Saturday, March 24, 2012

Constructivist Concepts in Classes

Constructivist Concepts in the foreign language classes...

Tuncer Can

Friday, March 23, 2012

Constructivist Foreign Language Learning Classes

Constructivist Foreign Language Learning Classes according to Reinfried, M. 2000.
Tuncer Can

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How not to choose a college: don't ask Aunt Rose

WhenI was 16 my Aunt Rose helped me decide on what college to attend. This was abit odd since I had no reason to believe that Aunt Rose (who was a substituteteacher in an elementary school) knew anything about colleges. But when shetold me that Carnegie Tech was a very good school, I took it seriously.
Ichose which schools to apply to by deciding that since I was good at math, Ishould be a math major and that since I liked real things, I should study mathin an engineering school. I got a list of engineering schools and picked a fewand applied. I got into them all so I needed to choose one. Aunt Rose cast thedeciding vote.
Ihad visited most of them with my parents the previous summer and was impressedthat the computer at Carnegie Tech was very big.
Whatset me off thinking about this was a sign I passed while in a taxi yesterday inNew York. It was billboard for St Joseph’s College, a school I have certainlynever heard of, and it advertised that it was the “most affordable top-tiercollege in Brooklyn and Long Island.”
Ididn’t know there were any top tier colleges in Brooklyn or Long Island andhave no idea which is the most affordable. But I couldn’t help but think aboutthe unfortunate students who might take this billboard seriously. They wouldhave been better off with Aunt Rose.

What does it mean to be a top tier college I (or a very good school)? What isSt Joseph’s in the top tier of? Unfortunately for American students, mostpeople’s answer to that relies on US News and World Report, a magazine thatranks hundreds of colleges on the basis of average SAT scores and average classsize and a range of other variables that tell one very little about the qualityof the school.
Insome sense these rankings do a terrible disservice to the colleges they rankbecause they make them obsess about the variables tracked by the US News ratherthan obsessing about real quality. Still they manage to get Harvard and Yaleand MIT at the top of the rankings and that probably isn’t all that wrong.
Professorsrank schools (not explicitly) by asking if they or their colleagues wouldrather be there than where they are. There is much agreement amongst them. Itis analogous to asking if a minor league baseball player would like to join theYankees. He would. And similarly, a professor at the University of Illinoiswould prefer to be at Harvard. Butactually, that might not be true. There are departments at Illinois that arebetter than their counterparts at Harvard and there are probably plenty ofprofessors there who would not accept an offer at Harvard.
Butwhen it comes to that top tier college called St Joseph’s, not so much.Although I know nothing about this school, it is safe to assume that the entirefaculty would leave for Harvard in a New York minute.
Whyam I writing all this?
Becausewhen I was 16 I made a major decision in my life with no knowledge, no reallyuseful advice, and I suffered for it. I had no business being a math major. Itwas not important that I attend an engineering school, and Carnegie Tech wasnot that great an experience for me. What was good about my decision was thatCarnegie Tech had a large and first rate Artificial Intelligence faculty andthat that attracted my attention and altered my career choices in a verypositive way.
Thiswas all random of course. Apart from having seen a big computer there, I had noidea that this piece of serendipity would matter to me. In other words, I waslucky. Aunt Rose happened to be right, although she didn’t know why, becauseCarnegie Tech wasn’t a great place to study anthropology or linguistics forexample, which became two of my interests.
Advisingstudents that they must go to college, as is the rule these days, and advisingthem where to go via billboards or their Aunt Rose is simply absurd.
Theseare important life choices and ranking in a magazine or nonsense about beingtop-tier should not be deciding factors.
Weneed to start helping students make sensible choices about whether they shouldgo college at all (my advice, take a few years off after high school, olderstudents do better in college because they know what they want.) And, we needto help them find out who they are, whether college is for them, and what theywould do when they get there. Colleges are very bad at helping with this. Changingthe high school curriculum to something more diverse that is less about testscores and grades would help a lot in this regard.

Markets in Everything: Trade Your Car for a Bike

"With gas prices soaring again, car buyers are looking for more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Santa Monica Mountains Cyclery (SMMC), a bike shop in Woodland Hills near Los Angeles, has a different idea – drivers should opt for bicycles instead. And, to facilitate the transition, for a limited time they will accept cars as trade-ins toward new bicycle purchases.

For a limited time from March 19-25, SMMC will work with a local auto dealer, Vista Ford, and accept cars and SUVs in trade toward the purchase of a new bicycle. Consumers will head to SMMC and pick out their new, fuel-efficient bicycle. Then, they’ll go across the street to Vista Ford to have their vehicle evaluated and appraised. They trade the car to Vista Ford and return to SMMC to ride home on their new, truly carbon-friendly ride."

HT: Mike Henne

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Today's Reports on Inflation, Inflation Expectations

Highlights from today's reports on inflation:

1. The BLS reported an annual inflation rate of 2.9% through February, matching the rate from January. The annual core inflation rate was 2.2%, slightly lower than the 2.3% rate in January.

2. Gasoline prices rose by 6% for the month of February and by 12.6% over the last year. Partly offsetting those increases were decreases in natural gas prices: -3.4% for the month, and -9.8% for the last year.

3. The Cleveland Fed's median CPI inflation increased by 2.3% over the year, down slightly from 2.4% in January.

4. The Cleveland Fed also reported that its latest estimate of 10-year expected inflation is 1.38%, up just slightly from 1.34% last month (see chart above). The Cleveland Fed provides monthly estimates of expected inflation over time horizons from 1 to 30 years, see its methodology here. Over the next year, inflation expectations are 1.2% and over the next 30 years only 1.95%.

Bottom Line: Except for gasoline prices, there don't appear to be any widespread inflationary pressures building in the economy, and expectations of future inflation according to the Cleveland Fed's model are falling.

Markets in Everything: Cave Homes in China

LA Times -- "More than 30 million Chinese people live in caves, many of them in Shaanxi province where the Loess plateau, with its distinctive cliffs of yellow, porous soil, makes digging easy and cave dwelling a reasonable option (see photo above).

"It's like living in a villa. Caves in our villages are as comfortable as posh apartments in the city," said Cheng Wei, 43, a Communist Party official who lives in one of the cave houses in Zaoyuan village on the outskirts of Yanan. "A lot of people come here looking to rent our caves, but nobody wants to move out."

The thriving market around Yanan means a cave with three rooms and a bathroom (a total of 750 square feet) can be advertised for sale at $46,000. A simple one-room cave without plumbing rents for $30 a month, with some people relying on outhouses or potties that they empty outside."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Teen Lesson for Christmas - Scavenger Hunt

In response to those of you who asked for more teen resources, here is a lesson that I believe our teens are capable of grasping. Often, we don't give them enough substance - so get ready to challenge them!

Using the text "On the Incarnation" by Saint Athansius, you can lead your group to a deeper understanding of why God needed to come in what we celebrate as the feast of the Nativity. By drawing out important quotes and asking the right questions, we can essentially tackle the messages of creation, salvation, and theosis with them.

If you so choose, make a scavenger hunt of these hidden quotes from the lesson plan alone to lead them through the lesson! Cut in strips, and hide them around your Church - taking them from places like where we enter our spiritual journey (the door) to where we find refreshing drink (the water fountain) to a reflection in the mirror to better see mankind's position to God. Regroup at the end to compile and discuss the quotes by gluing them in order to a larger poster.

I've broken this down into three possible sections for the month of December.
This can be used at a retreat or over three consecutive Sundays.

  • Did God need to become man? (CREATION)
  • How could God act to save us? (SALVATION)
  • Why can man now become god or god-like? (THEOSIS)
To read and print this Lesson Plan "On the Incarnation" in a PDF format click here: or visit

If you have feedback, additions, corrections or comments, feel free to send them. As always, my work is in progress with room for improvement. As you teach this lesson, you may find other topics arise which will be helpful to share.

Also, don't forget about the previously posted "WHY CHRISTMAS" worksheet located at this link.

"May it be blessed"

Lent Crafts: Pascha Candles

In our parish, we try to offer a small craft related to Great Lent and Pascha each year. This year we have chosen to invite parents to decorate a "Lambatha, or Pascha Candle" with their children after the celebration of a Divine Liturgy on Sunday. Often these can be purchased with stuffed animals and ribbons, but we aim to use small icon stickers, wax decals, and symbols from our faith instead. Beeswax is an ideal offering, however white is also fitting for the Resurrection if this is what your parish offers.

Here are a few symbols to incorporate:
A small icon of the Resurrection
A Cross
Three Crosses
Alpha and Omega
IC XC NIKA (Jesus Christ Conquers)
The "X" and P"
Christ is Risen

I will post our graphics created soon. If anyone else has done this craft before, please share your advice. I found the following links that were helpful:

Secondly, a thought was offered to decorate the small plastic cup that is often used to catch the wax from burning little hands.

Or thirdly, you could decorate a small white lantern to take the "Holy Fire" home. This is helpful protection from the wind as well during processions!

Suspensions at Northwestern High in Maryland create an uproar

One week, Shane James, an honor roll student at Northwestern High School in Prince George’s County, was lauded for his political activism.

The next, he was removed from classes for attempting to effect change.

Northwestern Principal Edgar Batenga suspended James, 16, and three other students on March 1 for organizing a walkout to increase teacher pay, improve the quality of education and demand an apology to Filipino teachers who will lose their jobs because their visas will expire.

“We were trying to be politically active and show our concern for education,” said Boris Mitiuriev, 18, a senior who planned to participate in the walkout. “It’s just outrageous.”

The suspensions have created a firestorm. Many, including community leaders and Occupy protesters, argue that the students’ rights to free speech and to assemble appear to have been violated. They are demanding that the suspensions be removed from the students’ permanent records.

“I am really upset,” said Danielle Duvall, James’s mother. “My son didn’t do anything that was illegal or wrong. He’s not a troublemaker. He’s one of the good guys.”

Batenga said the students received a five-day suspension because they incited a disruption.

The students spent months planning the walkout, and they had more than 400 members of the 2,274-member student body prepared to participate.

According to the plan, the demonstrators were to meet outside at 2:40 p.m., at the end of third period. No one showed up, however, because Batenga, a first-year principal, had squashed the plans that day. He became aware of the planned demonstration the night before and made an early morning announcement instructing students not to participate.

The principal said that even though students did not exit the building, several dozen left their classes, causing a “major issue” in the hallways.

James and the three students were not among them. At the time, they were in the principal’s office.

Batenga said he identified two people he thought had organized the demonstration, based on Twitter feeds, and brought them into the office. They offered the name of another student, he said. James went to the office after learning that his friends had been called in. Before third period was over, they tweeted that “Project XBox,” the code name for the walkout, was “dead,” the principal said.

Batenga said he made his decision to suspend the students based on the school system’s policies and procedures, which allow him to suspend for “inciting others to disturbance and/or violence.”

“My intention was never to suppress anyone’s viewpoint,” Batenga said.

One of the suspended students, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was concerned about additional punishment, said he was not surprised that he was called to the principal’s office, a first for him.

“I read history, and I know activists are not the most loved people,” he said. “I knew they would try to intimidate me.”

...Occupy Education — a coalition of Occupy, labor and community groups — designated March 1 as the National Student Day of Action. Students across the country tailored their demonstrations to address specific issues affecting their schools.

“I just hope that in the future, there is positive communication about educational issues with students and the administration, not just here, but across the country,” said James, a gangly junior who has maintained a 4.5 weighted grade-point average over the past two semesters...

Retired Teachers Glad to See Union Director Benched

A former faction of the San Diego Education Association that represents retired teachers is hoping the recent suspension of teachers union Executive Director Craig Leedham becomes permanent.

As I reported this week, Leedham has been placed on administrative leave. A divisive staff leader, he was credited by several former SDEA officials as pushing the union in a more combative, hard-line direction in recent years.

Two members of the retired teachers group said Leedham was the primary reason their group split with the SDEA.

Tim Jenkins, who acts as a liaison between the retired teachers group and the SDEA, said there are members of the union's leadership who don’t support collaboration between the union and his group. But Jenkins expressed optimism that, if Leedham’s removal becomes permanent, wounds could be healed between the two organizations.
"It remains to be seen if we could go back to where we were before, but we certainly hope this could move us closer together," Jenkins said.
Jenkins also expressed hope that he would no longer have to work with Leedham. In the years he has communicated with the executive director, he has found him to be extremely aggressive, rude and unprofessional, Jenkins said.
That jibes with what other people have told me about Leedham and what I have so far written about his leadership.
To make his point, Jenkins told an anecdote about a meeting his group held with SDEA leaders a couple of years ago. He said his wife, who is also on the retired group, tried to ask Leedham a question at the end of the meeting.
"He just started shouting and waving his hands in her face," Jenkins said. "It was completely unprofessional. She didn’t know what to say."
The retired group also put out a brief press release yesterday that sought to explain its position in the light of our recent coverage of the union’s inner workings. The release included a statement from Norma Heeter, president of the group.
Here it is in full:
San Diego Education Association-Retired has had a long and positive history with the San Diego Education Association for many years. Our members wished to maintain ties with our local, state and national affiliations by continuing to support public education and issues important to our active colleagues. Our members share the concerns of our active brothers and sisters in their efforts to support the physical, social, and academic growth of the children of San Diego.

The members of SDEA-Retired are very concerned and disappointed with the separation of our organization from SDEA. We fought hard to stop the efforts of a few current leaders to remove the retired educators’ representation in SDEA, but we ultimately lost the battle. Separation from SDEA has resulted in frustration for retirees, since we no longer have a venue or support for the voice of current and future retirees. We are concerned, because we have no advocates for issues of importance to retirees, such as health benefits, pensions, etc. Our efforts to represent ourselves on District committees that deal with health benefit issues including the Health Benefits Trust have been blocked by SDEA.

The members of SDEA-Retired hold the members of the SDEA in the highest esteem. After all, we helped build the organization, monetarily, voluntarily and intellectually.
Leedham’s permanent removal from the union would have consequences beyond the SDEA’s relationship with the retired group.
Currently, district leaders are calling on the SDEA to negotiate with them over possible concessions in teacher pay and benefits. District Superintendent Bill Kowba says those concessions are the only way to avoid laying off at least 1,000 teachers this year.
Under Leedham’s tenure, the union has withdrawn from negotiations or even discussions with the district and other unions. The organization has, as a result, become increasingly isolated in its stance.
Leedham, along with union Vice President Camille Zombro, have led the charge on this shift.
Zombro is up for re-election this spring and is being challenged by the union’s board secretary.
If Leedham’s removal becomes permanent, that election could be pivotal in determining the philosophical direction the union takes in the coming months and years.

New report “Trends in International Student Mobility” by Dr. Rahul Choudaha and released by World Education Services (WES)

A new research report from World Education Services (WES), “Trends in International Student Mobility.” Written by Dr. Rahul Choudaha, director of WES Research & Advisory Services (RAS), the report will provide an in-depth understanding of the trends and issues related to international student enrollment, helping institutional leaders and administrators make informed decisions and effectively set priorities for 2012 and beyond.
Dr. Choudaha’s research highlights several key trends and patterns of international student mobility, including:Emerging source countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Mexico, and Brazil,Non-traditional states in the U.S. witnessing significant growth, such as Montana, Oregon and Colorado,Enrollment growth at the Bachelor’s level and how it is outstripping growth at the Master’s and Doctoral levels ,How English as a Second Language (ESL) programs are emerging as an important pathway to the U.S. for international students, most notably from Saudi Arabia, andHow institutions can become more prompt and efficient in achieving their recruitment goals, such as through the use of recruitment service providers and social media.I received early access to the report and after reading it I feel that many IHEC Blog readers would be interested in learning more about it. The report was published on March 1, 2012 through World Education News & Reviews (, the monthly newsletter published by WES which I have been subscribing to for years. Dr. Choudaha will also be hosting a free webinar on March 16, 2012 discussing his research – more information on that can be found on the WES website.
Dr. Choudaha wrote a guest post here on IHEC Blog entitled "Indian Engineering Education in Peril" back in November 2009 and you can access his post here.
I also recommend that you follow Dr. Choudaha's blog Dr. Education at Dr. Education is one of my favorite blogs to read because it holds true to its description as it provides insights on international higher education and cross-functional and data-driven perspectives. If you are on Twitter I also recommend you follow @DrEducationBlog here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What Works Clearinghouse: First Step to Success Studies

Two studies have found First Step to Success to have positive effects on external behavior, potentially positive effects on emotional/internal behavior, social outcomes, and other academic performance, and no discernible effects on reading achievement/literacy for children classified with an emotional disturbance. 19 other studies failed to meet WWC criteria.

First Step to Success is an early intervention program designed to help children who are at risk for developing aggressive or antisocial behavioral patterns. The program uses a trained behavior coach who works with each student and his or her class peers, teacher, and parents for approximately 50 to 60 hours over a three-month period. First Step to Success includes three interconnected modules: screening, classroom intervention, and parent training. The screening module is used to identify candidates who meet eligibility criteria for program participation. Classroom intervention and parent training comprise the program intervention component of First Step to Success.

Two studies of First Step to Success that fall within the scope of the Children Classified as Having an Emotional Disturbance review protocol meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards. The two studies included 243 children in kindergarten through third grade who attended schools in New Mexico and Oregon.

Based on these two studies, the WWC considers the extent of evidence for First Step to Success on children classified with an emotional disturbance (or children at risk for classification) to be small for all domains examined in this report (external behavior, emotional/internal behavior, social outcomes, reading achievement/literacy, and other academic performance domains).

Learning from the best school systems in East Asia

As the economic centre of the world is shifting from West to East, so is the centre of high performance in school education. Four of the world’s five highest-performing systems are Hong Kong, Korea, Shanghai and Singapore, according to OECD’s 2009 PISA assessments of students. In Shanghai, the average 15-year old mathematics student is performing at a level two to three years above his or her counterpart in Australia, the USA and Europe.

In recent years, Australia and many OECD countries have substantially increased education expenditure, often with disappointing results. Grattan Institute’s new report, Catching up: learning from the best school systems in East Asia, shows how studying the strengths of these systems can improve our children’s lives.

Success in these systems is not determined by culture – by Confucianism, rote learning, Tiger Mothers and so on – nor is it always the result of spending more money. Instead, these systems focus on the things that are known to matter in the classroom, including a relentless, practical focus on learning and the creation of a strong culture of teacher education, collaboration, mentoring, feedback and sustained professional development.

Beyond The #Classroom: Drexel University Study Looks at Teachers on Twitter

Teachers are stretching Twitter’s reach to more than just 140 character quips according to a new study by The iSchool at Drexel University researchers. The study, entitled “Grassroots Professional Development: How Teachers Use Twitter” suggests that teachers are molding Twitter from its common perception as a social medium for sharing personal information and observations, to a conduit for disseminating educational resources and connecting with distant colleagues.

The research notes that while 80 percent of Twitter users are “meformers,” people who include personal information and status updates in their tweets, only 2.5 percent of teachers’ tweets contain personal information. By contrast, educators tend to use Twitter to connect with distant colleagues and share and discover new ideas and teaching resources, according to the study.

Dr. Andrea Forte, assistant professor in The iSchool at Drexel, undergraduate Melissa Humphreys and Ph.D. student Thomas Park conducted the research using data collected from a web-based survey, telephone interviews and content analysis of 2,000 tweets from teachers and education-related hashtags.

“Often people think of social media like Twitter in one of two ways,” Forte said. “Either it’s mundane -a place to broadcast what you ate for breakfast, or revolutionary -a place to coordinate overthrowing your government. Actually, many people are using these media in really important everyday ways. Like sharing information that helps them do their jobs better. It’s likely that other groups of professionals are using these tools in precisely the same ways.”

The study’s data also indicate that the vast majority of people followed by teachers on Twitter are distant teachers, rather than local teachers, students, or parents. Teachers interviewed in the study also indicated that they see social media as an important tool for learning and will take the next step by teaching their students how to effectively use social media.

Forte has been an assistant professor at The iSchool since 2010. Her research focuses on how people adapt to and use new technologies, including social media. She will present the research at the International Association for Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s Conference on Weblogs and Social Media at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland in early June.

Making Some Real Dough in the Law School Business

In the last post I was able to present a course proposal from one of the more serious scholars and law professors I know. Now another colleague has presented a proposal for an LLM in Advanced Law. The proposal follows:
LLM in Advanced Law
A one year graduate level program.
Cost: $20,000 per student payable in advance.[This is a bargain compared to other LLM Programs.]
Admissions:All admissions will be determined by ability to pay. If you can pay, you are in. If you can not, you are out.
Program of Study:
This innovative program involves two components.
A. The first is devoted to practical experience. Consequently the first semester is composed of an externship. All students will participate in a work experience off campus. It may be paid or unpaid. Some examples follow:1. Practicing law. If you currently working for or at a law firm you have fulfilled the externship requirement.2. If you are gainfully employed in any industry that is subject to government regulation -- fast food, table waiting, floor sweeping -- you have also fulfilled the externship requirement.3. If you are unemployed and collecting benefits from a government source, you have completed the externship requirement.4. If you are unemployed, not collecting benefits but living with someone who is, has been or will possible be employed some day you have completed the externship requirement.
B. The second component of study reflects the Law School's commitment to public service. All students are required to have completed 20 hours of study in a program that grants a degree or certificate of achievement or the equivalent. The Law School accepts these hours as transfer credits. Students will not be admitted who do not have 20 hours of study in a program somewhere in the world. This public service is required to complete the second portion of the program.
Degrees and Diplomas
Your diploma will be mailed at the completion of the above requirements. Those applicants who have already completed the requirements may enclose a stamped self-addressed envelope with the tuition payment. The diploma will arrive by return mail.

Refining My Teaching Schedule

Dear Dean Associate:

Thank you for sending me my teaching schedule of the 2012-13 academic year. I see I will be teaching 9 hours. In the first semester it will be 4 hours of contract law. In the second semester, it will be 3 hours of copyright and 2 hours of law and economics. My teaching slots are all on Monday-Thursday between 10 AM and 3 PM. This is a wonderful schedule and I am quite happy except for some very minor adjustments as described as follows:
1. I love teaching contracts but feel I most effective teaching it to students for whom Portuguese is a first language. So, could be put a small requirement that all students registering must be fluent in English and Portuguese. I only ask this to enhance the quality of the students' (or should that be student's) experience.
2. Also, could you schedule contracts for two two hour blocks instead of four one hour blocks. To ensure the best possible use of the teaching facilities, please schedule those two two hour blocks to run concurrently so that actual demand on classroom space is 2 hours per week.
3. I love teaching copyright but have discovered that I am more effective teaching for 3 hours on Friday afternoon. The starting time will have to be flexible and will depend on the start time of the newest film arriving in town. Oh, and please schedule the class to meet in theater 6 at the Regal Multiplex.
4. In the interest of teaching economy I have already videotaped the entire law and economic course. Fourteen 2 hour tapes have been left with your secretary. Please have him upload the tapes so they will be available for the students when they find it convenient to view them.
5. If you would now schedule the two concurrent sections of contracts for Friday morning, that is the last think I would ask. I will have office hours also on Friday. I am not sure which Friday at this point.
Thank you so much for my schedule. If you need to reach me on Saturday - Thursday, I can be found at by beach house in Amelia Island.
Best, Tristan

Monday, March 12, 2012

Law Schools Discover the Real Market; Something for Nothing

This post reflects two things. One is that having been in law teaching, in fact university teaching, most of my life, I have witnessed the gradual privitization of what once was public higher education. The other is the market working. The problem is that education markets often have an odd characteristic. Students pay for something and many -- not all -- want the least amount possible for their money. It would be like going to the Steak and Shake for a shake, paying your $4.00 (assuming you are not there during half price hours) and then saying, 'hold the shake, just give me the cup."

What is means is that light assignments are often preferred to heavy ones. Missed classes, to a limit, are applauded and dismissing class a few minutes early is highly desirable. If I compared the number of times a student asked "Do we need to know that" with the number of times one said "Could you give me some extra reading" I do not need to tell you the winner. The shorter the length of a required paper, the better. Of course, please no class on the eve of a holiday break. And a higher curve is the icing on the cake as well as unlimited pass/fail options.
How would one draw this demand curve? I am not sure and maybe it is different at schools where tuition is massive. Then again, the cost of going to the library and reading and learning virtually anything is close to zero. Among students, the quantity demanded at that price is tiny. Let's put this way; at every price, many students would prefer less rather than more of what they are paying for.
Now the financial squeeze has forced the hand of law schools. On the cost side there is greater reliance on adjuncts who will often teach for free in order to be called "professor." Teaching responsibilities are increasingly handed off to non tenure track professors whose jobs do not reflect a legitimate search process for the best candidates.
The demand side in more interesting. Law schools are finally getting around to giving many students what they want -- less of everything except nothing (there is plenty of that). On great example is externships which amount to Law schools pimping out the students. The law students work for nothing, the law school collects hefty tuition and engages in what too often is nominal supervision. Some schools have gone as far as offering finder's fees to faculty who "supervise" externships.
Another example is selling credits. For example, suppose you are a foreign student looking for an LLM program. You'd like to transfer some credits to lower your tuition. How does a school make money by decreasing the credits required to be taken on campus. It's easy. Say a one year program consisting of 26 hours of credit costs $26,000. It draws 4 students. Instead give the students 9 hours of credit and charge $17,000. Now you draw 10 students. $170,000K is more that $104,000 and marginal cost does not budge. In fact, credit transfer competition may just be heating up.
I know where this is going and I am ahead of the game. Mail your $1000 to me and you will receive your diploma (please indicate if you want a J.D. or and LLM) within a month.

Strengths Based Leadership and Special Education

My brother is in town and while we were out and about he mentioned that he read this book first within a management program at work and then again within a service group at his church. As he was talking about it, it seemed as if there were many things that would interest me that go along with the themes in the book. Obviously, from the title you can see that the book focuses on finding your personal strengths as a leader. I picked it up and read the meat of it very night. (I haven't yet read all of the "additional resources.") I found it to be an excellent investment of time! I have highlighter marks, post-its and pencil marks in the margins.

Right now, during our winter break, I have no other responsibilities pulling at me, so I could actually spend the time reading and thinking. It affected me a few different ways and in in different applications, but all related to how I think about special education (since that is where I spend most of my leadership skills).

First, a friend and I just finished running a "Christmas Camp" for girls with mild to moderate disabilities and their siblings. If this actually turns into something that we continue with, the book would be a great discussion point for us to delineate responsibilities of running camps and activities.

Second, I'd love for my two assistants to read this book and then have the three of us talk about the classroom climate and goals. While we typically think of teaching assistants in a "followers" role, the reality is, in the classroom to children, they are leaders. The two ladies I work with are quite talented and compassionate so they no doubt have leadership qualities.

Third, I'd like to e-mail the author and have some discussions on creating a strengths finder for children. The kids in my class are there based on their deficits. At their ages, (8 and 9) they are starting to become very socially aware that they are in a "special" class. I hate this aspect of my job. I can tell them all of the strengths that I see, but they (much like adults and society) want "proof." I think a strengths finder assessment for children would be beneficial!

There is a quote in the book that struck me: "At a very basic level, it is hard to build self-confidence when we are focused on our weaknesses instead of our strengths." When I think about this in terms of a child who is living with a learning disability or an intellectual disability, it frustrates me. Our current special educational model is based upon what is impeding the child from learning rather than based upon building strengths of a child who is struggling. There's another educational researcher, Torgenson (I think), who through his research has found that the single most influential factor in future reading success is prior positive reading experiences. How do we know and understand the value of strengths based performance and positive experiences and yet we continue to operate on a deficit driven model and pounding away at weaknesses? Crazy!

Perhaps my above rant clearly shows my own inclinations towards "includer" and "maximizer," but I do find the book to be generally valuable to people who have any type of leadership role within a family, community or work environment. If you have a free night or weekend, be sure to check it out!

Hey Colleague, "Eat My Externality."

I am sure everyone deals with the externalities of others. This is even true for law professors and, I assume, other academics. Take this example, recently a colleague proposed a new course that would be co-taught and capped at 16 students. What is the externality you might ask. At my school students must take 88 credit hours to graduate. Suppose your school has 1000 students. So over any 3 year people the school needs to generate 88000 student credit hours. If you have 60 faculty that means over a 3 year period each must generate about 1460 student credit hours or about 500 credit hours per year. If you teach 16 students a 3 credit course you generate 48. If it is cotaught you can view that as actually 24. Let's suppose you teach the capped course once a year. You teach another 3 credit course with 25 students and a 3 credit course with 50 students. That brings you up to less than half your share if the teaching task were allocated equally.
Now suppose your best bud 25 students is not the only one. Another professor teaches 9 hours with an average enrollment of 20 and another 9 hours with an enrollment of 15. The first generates 180 student credit hours and the other only 120. Remember, this is out of a fair share of 500 per year and the externality accumulates.

Do they think about it? I doubt it. Have you ever heard a law professor say "I just do not feel I am pulling my weight. I'd like to teach a bigger class."

I have framed this as choice but it may not always be. Evidently one of the ways to avoid to the fair share is to be awful in the classroom. So, you might be assigned to teach a potential large group of student but they do not enroll. Or, as happens in some schools, you assign the person to a large first year section, the students protest and the response is to reassign the teacher to something no one is required to take and very few do. It may not be a choice but it is an externality nonetheless.

Teaching is not the only place where professors are quick to let those they refer to a "colleagues" eat their dust. When do you want your classes to be? How about 10-11 MWF. Due to space and scheduling conflicts, not everyone can have that time and those days. Has a law professor every written to his or her dean "I've asked for and received the perfect schedule the last 5 years. I know that means others have not. Consequently, please determine my schedule after accommodating others." I did not think so.

There are many other examples of shifting costs to others. Here is another. Your school schedules class for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. And each year students ask "Are you going to hold class on the day before Thanksgiving?" Odd question, you might think -- the schedule does not say it is a holiday. Eventually you learn that a fair number your colleagues cancel class that day and the pressure is on you to make it a clean sweep. Does the canceler ever think "Does this effect others?"

Then there are, of course, the make up artists. These are the folks who leave for a couple of weeks and then make up the classes (if they do at all) at semester's end. Here the externality is principally absorbed by the students but it is also not productive to try to teach students who have just had a marathon make up session. At my school we actually have a sanctioned program that requires people to miss class for two weeks. Yes, institutionalized externalities.

My hunch is that this goes on in most jobs but, in my view, law profs who talk about collegiality while producing externalities wouldn't know what collegiality meant if it bit them in the butt.

Einstein's Definition of Insanity

Einstein's definition of insanity is one of my all time favorite quotes. He says simply: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

How many times, as teachers or parents, do we do the same thing we have always done and end up with the same conflict, problem or lack of learning on the child's part. I agree with Einstein. That's insane.

We are the adults who are in the lead role. It's up to us to change something first. If I continue doing everything exactly as I have done it before, shouldn't expect the same thing that happened before to happen again? And yet, what happens? The child typically gets blamed. We say things like "You need to listen harder." (quote from Rick Lavoie and FAT City). Seriously?? Listen harder? How do you do that? Or we say you're lazy or just not trying. Or we say you need to apply yourself.

I think Einstein's quote on insanity speaks to one of my favorite aspects of teaching students with special needs. The kids can, in fact, learn. We have centuries of data to prove that going all the way back to Itard, Seguin and Montessori.

It's up to me to figure out what to change.

Perhaps I change the way the material is presented. Some children can learn complex concepts with the support of visual cues or kinesthetic modes of processing the information. Perhaps I change how the student has to respond. Perhaps instead of writing his/her response, I have them orally tell it. Perhaps I change the way the student is engaged.

I find Einstein's quote to be a challenge for me to figure how to help the students in my class learn the skills and concepts they need to learn.

Won't Get Khanned Again: How Can Education Help Democracy Trump Capitalism?

The other evening, I saw an article about Salman Khan's latest plans to expand his "education" empire into the world of brick and mortar schooling (how unrevolutionary of him, I must say), and it set me to thinking. One sentence caught my attention in particular:
"They played a 'paranoia' version of the game Risk to understand the theory of probabilities using Monopoly money, where kids trade securities based on the outcome of the game."

There's nothing obviously new about this: there have been teachers offering stock market simulation "games" in various grade bands for decades. So what's the big deal? Maybe nothing, maybe something significant. Here we have Sal Khan, former Wall St. hedge fund analyst (not a job for which I hold a great deal of respect, for some reason, particularly in connection with the education deform movement), giving summer campers, some of whom by his own words, "couldn't see the board" (which I assume means that they were quite young), the opportunity to find out how our capitalist system works. Not that the word "capitalist" or its variants ever gets mentioned of course. But it's certainly Sal's prerogative to indoctrinate proselytize rationalize um, expose students to The Market.

What popped into my head was, "How do educators (in mathematics or any other subject) who are concerned not only about social justice and the obvious inequities (and iniquities) of the current American system give students the opportunity to critically examine the assumptions about what it means to be human that are inherent in our so-called "free-market" capitalist system and how that system impacts our alleged belief in "core democratic values."

For those of you not playing along at home, let me remind you that the reason we've fought wars over the last 60 years in places like Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Nicaragua, Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya (to name just some of the low-lights; for a more thorough list of our military interventions, both foreign and domestic, over the last 120 years or so, go here), is to spread our "democratic core values" and bring freedom to oppressed people throughout the world (or so I've heard it said). Yet, some people lately have been making a lot of noise that includes the notion that we don't really have democracy or anything vaguely like it here at home. And some folks are linking capitalism and the activities of Wall Street, banking, multinational corporations, globalization, and much else that I suspect Mr. Khan finds perfectly fine, to the absence of meaningful democracy, social justice and equity in these United States.

So while I can't stop Sal Khan from expanding his influence into the hearts and minds of our children, particularly since Bill Gates isn't backing my on-line screeds financially or otherwise, nor has the O'Sullivan Foundation offered me $5 million in grant money to spread my vision to physical classrooms, I guess I'm still free (until the Internet comes under complete control of the government and its corporate and oligarchical masters) to try to get others interested in offering kids a different viewpoint. In particular, I invite people to offer ideas (information on and/or links to already-existing projects, speculations on projects that might be, or inklings of possibilities) on non-didactic education (how's that for an oxymoron?) on the human and humane implications and costs of unchecked capitalism.

My initial thought last week was that I wanted a game that allowed students to explore various economic, social, and political arrangements and systems in ways that made it likely (perhaps unavoidable) that players would need to think hard about what it costs people to live and work in our system, not just Americans, of course, but people all over the world, and not just monetarily, but in terms of physical, intellectual, emotional, ethical, spiritual, and other aspects of what might be called human health and well-being. Naturally, the environment in which we live, the planet we inhabit, would likely need to be considered carefully as well.

Lest I appear more completely ignorant than I actually am (which is, of course, quite ignorant of a host of things), I should mention that I'm aware that Bucky Fuller was up to something at least in part like what I'm raising above with his World Game. I'm most certainly not in his league, but I'm thrilled to have discovered in reading about his game ideas that during the 1960s, Fuller several times proposed them as the core curriculum for Southern Illinois University. I'd like to see his college curricular idea and raise him a K-16 and beyond curriculum, one that begin as close to the start of formal education as possible and finds ways to lead students into conversations about the what happens to us when we operate in a capitalist mindset. I think there are fundamental ethical questions and assumptions that kids of school age care about and are quite capable of discussing intelligently.

I do put in that oxymoron about non-didactic education advisedly. There's no question that it's possible to readily create lessons the entire point of which is to propagandize an anti-capitalist moral. That's not what I'm interested in, however. I think that if such a curriculum is to be useful, it needs to be much more open-ended than what being the flip side of Mr. Khan's little market game seems grounded in. But maybe I'm chasing a chimera here. What do you think?

Monster Employment Index Gains 11% in February

Highlights of the February Monster Employment Index for online job demand:

1. The Monster Employment Index registered a double-digit gain of 11 percent in February compared to a year-ago (see chart above), the 25th consecutive positive monthly percentage increase versus a year earlier, going back to February 2010.

2. Nineteen of the 20 industries monitored by the Index showed positive annual growth, with only Public Administration declining, by 8% year-over-year.

3. All 28 metro markets recorded positive annual growth in February, with the strongest gains in Baltimore (24%), Kansas City (24%) and Orland0 (23%).

Real Natural Gas Prices Lowest Since July 1995

Last week the spot price of natural gas (Henry Hub Gulf Coast) fell to $2.30 per million BTUs, which is the lowest inflation-adjusted price since July 1995, more than 16 years ago when the price was slightly lower at $2.17. Without adjusting for inflation, it was the lowest price in a decade, since January 2002. Welcome to the game-changing, shale gas revolution.

As Scott Grannis commented, "If there is any reason to be optimistic about the future of the U.S. economy, [falling natural gas prices] is arguably the best."

Love towards Allah( Islamic Love)

All Religions have it's own view about love.Now days it is so common that the meaning of love has been restricted in the modern age to the love relationship between a man and a woman. This is a very narrow-minded view of love. Islam has is own comprehensive view of love.

The first type of love that Islam calls for is the Love of Allah, praise be to Him. This love makes you avoid committing sins in order not to make whom you love, Allah, get angry with you. This love also urges you to contemplate all the different aspect of nature that usually lead you to have a deeper faith in the Creator who created all this beauty round us.

The second type of love is the love of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This love also makes you follow the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in all his dealings and manners. Also this love is an indication of the love of Allah as stated in the Holy Qur'an, "Say: 'If you do love Allah, Follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.'" Say: "Obey Allah and His Messenger: But if they turn back, Allah loves not those who reject Faith." (Qur'an, 3:31-32)

The third type of love is human love. It means that the Muslim has to love his other fellow men regardless of their ethnic, linguistic or cultural background. This includes love of neighbors, colleagues, relatives and even strangers. This type of love persuades the Muslim to help anybody whenever he can. There are numerous of Ahadith that exhort Muslims to help anybody who really needs help because such an altruistic act takes the Muslim one step closer to Allah.

The fourth type of love is the love between a man and a woman, but Islam organizes and regulates these lofty feelings within the framework of marriage because Islam views that marital love leads the couple to have a peaceful and happy family life, which is the core of the Muslim society.

In other words, this love is acceptable as long as it is within the framework of marriage and this is encouraged in a number of verses in the Holy Qur'an, "And among His signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put affection and mercy between you: verily in that are indeed signs for those who reflect: (Qur'an, 30:21)

Oil Price Increases in Dollars, Swiss Franc and Yen

The chart above shows the percentage changes in the price of oil since January 2010, measured in U.S. dollars (30.7% through February), Swiss francs (15.2%) and Japanese yen (12.6%). Isn't this evidence that at least part of the increase in the dollar price of oil is due to the deprecation of the U.S. currency? When priced in Swiss francs, oil prices have only increased by half of the dollar price increase, and when priced in yen, oil has gone up less than half the dollar price increase.

More on Regional Disparities in Gas Prices

More on the regional disparities in gas prices from yesterday's NY Times (see previous CD post here):

"The price of gasoline is rising, but the nation isn’t sharing the pain equally (see map above from GasBuddy).

The average price of a gallon of regular was $3.76 a gallon on Friday — up 8 percent in the last month — a tabulation that masks significant regional disparities, said Avery Ash, manager of federal relations for the AAA.

A gallon of regular was only $3.33 in Colorado, for example, and in Wyoming it was $3.28, the lowest in the nation. Along the Gulf of Mexico, the price was a bit higher: $3.59 in Texas, $3.60 in Alabama and $3.62 in Louisiana. For nastier numbers, turn to the Northeast and the West Coast: $3.99 in New York and Connecticut and a whopping $4.35 in California.

Global energy markets determine the national trend for oil and gasoline prices, and those markets have been rattled by tensions with Iran. Yet energy markets are also resiliently local, as the patchwork quilt of gasoline prices illustrates. A flood of relatively cheap oil and gasoline is washing through parts of the American heartland, but it’s barely reaching consumers in the rest of the nation.

The price for Brent crude, widely viewed as the global benchmark for oil, was about $126 a barrel on Friday, far higher than for West Texas Intermediate, often called the American benchmark, which was about $107. The gap has been widening. North American oil “is trading at a discount to world prices, because it is landlocked and can’t easily be transported to world markets” — or to refiners in the Northeast or the West Coast, said Andrew J. Black , president of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines. And East Coast gasoline prices reflect the higher Brent crude price, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the private Oil Price Information Service.
Crude oil production has increased sharply in Canada and in the central United States in recent years — including initial production from the Bakken Shale, an oil-rich deposit in North Dakota. This has created what the White House calls a bottleneck in Cushing, Okla., the midcontinent storage hub."