Good lecture

Fellow named Ken Robinson, talking about education on TED.

He’s 100% right about professors and upper-academic residential conference discos, by the way…

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  1. Zathras

     /  April 14, 2008

    Off topic, but trying to pass this around:

    Read the last paragraph of this “article” from UD’s newspaper:

    I didn’t recall UD being a barbarians’ den when we were there, but oh well.

  2. Mike

     /  April 14, 2008

    WOW! That was well worth the time. But I guess I am one of the weird ones, I did grow up to do what I enjoyed and wanted to do.

    Of course, not many people WANT to make big smoking holes in the ground but I am easy that way…

  3. Where do you find this stuff? It’s great.

    This guy is full of great jokes and awesome anecdotal experience. He is speaking on behalf of a, well at least what I think is, quite a well understood concept. The problem is the difficulty of education in the creative fields, and how it contrasts with our current standardized, per say easier, way of educating.

    Public school is like an assembly line that takes all the individual and unique pieces of metal, and processes them all into the same exact screw. Of course, some of the pieces don’t turn into the screw… usually filtered out before shipping, but sometimes they’ll slip up.

  4. I spit that last comment out pretty quickly, pardon the grammatical errors.

  5. Alex

     /  April 15, 2008

    Public school ain’t that bad, and from my own experience with my two children in public school, school has not hurt their creativity one bit, and it didn’t hurt mine either. If parents do nothing to work with their children at home then I would agree that the children will be products of the place where they spend all their time.

    Or I’m marking myself as normal and not very gifted.

    I did enjoy the article and speech though. He is right that sometimes the existing school system isn’t right for everyone…but I think he’s perhaps marking the entire system as bad because it didn’t work for him and a few others he knew.

  6. Happycrow

     /  April 15, 2008

    It is very common for me to find students who really aren’t sure why they’re there, except that they need to be, who do very well if they can be given an assignment with some bearing on their actual interests (and in a survey course, this is not hard to do).

  7. This was a breath of fresh air to me, as a home schooler. The “system” has told me over and over again that my kids are not what they want, and that is probably true.

    They wanted to medicate John right out of the box, and that was all of a 20 minute interview with some psychiatrist. We refused. I am glad that we did.

    Charles is not a “university” type thinker, along the same grounds. He is not made for a traditional classroom, much to our occasional pain as parents. What he is is creative. He has an independent mind. I recently took him on a “science” expedition into the panhandle of Texas….ok, we were taking care of my grandmother….but while we were out there we had the chance to get out into the real wilds of that part of the world.

    While I am out there, HE is the one finding the tracks of the wild animals. HE is the one showing me the different strata of the the canyons there.

    One of the most educated men I ever met was not formally educated beyond the 8th grade. He won awards as a writer, and he loved LEARNING for the simple sake of LEARNING. He was, besides my father, the single greatest influence on my mind and my desire to grow my mind. What he taught me was that the academics think in certain predictable ways, but that our capacity was far greater than that. I am an academic myself, in a lot of ways, and what he taught was not anathema to my own education, but it was a caution. The great thinkers are the ones that can get outside of what we are expected to be.

  8. Mike

     /  April 15, 2008

    True enough on that. Also, I have to agree that SOME public education systems are not bad (I too am a public school grad). But those that are more than make up for that. Of course the really fun double-take on this is that teacher/educators are expected to ensure that each kid makes it to college, but also can’t really control them (i.e. why we have cops being called to the school to put 8 year olds in handcuffs). So that little issue leads to the nice “here, give your kids the nice pills” response to help keep order.

  9. Happycrow

     /  April 15, 2008

    As a guy who’s going to go to one of those upper-academic conferences where people dance like they…. well, let’s just say, not well… the “my body is a locomotion device for my brain” has turned me off for YEARS.

    There are lots of ways to be smart without being cut into a specific shape and baked at 450, then sprinkled with sugar.

  10. Disconnecting yourself from your body as much as your describing is a dumb choice. So they aren’t so smart after all!

  11. celogo

     /  April 15, 2008

    Happycrow, you could not have picked a more inopportune time to post THIS!!! Arghhhhh. Now I have to rethunk my thinks AGAIN! In other words, the video completely vindicated my motivations for homeschooling. I was *so* ready to hand the edjumacatin’ over to the school district. ARGHHHHH!

  12. celogo

     /  April 15, 2008


  13. Mike

     /  April 16, 2008

    Maybe we are approaching this dancing thing from the wrong direction. Upper-level academic types shouldn’t be dancing disco. Okay, NO ONE should be dancing disco, but maybe they are just picking the wrong music. As I am going to be attending one of these things this June (for my Master’s Presentation), I think this subject is of particular importance.

    Perhaps Jazz? Or maybe some swing? Er, wait a minute, physical shape not a strong point here so those might be out.

    How about Polkas?

    Speed Metal and Punk Rock are right out (too bad in my case).

  14. Aphex Twin – 54 Cymru Beats

    Unless all of your fellow party goers are doing like 25mg/kg of phenethylamines they won’t be able to dance to it… but if it’s that kind of party… who knows?

    On a more serious note, light house tracks tend to loosen people up and give a very chic and modern feel to things.

  15. Alex

     /  April 17, 2008

    Okay….how the heck did this thread move from education to bad dancing of academics?!?
    Did I miss something in the article?

    Since it seems this thread has diverted to dancing of academics, I can say, with a great deal of pride, that we chemists at conferences NEVER get down and “boogie”. Instead we sit around with Beer, Bourbon, and other distilled organics and talk shop, philosophy, life, and how good/bad the meals are in the local town.

  16. Happycrow

     /  April 17, 2008

    btw, James, we are VASTLY overdue…

  17. Mike

     /  April 17, 2008

    I think bad dancing and education go hand in hand. We had dance classes (manditory) in my high school. This is why I can dance polkas (and actually did 2 weekends ago, much to my fiancee’s surprise), among others. I am willing to bet that public schools that DON’T teach dancing (or other types of arts-related crap) are among the poorer public schools in terms of quality education.

    See, they are both entwined.

  18. blackpine

     /  April 17, 2008

    The model of public education is normative, and to the end of creating the person he wants, it won’t work. Not even the buildings would help as far as I’m concerned.

  19. Mike,I’ve bitched for years about medievalists.

    I am in *awesome* shape compared to most of my fellow medievalists.

    Scary, innit?

  20. Mike

     /  April 19, 2008

    Not really. It does hurt the cred a bit though, especially in the “this is how it was really like” mentality crosses with the re-enacting gene. Most historians I know (not you though) could never CARRY a rifle much less fight a battle with it. OR wear how much Plate and Chain Armor? Or swing a sword all day? Or live without a bath (although it can be argued that there are some who unfortunately DO re-enact that part)? Or live on gruel?

    Of course then there are guys like you who actually can do a lot of this stuff. Or the guys who publish at Aberjona Press (Military history, every one of them is retired combat vet, their list of authors reads like a “Who’s Who’s” of retired badasses). The best professor I ever had was Doc James at VMI who never served a day in (his knees were shot early in his life), but his knowledge of Modern US War (I am talking WWII up) was unmatched.

    Of course the counter was that he never tried to “tell it like it was” with bad knees. He said once that he was full of enough shit without having to do that.

  21. I did okay when we shot. Nowhere near what I wanted to, but I avoided disgrace…. but these folks are either twigs or pears. Nearly nothing in between except for younger professors clearly en route to one or the other…

  22. blackpine

     /  April 20, 2008

    You know, in the argument for the diversity of genius, you should do an experiment in terms of analysis and reenacting. Take a football team and their sports doctors analyze the military life of a Roman cohort based on physical and forensic evidence, and compare their analysis against a group of strict but junior academics. I bet money that you linemen will look at bone injuries and say, “I know how that happened.” or “That makes sense because…”

  23. Actually, that’s not far from what I do, myself. It doesn’t have to be an either/or phenomenon. Particularly because the so-called pure academics have a huge linguistic advantage.

    My latin SUCKS, dude.

  24. Mike

     /  April 21, 2008

    I can feel that pain. A little known fact, but pretty much the entire beginning of modern artillery doctrine and equipment was French. The US Army adopted a huge amount wholesale when we entered WWI.

    I am willing to bet my French blows more chunks than your latin does.

  25. Alex

     /  April 22, 2008

    I think Mike that enough advances have been made that you don’t ever need to know French to practice your trade. Unless you’re planning on reintroducing the Bombard mounted on a M109 chassy. Or if you wish to be like a certain French Taunter – a trebuchet that launches cows and livestock on a M109 chassy in which case you just need to have a bad French accent, which I am sure you can achieve.
    Russ on the other hand though seems like he must learn Latin to practice part of his trade (Medieval research).
    At one time it was expected that I had to learn German to practice organic chemistry, but then all those old works were translated and now English the language of science. That being said I’m still trying to learn Mandarin.

  26. Mike

     /  April 22, 2008

    Good luck on that one. But you are wrong, if you are trying to get the first generation “modern” artillery theory in its raw form, you need to know French AND German. The French for the mobility theory and the Germans for the Mass. No one in their right mind pays any attention to the British in this case.

    Fortunately, my gen one focus was on US artillery doctrine, which has pretty much most of that translated. But if I dared to delve deeper I would need to parly some vou.

  27. Alex

     /  April 23, 2008

    I guess Mike, my question for you is: Do you really need to know the 1st generation of “modern” artillery theory from the French or from the Germans? Since so many advances have been made, other than historical interest, what can you really learn from the 1st generation artillery theory that isn’t already in use/improved upon today?

  28. Mike

     /  April 23, 2008

    Heh, for my Master’s Thesis.

    Actually the basic idea is based around the issue of transformation (yes, that FAB-ulous pentagon byword). You have a new weapon system, it is really something that has never existed before and gives you capabilities you have never had. So, how to you use this thing? The same way as you used the weapon most similar to it (in this case the black powder breechloaders or old bronze Napoleons)? Or modify that concept? Or maybe try something entirely new? Hell, do you even know what the questions are that you need to ask?

    Welcome to the world of field artillery circa 1897-8 when the French invented the Mle 75mm gun aka “the French 75”. No one had really any idea how to use this thing properly, no one really knew what its true capabilities were, or how it should tie into the fight. Everyone, including the US, fumbled around for about 15 years prior to WWI trying to figure out how this new type of artillery should or could or would be used in a war. Two ideas finally surfaced, mass (German) and mobility (French, but also sort of independently developed by the Japanese, British and Americans, but the French were the real workers on this). So if you want the horse’s mouth on this, brush up on the old duetch or froggy.

    Or you can find a bunch of translated French articles in old FA Journals like I did. But the original source material is not in English for this stuff.

  29. Mike

     /  April 23, 2008

    End result is that this is a great case study for how to develop doctrine for new ideas or weapons. Or more correctly a case on how NOT to do it and then how to catch the clue and fix it.

    Totally off the topic, I found this brillant line on a post today and just have to share:

    “You haven’t got a clue. You couldn’t get a clue if you covered youself in clue musk and stood in a field full of horny, lusty clues, during clue mating season.”

    It is paraphrased from Black Adder (I don’t recall ever hearing it), but it was so good I had to pass it on. It is not aimed at anyone.


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