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Modern School

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Member since: Sun Dec 12, 2010, 01:09 PM
Number of posts: 794

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Too Much Evolution For KY Superintendent

Evolution, is fine, just like junk food, so long as we aren’t giving our kids too much of it, suggests Ricky Line, superintendent of Hart County Schools in Kentucky. Line wrote to the Kentucky Board of Education to complain about the overemphasis on evolution in the schools.

The Panda’s Thumb blog paraphrased his letter to the school board:
“I have a deep concern about the increased emphasis on the evolution content required in the new End-of-Course Blueprint. After carefully reviewing the Blueprint, I find the increase is substantial and alarming .…
I have a very difficult time believing that we have come to a point in education that we are teaching evolution, not the theory of evolution, as a factual occurrence, while totally omitting the creation story by a God who is bigger than all of us. I do not believe in macroevolution, and I do believe in creation by our God. …
I take no issue with the teaching of microevolution, the documented proof that a species changes over time, just as humans are taller on the average than they were 50 years ago. I also take no issue with macroevolution being taught as a theory.

Fortunately for the integrity of science education in Kentucky, the Commissioner of the Kentucky Board of Education, Terry Holliday, wrote back to Line explaining that he was misusing the word “theory” to mean “guess” or “hypothesis,” and that both macro- and micro-evolution are well-established scientific principles, supported by ample evidence, and necessary concepts for their students to master if they hope to be college-ready.

Unfortunately for the children of Hart County, Ricky Line continues to assert that macroevolution wasn’t supported by evidence and that creationism was true (though he failed to provide any evidence for this truth).

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/12/too-much-evolution-for-ky.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Dec 28, 2011, 05:12 PM (9 replies)

Too Much Evolution For KY Superintendent

Evolution, is fine, just like junk food, so long as we aren’t giving our kids too much of it, suggests Ricky Line, superintendent of Hart County Schools in Kentucky. Line wrote to the Kentucky Board of Education to complain about the overemphasis on evolution in the schools.

The Panda’s Thumb blog paraphrased his letter to the school board:
“I have a deep concern about the increased emphasis on the evolution content required in the new End-of-Course Blueprint. After carefully reviewing the Blueprint, I find the increase is substantial and alarming .…
I have a very difficult time believing that we have come to a point in education that we are teaching evolution, not the theory of evolution, as a factual occurrence, while totally omitting the creation story by a God who is bigger than all of us. I do not believe in macroevolution, and I do believe in creation by our God. …
I take no issue with the teaching of microevolution, the documented proof that a species changes over time, just as humans are taller on the average than they were 50 years ago. I also take no issue with macroevolution being taught as a theory.

Fortunately for the integrity of science education in Kentucky, the Commissioner of the Kentucky Board of Education, Terry Holliday, wrote back to Line explaining that he was misusing the word “theory” to mean “guess” or “hypothesis,” and that both macro- and micro-evolution are well-established scientific principles, supported by ample evidence, and necessary concepts for their students to master if they hope to be college-ready.

Unfortunately for the children of Hart County, Ricky Line continues to assert that macroevolution wasn’t supported by evidence and that creationism was true (though he failed to provide any evidence for this truth).

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/12/too-much-evolution-for-ky.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Dec 28, 2011, 05:11 PM (1 replies)

Charles Darwin: Killer of God or Role Model for Pious Students?

Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution are typically portrayed by creationists as fundamental threats to Christianity. Yet Darwin himself was so religious he delayed publication of his book, “On the Origins of Species,” for twenty years (until 1859) in part, many believe, out of fear of upsetting his religious family and friends.

In “Charles Darwin about the Evolution of Religion,” Michael Blume discusses Darwin’s chapter on religion in “Descent of Man” (1871), in which Darwin said:
“There is no evidence that man was aboriginally endowed with the ennobling belief in the existence of an Omnipotent God. On the contrary there is ample evidence, derived not from hasty travelers, but from men who have long resided with savages, that numerous races have existed and still exist, who have no idea of one or more gods, and who have no words in their languages to express such an idea. The question is of course wholly distinct from that higher one, whether there exists a Creator and Ruler of the universe; and this has been answered in the affirmative by the highest intellects that have ever lived.”

So, while Darwin argues that belief in God is not a natural trait with which we are born, suggesting that, like other traits, it evolves over time, he also affirms his belief that there is a God and that this is a proven fact. This is hardly the kind of statement one would expect from an atheist or from someone out to debunk Christianity.

However, belief in God does not rule out belief in natural selection, evolution of species, or evolution of the Earth through natural geological processes. Darwin did believe in these ideas, despite his religiosity, because of the ample evidence. He was able to develop a remarkably accurate and effective model for evolution by natural selection through careful observations of artificial selection by farmers, as well as anatomical comparisons of fossils and living species. Like all good scientists, he held himself to a high standard of reproducibility and objectivity in these observations, amassing a large data set from many different regions of the world.

In light of his high regard for scientific evidence and the scientific process, it is interesting that he also had such confidence in the existence of God, despite a dearth of credible evidence, relying entirely on arguments by philosophers and religious leaders. While this double standard for “proof” is interesting, it should not be surprising. Darwin’s highest educational degree was earned in theology. He grew up in a religious family, in a religious community, during religious times. These influences were so powerful he remained a believer in God throughout his life, despite the mounting evidence that the Earth was not created in 6 days in its current form, or even in 10,000 years, contrary to the teachings of his religion.

This story can be instructive for those of us who teach biology, particularly in religious communities, where students often resist learning the evolution content or have trouble comprehending it due to their cultural biases. For these students, we can provide as much evidence as we want, but even this will not necessarily overcome the influences they are getting at home and in their communities. Considering that studies suggest that teaching students about scientists’ adversities tends to result in better educational outcomes, more effective learning, and greater buy-in, lessons on evolution might be more effective if accompanied with a discussion of Darwin’s religiosity and examples of the struggles he went through in developing his theory. It would be particularly helpful for students to hear how and why he accepted his observations, despite the fact that they contradicted the teachings of his church.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/12/charles-darwin-killer-of-god-or-role.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Dec 28, 2011, 05:10 PM (2 replies)

Charles Darwin: Killer of God or Role Model for Pious Students?

Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution are typically portrayed by creationists as fundamental threats to Christianity. Yet Darwin himself was so religious he delayed publication of his book, “On the Origins of Species,” for twenty years (until 1859) in part, many believe, out of fear of upsetting his religious family and friends.

In “Charles Darwin about the Evolution of Religion,” Michael Blume discusses Darwin’s chapter on religion in “Descent of Man” (1871), in which Darwin said:
“There is no evidence that man was aboriginally endowed with the ennobling belief in the existence of an Omnipotent God. On the contrary there is ample evidence, derived not from hasty travelers, but from men who have long resided with savages, that numerous races have existed and still exist, who have no idea of one or more gods, and who have no words in their languages to express such an idea. The question is of course wholly distinct from that higher one, whether there exists a Creator and Ruler of the universe; and this has been answered in the affirmative by the highest intellects that have ever lived.”

So, while Darwin argues that belief in God is not a natural trait with which we are born, suggesting that, like other traits, it evolves over time, he also affirms his belief that there is a God and that this is a proven fact. This is hardly the kind of statement one would expect from an atheist or from someone out to debunk Christianity.

However, belief in God does not rule out belief in natural selection, evolution of species, or evolution of the Earth through natural geological processes. Darwin did believe in these ideas, despite his religiosity, because of the ample evidence. He was able to develop a remarkably accurate and effective model for evolution by natural selection through careful observations of artificial selection by farmers, as well as anatomical comparisons of fossils and living species. Like all good scientists, he held himself to a high standard of reproducibility and objectivity in these observations, amassing a large data set from many different regions of the world.

In light of his high regard for scientific evidence and the scientific process, it is interesting that he also had such confidence in the existence of God, despite a dearth of credible evidence, relying entirely on arguments by philosophers and religious leaders. While this double standard for “proof” is interesting, it should not be surprising. Darwin’s highest educational degree was earned in theology. He grew up in a religious family, in a religious community, during religious times. These influences were so powerful he remained a believer in God throughout his life, despite the mounting evidence that the Earth was not created in 6 days in its current form, or even in 10,000 years, contrary to the teachings of his religion.

This story can be instructive for those of us who teach biology, particularly in religious communities, where students often resist learning the evolution content or have trouble comprehending it due to their cultural biases. For these students, we can provide as much evidence as we want, but even this will not necessarily overcome the influences they are getting at home and in their communities. Considering that studies suggest that teaching students about scientists’ adversities tends to result in better educational outcomes, more effective learning, and greater buy-in, lessons on evolution might be more effective if accompanied with a discussion of Darwin’s religiosity and examples of the struggles he went through in developing his theory. It would be particularly helpful for students to hear how and why he accepted his observations, despite the fact that they contradicted the teachings of his church.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/12/charles-darwin-killer-of-god-or-role.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Dec 28, 2011, 05:09 PM (1 replies)

The Knights of Labor Founded Today in 1869 (Brief History)

The Knights of Labor (KOL), officially known as the "Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor," was founded on December 28, 1869, when both American capitalism and the labor movement were young and relatively disorganized. It began as a secret society, but quickly grew into the largest and most significant labor organization in the U.S. by the 1880s. The Knights are considered by many to be a predecessor to the more well-known Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Like its more radical cousin, the IWW, the KOL called for the abolition of the wage system and fought to organize all workers into one big union, including women and immigrants. And, like the IWW, one of the KOL’s slogans was, “An Injury to One is the Concern of All.”

The KOL was founded by seven members of the Philadelphia tailors' union, led by Uriah Smith Stephens and James L. Wright. However, the Knights’ most rapid growth occurred under the leadership of Terence Powderly, who replaced Stephens as Grand Master, and convinced the organization to give up its secrecy. The Knights originally denounced strikes, socialism, anarchism and radicalism. Yet the organization became a hotbed of radicalism, with members that included Daniel De Leon, who would go on to later cofound the IWW and lead the Socialist Labor Party, as well as Albert Parsons and other future Haymarket martyrs. Furthermore, as the organization grew, it began to launch and win its own strikes (due primarily to the overwhelming demand of its membership, which was far more radical than its leadership), including the Union Pacific Railroad strike in 1884 and the Wabash Railroad strike in 1885. The success of these strikes inspired hundreds of thousands of workers to join the organization in just one year, mushrooming from 100,000 in 1885 to nearly 700,000 members in 1886.


One of the things that made the KOL so successful and so significant is that, unlike the majority of trade unions of the time (and today), they reached out to all working people, not just those in a single trade. Their assemblies included workers from all industries, skilled and unskilled, women as well as men, and blacks as well as whites. They fought for equal pay for equal work, the 8-hour day, and the abolition of child and convict labor.

The Knights of Labor were closely identified with the Great Upheaval and rail strikes of 1877. Though the workers were ultimately defeated in this mass working class uprising, the KOL was still seen by many as their best bet against capital, in part for their victories early in the revolt, and membership in the organization gradually began to rise during this era. Chicago’s branch of the KOL was inaugurated in the wake of the Great Upheaval and included many of the city’s leading radicals. The Chicago KOL initially supported socialist and “pro-labor” candidates and won some early favors from Mayor Carter Harrison.

Over time, however, Chicago capitalists pressured Harrison to take a harder line on labor, leading to increasing violence by the police against striking workers. At the same time, the capitalists were replacing skilled laborers with machines whenever possible. These trends contributed to the growing radicalization of the labor movement. Many began to see trade unionism as a dead end, as it isolated workers by trade and focused on untrustworthy politicians. More and more looked to the Knights, not only for the class solidarity the organization provided, but because of its recent victory against Robber Baron Jay Gould’s Wabash Railroad. By mid-1886, workers were joining the KOL at the rate of 1,000 per week.

The Knights of Labor were full of contradictions. While they espoused class solidarity and the abolition of the wage system, their leadership criticized the militant tactics of the anarchists and even called for summary punishment for those “responsible” for the Haymarket bombing, despite the fact that there wasn’t a shred of evidence linking any of the 8 Haymarket suspects to the bombing. Ultimately, when it became clear that it was a legal lynching by a kangaroo court, the rank-and-file of the KOL pushed for a new leadership that defended the Haymarket anarchists as victims of a labor witch hunt.

The Knights also had a mixed history in terms of race and immigrant laborers. They accepted women and black workers as early as 1878, yet they tolerated segregation in the South (including in their own assemblies) and Asians were often excluded. The Knights organized black sugar cane workers in Thibodaux, Louisiana. However, their 1887 sugarcane strike turned into a race riot, in which white vigilantes slaughtered between 50 and 300 unarmed black sugarcane workers. The event is known as the Thibodaux massacre. While some might blame this tragedy on naiveté and poor organizing by a union that otherwise was a supporter of black workers, their attitude toward Chinese immigrants was notoriously hostile. In Tacoma, Washington, the KOL worked to expel the city’s Chinese population and white members of the Knights participated in the Rock Springs massacre in Wyoming, which led to the deaths of 28 Chinese Americans. They also strongly supported the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Contract Labor Law.

Powderly’s rabid hatred of radicals nearly killed the KOL, but his collaborationist wimpiness, authoritarian leadership and general mismanagement ultimately did the organization in. In 1886, for example, he intervened in a packinghouse workers strike, ordering workers back on the job when a compromise with the bosses appeared imminent. He feared that a strike at this point would have led to a wave of strikes that could have crippled the organization. This may have been true, but only because his disdain for strikes prevented the necessary organizing and preparation. Yet his weakness and unwillingness to fight led the defeat of the packers and contributed to the mass exodus of workers from the organization that effectively killed the Knights anyway.

He also withdrew KOL support for the May 1, 1886 General Strike that had been called in Chicago to fight for the 8-hour day. This certainly weakened the Knights, as the fight for the 8-hour day had grown into a national movement, supported by working people of all persuasions including many mainstream trade unions, as well as socialists and anarchists. Yet the ruling elite were blaming outsiders, foreign radicals, bomb-throwing anarchists, in hopes of diffusing support for the movement, and Powderly, who was still viciously anti-radical, hoped to rescue the image of his organization by distancing it from the movement, even though the Knights had been early supporters of the 8-hour day.

There were also numerous disputes between skilled trade unionists in the KOL, who wanted an organization that represented primarily their relatively privileged status, and industrial unionists, who wanted an organization that built solidarity between all workers in a given industry. The latter, of course, has greater potential to win strikes, as it makes it harder to pit workers against each other, but it requires organizing the so-called “unskilled” and “semi-skilled” workers, who many believed couldn’t be organized. The IWW, which was an industrial union, later proved that it was possible and very effective to organize these workers.

Modern School (photos and video available, plus links)
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/12/knights-of-labor.html

Sources:
The Knights of Labor http://www.knightsoflabor.org/
The Lucy Parsons Project http://www.lucyparsonsproject.org/haymarket/schneirov_nights_of_labor.html
Libcom.org http://libcom.org/history/dynamite-louis-adamic-mayday
The Samuel Gompers Papers http://www.history.umd.edu/Gompers/KOL.htm
Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_of_Labor
Posted by Modern School | Wed Dec 28, 2011, 05:07 PM (0 replies)

Evidence Links Live Poultry Markets to Human H5N1 Infection

China’s wet markets (live food markets) have long been suspected of being reservoirs for the deadly H5N1 avian flu. The scientific evidence supporting this hypothesis has just been published in the December 2011 Journal of Virology.

Scientists sequenced the H5N1 virus from live bird markets in China and were able to match it to sequences of H5N1 found in patients who had recently visited the live bird markets. They picked up 69 environmental samples from cages, floors and ditches at six wet markets during the 2008-2009 flu season, finding H5N1 at four of the markets. The genetic sequence of the environmental samples had a greater than 99% correspondence to human isolates, according to the Medical Express blog.

These findings are important because they support improving veterinary monitoring and control of the wet markets and quicker culling when infections are identified. H5N1 is still primarily passed to directly humans through infected animals and has a 60% mortality rate among infected humans. However, because the wet markets facilitate the comingling of numerous different species, including fowl and pigs, they are a likely breeding ground for a deadly genetic reassortment that could make the virus easily transmissible between people.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/12/evidence-links-live-poultry-markets-to.html
Posted by Modern School | Thu Dec 22, 2011, 07:33 PM (0 replies)

Deadly New Man-Made Flu Could Wipe Out Millions

A group of scientists is preparing to publish research on how they created a man-made version of the H5N1 Avian Influenza virus that could potentially wipe out millions of people, the Daily Mail reported this week. (An article on the research was also published in the journal Science this month: vol 334, No. 6060, p1192-3, December 2, 2011).

The naturally occurring H5N1 is deadly enough, with a human mortality rate of 60%. Fortunately, it is not easily transmissible between people, keeping the morbidity (infection rate) extremely low (less than 1,000 cases world-wide). Virtually all human cases so far have resulted from direct contact between people and infected animals. However, scientists have feared that the existing strains of H5N1 could easily mutate or pick up new genes through genetic reassortment, making the virus easily transmissible between people and potentially catastrophic.

The new lab-created virus is precisely this: a genetically altered version of H5N1 bird flu strain that is easily transmissible between ferrets. Almost all known influenzas that are transmissible between people are also transmissible between ferrets, making them good animal models for studying human influenzas. Thus, the scientists believe their altered strain is also transmissible between people.

If this strain were to escape the lab, accidentally or maliciously, hundreds of millions of people could die. The 1919 flu pandemic killed between 50 and 100 million people at a time when the world population was only a fraction of its current size and when plane travel was relatively uncommon. Exacerbating conditions today are the growth of mega-slums (like in Mumbai, Kinshasa, Cairo and Port-au-Prince), with hundreds of thousands of people living crammed together, and the growth of mega-farms, with tens of thousands of animals living crammed together, often near densely populated cities.

Many scientists are saying that the research never should have been done and the results should certainly not be published because it would provide access to terrorists. In fact, one scientist, Paul Keim, from the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), said he couldn’t think of another pathogen as scary as this one, adding that anthrax isn’t scary at all in comparison. Others believe the research was a necessary breakthrough in understanding how the virus evolves and that it could provide important clues for veterinary and viral monitoring and vaccine development. The risk of a naturally occurring deadly influenza pandemic is real, relatively high and a far bigger threat than a terrorist-created strain, some virologists have argued, thus justifying such research.

The research team, led by virologist Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands, found that just five mutations were sufficient to make the virus spread more easily. Similar data was uncovered by another team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Tokyo. Fouchier’s alterations made the virus easily spread through the air without reducing its lethality, Scientific American reported.

The NSABB is reviewing both papers, but does not have the authority to block publication. It could ask journals not to publish or recommend that key details be left out of any possible publication so as not to give a roadmap to potential terrorists.


Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/12/deadly-new-man-made-flu-could-wipe-out.html
Posted by Modern School | Thu Dec 22, 2011, 07:31 PM (2 replies)

Deadly New Man-Made Flu Could Wipe Out Millions

A group of scientists is preparing to publish research on how they created a man-made version of the H5N1 Avian Influenza virus that could potentially wipe out millions of people, the Daily Mail reported this week. (An article on the research was also published in the journal Science this month: vol 334, No. 6060, p1192-3, December 2, 2011).

The naturally occurring H5N1 is deadly enough, with a human mortality rate of 60%. Fortunately, it is not easily transmissible between people, keeping the morbidity (infection rate) extremely low (less than 1,000 cases world-wide). Virtually all human cases so far have resulted from direct contact between people and infected animals. However, scientists have feared that the existing strains of H5N1 could easily mutate or pick up new genes through genetic reassortment, making the virus easily transmissible between people and potentially catastrophic.

The new lab-created virus is precisely this: a genetically altered version of H5N1 bird flu strain that is easily transmissible between ferrets. Almost all known influenzas that are transmissible between people are also transmissible between ferrets, making them good animal models for studying human influenzas. Thus, the scientists believe their altered strain is also transmissible between people.

If this strain were to escape the lab, accidentally or maliciously, hundreds of millions of people could die. The 1919 flu pandemic killed between 50 and 100 million people at a time when the world population was only a fraction of its current size and when plane travel was relatively uncommon. Exacerbating conditions today are the growth of mega-slums (like in Mumbai, Kinshasa, Cairo and Port-au-Prince), with hundreds of thousands of people living crammed together, and the growth of mega-farms, with tens of thousands of animals living crammed together, often near densely populated cities.

Many scientists are saying that the research never should have been done and the results should certainly not be published because it would provide access to terrorists. In fact, one scientist, Paul Keim, from the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), said he couldn’t think of another pathogen as scary as this one, adding that anthrax isn’t scary at all in comparison. Others believe the research was a necessary breakthrough in understanding how the virus evolves and that it could provide important clues for veterinary and viral monitoring and vaccine development. The risk of a naturally occurring deadly influenza pandemic is real, relatively high and a far bigger threat than a terrorist-created strain, some virologists have argued, thus justifying such research.

The research team, led by virologist Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands, found that just five mutations were sufficient to make the virus spread more easily. Similar data was uncovered by another team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Tokyo. Fouchier’s alterations made the virus easily spread through the air without reducing its lethality, Scientific American reported.

The NSABB is reviewing both papers, but does not have the authority to block publication. It could ask journals not to publish or recommend that key details be left out of any possible publication so as not to give a roadmap to potential terrorists.


Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/12/deadly-new-man-made-flu-could-wipe-out.html
Posted by Modern School | Thu Dec 22, 2011, 07:31 PM (0 replies)

Schools and Communities Lose By Outsourcing Lunch Services

Public schools get about $1 billion worth of free surplus fruits, vegetables, meat and cheese from the USDA each year which, instead of preparing into healthy fresh meals, they outsource to large corporate food processors like Aramark and Sodexo. The “logic” of this system is that it is supposed to save schools money on labor costs and economies of scale. In reality, schools do not save money in this scam, according to Lucy Komisar, when the fees charged by the food processors and supply costs are factored in.

Komisar notes that roughly one-fourth of the school nutrition program has been privatized and outsourced, primarily to just a few food giants, like Sodexo, Aramark, Chartwells, Tyson and Pilgrim’s. Of the $1 billion in free surplus foods given to schools each year, close to half is sent out for processing (a 50% increase since 2006) to make things like chicken nuggets, tater tots and pizza. Yet, instead of saving money, schools are paying kickbacks and other fees to these companies and getting little more than junk food in return.

Komisar points to research by Roland Zulio, from the University of Michigan, who found that the amount of money Michigan schools spent on fees and supplies for this service was roughly equal to the amount they saved on labor and food costs, yielding no net savings for the schools. If one adds in the “external” costs, like the particulate air pollution and extra carbon added to the atmosphere caused by trucking these foods long distances, or the unionized local chef jobs lost to outsourced non-union corporate assembly lines, school lunches are a serious rip-off.

In his research, Zulio specifically noted that Chartwells (though this is likely true for the other processors, as well) was able to cut costs by slashing benefits for workers, but that these savings were not passed on to schools. He also discovered a correlation between low test scores and the degree to which school lunches were privatized, speculating that perhaps the excess fat, salt and sugar were impairing student achievement. However, it is also possible that low income schools are relying more heavily on food outsourcing than affluent schools and that the low test scores are due more to students’ socioeconomic backgrounds than their school lunches.

By outsourcing their food, fresh and wholesome ingredients are transformed into foods with the “same nutritional value as junk foods,” according to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWF). The RWJ report found that over 50% of commodity foods are sent to processors first, where fat, sugar and sodium are added before being sent back to schools. In California, the report notes, over 82% of commodity food funds are spent on meat and cheese whereas only 13% is spent on fruits and vegetables.

While the RWJ report is a little old (2008) and things may have changed slightly in California and the nation as a whole, the fact remains that the bulk of school lunches do get heavily processed and outsourced to food giants like Aramark and Sodexo, making the foods less healthy while providing schools with no economic benefit.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/12/schools-and-communities-lose-by.html
Posted by Modern School | Thu Dec 22, 2011, 07:12 PM (0 replies)

Proms and Frat Parties Seem Like Best Years of Our Lives Due to “Reminiscence Bump”

Life Doesn't Get Any Better? (Image from Flickr, by Speedywithchicken)
Gary Stix published an interesting article on memory on the Scientific American blog on December 16. In his piece, he argues that there are three important truths about autobiographical memories: (1) we can’t remember what happened during the first few years of our lives; (2) we can remember greater details from yesterday than from ten years ago; and (3) the most lucid and lasting memories build up during the reminiscence bump, a period during late adolescence and early adulthood.

Numerous studies have identified this before, including one done by Francis Galton (Darwin’s cousin and an early proponent of eugenics) back in 1879. Stix identifies some recent studies which looked at people’s favorite books and when in their lives they were read. He also pointed to a study of Dutch football fans who, when asked to choose the greatest players of all time, tended to choose players who starred when the test subjects were 17. (The subjects were aged 16-80 and preferred Johan Crujiff, Pele and Diego Maradona).

The reminiscence bump may occur because we are able to form memories more easily during adolescence and because we are starting to develop an adult identity then. This is important for learning and teaching, both for young and for old, and is possibly at the root of the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It may explain why adolescents are so quick to pick up on new technology, while older people often stick with older technologies, even when obsolete. It might also explain why so many people remember their high school and frat party exploits so vividly and adoringly, often calling them the “best years of my life,” trumping marriage, parenthood, homeownership, a successful career or a good night’s sleep.

Then again, what I remember most fondly about my high school and college life (I was proudly never in a frat) was the freedom from serious responsibilities and how carefree I was in those days. I love my wife and my son dearly and they bring me greater daily joy and comfort than I remember experiencing as a youth. I also love teaching. However, I never slept as well as I did in those days, nor have I ever felt so carefree since.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/12/proms-and-frat-parties-seem-like-best.html
Posted by Modern School | Thu Dec 22, 2011, 07:10 PM (4 replies)
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