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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Why Zoom sucks for teaching and always will.


My two cents in the discussion about virtual education (an excerpt from The Confession Of The Creative Brain).

 
I wrote a lot about education, including the distant education. 
 
 
 
More on this page.

Here I want to point out at the useless but very active discussion how to effectively use Zoom for teaching. 

The answer is - you CANNOT effectively use Zoom for teaching. 

Zoom, Skype, WebEx, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or any other meeting software will never be good for teaching.

Of course, to understand and accept that, one needs to know what teaching is and is about.

In American culture, including the top educators, researchers and administrators teaching is not different from animal training, from training circus animals doing tricks.

BTW: one of the reasons for No sign for improving math education soon.

If teaching would have been pouring knowledge from a "knowledge storage" (a.k.a. a teacher) into an empty vessel (a.k.a a student) then Zoom would be sufficient. But teaching is not that. 

E.g.:



Teaching is the process of helping learners to learn. And learning is based on communication. If one-on-one communication would have been possible, then, again, Zoom would be fine. But that is not a case. Teaching requires an effective group communication. That requires a an ability to organize, manage and monitor communication between students. That requires a completely different technological instrument. 

There are many video conferencing tools, but none of them is good for teaching. Zoom is just not as bad as all other are. But even in Zoom some simple adjustments - specifically for better teaching - could be done, and yet they didn't. The guiding principle is simple - observe how a good teacher interacts with students and try to incorporate that interaction into your platform. Well, the key term is "good". For starters, a good teacher does not act like a general commanding solders telling them what to do (much more on this matter in many other posts, i.e. this one). Another example - when students work in groups, a good teacher monitors at the same time the whole class, and each individual group and can quickly switch between groups, as well as from an in-group discussion to a full-class discussion, and back. Zoom does not allow anything like that. But could, if it would modify accordingly the format of break out rooms.
 
A teacher needs to be able to do much more than just to see students, but the work of every (any!) student (and of course communicate with any student). And a teacher needs to be able to create and re-create collaborative groups and observe the group work and participate in that work. And this is just the bare minimum any teaching collaborative technology must do. Ideally, students should feel immersed in the same learning environment, and that means - use virtual reality. The need to do laboratory experiments brings even more demands to an effective distant teaching-and-leaning technology (far more advanced than primitive interactive videos, e.g. https://www.pivotinteractives.com/).

To my best knowledge, there is no company or a startup trying to develop such technology. 
 

Hence, distant teaching sucks, and will continue to suck for years ahead.

Dr. Valentin Voroshilov 




For curious people - a reward!

No teaching technology can do any good if a teacher who uses it sucks.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of teachers in America sucks at teaching.  It is not their fault, though. America dose not have a system of teacher professional development (well, America does not believe in systems in general, and look what she got herself into).

E.g. this post, or this one (from many!). 

The roots of American decline - in all spheres, including education, starting from education! - is the extreme primitivism practiced by the managers of all levels.

America! The victim of the Primitivism.


 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Why Do People Have To Work? (part II)


Cont. from
https://www.cognisity.how/2020/04/WhyWork.html

I ended the first part of my explanation with these statements:

 

“In order to make a living one has to be able to satisfy someone else’s needs for – well, something, anything: cooking, delivering food, writing a code, etc.

 

If one cannot do anything – one does not deserve to live.

 

If no one needs anything from you - you are worthless.


If someone can be useful to one but a very rich person, or to poor but many persons, that someone climbs up the social ladder.

 

Otherwise, ...”

 

It is time to finish the last statement.

 

If you are useful to one but a very rich person, or to poor but many persons, then you will climb the social ladder. Otherwise, you will die in poverty.

 

This is just the current state of affairs.

 

This is the current social and economic rule.

 

There is one exception from this rule – a person who was born rich, who got sufficient inheritance and was smart enough not to waist it. But that’s that.

 

For everyone else, the rule says: “If you are useful to one but a very rich person, or to poor but many persons, then you will climb the social ladder. Otherwise, you will die in poverty.”.

 

In order to have a good living you need to be needed by people whose combined wealth is large enough to pay you good money.

 

Now we can ask two questions:

 

1. Is this fair?

 

and

 

2. Can we live by a different rule?

 

The answer to the first question depends on a personal history of cultural growth and developed life philosophy. But if we all would follow an idea that all people are created equal, we would have to state that the rule is not fair. As I described in part I, we are who we are and what we are and where we are mostly due to a vast set of random factors. Because of that not all people are created equal. Socially and economically disadvantaged people cannot be blamed for being  disadvantaged, it’s not their fault. And hence there is no ideological or philosophical reason to punish those people by keeping them in poverty. The only reason for keeping huge part of a human population in poverty is, well, was, not enough resources to provide everyone with good living. But with the current technological advances that time is in the past. Nowadays, the humanity has resources to feed and give home to everyone – if only those resource would have been used.

 

There are political forces that do not want share available resource to all people because as long as they control those resources they control those people. But that is a different conversation.

 

If one believes that the current economic and social state of affairs I not fair, one needs to answer “Yes” to the second question.

 

“Yes We Can!” live by a different rule.

 

But – what rule would that be?

 

This is my version of the new rule, it has three parts:

 

1. All people have the same right for having a decent life.

2. The purpose of a government, the mission of a government is to establish political conditions that would lead to establishing fair economic conditions that would lead to establishing decent standards of living for all citizens.

3. The number one criterion of the quality of governmental work is how many citizens live in decent conditions that provide healthy and emotionally positive (a.k.a. happy) life.

 

Well, technically, “healthy” includes “mentally healthy”, i.e. “happy”, but I think that “happiness” still should be explicitly stated as the part of the measure of the work of a government.

 

If we accept this new rule, then we have to make a conclusion, that, in general, in order to have a healthy and happy life people should not be required to work.

 

The rule does NOT have such a requirement as a requirement to work.

 

That means, that under the new rule, people do NOT have to work!

 

Why do people have to work NOW? => Because otherwise they will die from starvation, or will have a very bad, unhealthy/unhappy life.

 

But if the government takes care of good living conditions for everyone, then people do NOT have to work anymore.

 

Pure logic.

 

BTW: this logic is not new in anyway (I don’t want to pretend I am the first who said it).

 

And, of course, it has been heavily criticized.

 

The #1 counter argument is – if people do not have to work, then they will not work, and then since no one will work, the whole economy will collapse, and the society will fall into chaos.

 

Every argument is based on some assumptions.

 

The #1 counter argument is based on the assumption that all humans are intrinsically lazy.

 

Ask some big-fish CEO or an entrepreneur why dose he/she work? “I don’t work because I want money, I work because I love creating new things, products, practices, connections, …” –  you name it. And he/she always thinks “because I am so so special! But everyone else is lazy ignorant people who are lucky to have a job.”

 

Of course, as we know now, there is nothing special about any of those big-fish rich and famous – he/she is just lucky, and everyone else is just not so lucky (re-read part I).

 

I do not believe that humans are intrinsically lazy.

 

I have been teaching for decades and have taught thousands of people of different age, gender, profession, culture. And I know that people are not lazy, there is no natural tendency for laziness, and if someone does not want to act, it is not because someone is lazy, but because he or she has no motive to act.

 

Most people (parents, teachers, bosses, politicians, administrators, friends, psychologists) confuse laziness with the lack of motivation.

 

Intrinsically, by nature, most people are prompted to act – just look at infants, look at toddlers. However, if born and grew up in a wrong culture (bad luck) some people do not have developed internal motives to grow – as a person, as a professional. That is not their fault. And there are many examples that when placed in a right culture, people start thriving (Anton Makarenko).

 

Hence, the most important parameter that affects who people act (hence work) is the culture they grew up in.

 

The lack of motivation is the sign of the wrong culture one grew up in.

 

It’s not about people, per se, it is about culture they grow up in.

 

With the right culture, all people would definitely have internal motivation to grow – as a person and as a professional.

 

With the right culture, all people would work even if they did not have to.

 

The answer to question “why do people have to work?” is “because many of them grew up in a wrong culture”.

 

Change the culture – and even if all people will have a good decent life without need for work, they will work – to realize/fulfill their natural intrinsic potential – because that feels really good (if you know what I mean – I do).

 

Now we have to answer two more questions:

 

1. What is the right culture?

 

and

 

2. How should the right culture be developed?

 

The answer to the first question begs a new publication.

 

The answer to the second question though is “trivial” – the right culture should be developed via right public education.

 

That, of course, moves us to questions like “what is wrong with the current public education?”, “why the dismal state of public education has been there for decades without any significant improvement despite billions of dollars spent on a so-called education reform?”, and other addressed in multiple posts on the matters.

 

Homework: why humans are intrinsically naturally active, not lazy?

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Because otherwise humans would die out long time ago, there would be no humanity, because there is no survival without being active, survival and especially procreation demands activity. 

 

Dr. Valentin Voroshilov

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

American suicide, or “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

 


I am writing here about legalization of drugs in America.

 

Or, rather, about how it’s being done.

 

I want to say upfront, I am against bringing criminal charges to people who consume drugs just because they consumed a drug.

 

The law does not prohibit consuming alcohol and does not even set any limit on how much can be consumed. But if a drank person or a person who wants to become drunk brings some damage or harm, then the law punishes him or her.

 

The exactly same legal approach has to be used to ALL drugs.

 

On December 5, 1933, consumption of alcohol became decriminalized.

 

And now America needs to decriminalize consumption of all drugs, starting from marijuana.

 

One may say – but that is exactly what is happening right now!

 

Twenty-six states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis. One state (Oregon) legalized the use of hard drugs.

 

The problem is when the Prohibition ended, no one was promoting drinking as a good life style.

 

On the contrary, many media outlets and media personalities present smoking marijuana as a cool activity, natural for, and even expected from “cool people”.

 

There is a huge difference between “decriminalization” and “promotion”.

 

I completely understand the reasons why many left-leaning Americans want to decriminalize consumption of marijuana. The number one is that marijuana has been used to oppress/suppress African Americans and other non-white Americans. Even though the level of consumption is very much the same for white and non-white Americans, the level of criminal punishment is much higher for non-white population.

 

That is true. Although, technically, these facts are NOT related to consumption of marijuana per se, they are directly related to the way the police and the criminal system work. Instead of decriminalization of drugs politicians could have been initiating the police reform. For example, making sure that all events of the illegal position – for non-white and white Americans, equally – would be prosecuted in exactly same manner. Or, by enlisting more non-white policemen and making those policemen to patrol predominantly white neighborhoods.

 

But I also understand the reality. I know that my suggestions are not realistic. That is why I have no objection to decriminalization of consumption of drugs.

 

But I have a strong objection to promoting that consumption – in any way (starting from movies).

 

On the contrary, the process of the decriminalization of consumption of drugs must be happening in parallel with the process of  an active denouncement of any drug consumption. Money needs to flow into the support and promotion of anti-drug movements.

 

“Using is a danger for your health!”

 

“Using is not cool!”

 

Etc.

 

Unfortunately, what I see today is the opposite of that.

 

In result, I see (or rather feel, i.e. smell) a greatly increased number of people smoking marijuana – even while driving.

 

Smoking marijuana has to be regulated as smoking in general, because it affects other people, too. When someone drinks, it does not affect the health of other (unless the drunk is driving, or psychotic). But fumes travel in all directions, and a smoker puts in danger people around him or her.

 

But most importantly, drugs represent a threat for the health of the nation as a whole.

 

Without strong counter influence, more and more people, especially young people will be at risk of damaging their health. Young people will begin using drugs at an earlier age. And their children will have more health issues, including mental issues. Schools will have more and more intellectually disadvantaged students. Clinics will have more and more people with a poor health condition. The whole society will experience more and more strain.

 

As I wrote, I know the reasons for the strong push to support the legalization of marijuana.

 

And I believe that the number one is money.

 

There are people who have a lot of money and look for the ways to make even more. They want to open another venue for their investments. Marijuana can become a billion-dollar business. And those people do not care about any negative effect legalization of marijuana may have on the society. In fact, they have a strong interest in promoting marijuana as much as possible.

 

Hence, it is the people who care about the future of the country who have to step up.

 

Or America will be slowly killing herself.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Jeff Bezos v. Education

On June 15 2017 Jeff Bezos twitted his request for ideas:

 

(https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/us/what-should-i-do-with-my-billions-jeff-bezos-asks-twitter-users-1.3122103

or

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-22/amazon-s-bezos-disrupts-another-frontier-with-just-one-tweet

or

https://twitter.com/JeffBezos/status/875418348598603776).

 

 

I quickly sent my response: http://gomars.xyz/jb.html

 

I offered several project - all in education (the projects offered there later were migrated to my main blog: www.Cognisity.How).

 

One project was designated specifically to opening a school – a special kind of school: http://www.teachology.xyz/chs.htm.

 

Fearing that Mr. Bezos does not have time to read, some time later, on may 12. 2018, I made a short video: https://youtu.be/_uMIk7MN4ME

 

Of course, I never had any feedback from Mr. Bezos, or his associates.

 

But on September 23, 2020, the press reported that Mr. Bezos finally turned his head toward education - he opened a pre-school: https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/23/business/jeff-bezos-tuition-free-preschool-bezos-academy/index.html.

 

 

That is yet way far away from what he could have done, but it is the step in the right direction – a small step for a man, but a reeeeeally small step for the richest guy on the planet.

 

BTW, Mr. Bezos, all my projects remain heavily actual/current/present/contemporary – in case you are interested in making real difference in education.

Other oligarchs are also welcome:

 


Dr. Valentin Voroshilov

 

P.S. another post about Bezos – not related to education: http://www.cognisity.how/2018/05/JBezos.html

 P.P.S. My hope is that Jeff Bezos may be expecting one more child, and he wants to follow his/her steps through the years of schooling. If that is a case, at the minimum he would collect - eventually - some useful data on learning and teaching.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Two examples of linguistic analysis.

Two examples of professional linguistic analysis.

This post has two parts:

Part I: The meaning of “master”, “professional”, and “expert”.


_______
Part I: The meaning of “master”, “professional”, and “expert”.

People often use the same words, but imply different meanings. “You told me that …”. “Yes, but, this is what I meant!”.

People believe that the sentence they say has only one meaning – the one they imply in it – but in reality, very often that sentence may have other interpretations. Misunderstanding happens when another person who listen to the sentence perceive its another interpretation. However, that person often does not realize that his/her interpretation is only an interpretation, and believes that his/her interpretation represents the only possible meaning of the sentence, hence believes that what he/she perceives is equal to what the author of the sentence means. In the end, two people (an author and a receiver/listener) assign different meanings to the same sentence, and when they argue, the argue about different things.

When a word or a sentence has a  different meaning or interpretation, then we have a case of ambiguity.

Ambiguity is a common reason for misunderstanding.

Clarity is the opposite of the ambiguity.

Clarity becomes with separation of different meanings that used to be used for the same word/term assigning those meanings to different words/terms.

This procedure has a name – a definition. We define the meaning of a word by assigning to that word one specific meaning.

Of course, that is not always possible, but definitions are the fundamental basis for a scientific language.

Science cannot have any ambiguity.

As an example of this approach let us assign specific meaning to three different terms: a master, a professional and an expert.

If you do a simple internet search, this is what you find.


What we immediately notice is that the descriptions do not place the terms in one linguistic domain. However, in our professional life, we use all these terms as a description of a person who has specific work-related responsibilities.

That means, first we need to define a domain where these words would have to be used with their specific meaning, and then we need to assign that meaning.

Let us narrow the domain to professional qualification evaluation.
We will use these terms do describe a person form the point of the quality of view of his/her work.

This is my view and my proposition for assigning specific meanings to terms “master”, “professional”, and “expert”.

The roots of mastership are in the sense of decency.

A master stems from a decent person.

But in this case decency is not understood like a moral prerogative, i.e. to be a good person.
Here, in the field of professional qualification evaluation, decency is understood in a sense of  - an intention to do the right thing.
Sometimes the right thing to do may feel moral for one person but immoral for other people.

Maybe there is a better word for a person who always tries to do the right thing, but I do not know that term.

By stating that “decency is an intention to do the right thing” we define the meaning of this term in the field of

And then we start describing the meaning of term “master” by stating that master bust be decent.

If a person does not have decency (when we talk about professional qualification evaluation), it means the person cannot be called a master.

But not every decent person is a master.

 Being decent is only the first component of being a master.

It is not enough just to want to do the right thing.

One also has to know what the right thing is (that implies understanding of why that is the right thing to do) and how to do it (that implies an ability to perform the required actions).

These two components represent an expert and a professional.

And expert is the one who knows what is right to do, and a professional knows how to do it. But an expert or a professional may not always want to do the right thing.
Now, after we defined “expert” and “professional” we can define “master”.  

A master is a decent expert and professional.

A master knows what is the right thing to do, knows how to do it, and wants to do it.

When a master encounters something wrong, he/she wants to fix it, to make it right, and also has abilities (knowledge and skills) to do it.

A specific approach to professional evaluation and development of teachers, called “Professional Designing”, is described in this publication: “Professional Designing For Teachers”.


Part II: What is “chaos” in a social setting.


Recently I came across an email where a faculty says: “I always expect that the first day of the class will be very chaotic”.

There are two major sources for this type of chaos.

The number one source of chaos is students who do not follow instructions.
  
In a social system, chaos is a presence of many unexpected events.

Of course, some unexpected events could be due to spontaneous change in the environment, like a natural or technological disaster.

But no one expects an earthquake or a tsunami on the first day of classes.

Hence, the actual unexpected events are the ones initiated by humans.

That means humans – students – will act unpredictably, unexpectedly, not according to the expectations of an instructor.

If all students would have been acting according to the expectations of an instructor, there would be no chaos.

But why don’t students act according to the expectations of an instructor?

Do they do it on purpose?

Or they are incapable of acting like they are supposed to?

Or those expectations are unrealistic?

In my experience, the majority of students want to do the most to succeed, and that includes following instructions. In most of the cases, the main reason for student not actin according to the expectations of an instructor is that those expectations are not articulated in a clear form.

In simple words, the most common source of chaos is insufficient instructions.
Chaos happens when an instructor did not provide students with exact and accurate instructions of what, when and how to do.

This is called bad planning.

Bad planning leads to chaos.

The events of the first day of a class heavily depends on the quality of planning on the part of the instructor.

Planning is a skill and can be trained, improved, developed.

A specific approach to professional evaluation and development of teachers, including planning, is described in this publication: “Professional Designing For Teachers”.