Aaron Swartz's "Against School" - business leaders have been decrying education since 1845

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"Against School" is a previously unpublished Aaron Swartz essay about the centuries of word-perfect complaints about the US public school system, which have led to mass-scale, sneak privatization of the public system. Read the rest

Sneak-privatization of public schools: attacking teachers, unions and standards

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A scorching editorial by public education advocate Marion Brady describes the 30 year program of sneak-attacks on public education in America. It starts by whipping up fear that foreign workforces are "eating our lunch" because of education standards in the US (rather than, say, multinationals taking jobs to places with lower wages and fewer labor protections), then blaming "unaccountable" teachers and insisting on charters, de-unionization, standardized testing (which can be used to prove that teachers aren't "accountable") and standardized curriculum (so there's something to test on the standardized test). Read the rest

Charter schools are turning into the next subprime mortgages

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Subprime mortgages began as a project to extend credit to poor people to give them a bridge to home-ownership, but it did so by allowing unscrupulous lenders to offer credit on unfair terms, with government guarantees to back the loans, even the bad ones. Read the rest

Free Stanford course on surveillance law UPDATED

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Aw, crap, this was last year

Stanford is offering a free online course by computer scientist/law professor Jonathan Mayer that surveys the baroque, interleaved world of US surveillance law through the Coursera MOOC platform. Read the rest

Young Earth Creationist will run Arizona Senate education panel

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Sylvia Allen, the GOP state Senator from Snowflake, AZ, believes the Earth is 6,000 years old. She will run the state Senate's committee to oversee educational legislation. Read the rest

In Texas, a 12 year old Sikh boy was arrested for "terrorism" over a solar charger

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Dallas cops put Armaan Singh Sarai in jail for three days because someone mistook the solar panel on his phone-charging backpack for a bomb. Read the rest

A great, low-tech hack for teaching high-tech skills

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After years of technology training seminars in which Miriam Posner ran through a lecture or tutorial and watched as some students got it and others didn't, but were too embarrassed about breaking up the class's flow to raise their hands, she switched tactics, and hit on a great, successful strategy. Read the rest

Fossil fuel divestment sit-in at MIT President's office hits 10,000,000,000-hour mark

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Climatebrad writes, "The MIT grad students occupying the hallway outside President Reif's office until MIT divests from fossil fuels have hit the 10000000000-hour mark (base 2 - in base 10, that's a still-impressive 1024 hours). The sit-in began October 22." Read the rest

What happened when a parent fought for his kid's privacy at an all-Chromebook school

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Katherine W was seven when her third-grade teacher issued Chromebooks to her class. Her dad, Jeff, is a serious techie, but the school's tech choices didn't sit well with him. He was able to get Katherine an exception that let her use a more private, non-cloud computer for the year, but the next year, Katherine's school said she would have to switch to a laptop that would exfiltrate everything she did to Google's data-centers. Read the rest

When identity thieves targeted beloved open course teachers, Facebook sided with the crooks

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Your account has been disabled for pretending to be someone else.

Teachers don't go into education to get rich. It's a great job, the rewards are awesome and although they're not financial, they are of value. They are socially valuable. It's why teachers are one of the "professional" people allowed to verify your passport photograph, to qualify that it really is a picture of you. Society recognises that they're more likely to value the long rigorous process of acquiring that trust above jeopardising it to earn a quick kick-back. We even trust them with our children.

And then you get open teachers, who make their classes available online for free, for any learner regardless of their ability to pay or personal circumstance. Open teachers naturally earn this trust, this social capital, very publicly and because they're often teaching at scale they potentially earn this social capital at scale too. It means they and people like them are great people to impersonate in order to steal, from the people who trust them (all of us).

It isn't just teachers who are "Catfished" (the process of having your online identity hijacked). It can happen to anyone of us but what's worrying is when someone as trusted, high profile and digitally literate as an open teacher is Catfished, and try as they might, can just do nothing about it, then what are the rest of us meant to do when it happens to us (assuming we ever find out)?

Alan Levine made my open classes possible and anyone in open education knows Alan as the open teacher's teacher, the go-to-guy for teachers as well as students. Read the rest

The best book on learning electronics just got better

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When Make: Electronics was published about five years ago, it was widely hailed as the greatest book about learning electronics ever written. With beautiful photos, easy-to-read schematics, clear, jargon-free text, and dozens and dozens of fun and educational projects, author/illustrator Charles Platt made a book that has ended up in every makerspace and library I've visited.

A few weeks ago the Second Edition of Make: Electronics came out, and it's even better than the first edition. Charles rewrote the text, replaced the photos of breadboarded circuits with diagrams showing component placement, included new projects, added new photographs with a ruled background to indicate the scale of tools and components, and included a chapter on Arduino.

This is the book to get if you want to learn electronics.

(Disclosure, I was Charles' editor when I was editor-in-chief of MAKE) Read the rest

Unevenly distributed future: America's online education system

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In a characteristically insightful essay, Clay Shirky discusses the largely invisible rise of online education and dissects the causes of that invisibility: namely that the American higher education system is an iron-clad requirement for economic success, and it is remarkably bad at serving people who are already poor. Read the rest

Upvote this: Teach kids in underserved communities how to code with Minecraft

Camp Minecraft. The goal: Bring it to more kids whose families can't pay.

LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.

Read the rest

South Carolina sheriff fires the school-cop who beat up a black girl at her desk

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Ben Fields, the South Carolina sheriff’s deputy who was video-recorded beating up a black schoolgirl who was sitting peacefully at her desk, has been fired. Read the rest

Bad math teacher

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This teacher thinks his/her correct solutions are better than his/her student's equally correct solutions. Read the rest

How a mathematician teaches "Little Brother" to a first-year seminar

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Derek Bruff teaches a first-year college writing seminar in mathematics, an unusual kind of course that covers a lot of ground, and uses a novel as some of its instructional material -- specifically, my novel Little Brother. Read the rest

WHAT IF: Hermione made Harry and Ron do their own goddamned homework?

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Anyone who's paid close attention knows that the series should really be called "Hermoine Granger and the Repeated Rescue of the Lazy, Glory-Hogging Boys," but as usual, Mallory Ortberg (previously) brings it all home with some scathing and witty fanfic: Read the rest

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