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Blogging On History, Science, and Education

Good Intentions, Terrible Legacy

August 29, 2014

Tags: Thorndike, Eugenics, 20th C

Edward Thorndike, who died in 1949 after a long career as chief of Teachers College, Columbia, was in his time one of America's most influential educators. He believed that learning ability is determined by "inborn personal factors." Thorndike asked why we should waste time training Jews and Negroes the same way we do others ..."we cannot expect different races to have the same capabilities." Thorndike was a believer in eugenics.

Page turner, The Boys in the Boat

August 23, 2014

Tags: Narrative Nonfiction

If we want reading scores to rise, maybe we should let our children read exciting books, not test-oriented commercial textbooks. Here's a book I recommend for L.A. and history classes: "The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics." It's the inspiring true story of young men who worked hard and achieved , it should send students researching those Olympics, WWII, and more.

ReTeach for America

August 18, 2014

Tags: Teach for America, With Experience

Every year thousands of teachers retire. Among them are some of our most qualified and most successful professionals. Let’s bring them back and use them as swat teams that go into classrooms and share their expertise. I propose a new organization: ReTeach for America.

Reading Scores? It's Time to Ask the Students

August 15, 2014

Tags: Test scores. Reading

A front page article in today’s Denver Post says that “Colorado students in 2014 took slight steps backward on the small academic gains made on standardized tests in recent years, part of a long-term trend of flat scores. . .” Umm, you bet. We’ve been doing the same thing for a long time. Teaching reading with expensive textbooks that no one would choose to read. (more…)

Summer Reading

August 5, 2014

Tags: The Light You Cannot See

Mostly I read nonfiction, for two reasons: it's essential for the work I do. And I like reading about the real world. But once in a while I wander. This summer I've dined on a smorgasbord of books. Most recently a terrific novel by Anthony Doerr, "The Light You Cannot See." It's a World War II tale and, no question, novels at their best heighten and help explain the real world. This does both. For those of you teaching WWII, I especially recommend it.

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