Five Popular Posts Of The Month

Saturday, April 20, 2019

A word to Senator Sanders, and other anti-Trump warriors.

A word to Senator Sanders, and other anti-Trump warriors.
For those who prefer listening to reading, a video or audio copies of this file are also available (but beware of the accent!):

Hi everyone,
The pictures in the video have no relation with the words you hear, it could have been just a black screen.
You can just read the piece online, or listen to an audio file.
I hope you liked my joke, but if you didn’t see it on Twitter, you’ll find it at the end of this piece.
I am not a politician and I will never be, because I have no charisma. Charisma is an ability to say trivial things in such a way that people would feel, like it's been a revelation.
Since I’m a teacher, when I say trivial things they sound trivial.
However, I have a talent. I can make complicated things look clear, even trivial.
I can do it in math and physics, and I hope in politics too.
Today I want to share some thoughts about 2020 elections.
I don’t watch or read, or listen to news regularly anymore.
But based on what I see or hear, democrats will not be able to beat Donald Trump in 2020.
It’s not that they couldn’t.
In principle they could, but they just are doing it all wrong.
They focus on things that do not matter for people who do matter.
There are people who will vote for a democrat no matter who it will be.
Those people do not decide the elections.
There are people who will not vote for a democrat no matter who it will be.
Those people also do not decide the elections.
People who will decide the election - again, are people who are on a fence.
Those are the people who voted for Trump in 2016 because they hated to vote for Hillary Clinton.
They wanted to vote but they did not want to vote for Hillary, because she represented the establishment.
And millions of Americans did not believe anymore that American establishment cared about them.
That is why they voted for an anti-establishment candidate.
And that is how they will vote again in 2020.
Of course, the strongest anti-establishment and anti-Trump candidate was and still is Bernie Sanders.
But even he does not focus on the things that matter the most, or does not do it in the best way.
If I were Bernie’s adviser, I would tell him to say this.
From this moment forward I am not Valentin Voroshilov anymore, I am Bernie Sanders.

My fellow Americans.
This election is not about me.
This election is not about you!
This election is more than any of us, because this election is about our country.
This election is about our love to our country!
Our country was hacked!
Our country was hacked by fear and hatred!
Our country was hacked by corporate money and fake media!
For several decades our country was hacked by our own establishment.
She was hacked by a small group of Americans who do not represent all of us but who have been lobbing their deals behind closed doors.
And then our political process has been hacked by a small group of people who were very loud and, let’s give them a credit, very creative in spreading fear and hatred all over the country.
Those people hate everything about America where everybody has a fair shot for having a good life, where everyone has a chance and the right for having a good job, for giving their kids good education, for being taken care of their health without going bankrupt.
This is America we love, and this is America that has been hacked and slowly a piece by a piece, a bill by a bill, a loophole by a loophole disassembled.
We need to take that America back.
We need to make America ours again.
We need to make America belong again to all Americans, not just to a few rich and powerful.
This is what this election is about.
And everyone who wants to make America ours again has to vote against Donald Trump.
Donald Trump is the biggest hack from them all.
He hacked our political system.
He used it against interests of all of us, including the very people who voted for him.
Of course, there is a tiny sliver of racists, white supremacists, bigots, and misogynists who voted for Trump because they loved him.
But those people do not represent the majority.
Those people are just a tiny droplet in a political bucket.
They are just very loud and that makes us feel like those people represent the majority of conservatives and republicans.
But I believe that the majority of conservatives and republicans want the same things as the majority of democrats and liberals.
There was a time when Americans did something simply because it was the right thing to do.
Now our establishment makes us think that the only reason for doing something is money.
Their motto is – if I don’t get anything from this, I don’t care about this.
We need to make America moral again.
We need to make America decent, honest and honorable again.
We all need to take America back to our original values – strong character, fairness, kindness, integrity, ingenuity and innovations.
We all need to make America work for everybody, and not just for a tiny percentage of the population.
How will we make this to happen?
First, we need to make sure that we don’t talk about meaningless nicknames and labels. We need to talk about important things, things that matter and have a meaning.
Let me give you an example.
This is a key.
This is a key to my house.
And this is a key.
This is one key from many keys on this keyboard.
And this point I am making now is the key point of my speech.
The word is the same.
But every time it means something different.
When people call me “a socialist”, they may not understand what that word means to me.
Open any history textbook, and you read that socialism is a political structure where all the means of production belong to government.
But that’s not socialism we find in Finland, or Switzerland.
When I say “socialism”, I talk about a society that works for everyone, socialism is a society that enhances social life of everyone, not just for a few.
I am not against capitalism, I am not against private property.
I know that private initiative is what makes America special, private initiative is what makes our country progressive, private initiative is what makes America great.
Private initiative makes people innovate and find new, unusual, unseen solutions to complicated problems our society may have.
However, private initiative, private means of production do not contradict with government, as long as the government works in a smart, fair, and effective way that is good for everyone.
That was not what was happening for several decades.
And that is not what is happening today.
Today billions of dollars, our dollars, tax payers’ dollars are used to create “socialism” for a few super rich conglomerates. They call it “trickle-down economics”. They demand more and more money for a tiny sliver of super rich people, telling us that when those people feel like they have enough, they would drop a dime or two to the rest of us.
But it is never enough for them!
They never say – OK, I’m rich, now I am going to spend all the money for creating more jobs and for paying people top dollar.
On the contrary, some of them so stingy they use loopholes and do not even pay their fair share of taxes!
Our government has become a pump that siphons our money into the coffins of a few super rich.
So, my socialism is not for destroying capitalism, but for making our society to work for all Americans.
Another label some people try to stick on me is “Medicare for all”.
Yes, I like using this term.
But “Medicare for all” simply means medical care for all, medical care for every American.
Medical care is not the same as medical insurance. Your insurer can deny your treatment because you have a pre-existing condition, or they can bill you thousands of dollars and make you bankrupt.
Medical care for all, or how I call it “Medicare for all” means that everyone, no matter how much or how little one makes, can get the same high-quality medical care.
Yes, I am a radical, but I am a smart radical.
I do not want to close at once all private insurance companies.
That’s another lie about me.
What I want is to make private insurers to compete with a highly efficient governmental health insurer.
Maybe that insurer will become so effective that all private insurers will eventually get out of business. Or maybe they will be absorbed by one big government backed insurer and we will have our own single payer system.
I can promise you, I will do everything I can to make the life of private insurers very hard. Our insurer will be making good deals on medical equipment, it will be cutting down prices on medications and cost of administration, lowering premiums, so they will also have to do the same to survive.
Everyone who says that I am against capitalism is a liar.
I am for capitalism.
But I am for capitalism that works for everyone.
I am for capitalism that takes care of people who cannot take care of themselves.
I am for progressive capitalism.
I am for capitalism that works equally good for people living in every corner of our society.
I am for socially responsible capitalism, or if you will – social-ism - as I just described it.
There are several other important issues I want to address.
Immigration is a very serious issue for our country and the reason it's so serious is not because our country is full, that's a lie, our country has plenty of areas that need people which could help economic development of those areas. Human capital is the most important capital any country can have. When people come they start building houses, creating business, buying food, cloths, appliances.
But for the last couple of decades our economy was hacked by financial manipulators. As the result of that, many Americans who were living in our country have been losing good paying jobs. And now those people are afraid that newcomers would make harder for them to raise their children, to give their children bright economic future.
It is a completely natural fear and we will deal with that by boosting our economy, by removing all tax loopholes placed in our laws by financial wizards of the Wall Street. However, we have to admit that our immigration system is broken and needs a full reconstruction.
Let me give you an example.
The software that ran on Boeing Max 737 was defective, it was broken, and that led to two awful crashes, people lost their lives.  Keeping using Max 737 until it is fixed is simply insane!
Similarly, using our broken immigration system until it's fixed is a wrong thing to do.
So, we have to fix it first.
We're gonna pause for a moment issuing new residencies.
We will fix the immigration law.
We will work together, by-partisan, republicans and democrats to reshape the whole immigration system.
Then when it will be done, then we will resume all immigration cases - using the new law.
Our immediate goal is to work with people who want to leave their countries – but doing it in their countries!
And our ultimate goal is to help people in those central American countries to have a better life, so they would not have to run away from it.
We will increase our aid and we will ask our allies in the United Nations to increase their aid, too.
We will strengthen our embassies in those countries, so if people want to apply for an asylum they wouldn’t have to go all the way to the border for that.
While reshaping the immigration system, we will be following the existing law. We will be accepting applications for an asylum. But we will be encouraging people to wait for our decisions in their countries, rather than in the camps. We will offer them help to go back to their countries. If needed we will build some camps over there, together with our American and European allies.
We will strengthen our border, but we will do it in a way our border security forces need the most, first of all we will be listening to the professionals.
The immigration emergency will be solved, and it will be solved in an efficient but humane manner.
There is no doubt that the climate changes, and there is no doubt that people play a big role in that.
We may disagree on how big is that role, however denying that people affect climate is just not wise.
We will intensify our cooperation with the world on slowing down negative changes.
The most important, the major item in my agenda is making our economy thrive again.
We need to change the way we measure our success as a nation.
So what if we make more money than any country in the world if all those money go to a tiny slice of our population.
For decades our economy has been hacked and distorted by financial manipulators of the Wall Street. Those people pray to one God and one God only, called a profit margin.
In order to increase the profit margin, they are ready to squeeze out every penny from working people. They willing to move away good effective production jobs.
They willing to do anything to extract an extra penny from the pockets of hard-working Americans.
I will end that.
When I am the President, every new bill, every new law will be measured first and foremost by how good that bill is for hard-working Americans.
Americans first!
That's what we all need to say to those wizards of the Wall Street.
Americans first.
All Americans first, not just a few super-rich.
Hard-working Americans will be the first and above financial manipulations of the Wall Street.
If those Wall Street financial manipulators would love our country as strong as we do, they would be able to sacrifice some portion of their profit margin in order to help our fellow Americans having good paying jobs.
As I said already, I am not against capitalism, I'm not the enemy of a capitalism, I am pro capitalism.
But I'm for capitalism that is good for everyone, I am for capitalism that works for people at the top and at the bottom of the economic well.
I am for capitalism that works not just for 1% but for all 100% of Americans.
This is the capitalism we will be building up together.
Our economic system has been crooked by financial hackers and now we need to straighten it up.
We will take America back again.
We will make America work again and we will make America work again for everyone.
We will make America smarter than ever.
We need to reform our education system.
Our education system also has been hacked, it also has been broken by so called reformers, who treated teachers and our students like circus animals.  
This fake reform has to stop.
We need to invest in professional development of our teachers.
And teachers in depressed economic areas need even more of those investments.
In order to win again, Donald Trump bets on hate.
Donald Trump loves to spark hate and fear in people.
But America is not built on hate.
America is built on love and respect.
We say - stop the hate! Make America love again!
Make America kind again.
Make America strong again, but not by putting other people down, by uplifting American spirit.
Stop hate!
Stop Trump!
Charge character, intellect, and kindness.
I have a deep respect for all Democratic presidential candidates.
Every one of them will be a great president someday in the future.
But today I call everyone to be realistic.
I'm the only one who can beat Donald Trump.
Every other Democratic candidate has his or her own strengths, and would be welcome to hold an important high-level position in my cabinet. I would be happy to work together with all of them.

OK, now I'm back; I am Valentin Voroshilov again.
And I want to ask all other Democratic presidential candidates - do you really think you can win?
Because if you really think you can win – you are delusional and you do not deserve any support.
But if you are not delusional, that means you know that Bernie Sanders has the best chance to beat Donald Trump.
And that's the only thing that matters in this election.
You have to ask yourself, what is more important for you - the future of your country or your big ego?
And if it's the former, if the future of your country is more important for you than your ego, you have to quit your race. And you have to start working for Bernie Sanders. And you have to ask all your supporters to do the same.
This is not the first time when I see how a rogue politician hacked the political system of a country. I saw it before, in a different country, in a different time, when Boris Yeltsin became the president of Russia.
Yeltsin was a drunk; Donald Trump does not drink alcohol.
However clearly he acts like someone who has some signs of dementia.
Boris Yeltsin has led to the rise of Vladimir Putin to the Russian Throne.
If Donald Trump will be re-elected, there is a big chance that the next American ruler will also be Vladimir Putin.
Of course, I don't mean it literally; of course, this is a metaphor.
Democratic party has to prove to everyone that it is indeed a Democratic party, that it has democracy inside itself, that the party is not ruled by the party establishment; that regular folks are not peasants who do what the establishment tells them to do. Democrats have to prove that the majority of them are capable of thinking for themselves.
Democrats have to prove that they have their own will and will not allow super-delegates to steal their nomination - again.
Bernie Sanders’ supporters need to infiltrate rival campaigns and every time when they have a chance, the need to press the candidates by asking them a question - are you for the country or for your ego? if you know that you cannot win, why do you keep working against Bernie Sanders?
By keeping yourself in the race you're helping to re-elect Donald Trump.
By staying in the race, you are becoming a Donald Trump’s operative.
There is nothing personal in this statement, this is just a scientific fact from a political s science.
If Donald Trump will be re-elected you will be personally responsible for making this happen by not quitting the race and not supporting Bernie Sanders from the beginning.

The joke:
Every time when I see, or hear, or read what our politicians, or TV pundits, or political analysts say, an old joke comes to my mind.

Now I would like to add my two cents to the debate about “party unity”, “censorship”, “Facebook rude posts”, etc. 
The more debates take place the better. 
Censoring posts on the ground “I disagree with it”, or “this makes me feel bad” only leads to pushing people out of THIS place of the debate, but not out of the debate.  
People will not stop thinking what they are thinking, but will find other venues to express it (for example, by voting for Trump). 
In the long run, that is exactly what we need these days – we (democrats, progressives, liberals) need to get separated ("give each other a space"), give time to different groups to get a better, clearer understanding of who wants what and who is who, and what they really want. Then those different factions, groups, "cliques", would be able to find a common ground.
To the advocates of censorship "because it will cut fake news" - (a) if you cannot see which news is fake, you should not go into politics; (b) if you are afraid that people would be influenced by fake news you should offer your counter-opinion; (c) make sure that for you "fake news" is not just something "I don't like it".
At some point, everyone will need to make a decision: am I BY the movement, or IN the movement (does not depend on what movement)?
BY the movement means – providing types of support – verbal, monetary, etc.
IN the movement means – allocating a certain amount of time on various political actions. Among those actions; #1 is educating themselves on the laws governing social changes (of course, only if you want to make some social change to happen).
For better or worse, Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” became the theoretical foundation of many social revolutions.
For a "progressivist", the theoretical foundation is “Saving Capitalism” by Robert B. Reich.
Read, think, discuss, plan, act.
Or - don't like the books I offer? - offer another book!
Yours (and mine, and many of us) tweets and Facebook posts do NOT represent a solid logical theoretical foundation for the actions needed to do "Our Revolution" (or ANY revolution).
Let us be clear – without deep understanding of the true reasons for the country getting to the current social, political, economic state, the fate of any movement (all movements) will be the same as the fate of the “Occupy Wall-Street” - gradual decline and dissolving.
Bernie Sanders said “It wasn't that Donald Trump won the election, it was that the Democratic Party lost the election”
BTW: he said it five month after the election day; I said the same right after it (, but the difference is – no one cares what I say, Bernie’s every word gets scrutinized from right and left.
After Sanders said it, there is no turning back. Now everyone inside and outside of the Dem Party has to express his or her position toward the statement: agree, disagree, not sure - or ignore it (acting like he has never said it).
Arguing about the meaning of this statement is just useless

This type of a statement cannot be logically proved or disproved; it is a belief-based statement - like "aliens/ETs/UFOs exist". One can say that the universe is so vast, and there are signs of aliens visiting the Earth, so they exist. Or one can say there are no facts (bodies, objects, machinery) proving the alien existence, hence they don't. But in either case - it is just a belief.
Politics needs knowledge and logic; political actions need time, effort, and SLOGANS!
An ice cube in a freezer remains an ice cube as long as it remains in a working freezer. What will happen if one cuts the power cord, or just opens the door and keeps it opened for a long time? Ice turns into water (hopefully, no one has any doubts about this). This is just an example of how external conditions, a.k.a. environment, affect properties of a system. It works for any system and any environment.
Four words:
describe the drastic change in the social and economical environment of all countries in the world. 
That is why all countries now are "melting".
What will they turn into?
(a) no one really knows
(b) everyone has a chance to push it in a direction one likes - and eventually the melting of social and political structures will take the new stable form. 
What form?
No one really knows.
Can be ANYTHING (democracy, fascism, you name it).

For more on politics, please, visit the page titled Politics
I would recommend to start from:
"Why Didn't I Win", by Elizabeth Warren (2020) 
Why does Seth Moulton run for the President and what does it say about the Democrats?

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Factual Thinking v. Integrative Thinking, or How We Need To Teach Science

Factual Thinking v. Integrative Thinking,
or How We Need To Teach Science
What is “thinking”?
This question has many different answers.

We can talk about thinking as a process, as a function, as an ability.
But no matter what feature of thinking we discuss, we always run into a discussion about its structure.
Thinking has a structure, it has elements, connections, rules – the simplest way to see it is to consider such important type of thinking as logical reasoning.
A science teacher does not need to know all of that (but must read at least one book on psychology of thinking).
But a science teacher definitely needs to know the difference between factual thinking and integrative thinking.
In order to show the difference I will use an illustration from the subject I teachphysics.
If I ask a question to a student:
1. What is the direction of electric current in a wire connected to a battery (providing a picture)?
2. How to calculate force of gravity acting on an object with a given mass?
3. How to find a direction of a force acting on a wire with electric current when it is placed in a magnetic field (providing a picture)?
4. How to calculate the magnitude of a force acting on a wire with electric current placed in a magnetic field?
5. How to calculate the value of electric current in a wire with a given resistance when it is connected to a battery with a given EMF?
For each of those questions a student either gives me a correct answer or not.
If a student cannot answer correctly, he or she has not been doing a good study of the material.
But if a student gives correct answers to all five questions, does it mean he or she understand physics?
To test the understanding of a student I can give him/her a problem:
A problem
A wire with a given mass, resistance and length and connected to a known battery is placed in a magnetic field and, when released, hovers in it (floats in the air). Draw the circuit, draw the picture, draw the FBD (free-body-diagram), make natural assumptions and calculate the strength of the magnetic field.
         Now a student does not have to answer five different questions; now he or she has to use his/her factual knowledge in a specific manner.
Memorizing and retrieving answers to questions about facts, rules, laws involves and demonstrates factual thinking.
Using those answers to factual questions for solving a complex problem requires a specific mental work - when all factual knowledge gets connected and integrated in one specific logical construct.
This is why I always say to my students that thinking is kind of like knitting.
This process involves and demonstrates integrative thinking.
Integrative thinking is the essence of scientific thinking.
When a science teacher focuses solely or mostly on factual knowledge, students do not learn science.
It is a common misconception that science classes are about learning scientific facts, rules, laws.
No, it is not.
Learning scientific facts, rules, laws is no different from learning religious facts, rules, laws.
In both cases the answer to question “why” is the same – “because I said so”.
The goal of a science teacher is to teach students not just scientific facts, but most and foremost is how have scientist come up with those facts, how did they got to know all that scientific stuff.
Integrative thinking is what future scientists need to have.
The goal of a science course is to help students with development of scientific thinking.
But in order for students to have that type of thinking be developed, their teachers must possess that type of thinking as well, and most importantly, their teachers must teach students how to think in that specific way.
Unfortunately, the current forms of teacher professional development do not help teachers with the development of their integrative thinking, they also concentrate on factual thinking providing teachers with a list of new facts.
Nowadays we have an additional confirmation of the importance of integrative thinking – it comes from neurology.
The property of a brain called neuroplasticity basically means that a brain functions in a way similar to any physical muscle – you train it, and it gets trained, you do not train it and it gets atrophic.
Advanced thinking requires advanced brain. 
That is why I like using this example (comes from part II of this post): “If the only exercise students had been doing for twelve years is squats, they will not be good at push-ups and pull-ups. Do not expect from students an ability to think if all they had to do for twelve years was memorizing facts and rules” (one of many laws from "Laws of TeachOlogy").

Several other post on the matter; they look like they are about physics, but one can replace “physics” with “science” and everything remains correct:


Three Lessons from Neurology to Science Teachers 

Even more on my blog: www.Cognisity.How

The mission (i.e. the reason for existence) of education 
as human practice is to ensure the progress of humanity.
The mission of education as social institution
is enabling people to succeed in life.
The goal of educational institutions
is to equip people with relevant knowledge and skills.
The mission (i.e. the reason for existence) of science as a human practice is making reliable predictions.
The mission of a scientist as an agent of that practice is discovering truth and presenting it in a testable form.
The mission of a teacher is fostering in students his/her love for learning.
The mission of a science teacher is sharing with students the feeling of pleasure from thinking.
The mission of a mentor is sharing with students the feeling of pleasure from doing the right thing.
The mission of a parent is making children feeling safe, loved, and confident.
The mission of humanity is making world a better place

For consulting services of Education Advancement Professionals please visit www.GoMars.XYZ