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jeffg2020

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
— Abraham Lincoln

I am good at giving a damn.

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  • jeffg2020 replied to a comment by Bill Bigelow

    Share Resources for Teaching the True History of the Iraq War With a Teacher You Know

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    Bill Bigelowabout 1 year ago

    Hi Jeff, Thanks for weighing in on this. No, I would never claim that either Howard Zinn or Naomi Klein is a "calm, dispassionate thinker." But that's not actually an argument against any of their ideas. It seems to me that you ignore the analysis of my article. Here is the textbook, Modern World History, for the only high school class that most of these students will take on world affairs, and the section on the Iraq war: includes no quote from a single Iraqi, no discussion of casualties of the war, not a single mention of the massive anti-war demonstrations leading up to the U.S. invasion, nothing about U.S. economic or military strategy following the invasion, and (something I did not include in my article) nothing about the lingering health effects of the use of depleted uranium and white phosphorous, and the staggering rate of birth defects today -- see today's interview with Dahr Jamail on Democracy Now: http://www.democracynow.org/2013/3/20/ten_years_later_us_has_left. And to top it off, the only "critical writing" activity asks students to imagine they are a speechwriter for George Bush and write about the U.S. "victory" there. As I say in the article, this is not history, it's propaganda. It leaves young people ill equipped to think critically about the uses of U.S. military power in the world.

    jeffg2020about 1 year ago

    Bill, I appreciate your temperate response. And I don't disagree that, if the texts are indeed as you describe, they may well qualify as propaganda. But I think these things are very complex. For example, in teaching WWII, should we teach the firebombing of Dresden as a "war crime"? Then in that case what about all the rapes by the Red Army? Is it propaganda to suggest that the imperative of defeating Nazism should take center stage? After all, there were anti-war demonstrations and massive casualties back then too. This is only by way of suggesting that the "neutral POV" wikipedia talks about is very hard to strike. I'm all for debate, but to be undilutedly against the government position, so to speak, can in its own way become propaganda. Beyond that, I know you know I was hardly, in the context of brief comments, trying to engage w/ Klein and Zinn.

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  • jeffg2020 replied to a comment by Liz Dwyer

    Share Resources for Teaching the True History of the Iraq War With a Teacher You Know

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    jeffg2020about 1 year ago

    Thanks, I did. Despite some worthwhile observations, it's a deeply biased article, but I'm guessing that doesn't strike you, b/c its bias is the same as yours. Anyone who quotes Naomi Klein and Howard Zinn as calm, dispassionate thinkers is off his nut. Of course, they and the author are entitled to their point of view - but don't tell me that's an objective analysis. On the contrary, the unexamined assumptions clutter up the joint: everything is laid at the door of "capitalism" and "corporations." People are welcome to their assumptions, but assuming isn't analyzing.

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  • jeffg2020 replied to a comment by Liz Dwyer

    Share Resources for Teaching the True History of the Iraq War With a Teacher You Know

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    Liz Dwyerabout 1 year ago

    If we're going to teach kids that the search for WMDs was justified, yes, that's propaoganda.

    jeffg2020about 1 year ago

    Strongly disagree. The UN - not the US, the UN - found WMDs after Gulf War I. So you can't say he never had them - he gassed the Kurds, for heaven's sake. Does that justify an invasion? I'm not saying that. But to glibly say, oh, the whole WMD thing was propaganda is itself propaganda - yours. You want accurate history? Physician, heal thyself.

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  • jeffg2020 commented on something to do

    Share Resources for Teaching the True History of the Iraq War With a Teacher You Know

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    jeffg2020about 1 year ago

    I guess unless it slams the US, it's "propaganda," eh?

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  • jeffg2020 commented on a link

    It’s About Time: 'The Present' Is an Updated Time Piece for the 21st Century  via magazine.good.is

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    jeffg2020over 1 year ago

    The device is nifty-looking, but the guy's maunderings about time I find vague, poorly thought out and banal. Somehow I doubt it's going to help us "love... more deeply."

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  • jeffg2020 replied to a comment by Andrew Foell

    What You Won't Hear in the Presidential Debates: Five Crucial Education Fixes via magazine.good.is

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    Andrew Foellover 1 year ago

    I haven't seen "Won't Back Down," which is the title of the film put out by Michelle Rhee's "Student's First," (thus likely to carry her bias toward edreform) but I have seen "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman," and I plan to watch "The Mitchell 20" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9VjGrwtRI) both of which have a very different outlook on education than the one you describe.

    I'll be watching the "Student's First" production starring Gyllenhaal, too, but I hope to find a different message than what you've described. The only thing I know for certain is that there is no such thing as "one-size for all." I also believe that in order to bring about meaningful reform we need to quit pointing the finger at teachers and work together with them to create different solutions to meet the needs of all learners.

    jeffg2020over 1 year ago

    It's not an issue of not "blaming" teachers, of "teacher-bashing." Brandishing those terms to shut down discussion of something that's structurally broken doesn't move the dialog forward. I'm sure union member X is a very nice person and gives to the homeless and all, but that's beside the point. If the structure is broken, the well-meaningness of individual agents doesn't matter that much.

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  • jeffg2020 replied to a comment by Liz Dwyer

    What You Won't Hear in the Presidential Debates: Five Crucial Education Fixes via magazine.good.is

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    Liz Dwyerover 1 year ago

    Jeff - It's interesting because as a former teacher in an urban public school, the union had no official impact whatsoever on what I did/didn't do with my students. But, the union rep at my school was the one who welcomed me to come into her classroom and observe her teaching so I could learn new techniques--and she came and observed me and gave me incredibly helpful feedback. She always encouraged me to be the best teacher I could be--because that's what we were there for.

    Also, the London School of Economics has done a lot of research on incentives: "We find that financial incentives may indeed reduce intrinsic motivation and diminish ethical or other reasons for complying with workplace social norms such as fairness. As a consequence, the provision of incentives can result in a negative impact on overall performance.”

    That makes me wonder if they're the best solution for our schools? Also, have you ever read Daniel Pink's book "Drive"? It's a great book that talks about motivation and incentives. Really great read.

    jeffg2020over 1 year ago

    Liz, I'm certainly not saying there should be NO job protection for teachers. As so often, it's a matter of balance. If you look at the process for firing bad teachers in, say, NYC, it's beyond all reason. People respond: "well, but who's a bad teacher?" A) Surely someone is, and B) that's a separate (and important) question. A system has to have a reasonable way to foster good agents and winnow out bad ones, sad to say. As to incentives, I'd like to see the context of that isolated paragraph. I'd find it hard to believe - w/ all respect to LSE - that people aren't fundamentally motivated by a desire to better themselves and their situation. I'm sure if the pay scale were better - but were one that rewarded performance - many people hesitating between teaching and other careers would get off the fence and choose the former.

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  • jeffg2020 commented on a link

    What You Won't Hear in the Presidential Debates: Five Crucial Education Fixes via magazine.good.is

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    jeffg2020over 1 year ago

    I agree completely re teaching music and art. That said, the biggest obstacle to good education in urban schools is the stranglehold of the teachers' unions. I don't like to union-bash, and am not against unions per se. Nor am I against tenure. It's a question of the specific union contract a city has to abide by and of who gets tenure. It simply doesn't work to have no mechanism (or no realistic one) by which good teachers are promoted and incentivized and bad ones directed out of the system. Obviously, for any "wheat versus chaff separator" you can find flaws - but those flaws are hardly likely to be worse than what we have now. In short, there has to be a merit pay structure and a way of getting rid of the laggards that isn't agonizing, hopelessly expensive and drawn out. No private enterprise could continue to excel w/out some kind of similar incentive structure.

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