Freakanomics

In reading Freakanomics yesterday, I learned not only about economics, but also tips on how to write to engage an audience.

Freakanomics has a somewhat colloquial writing style, it’s not fancy but still fun to read, *gasp!* an economics book, fun??, yes that’s right. The authors hint at things to come in order to keep interest. Additionally, information we read about previously, is tied to current info to make it easier to stick.

This book is written in a story-like fashion, making the information less boring. I’ve learned that the obvious cause for something isn’t always accurate. Fringe outside influences play a bigger role than we realize. For example, the book cites the sharp decline in crime rates after the Great Depression. All the experts came up with reasons to explain this unexpected decrease like economic recovery, the gun law etc. But it turns out that one woman’s fight for an abortion might have started the dominoes. The legalized abortion prevented under privileged children, those most likely to grow up criminals, from being born. By time the crime rate was calculated these children were at the right age to be criminals, but they weren’t. Who would have thought such an unrelated thing would make a big difference?

Bisous 🙂
Live, Laugh, Love

Education vs. Culture

This week in English, we’ve pursued the idea of a conflict between education and culture, stemming from our discussion of the short story “Dead Men’s Path.” These ideas interested me and provided me with another perspective on the mini conflict.

In the story, Michael Obi, the zealous new headmaster of a small, village school, intent on pleasing his superiors and eradicating the so called backward beliefs presiding in the village, will stop at nothing to do so. When Obi finds a small ancestral path that happens to go through the school, he immediately erects a fence to discourage the villagers. The voice of compromise, the town priest, visits Obi and tries bargaining, but to no avail. Obi is set on his ideas of education and will not waver in favor of some cultural issue. And as always, pride comes before fall when the fence and adjacent building are attacked on the day of the school inspection by the angered villagers.

In our modern day world this debate is ongoing and prevalent when education is mentioned, especially in some of the more underdeveloped areas. The conflict between culture and progress in general, stains the pages of history. My favorite example is the Native Americans and their journey to the reserves. For the sake of expansion and “improvement”, the US imposed their modernization upon the “lesser” native culture. This example makes it seems like the focus should be on education and change. But our discussion begged the question, can the two coexist peacefully? Some said yes because education means learning and culture is learning about your identity and heritage. However others brought up the controversy of teaching evolution as opposed to creation as a counter example, clearly indicating that the balance could tilt any way.

Education and tradition have been butting noses for a while and the pendulum is still swinging. What do you think? I’d love to hear which side you’re leaning towards and why.

Peer leadership

Alrighty, I meant to send this yesterday but in the hustle and bustle that is life, I didn’t. But now, ta-da!

Yesterday was our first day of peer leadership, a program where seniors team up with freshman to help them with their first year of high school…and I had mixed expectations. Some people had told me it was going to be boring, an extension of some of the bonding activities we’d endured in the past. Others said it had been the highlight of their school year. Personally, I was anticipating the day eagerly.

My hopes fell a bit when the fun day of games was pushed back due to inclement weather. But I shouldn’t have doubted because, after 3 classes, we were back on track, gathered in the MPR with our awesomely costumed leaders for a legit game of two truths and a lie. We continued the fun outside with ninja, Twister, an ice breaker game involving starbursts, and CatchPhrase!

I really enjoyed my first taste of peer leadership and can’t wait to see everyone again next Tuesday. Go America! (that was our theme :D)

A different point of view

I blogged recently about the research I’m doing in french on American and French secularism. This project has really helped me appreciate stepping into another person’s shoes and embracing their perspective.

We’ve been looking at the French laws against burkhas and labeling them as wrong, and an infraction of secularism. But the French also feel that some things we do are weird and breaking the barrier between church and state. For instance, the fact that God is mentioned in the pledge and that the Presidents are sworn in upon the Bible strikes the french as odd. For them, secularism means total separation within church and state, and they feel like religion is way too imminent in the US government.

Looking at things in a different perspective was also the topic of the edu180atl post yesterday. It’s good to get a fresh perspective because that way you can understand the whole story.

Autotuning and the future

Listening to the radio today, I was struck by the fake quality of some songs, then I began to think about auto-tuning. I remember when I first heard an auto tuned song. It was two summers ago with Katy Perry’s California Gurls. The song was so unnaturally pitched that I was perplexed. Now however, it’s the norm. Almost all songs have been altered to sound better (though this slightly alters the concert experience, auto-tuning does produce “interesting” sound/music).

But I’m curious and a little scared to imagine where this is going to end up. Just recently, Walmart introduced a mic that claims to “help you sing”, when in reality, all it does is autotune your voice. I wonder what this does to poor little girls and boys who are faced with a world in which their natural voice a- isn’t good enough, or b- doesn’t necessarily have to BE good, because it’ll all be altered anyways. Or maybe a world of robot sounding humans who all carry around little microphones to make their voice “sound better”? Is that what we want? I realize this is a bit out there, but just think about what this focus on autotuning might ultimately lead to….

Culture Hacking Re-Visited

The topic of culture hacking has floated around in my thoughts and the blogosphere lately: I blogged previously about the E-Kudos Project Mr. B and I were interested in. Unfortunately, the screens are not up and running yet, so that must be jumpstarted first. Also, Ms. D has begun a culture hack on smiling to everyone. Now, I have another idea generated from something Mr. B was talking to me about.

What if an announcement was made that the lunchroom was going to be positively segregated? Before you freak out, let me explain. Students and teachers would be asked to sit at certain tables according to their shirt color, for example. This would force (for want of a better word) people who wouldn’t normally see each other, to talk together. It would provide an opportunity for teachers and students to get to know each other better, as well as foster convo between students from different grades. But, the randomization and inclusion of teachers will prevent it from becoming too much like a dating service! Who knows, you might just find that you and senior have a lot of similar interests, or that, contrary to some negative perceptions, a teacher you never knew is more than willing to lend you a helping hand.

Grades and Mindsets

Yesterday I received a grade that I felt was bad and as a result I was quite upset. I felt like I was no longer good at this subject that I’d made high A’s in for so long.

But my parents helped me remember that the grade wasn’t necessarily a reflection of my aptitude in the subject. It served as a benchmark for improvement and allowed me to see what I need to work on.

This ties in well with Carol Dweck’s Mindset. I’ve striven to be a more growth mindset person yet my reaction yesterday was rather fixed mindset-y. I must remember that grades aren’t the most important. The focus should be instead upon the learning and the process, not the end result.