About Me

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I am a former middle and high school science teacher pursuing a doctorate in Science Ed. at George Mason University, with a concentration in cognitive science and the evolution of cognition and learning. Postings on this blog represent my own views, not those of my employer or school. All writing displayed on this page is original work unless otherwise noted, and thus copyrighted.

21 September 2010

We call them IDiots for a reason

Satirists used to be clever, but this one seems not to have the knack. It might be fun to respond to his canards, however.

 The troublesome issue of intelligent design (known simply as ID) is one that every science educator needs to be prepared to deal with. The issue threatens our society on several levels. For example, how can our nation hope to compete in an increasingly technological world unless our budding new scientists believe life is a purposeless cosmic accident? The very integrity of science is in danger. In fact, the continued existence of civilization might be at stake.

True science must always provide purely naturalistic answers, not simply follow the evidence where it leads. Unless we restrain the range of acceptable answers to scientific problems, we cannot guarantee appropriate, scientific conclusions. Such is our duty as educators. The following suggestions should make your job of shaping young minds somewhat easier.

   We aren't troubled by you at all, at least not any more than we might be troubled by bedbugs or mosquitoes. Your existence is unfortunate, sometimes we feel the need to swat you when you're being particularly irritating, but you haven't a leg to stand on. Funnily enough, we do follow the evidence where it leads, and that isn't to your deity.

19 September 2010

Not my normal post

... but this one is important. If you happen to be a resident of Wake County, NC, and reading this, you need to carefully consider who we elect to the Board of Education this fall, given the situation on the board over the past year or more. Get the scoop on each here. I urge you to pay careful attention to a candidate's stance on diversity and busing, as it has a profound impact on the well-being of all students in Wake Co. While neither group of students (low socioeconomic status or high) may make significant academic gains by being placed in the same schools, students of low SES stand to make important gains in social capital (the ability to navigate mainstream society) and those of higher SES are likely to have a greater understanding of segments of society to which they don't belong. Those of a liberal bent don't need this urging, but to those who aren't, ask yourself this: Is paying for busing now better than paying out larger sums in welfare-related programs and funneling money into failing neighbourhood schools later?

17 September 2010

And Darth Ratty would know...

Pope Joseph Ratzinger has declared that the "extreme atheism" in UK and other places is akin to Nazism. No, really, Godwin's law has come to life, and of all people to make the comparison, it happens to be someone who was a member of the Hitler Youth and the German Army circa 1944. Compulsory or not, you might think someone that had those experiences would be a tad more tactful in invoking the analogy.
     Let's talk about this...

11 September 2010

To the man in the big white house...

Dear Sir,
  While I did indeed vote for you, mostly because the anti-science cranks you were running against were far more objectionable than you, you should be aware not only that you are reviled by those that supported the last inhabitant of that house of yours, but are swiftly losing the support of many of those that might have otherwise supported you. Personally, while I am not offended that you had Rick Warren speak at your inauguration (this is a nation of Christians, although not politically a 'Christian Nation'), I was not a fan of the mixing of politics and religion on that day either. You made scant reference to the nonbelievers amongst the American public, which might have won you some accolades from us if it weren't for your recent conduct.
  Firstly, while the burning of books of any form is a detestable form of protest, it is within the rights of those who wish to protest to do so. The real issue here is that those who plan to do the burning would give birth to live kittens by the dozen if someone were to do it to their book of myths and magical thinking. More so, there is a problem when we find it necessary to protest the construction of a building near the site of a national catastrophe because it happens to be of the wrong religious persuasion. Don't get me wrong, I don't support the building of any more monuments to peoples' imaginary friends than already exist, but it matters little whose imaginary friend it happens to be.
  Slightly more recently, you made the unfortunate comment that we are indeed "One nation under god." Unfortunate, because many hoped you might help us as a nation rise above sectarian nonsense; unfortunate because sectarian nonsense involves comments that deliberately leave out the 15% of your subject population that has transcended the fairy tales of our past and no longer accepts that statement as true. Pandering though it may be, there are better ways of stating your approval for the 'tolerance' (read: lack of hypocrisy) eventually shown by the conservative Xian douchenozzles that wanted to burn someone else's book of lies. That, and the scare tactics used to prevent that were equally detestable; those who are enemies of this nation because we are anathema to their particular brand of sky-fairy aren't going to hate us more for the burning of a few books when their hate is already beyond imagining.
 An Atheist who is not so much perpetually angry as disgusted with, well, society in general

10 September 2010

Reason Obfuscates: How the Rationalist Paradigm is Limiting Understanding in Education Research

The rationalist dogma that pervades education research is a methodological throwback to the masculine sciences, ignoring important critical perspectives and smothering the experiences of the individual in attempts to generalise to a larger population. Critical perspectives on education, rather than quantitative measures, allow us to tell the story of the student without judging them in terms of neo-Smithian society, describe their experiences in a rich, holistic manner. Contextualising student experiences in capitalist dogma precludes understanding of their sexual identity, just as teaching within the confines of the patriarchal system destroys the ability of the feminine to emerge in the sciences. The fictions perpetrated in the name of the sciences do no justice to the cultural realities of the individual, nor to the economy of society.

07 September 2010

In which I disagree with the Education Research Establishment

Education research is, largely, the laughing stock of the academic community, and I'm sorry to say that we deserve it. For some reason, it was decided that education research should not follow the model of the natural sciences, nor should it prescribe to the model of the social sciences.
Failing to adhere to a natural or physical science research model makes sense, in some ways. Educators are not studying purely natural phenomena, nor are tightly designed lab experiments feasible or particularly meaningful in determining the efficacy of educational practices. There is something to be said, however, for taking a leaf from ecology in our studies of large populations of students, if we were to treat those students as part of an ecological community that has its own social niches, other 'organisms' (teachers and administrators), and a complex set of interactions. However, this is not the most pragmatic approach when other techniques have been developed to study populations of human beings.

06 September 2010

An Open Letter to the Tea Party

To those involved in the 'movement' known as the Tea Party,
I can and do empathise with your frustration and anger directed and the political process in this country, and I fully support your right to publicly declare your opinions, no matter who distasteful I might find them. We should have that much in common, but the evidence of your practices would incline me to believe that you don't feel I have any right to opinions that differ from your own nor do you think I should be allowed to voice those opinions.
Perhaps what is required is a rational, evidence-based understanding of the issues on which you choose to make your stand, as excerpted from the Tea Party website.
Non-negotiable core beliefs
Illegal Aliens Are Here illegally.
Pro-Domestic Employment Is Indispensable.
Stronger Military Is Essential.
Special Interests Eliminated.
Gun Ownership Is Sacred.
Government Must Be Downsized.
National Budget Must Be Balanced.
Deficit Spending Will End.
Bail-out And Stimulus Plans Are Illegal.
Reduce Personal Income Taxes A Must.
Reduce Business Income Taxes Is Mandatory.
Political Offices Available To Average Citizens.
Intrusive Government Stopped.
English As Core Language Is Required.
Traditional Family Values Are Encouraged.

Common Sense Constitutional
Conservative Self-Governance

05 September 2010

The view through your underpants must be great...

Excerpt from a Facebook post and conversation (I'll leave the usage and grammar alone, as it's too easy a target):


I'm flying this flag to oppose the Muslim worship center at Ground Zero.
I am the 420,516th person to fly the flag in opposition of Muslim mosque at Ground Zero. I hope 5 million will join me! No app install required.
4 hours ago via Being Conservative - Fly the Flag · Comment · Like · Fly your Flag
Brandy S. i wonder how long it will take an american to blow up there stupid little shrine!!!!
3 hours ago · Like
April D. That's OBAMA for ya! Obama= One Big Ass Mistake America!
2 hours ago · Like
Brandy S. Hell yea!!!!
2 hours ago · Like
NOTE: In deference to another with the same name as the original poster, I have replaced all surnames with their initial.