than 6 months for every k-12 student in the United States to have a cell phone to use (that's also assuming half of the decomissioned phones are lost and half are just upgraded).  Talk about a recycling program that makes sense.

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Technology Is Not Condoms vs. Abstinence vs. Abortion Issue

We are currently treating the use of technology as if we should use condoms (filters) or not use it at all (budgeting) or if "bad things" happen we deny any option for growth or teaching appropriate behavior (abortion).  The issue of technology connection is not the same argument as condoms, abstinence, or abortion. 

Apparently, we have decision-makers in education who view the use of the Web as if it was a sexual issue.  As a matter of fact, that is the #1 argument against the use of the Web isn't it...sexual predators on the Web?

Well, they are wrong.

Our kids NEED to connect to others through the technology we have available to us!

Obviously, I'm not advocating connection in a sexual manner, but in an academic, learning, and educational manner.

So we continue our fight.

We are but planters of seeds, and the next generation will harvest the work we started.

Andy Carvin tweeted the video link, shown below.

Steve Dembo, beat me to some of my thoughts.  Thanks Steve ;^)

The items we fight for today - de-filtering, open source, cell phones, 1:1 initiatives, anything that connects our classrooms with the real world - will be laughable in 20 years.  But we still must fight.

Scott Floyd was biting his tongue today in yet another meeting where a network guy believed that the bandwidth was more important than the teacher's ability to stream video.

Our students today, already laugh at "the old guard," who truly believe they are protecting the students from the dangers of the Internet. The real danger is that we are leaving our children behind in the skills they not only need in their future, but skills they need today.

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Disruptive...Using The Wrong Words...Again

"Disruptive technology" will set us back, fellow education bloggers.  Why?

Because we are forgetting who we are trying to convince. 

School Boards, Administrators, Superintendents, reluctant teachers do not define "disruptive" the same way we do.  They view anything disruptive as having a NEGATIVE IMPACT on education. 

Without mentioning blogs or bloggers, I counted 52 times the usage of "disruptive" was used as a POSITIVE, necessary approach in the classroom.  I know, and so do most of the readers of these blogs, what is meant when someone says, "Disruptive technologies like backchannels, cell phones, and international connections are necessary for 21st century students."

I get it, because I can interpret and speak that language.

But, those who allow, or more accurately, disallow these opportunities do not speak this language.  They do not "Get It" and it's our fault

Please choose your words carefully. 

Today, I was watching TV (I have the week out of school) and saw these items:
  • Alex Rodriguez - Will his admission to using PEDs be a disruption to the Yankees this year?
  • Terrell Owens - Jerry Jones has to determine if T.O.'s talent is worth the clubhouse disruption he brings with him.

I read my World News feeds:

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Personal Economics Lesson

I drove northward on Hwy 41 this morning. I observed state inmates collecting the litter on the side of the road, and I was reminded of something a homeless man once told me about his economy in the 1990s.
He was collecting cans as he walked the same stretch of road I drove today, and I offered him lunch at a local Shoneys. We talked a while, and once I reached a level of comfort, I asked him what the most difficult situation was in his life.
His response, nearly verbatim, "The new littering fines for throwing trash along the roadside. I count on the soda cans to buy the things I need. I'm afraid the fines might cause people to keep their trash in their cars until they get home."
Today, I counted 27 bags of garbage I'm a 1-mile stretch of road! People have not been detered from littering, but now I wonder if the State Prison System might be imposing on this man's income.
 From R. Murry

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Monday, February 16, 2009

How To Persuade School Boards To Open the Net

Suppose you are in the following situation:

You publish a blog, you have numerous feeds in Google Reader, you participate in professional wikis, you subscribe to podcasts in iTunes, you follow hundreds of educators in Twitter, and you realize that you have learned more from these tools than you did in your undergraduate, graduate, and post graduate programs combined, and in a shorter period of time. In other words, you are leveraging not only information but time.

You see how your students could benefit too. You, of course, realize that your students need to conduct themselves appropriately and learn strategies to protect themselves from the cyberbullies.

But you teach in a school district that only uses web-based technology for management purposes - gradebooks, student databases, and the like. The district has outsourced their responsibility of filtering to an non-educational company to restrict the flow of information that comes in and goes out of the school network.


I can't believe it has taken me over 5 years to come back to the basics of persuasion. Use their own vocabulary against them. It is a fundamental strategy in persuasion.

For instance, if you went to your school board as asked them if it would be permissible to have an expert guest speaker in an area which directly addresses your standards, you would likely be given permission and encouragement.

How about stating that you believe your students' opportunities are being limited, and you would like to move your students to their individually "least restrictive environment" that would allow them to be with their peers in a more "normal" setting? Would a board member publicly denounce such a proposal? I don't think they would unless they were ready to address lawsuits and be voted out of office.

But, isn't this what is being done systematically around the United States? If I cannot use Skype, because it is blocked by the techocracy, then I am unable to have a true expert from India speak to my class. If my students cannot have access to blogging tools, Twitter, wikis, cell phones, and other tools of the 21st century, I am teaching in a "self-contained" highly restrictive environment, and my students are being denied their rights to a quality education that will prepare them with tools they need to be "contributing members of society."

I'll be working on this even more. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Most Offensive = Most Easily Offended?

The story of John Carlos and Tommie Smith is one of the greatest and sadest stories in American history.  Their picture is one of the most famous pictures in our nation's history.  The 1968 Olympics was an international stage where the message of discrimination, racism, and technology came together.  The first satellite televised Olympics.  The total story is simply amazing.  I can't do it justice. 

I simply say, thank you Mr. Carlos & Mr. Smith, for your courage to do what was right...not just for you, but for all of us.  The statue at SJSU pays tribute. 

Isn't it interesting that a non-violent gesture was seen as a symbol of power.

Some people just want to be offended...usually the most offensive people of all.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Sunday, February 01, 2009

BOOK REPORT - Part 13 - Strategies For Survival

Teaching As A Subversive Activity

The final chapter is a great conclusion. Starting with "The basic function of all education...is to increase the survival prospects of the group." When this function goes unmet, civilizations disappear.
Do we have an unconsciously held belief that old ways of thinking and king are necessary to the survival of the group? (p. 208) This belief is okay when a society is stable and the environment changes extremely slowly.
"Survival in a rapidly changing environment depends almost entirely upon being able to INDENTIFY QHICH OF THE OLD CONCEPTS ARE RELEVANT to the demands imposed by the new threats to survival" [emphasis mine] (p. 208).
Unlearning or "selective forgetting" is needed for progress.
If we fail to detect things that are irrelevant, these concepts themselves become threats to our survival.
"One of the hazards of being first is that you leave everyone else behind" (p. 210). Beyond that, it is lonely, frustrating, emotionally draining, and requires a focus on the end goal (dream) or you will quit.
The essential question of the book is on page 212. From Robert Theobald, "How do you change the thinking of a culture with enormous speed?"
The answer is to do it through the school system. It is the only institution that exists to fulfill this function.
We teach not just to recognize the world in which we live, but how to cope with it.
The chapter concludes with the canons of Lynn White, Jr.
1) from occidental to global percepions
2) from logic & language to symbols of communication
3) from rationality to unconscious realities
4) from a hierarchy of values to a spectrum of values
This book's purpose was to promote Hemingway's assertion that having a built-in crap detector is the most necessary tool for survival. The final sentence reminds us of this purpose.
 From R. Murry

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous