Dry highlighters are my favorite way to highlight text on paper

Rather than soak thru pages and make reading the flipside of whatever I just took notes on annoying to read, these dry highlighters are just great. Read the rest

Karen Pence teaches at school that bans LGBTQ kids and staff: Report

Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, just started a new job this week. She's an art teacher at a Christian school that makes job candidates sign a pledge not to engage in homosexual activity. Gay kids, you're not welcome either. Read the rest

The Chinese government is putting tracking chips into school uniforms to watch every move kids make

Just when you thought that the Chinese government's extensive surveillance of the country's citizens couldn't get any creepier or more intrusive, Xi Jingping slyly raises an eyebrow and asks the west to hold his Tsingtao:

From The Epoch Times:

In China’s latest quest to build an all-seeing surveillance state, schools have become part of the state’s monitoring apparatus.

Students at more than 10 schools in Guizhou Province, one of China’s poorest provinces, and the neighboring Guangxi region are now required to wear “intelligent uniforms,” which are embedded with electronic chips that track their movements.

The uniforms allow school officials, teachers, and parents to keep track of the exact times that students leave or enter the school, Lin Zongwu, principal of the No. 11 School of Renhuai in Guizhou Province, told the state-run newspaper Global Times on Dec. 20.

If students skip school without permission, an alarm will be triggered.

If students try to game the system by swapping uniforms, an alarm also will sound, as facial-recognition equipment stationed at the school entrance can match a student’s face with the chip embedded in the uniform.

Each of the "intelligent uniforms" contain two tracking chips which, according to the company that makes them, can withstand temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius and at least 500 runs through a washing machine -- so much for accidentally destroying the hardware. In addition to keeping track of the whereabouts of the kids that wear them for every moment of their school day, the uniforms' chip set can also tell when a child is nodding off during the school day and be used to make cashless purchases of school lunches and other educational necessities. Read the rest

Kindergarten principal fired after welcoming back students with pole dancers performance

The principal of Xinshahui kindergarten in Shenzhen, China was fired after bringing pole dancers to perform for the students during back-to-school celebrations. From CNN:

"The district education bureau believes performing pole dancing for kindergarten children is not appropriate," the statement (from the local education board) said, adding the school had been asked to apologize to students and parents.

Principal Lai (Rong) told state tabloid Global Times that while "a few parents" had requested a refund (for tuition), others wanted to "learn a new type of dance."

She said she arranged the dance because of the dancer's "excellent skills."

Read the rest

Kids struggling to hold pencils thanks to too much tech

Parents who load their tablets and smartphones up with fun educational apps for their kids to play with may actually be doing them more harm than good. According to The Guardian, spending too much time tapping and swiping away at touchscreens is leaving the muscles in many children's hands too weak to hold a pencil.

In the article, Sally Payne, a pediatric occupational therapist, explains that the nature of play has changed over the past decade. Instead of giving kids things to play with that build up their hand muscles, such as building blocks, or toys that need to be pushed or pulled along, parents have been handing them tablets and smartphones. Because of this, by the time they're old enough to go to school, many children lack the hand strength and fine motor control required to correctly hold a pencil and write. In order to correct the problem, some parents are going so far as to send their kids to pediatric occupational therapists, like Payne:

Six-year-old Patrick has been having weekly sessions with an occupational therapist for six months to help him develop the necessary strength in his index finger to hold a pencil in the correct, tripod grip.

His mother, Laura, blames herself: “In retrospect, I see that I gave Patrick technology to play with, to the virtual exclusion of the more traditional toys. When he got to school, they contacted me with their concerns: he was gripping his pencil like cavemen held sticks. He just couldn’t hold it in any other way and so couldn’t learn to write because he couldn’t move the pencil with any accuracy.

Read the rest

Graduation brawl

USA Today reports a brawl at a high school graduation in Tennessee, with grown-ups throwing punches and their weight around as the trio from Pomp and Circumstance plays on.

Tammy Mason, superintendent of the Arlington Community Schools, said in a statement Wednesday: "Last night we celebrated 500 students who graduated from Arlington High School. This year’s class earned over $30,600,000 in college scholarships. It was unfortunate that a couple of adults in the audience exhibited the behavior they did prior to the ceremony beginning and thus has caused a distraction from the celebration of our students’ accomplishments."

Here's another angle!

And another!

Read the rest

School lockers painted as book spines

A creative group of teachers at Mississippi's Biloxi Junior High are painting book spines on an entire hallway of unused old lockers at the school. Fantastic idea! Read the rest

Smart high school student suspended for nerdy joke

Paris Gray, the 17-year-old class vice president of Mundy’s Mill High School in Georgia was suspended from school for a chemistry joke she ran in the yearbook: “When the going gets tough just remember to Barium, Carbon, Potassium, Thorium, Astatine, Arsenic, Sulfur, Uranium, Phosphorus.” The message is decoded by consulting a periodic table:

Read the rest

1982 high school yearbook with videogame theme

London's IDEA booksellers unearthed this 1982 yearbook, from South Plantation High School in Florida, that has a fantastic hand-drawn video game theme. (via the excellent @ideabooksltd Instagram feed) Read the rest

A moving long read about a medical school dissection class

Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has put together an amazing four-part story about medical students entering a human dissection lab for the first time. Interweaving the stories of the students, their teachers, and people who have chosen to donate their bodies to science, the series really gives you a sense of how emotionally intense the experience can be for students, and how it brings together all these different lives. Powerful stuff. Read the rest

Student removed from school lessons after shaving head for charity

Rhys Johnson, 14, shaved his head to raise cash for medical research after three of his relatives were diagnosed with cancer. His school, Milford Haven School in Pembrokeshire, Wales, took him out of class for breaking its "haircut rules," leading to a 250-kid walkout of the school. The BBC reports:

On Thursday, a Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson said: "School policy is set by a school's governing body and implemented by the head teacher and school staff.

"When this policy is disregarded by a pupil - and in this instance the policy has been clearly communicated to the pupil concerned - the school is acting appropriately in enforcing its policy."

Note the dismissive, yet evasive bureacratic tone! And the fact that the BBC gave an official spokesperson, of a publicly-funded government body, the cloak of anonymity behind which to further criticize a child. Read the rest

How to: Become a tenured professor at Harvard

You have, at some point, probably heard an academic wistfully daydream about what it would be like to have tenure, or (alternately) moan about the process that it takes to achieve that dream. Tenure is a promotion, but it's more than just a promotion. For instance, it's a lot harder to fire a tenured professor — something that is meant to make it easier for them to research and speak out on what they want without fear of administrative crackdowns. As a result, getting tenure can be a process that is nothing short of labyrinthian. This piece in the Harvard Crimson by Nicholas Fandos and Noah Pisner describes the phone-book-sized dossiers, decade-long preparations, and secret tribunals that are all a part of the standard Harvard tenure process. Read the rest

Great moments in irony

On Monday, John Gurdon won the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine. This is an excerpt from his 1949 high school report card. Read the rest

Things that almost make you want to go back to school

A new trend: Colleges offering chemistry cooking classes as an undergraduate science course. Read the rest

Student sleep problems aren't just about individual behavior

Coinciding with the beginning of the US school year, researchers at UCLA published a study last week showing a correlation between lack of sleep and poor academic performance. Some 500 high schoolers kept two-week diaries of their sleep habits, how well they understood and participated in classroom work, and their scores on assignments and tests. The ones who slept less did less well in school.

The headlines on this study—like the one at Smithsonian.com, where I first saw it—tout the results as evidence that you shouldn't stay up late cramming. But cramming usually is a special-occasion thing—something you do the night before a test—not a daily occurrence. This study is really about chronic sleep deprivation, habits and behaviors that happen over weeks and months. Along with several other studies that have come out in recent years, it helps build a persuasive case not against occasional cram sessions, but against academic routines that all-but require students to operate constantly on an abnormal sleep cycle. Read the rest

MIT issues certificates in piracy

Good news! You can now earn a certification in piracy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of the first crop of official pirates, Jacob Hurwitz, showed up for his interview with the Boston Globe "wearing a pirate hat, eye patch, earring, knickers, and a stuffed parrot on his shoulder." So you know it's official. (Via Kevin Zelnio) Read the rest

One of the earliest known examples of math homework

It's stuff like this that makes me love archaeology. Turns out, we can trace the concept of math homework back to at least 2300 B.C.E., in ancient Mesopotamia.

In the early 20th century, German researchers found several clay tablets at the site of Šuruppak. (Today, that's basically the Iraqi city of Tell Fara.) Some of the tablets appear to be the remains of math instruction, including two different tablets that are working the same story problem.

A loose translation of the problem is: A granary. Each man receives 7 sila of grain. How many men? That is, the tablets concern a highly artificial problem and certainly present a mathematical exercise and not an archival document. The tablets give the statement of the problem and its answer (164571 men - expressed in the sexagesimal system S since we are counting men - with 3 sila left over). However, one of the tablets gives an incorrect solution. When analyzing these tablets, Marvin Powell commented famously that it was, "written by a bungler who did not know the front from the back of his tablet, did not know the difference between standard numerical notation and area notation, and succeeded in making half a dozen writing errors in as many lines."

That comes from a site set up by Duncan Mellville, a math professor at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. He's actually got a whole collection of essays on Mesopotamian mathematics. I am certain, that by posting this, I've just ruined somebody's productivity for, like, a week. Read the rest