Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Creating dialogue. Stimulating Students

 The best teachers know how to solicit engagement from students.  It's not the dumb obvious way. Here's a few tricks which I lifted from an article by Mineralla on Medium.  Thanks!:

https://msminarella.medium.com/


When I showed a quiet kid a picture of an elephant and asked “what is this?” they got bored, moved on, cried, anything but answer my question. But if I said, “this is a giraffe” they would all stand up and scream “no, that’s an elephant!” — and suddenly they’re all engaged.

By being ignorant about a topic they are knowledgeable in, it gives them some authority in the conversation and that builds up their confidence.

It works surprisingly well on adults too.

If I ask a stubborn adult, “tell me about your Engineering job” they will typically respond with, “I design systems”. And then I have to ask an endless stream of follow-up questions with one-sentence answers — which no one likes doing.

Now, if I say something inaccurately along the lines of, “so, you’re an engineer. That means you build engines, right?” They can’t wait to correct my ignorance fast enough. They’ll go into detail explaining what an engineer is, what it isn’t, and what kind they are. All I have to do is chime in with “are you sure?” every few minutes and they’re talking up a storm for the rest of the conversation.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

January 6th, 2021: A Day That Will Live in Infamy

January 6th, 2021 is a day that will live in infamy.  The lying, reprehensible, and dangerous behaviors of the last years were laid bare before America and the rest of the world.  Americans should and do feel ashamed.  And scared.

Before I review some of the others, I'd like to also point out that in some ways,  January 6th, 2021 was a great day for the American democracy. Again, we completed fiercely contested high stakes elections. The results of the two Senate races in Georgia were announced and one of the losers followed the  proud American tradition of conceding his race and congratulating the victor.  A newly elected Senate and House of Representatives took their seats of responsibility and started working.  The national election results were, despite astonishing drama and obstacles, ratified.  The Congress overall rose to the challenges and occasion and acted promptly, with determination, and with their eye on the big picture All of this, like every time the awesome American democracy works, brought tears of pride and awe to my eyes.

The stains and horrors of the day were very real and open up many many questions.

  1. Donald Trump, the current president, continued to lie about the results of the November 2020 election. It's unclear to me if he is delusional,  unanchored from reality. Or, is he cynical and amoral and calculating? Is this just a plot to continue to gather hundreds of millions of dollars from the gullible, to build and flaunt a fearsome mob (like the Brown Shirts), and to try to use his mob and position to overthrow the American democratic process and stay in office? Did he start cynical and become unhinged? Whatever understanding Trump may or may not have, on the 6th, he openly tried to use mob violence to overthrow or intimidate Congress. He sent the mob to attack the Congress. This seems like a sedition to me which is a criminal felony.
  2. Trump Political Supporters. Through-out the day, some US Senators and Congressmen continued to support Trump's tactics of spreading lies and attacking the American institutions that protect us.  Senator Ted Cruz showed formidable oratory skills and a total commitment to amoral cynicism. He argued that the success of  his and Trump's lying to Americans about the election is so great that they have now created so much confusion that maybe the will of the electorate does not have to be followed because they have made it so confusing by lying to them so Cruz proposed that we not certify the election. There were many others, particularly in the House of Representatives, who pursued this line of pandering and perpetuating  lies. To be clear, the confused Americans are confused because people who they should be able to trust are lying to them day after day after day.  If these politicians wanted to help the public understand the reality, they could speak the truth and stop lying. Is there a legal or other recourse to muzzle this lying?
  3. Also during the day, around eight Senators decided that they had played with poison and fire long enough. Most prominently, Linsey Graham found he has a conscience or a backbone and renounced (after many years) his self proclaimed position of being the biggest supporter of the liar-in-chief. Better late than never but it's unclear to me whether there is any forgiveness for him from colleagues, the public, or any deity who may judge.
  4. A mob in the hundreds of thousands, summoned by Donald Trump to Washington, to have a wild day, to be strong, and to stop the steal, acted at the bequest of Donald Trump. How this culpability of Donald Trump is going to be dealt with by the government is an open and widely discussed question. I want to move onto another one, what about all those people in the mob?
  5.  The Mob Goes Unpunished? If I tried to rush into a restricted secure area anywhere, including and especially the Congress, I would expect to be clubbed, tased, taken roughly to the ground, and have my hands cuffed behind me. I would expect to be incarcerated and to spend the rest of my life carrying the burden of being a felon. If I broke windows and defaced a Federal building (never mind desecrating and defiling sacred spaces), I would expect time behind bars and vast fines.  I'm dumfounded that this not underway. I get that there were some problems on January 6th, but when will the law enforcement agencies announce that they are starting to arrest and process the perpetrators? Where are the videos of the perp walks where these individuals are taken into custody? Where are there mug shots?  The photographic and other evidence of crimes is so clear, I do not understand the delay in starting this process. I think these are Federal crimes so wouldn't the FBI and the other federal agencies have jurisdiction and be able to start these processes?  
  6. What happened to security on the 6th? There are videos of Congressional cops opening barriers to let people in.  Were they sympathizers? Were they trying to limit violence by conceding ground? Who was making decisions?  Who decided to have small scale security with a large scale mob  marching their way? As a Federal City, did Trump have some say in this? Were the security decision-makers controlled directly by him? Were they sympathizers?  Incompetent?  The investigation into this is a huge priority especially with the inauguration so close.
  7. Communications. Apparently, the mob and those types have migrated from Twitter to some extremely private and secure community communications packages. I assume that these are scanned and infiltrated by the FBI and other antiterrorist organizations.  If these communities are planning treason and crimes, like they did yesterday, they should be dealt with. These packages are ultimately just software and their access to networks and resources can be shut down, they can be blocked on cell phones, and they can be disabled. We are way past the point where there is any question of whether they represent a viable threat to safety. There are many limits on free speech including when it slanders, threatens the US and its government representatives, and endangers lives.