Five Popular Posts Of The Month

Monday, March 4, 2019

When a Tradition Must Go – Away.

When a Tradition Must Go – Away.
Everything, meaning literally every existing thing, or even an idea, evolves.
That evolution includes human traditions.
Some come and go, some stay for a long time.
There are smart traditions, like raising children in a loving family.
And there are wrong, outdated,"stupid" traditions.
Like taking chemistry before physics.
The roots of this tradition go deep into 1800s.
The main reason for this tradition is that a hundred years ago it was simply much easier to talk about biological events than about chemical events due to abundance of biological material. And it was much easier to talk about chemical events than about physical events, because there was no experimental basis for physics, and no one really knew how to teach physics beyond university levels.
But things has changed since then.
But the tradition stays, because there are many people and institutions who have heavily invested into that tradition (e.g. textbooks).
But mainly, it stays, because it is, well, a tradition.
We’ve been doing it for years – actually, a hundred of years – why change it. Even though many other countries changed it - but why would we, Americans, wanted anything from another countries? Why do we have to evolve?
The reason is simply becasue scenes have evolved, because we, humans in general, have learned lots of new things.
And now, we can apply our new knowledge to make things better, more efficient.
Take any textbook on general chemistry.
About 20 % of it – one fifth! – is plain physics.
If students would have taken physics already, they could have saved 20 % of their time.
In business, people fight of a single percent of improvement.
But in education no one cares.
Or people who do care don’t have a good argument.
That good argument could be a development of complementary courses in physics and chemistry (like one physics-then-chemistry course), but there is no publisher of university which would like to take on this project.
There is a reason for that, too.
No publisher needs to prove that their course materials 
are actually good for students.
In the end, as long as course evaluations and final grades are fine – everyone is satisfied.
In business there is a good – kind of obvious – tradition: don’t roll out a product without giving it a test drive.
But in education to publish a textbook, or a workbook, or else one only needs, well, that textbook, or workbook, or else – prepared in a presentable format.
The format is the only important feature that matters.
Traditions for a textbook format (for example) have been evolving, as well.
Nowadays it must have colorful pictures and supplemented online materials (apps, videos, etc.).
And – done.
Next stage is marketing.
The truth of the matter – and everyone in education knows it – is that there is no single faculty who would ever use all the available material in its entirety.
In fact, the top limit for the material used is close to 60 % of the all available.
Hence, students or schools pay about 40% of their money for nothing.
But, again, no one really cares about it because those money slide through the system without being visible.
What a student or a school should ask a publisher before buying a new textbook is “Has it had a test drive?”
If not – there is no real reason to buy it (of course, there is such reason as “Look at us, we are innovating!”, or others, which have no direct affect on learning outcomes of students).
Such a test drive would require establishing a group of students with various backgrounds and teaching them the subject using ALL the materials.
It is the most important condition that all students would have to walk through ALL elements of the material. But this test-course would not have any specific time line. On the contrary, establishing the time frame need for an average student to master ALL aspects of the course is the main goal of this test-course.
Plus, the set of the assessments, and the results of those assessments of the learning outcomes during and in the end of the course.
THEN and only then a publisher could provide to costumers specific information on the quality of the course materials it offers.
Until then we all have to live in the Wilde West of educational programming and publishing.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Knowledge is NOT power. At least in politics.

Knowledge is NOT power. At least in politics.
One of the top reasons why Trump won was that the biggest donors of the Democratic Party decided that anyone was better than Sanders and put strong pressure on the leaders of the Democratic party to make sure Sanders would not be nominated against Trump. And the leaders of the Democratic party had no balls to follow their own principles and gave up to the pressure, and in turn put the pressure on the people below; e.g. some delegations plainly lied when said that Clinton won in their states (otherwise we would have President Sanders – for good or for bad).
Everyone who thinks that that’s changed, that now it’s going to be different, is a fool.
The top of the Democratic party will sabotage Sanders’ campaign in any way they can.
That is why so many people are so happy about newly elected Democratic politicians.
To those people I say that the newcomers are not going to help.
The newcomers are arrogant, narcissistic, and egoistic (which is kind of normal in politics).
But most importantly, they are simply not smart enough, illiterate in history, economics, politics and mass psychology.
Yes, they have charisma – obviously.
But charisma is simply an ability of saying trivial things in such a way that followers feel like they just have heard a revelation.
The current economic situation, though, is way beyond trivialities (this point requires a very long deviation from the main point of this post, so, omitted).
But all the new “progressives” could come up with was such triviality as “we will take money from the rich and give to the poor” That is the only idea THEY know.
They don’t understand that they need to go to the root of the current economic issues.
They need starting from asking how the wealth is being produced(!), before trying to redistribute it.
But that’s a way too complicated discussion.
Too many unknowns.
Why bother?
Using their charisma and spewing out trivialities to people who are eager to hear from an idol what they feel but cannot formulate themselves – that’s much easier work.
Hence, even if so called progressives will win in 2020, they will not make any impact.
They will not slow the economic degradation of the country as a whole.
They will not prevent economic stagnation which will hit hard the majority of the folks living in America.
Hence, the coming of someone even worse than Trump is inevitable (
Knowledge of this to happen, may(?) prevent this from happening.
However, knowledge is NOT power.
Knowledge only becomes(!) power - if it is being used.
But before that the economy should get much worse for the masses than it is today.
However, then it may be too late to repair all the damage.
I am a physics teacher (today).
Physics offers many useful analogies, including to politics.
This one is clear.
Stretch a spring and let it go.
If you didn’t overdo it, it comes back to its original state.
But if you stretched it too hard?
It deforms.
It will never be as good as before.
You will have to melt it back into a lump and then remake it from scratch.
But it will not be the original spring any more.
It will be a new one.
The old one will become a history.
Like many empires that has disappeared from the face of the planet.
Appendix I
The #1 quality of a successful politician is an ability to sell his/her ideas = charisma.
The problem with progressives - they are bad sellers.
They cannot sell even generally good ideas.
For example, they are getting beaten over a basic income.
"Free money to everyone is bad!" - that's what the Republicans keep saying.
And the Democrats keep defending - "No, it's good!"
It is an idiotic response.
Progressives are nice people, with a good hart, but (it's an expression) with "a very small brain".
To promote the idea of basic income they say to people: "You are useless, but we do not want you to starve to death, so we will give you some money just because".
What they should say is: "Republicans base their economy of the premise that most people are lazy and stupid and must be forced into work and guided by a smart ruler. Our ideology is opposite, we think people are genetically creative and want to follow their passion, and we invest into people by helping them get through a rough patch in their life".
And when called "Socialists", what they should say is "Republicans have no actual arguments against our propositions. That is why all they could figure out is using a tactic of a middle school bully - calling us names. We fight for social fairness. Anyone can call us anything they want. But our program is practical, pragmatic, and for the benefits of the 99 % of our people".

Idiocy comes as a result of arrogance and narcissism: "If it is not a my idea, it cannot be a good idea".
This is  why I would easily give up 100 nice idiots for one smart jerk.

Appendix II Some excerpts from my tweets.

If you scroll down this page, you’ll find more posts on the matter.
Start from
The Degradation of The White Male American Elite (it also provides an official definition of what "an idiot" actually means).
This site has much more. How wants to spend lots of time on boring reading and thinking? You’re welcome!

OK, I'll tell you.

"Idiocy is an inability to reason". 
"An idiot is a person who is incapable of thinking logically".
The reasons are psychological and rooted in the culture (education) one was immersed in when growing up. But this term is to be only applied to people who claim to be smart, or who are supposed to be smart due to their social position, and demonstrate the opposite.