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Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains Why The Cosmos Shouldn't Make You Feel Small : NPR
"DAVIES: This is FRESH AIR. And if you're just joining us, our guest is Neil Degrasse Tyson. He is the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York. He's an astrophysicists who is also hosting the 13-part series "Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey," coming soon on Fox TV.

You grew up in New York City. Were you a science nerd as a kid?

TYSON: Yeah. I would say so. It depends on how early you start the clock is being a kid, but from age nine, that probably counts.


TYSON: A first visit to my local planetarium, which was the Hayden Planetarium. And it took me a couple of years to realize that it was something you could make as a career. But - so, by age 11 onward, that's when I had the answer to that annoying question that adults ask you, like, what do you want to be when you grow up? And I'd say astrophysicist, and that really just shut them up, because they had - there's no comeback on that one.


TYSON: It's not like, oh, I know an astrophysicist. No, they don't know any astrophysicists. So, it's a funny kind of little exchange there. But no, I've known since - for that early. So I was a card-carrying nerd child.

DAVIES: You were just captivated by that planetarium show?

TYSON: Oh, yeah. So I don't think I was more captivated than anybody else's first experience in a planetarium. I think every human with a beating heart remembers their first encounter with a nice guy in a planetarium. The difference for me is I think the universe called me. I don't - I feel like I had no say in the matter, because by the end of that experience, when the lights come out - the lights turn out and it gets dark and the stars reveal themselves, I was hooked ever since. I don't remember consciously saying: This is for me. I think it was just - became part of my bloodstream, if you will. And to a New Yorker, we have no relationship with the night sky.

DAVIES: Right.

TYSON: If you look up, there's a building there. And you look higher up, there's still a building there. Our buildings are very tall. And back then, there was not only light pollution, as there still is today. Back then, there was also air pollution. Air is much cleaner in New York than ever, since the 19 - early 1900s. So I was struck that such a sky even existed. In fact, I didn't even believe it. I thought it was a little bit of a hoax. I know how many stars there are in the night sky. I've seen them from the Bronx.

DAVIES: Right.

TYSON: You can't lie to me, but I'll enjoy it anyway, you know.

DAVIES: So I know you excelled at this and got involved in some special programs. And I read that you were recently asked to give, I think, a commencement address at, was it your elementary school, and declined. Did you feel let down by the public school system when you were a kid a kid?

TYSON: Oh, no, no. So everyone has all different experiences in school. I just know that throughout my life, at no time did any teacher ever point to me and say, hey. He'll go far. Oh, he's someone you should watch. You know, I had some OK grades. They ran the gamut. I had some high grades in math and science, and medium grades in other subjects, and slightly lower grades in other subjects. You've got to remember, the school system is constructed to praise you if you get high grades. And if you get straight A's, you're the one that everyone puts forward, and they prognosticate that the straight-A person is the one most likely to succeed, because that's the way the school system is constructed and conceived.

DAVIES: Simple. Yeah.

TYSON: And there I am, getting grades all over the place, but I know my interest in the universe and I owned a telescope that I bought with money I earned by walking dogs, because I live in a huge apartment complex. And 50 cents per walk, per dog, and that accumulated quickly. I bought a camera, a telescope. I taught myself astrophotography. I did all this.

I took classes at the American Museum of Natural History at Hayden Planetarium, advanced classes for adults in modern astrophysics. I did all this, but none of that showed up as a high grade on an exam in school. So, there I am, and teachers complaining about my social energy, as though that was something bad, and, oh, he's disruptive. Not purposely, I just had energy, right.

So my elementary school wanted me to come back - because I was already well-known by then - to talk and say what a great education I had. I said no. That's not the talk I would give. I would say I am where I am today not because of what the teachers said about me or did for me, but in spite of it. And I don't think that's what you want, so I will decline. Invite me back one day, and I'll talk just to the teachers, all right, and then I'm happy to tell - give - you know, tell them what they should be looking for, perhaps, in their students.

Also consider - now, see you've got me started here. Also consider that if you a straight-A student in your class, that student has straight A's not because of teachers, but in spite of teachers. That's what having straight-A means. It means you do well, no matter the teaching talent of the teacher. That's what straight A's mean. So if you're a teacher and you put forth your straight-A student as though you had something to do with it, you are deluding yourself.

DAVIES: Right.

TYSON: The greatest teachers are the ones that turn a B student into an A student, or a failing student into a B student. Then let's talk about your teaching talents."
neildegrassetyson  education  science  schools  schooling  thegameofschool  2014  teaching  learning  howwelearn  via:lizettegreco 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Education Week: When Test Scores Become a Commodity
"…when we speak about value-added evaluations, let’s be clear…It is a system that turns student scores into a market &, as such, creates cheating, disreputable practices, & dislocations…let’s also talk straight about the cheaters. Like dishonest or corrupt traders, the educators are not the victims, but rather sophisticated, savvy players. Many will get away with it & be honored for their work, as some cheating administrators & teachers were before they were caught. & many teachers & administrators who don’t technically cheat, but find ways to game the market “legally” will also be duly honored. Where could this lead? Schools could become little more than test-preparation institutes, ignoring subjects & skills that are not assessed, with faculty members who resent & distrust one another. Meanwhile, many honest & dutiful teachers will go down in flames.

If this is the kind of public school system the American people want, then fine. Let’s just be honest about it."

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jonathankeiler  testing  education  educationindustrialcomplex  gamingthesystem  thegameofschool  teaching  learning  economics  behavior  valueadded  systemsgaming  testprep  standardizedtesting  dishonesty  cheating  2011  evaluation  corruption  misguidedenergy  policy  schools  schooling  schooliness  us 
december 2011 by robertogreco
The high school transcript is the most nefarious force in education that no one is talking about « Re-educate Seattle
"High school is a game that’s played by a certain set of rules. Those who are good at understanding and following the rules are rewarded with A’s. The problem is that, often, these rules have nothing to do with a student’s command of academic content.

So all the complexity of Jane, Andrew, and Zelia are reduced to this:

Jane – A
Andrew – B
Zelia – F

As their classroom teacher, I can tell you with certainty: these letters, they do not mean what you think they mean."
stevemiranda  collegeadmissions  highschool  grades  grading  assessment  learning  education  pscs  pugetsoundcommunityschool  2011  transcripts  schooliness  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  lcproject  standardization  thegameofschool  theprincessbride 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Dangerously Irrelevant: Are we willing to roll up our sleeves? [book here:]
"[I]f what we seek is a learning partnership with students, we cannot remain aloof from them or be seen as demanding their respect as a matter of right. Nor can we be viewed as seeking to “buy them off” by offering them a light workload in exchange for minimal compliance and decent behavior on their part. . . . We have to earn their respect . . . by being willing to roll up our sleeves as learners ourselves and to engage them in the pursuit of knowledge worth knowing, of skills worth gaining." [The Game of School by Robert Fried, p. 117]
robertfried  thegameofschool  learning  teaching  tcsnmy  lcproject  deschooling  schools  education  schooling  incentives  homeschool  academics 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Dangerously Irrelevant: Complicit in the atrophy of our children's learning spirit
"We [parents] become so confused, so conflicted, so fearful that unless we keep our children’s minds “on task,” aiming for the honor roll, the advanced placement courses, the grade-point average of life, we will damage their chances to access the next set of elite learning venues, be they the elementary school’s gifted-and-talented program, the high school’s honors classes, an Ivy League college, or a top-ranked graduate program. Such pressures can easily thwart our desire to see the children in our lives as happy, curious, confident, and enthusiastic learners. We see the contrast between how our children respond to the things they love to learn and how they resist or rebel against the boredom and inanity of much of their schoolwork. But we bite our tongues and (still confused) become complicit in the atrophy of our children’s learning spirit in furtherance of their academic careers. [The Game of School by Robert Fried, pp. 80–81]"

[book here: ]
parenting  thegameofschool  learning  schools  education  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  homeschool  fear  curiosity  confidence  imagination  creativity  cv  tcsnmy  academics  academictreadmill  incentives  lcproject  robertfried 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Dangerously Irrelevant: Test score burrito
"Like Jacob, the biblical youth who sold his patrimony to his brother Esau for the equivalent of a Big Mac, our youth are cajoled into giving up their independent spirit of learning, their spiritual heritage as self-motivated seekers, to get a test score burrito or a report card wrap. The ultimate irony of this transference is that those few students who manage to retain their independent learning spirit . . . are likely to be better positioned to blossom academically and vocationally than those who pursue academic achievement through the Game. It is from that minority unencumbered by pseudo-goals that we get most of our inventors, entrepeneurs, artists, and scientists. What leads to success at higher levels of abstraction and study is precisely this ability to turn from the expected to pursue the intriguing . . . to awaken to the new theory or pattern amid the cacophony of conventional thinking. [The Game of School by Robert Fried, p. 80]"

[book here: ]
thegameofschool  schools  education  learning  authenticity  curiosity  incentives  creativity  tcsnmy  robertfried  abstraction  success  pseudo-goals  academics  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  cv  testing  academictreadmill 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Dangerously Irrelevant: When it's time to worry
"There is a simple test we can perform to find out whether or not our children are truly learning. We can ask them, not the usual question, “How was school today, Honey?” or “What did she teach you in your math class?” but rather, “Did you learn anything in school today that you really want to know more about?” If the answer is … usually no, you have cause for worry - even if your child brings home a good report card. [The Game of School by Robert Fried, p. 7]"

[book here: ]
schools  schooling  learning  education  children  parenting  deschooling  unschooling  homeschool  tcsnmy  lcproject  thegameofschool  cv  robertfried  books 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Dangerously Irrelevant: Wasting our children's time
"[F]ar too much of the time our children spend in school is wasted. ... [M]ost of what they experience during school hours passes over them like the shadow of a cloud, or through them like an undigested seed. They may be present in the classroom, but they are not really there. Their pencils may be chugging away on the worksheets or the writing prompts or math problems laid out for them, but their intelligence is running on two cylinders at best. They pay some attention to what their teacher happens to be telling them, but their imagination has moved elsewhere. ... And, worst of all, by the time our kids have reached fourth or fifth grade, they think what they are experiencing in school is normal. [The Game of School by Robert Fried, p. 1]"

[book here: ]
education  schools  schooling  time  children  learning  engagement  unschooling  homeschool  imagination  parenting  deschooling  thegameofschool  cv  tcsnmy  lcproject  robertfried  books 
february 2009 by robertogreco

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